Thursday, December 04, 2014

NBC Broadway Live Take 2

Once again the "Nothing is better than Broadway snobby haters" are out in force on the interwebs attacking NBC 's second live Broadway  musical.  I commented on  last year's Sound of Mucus and I'm reusing part of my post as it still holds true. Anyone who read my blog post about the Les Mis film knows that I am a firm believer in Apples and Oranges. I support anything that keeps theatre alive. I cheer for the success of jukebox musicals. They put butts in seats and give actors and technicians work. They also introduce new bodies to all legit theatre. If they come for Motown and return for Once and then Matilda or Kinky Boots, I say bravo, the plan works. When I was in college we had so many great and near great composers and creative teams writing shows and we took sides. Some loved Kander & Ebb, others Cy Coleman or Jerry Herman, Bock & Harnick, Schmidt & Jones, Schwartz, Lloyd Weber  and of course Sondheim. But many did not care for his work. Now as elder statesman with no ascendant successors in sight, he has become a high watermark for many comparisons and that is not fair. Broadway has changed and will continue to do so. It is in a very interesting state of being right now and if NBC doing a " live" musical or Glee's recent success help make people want to see live Theatre then let's give a standing ovation. Sound of Music was a flawed piece of theatre with some really nice songs and a maudlin, saccharin book that became overshadowed by a tremendous piece of cinema that fixed many of the flaws. And therein lies the partial root of the haters hate: they so love the film and it's star that they were blinded to most other attempts especially by a "CW" musician with no stage experience.Now, with Peter Pan, they are back to show off their self important critical wit. Now they are experts in Peter Pan. Even though they mostly know old cast albums and the Disney cartoon, they are now experts on Peter Pan. Yes, some are old codgers who will always be curmudgeons carping about " how wonderful Mary Martin was and the old TV show was. Their memory, unfortunately, is clouded by the wonders of childhood memories. Others have no idea how  many versions of Peter Pan there are or were. J.M. Barrie, the author of the original book and play, rewrote it every year in his lifetime. There was a new production in London with new music every year for over 100 years. There was also a Broadway version before this one and this one had trouble before during and after its Broadway and TV version. It has constantly changed and many of the changes in this version were long overdue. There is already a volume of hate directed toward idiosyncratic film actor, Christopher Walken. His performance was incredibly well thought out and executed in his person style. He was incredibly realistic, justifying every line and injecting his own sense of humor and even improv. It was a very studied performance. His singing was no worse than. Cyril Ritchard or Boris Karloff, Ron Moody etc. may of them were over the top foppish cartoons. You may like that but you can't criticize a realistic approach as wrong. It is a very modern interpretation. Of course, many haters are just plain envious and think- if not them in the part-then no one. Such little minds, such big egos. Build a bridge folks and get over it. It's a TV show. People love kitsch and crap of many reality shows like Real Housewives or the Kardashians. I'll take a kitsch TV theatre performance over any housewife reality drek any day. Now to the rest of this Peter Pan, it was entertaining and as well done as possible. Higher tech soundstage scenery, some digital effects and high tech flying and multi cameras doing it live, while adding songs and rewriting a dated script was quite a challenge and I once again applaud NBC. The show was entertaining, the cast was delightful especially Walken's very unique performance. He was a parody of himself at times and delightful. The changes were mostly helpful but the cinematic efforts combined with the awkward commercials made the show drag but so did the original. I have seen the Mary Martin original on TV, Sandy Duncan, Cathy Rigby, Lulu in London( real English Panto style), a brilliant male Peter in Trevor Nunn's,  NT anniversary production and recent RSC radical reworking, Wendy and Peter, several community productions and this version was just as entertaining and superior on many levels. To all the "nothing is better than Broadway snobby haters", stop watching TV and film versions of shows, you can't learn to like "different" and you can't judge efforts in other media without bias. Oh, and please stay away from the  Disney  film version of Into the Woods opening on Christmas. You are going to hate it, we know you are so spare us your ire.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Farewell to My Team's Captain or Don't Be a Hater It Doesn't Become You.

I am very disheartened by the incredible amount of hate and negativity being plastered across the net, Facebook and some media personalities regarding Derek Jeter. Derek Jeter is a popular player among his peers and especially among New York Yankees fans. Last year Mariano Rivera played his last season, pretty much universally acclaimed as the greatest closer, and during the course of the season, other teams honored him on his farewell tour. It was great publicity for the Yankees as well as an honor for Mo. Before this season, Derek Jeter announced his intention to retire. This time the Yankees capitalized on the event and "farewell tour" number two began. Jeter was initially, somewhat, uncomfortable with the concept but being the team player for one of the most famous corporations in sports, he acquiesced. As the season progressed and the Yankee's efforts were hampered by injury and low productivity, especially in the last two months, the Yankee organization and the media began to focus on "Jeter's last season" with major hype.   MAJOR HYPE. Yankee fans loved it. Yankee haters hated it. I understand the Media writers and sports commentators who are trying to drum up readership or self promotion by publishing articles denigrating his stats and downplaying his place among Yankee greats but the Yankee haters that are made up of fans from other teams. Ironically, fans of Yankee rivals like Red Sox or O's and most others don't care because they are generally happy and secure with their team and understand the Yankee fans's joy and sadness for their hero's last games. Some sad Mets fans, some-not all, and others, too, are rabid Yankee haters. They revel at every opportunity to degrade Jeter and his fan base not because they simply hate the Yankees but because they hate the success and financial clout of the Yankee franchise and are seething with jealousy and envy because their team does not get the same organizational support. I'm talking mostly about Yankee hating Mets fans and the fans of a few other small market franchises that are frustrated by their team's inability or reluctance to spend money. It is sad that they need to release such vehement hateful attacks on the Yankee fans celebration of the retirement of their hero. It seems that every mention of the celebration is a reminder of how unsuccessful their team has been and every attack on Jeter and his fans is a way to bolster their own insecurities about their team and its owners. 
Yankee fans love Derek Jeter. He has been the "Face of the Franchise" both on and off the field  for almost all of his 20 years, certainly from the time he was made Captain. He plays the game with dedication, commitment and heart. He has mastered dealing with the media in the toughest market in sports. Jeter's achievements transcend just stats. His success and career has been full of intangibles. He has come to represent team success, determination and good sportsmanship.  For those want to argue stats, Derek Jeter is not "The Greatest" Yankee of all time or "The Greatest" shortstop ever but to many fans In their teens, 20 & 30's, he was the greatest player of their teams generation. He played hard and contributed to 5 championships, especially in the post season. He broke many team records and joined the charts of hitting greats that came before with his 3000+ hits. Those who use stats alone to compare a singles hitting short stop to sluggers like Ruth, Gehrig, DeMaggio, Mantle and Berra are ridiculous if not deranged. 
Negative fans of the other teams who are vehemently blasting hate on Yankee fans, especially those Yankee hating Mets fans, take a look at what you are saying and how you are saying it. When you put it in print the hate is incredibly vivid. Just chill out. Mets fans would be much better served celebrating the success of Jacob DeGrom and his potential for Rookie of the Year, celebrating the wonderful talent and success of their young pitching staff and they should be looking forward to the return of Matt Harvey next season. If they are able to add a few key position players next year or even the year after, they will have a very promising team that will be very competitive.  It's funny but both teams are in second place in their division this year. But the Mets are a fairly younger team and as such, a team on their way up.  We Yankee fans are looking at the end of an era and the start of a new one that will probably be at least two years away as the team looks to get younger talent.  
So, in the end, we Yankee fans will continue to celebrate the achievements and career of Derek Jeter and all his contributions to the most successful franchise in major league American sports. We will celebrate what he meant to Yankee Team history, to New York, and MLB and mostly what he meant to us, the fans, both young and old. For many of us, he was a part of our childhood, of teen and college years and For all of us especially those of us older, he represented a continuation of Yankee success which is a hallmark of Yankee tradition. #Re2pect.#FarewellCaptain