Over the last few years, it's become increasingly difficult to shop for my mother. Well, she's actually easy to shop for in that I know what she likes, but hard to shop for in that I can only buy her a new pair of PJs so often. I've started buying concerts tickets instead. Her Mother's Day present this year was tickets to Josh Groban.
Take a minute, picture in your mind what a Josh Groban concert would look like. Got it? That's it. That's exactly what a Josh Groban concert looks like. Almost everyone is over fifty. I had visions of Michael Bolton dancing in my head. OK OK. While I'm technically old enough to know Bolton's music, I've never actually been to any of his concerts, so that's a poor example. But this was a lounge performance in an arena. I think you have the concept.
A trumpeter named Chris Botti opened for Groban and I realized after the first song they played that I was in for a headache. Half the time he and his band sounded like they were playing four different songs at the same time. I guess that's jazz? I realized entirely too late that I had left my earplugs in the car so I was getting the full force of this noise. After they finished their set, I went to use the restroom…and while I'm not sure they do this at all arenas, at this one they allowed me (with a little paper pass) to leave the arena to go to my car and get the earplugs. Whew.
Josh Groban is every bit as talented as he appears to be. He's got a smooth and natural voice that resonates with you through your seats. Not a metaphor, literally. Did I mention it was loud (am I getting old)? He sang several stage songs, songs from his older albums and new, and songs that he didn't write but gave a great performance of. He did the thing that more and more performers are doing and had a secondary stage towards the back of the arena so that the rest of us could get a closer look while he was performing.
He took the lounge approach to his performance as well. Even though we were in a large arena, he took the time to talk about his life and the songs he wrote. He talked about school and Ally McBeal and meeting his idols. It was a calm but enjoyable show. Definitely one I'd see again.
Whew. Amongst my crazy busy weekend, I managed to stop and take the time to see Aladdin on Broadway. The New Amsterdam theater, while absolutely beautiful, isn't much made for larger people. I don't even mean those with larger butts like mine…just in general. I'm six feet tall and I had to work really really hard not to knee the gentleman in front of me directly in the head.
That aside the show itself was spectacular. If you asked me to hook you with three things; I'd go with costumes, the flying carpet, and the genie. If you're familiar with the original movie (or the new live action movie), you already know the plot and the majority of the songs you'll hear. There's a somewhat unnecessary song about Aladdin wanting his mother to be proud of her boy that refrains throughout the show, but it's honestly not needed.
The costuming was beautifully done. Sequins and crystals adorn almost every piece of clothing you see and the colors are bright and vibrant. The sets are beautifully rendered as well, with the palace/Jasmine's room being one of my favorites. The lattice work alone is worth the cost of admission.
The real shining star of the show is the actor playing the Genie. I found myself wondering what was missing from the production and then the Genie arrived and I realized what was missing. His energy lights up the stage and the entire show changes. It changes so much that I spent the rest of the time feeling his absence.
One of the things that I love about Broadway shows is that they don't hold back with the effects. When the magic carpet scene arrives, I did sort of expect them to fly out over the audience. Even though they did not, the wire work was so impeccable that I couldn't tell that they were attached to anything.
I really enjoyed this show and I'm glad that I chose it for my Saturday night viewing while in NYC.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
I've been trying to come up with what I could possibly say about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that
The first thing you should know is that there are two parts to this show. I attended on a Sunday, so I was able to see the entire thing in one day. If you count intermissions, you're looking at around five and half hours. When going on the same day, you'll end up in the same seats for both shows. Seat wise, there really isn't a bad seat in the house, but if you can afford to splurge, try and do anything downstairs. There are some things that occur that will be easier to see if you're down there.
If you're not familiar with the story, I recommend picking up Harry Potter in general. Although I can't imagine why you'd want to go see this show if you have zero Potter knowledge. We pick up 20ish years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry's sending his kids off to school and his second son Albus Severus Potter is struggling with teenage-hood and with being the son of someone so famous. Through a few plot points I won't spoil, he decides to help the world by travelling back in time to save Cedric Diggory. Everything goes wrong of course.
Production wise there is no orchestra and there is an interesting soundtrack for when they are moving set pieces around. A lot of what sounds like 90's new age jams play over the loud speaker. That's really the only jarring thing about this show though. The music and a little bit of being "extra" with the cape work.
Almost every main scene has some kind of trick to the eye. Puffs of smoke. Flames being thrown around. People changing into other people. Wire work that is seriously fantastic. I want to tell you all of the things but I can't bring myself to do so. Hell, they even have a hashtag #keepthesecrets. They are really strict about cell phones. They even tell you to turn off your watches. It's worth it though. Sitting there in the almost total darkness, the gasps when things occur are much more well earned.
The show is expensive but honestly, I felt like it was worth it. Let me put it this way. You could pay $200ish for the balcony of Harry Potter and get five hours of entertainment with characters you already know and love…or you could pay $500 for Hamilton and only get a couple of hours. I know, bad comparison, just my personal preference.
Unsurprisingly I would describe this show as magical.
There's also enough time in between the shows to go sit and eat somewhere, so you don't necessarily have to hang around.