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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Crippled Critic Concert Review: Marc Broussard @ Revolution Hall

I've seen Mr. Broussard many times now. In this current show, last night at Revolution Hall, I assumed he had chosen the bulk of his set from the two volumes of soul-classics he has made: The "S.O.S: Save Our Soul" Series. But, now I think that he drew from cuts on his newest release, Home: The Dockside Sessions." This album includes many tracks from those albums as well as others. But, the reason I feel compelled  to draw the distinction is the overall "feel" of the versions on this record. They have an exceptionally smooth live-in studio character. I highly recommend it. It's available for download or Streaming on all popular services, and physically at all shows. But, even live-in-studio  does not compare to live. As always, Mr. Broussard bring his A-game. He is soulful through-and-through. In a way that is truly fascinating to watch. If you have not yet had the pleasure of seeing him live, do yourself a favor and keep an eye out.

Monday, September 16, 2019

"1984" @ Artist's Rep

On the whole, Artist's Rep's production of "1984" is a worthwhile show. The standout is Allen Nause as O'Brien, the calmly sadistic interrogator. My biggest quibble with the script is actually a minor one, which had a disproportionate ability  ro jolt me out of the story. This was the Book Club that made sporadic appearances throughout the show. As best I can tell, its purpose is to chide us about our screen-time, due to the constant interruptions of cellphones in their meetings. Their final appearance seems to serve the purpose of letting the audience know that in this telling, The Party is defeated by unknown means sometime before, suggesting the success of an uprising. This registered to me as a wink to what we should do in our current political-climate. If I'm correct, I'll admit that is a somewhat audacious implocation, but not worthy of the disruption to the overall narrative-flow.

All-in-all, Artist Rep's production is impressive, especially in the way it utilizes a handful of screens to transport us to the world of Oceania. That's a large task done with very little.

Monday, September 9, 2019

"In the Heights" @ PCS

"In the Heights" is a splendid show. It's fearlessly modern, but unafraid to nod to the classics. It laid the groundwork for "Hamilton", which would complete Lin-Manuel Miranda's quest to redefine what was "allowed" in a Broadway musical. "In the Heights" is revolutionary in its own right, too--totally apart from Miranda's blockbuster sophomore effort: It was the first successful Latin-themed Broadway musical since "Westside Story" in 1957.

 I would also dub "In the Heights" a musical for those who don't particularly like musicals, a group that includes myself. Yes,. that is mostly due to its aforementioned  modernity, but also its eye-popping choreography. (The show begins with a graffiti-artist tagging a store-gate, he executes a gravity-defying flourish at the end that's so impressive it's used as the show's logo.) This is just a foretaste of what's to come.

Stand-out numbers include: "It Won't Be Long Now" and "When You're Home". Perhaps the highest praise I can give the show is this:  "In the Heights" will mark the first time I have ever asked to see a show twice. While perusing the playbill in preparation for this review,  I saw that Yassmin Alers will be taking over the role of Abuela Claudia after Opening Night. Yassmin  Alers was an original cast member in the best musical ever written: Paul Simon's "The Capeman." The chance to see someone who was in that show, in my own backyard makes my heart pound. Miranda himself was a fan, lamenting the show's premature closure in interviews, and remarking that "In the Heights" began germinating as a means to fill the void left by it for Latino actors  New Artistic Director Marissa Wolf has a small connection to it as well, having done work at The Public Theater, which oversaw its latest Post-Broadway incarnation in Central Park. I'm always a little surprised to learn how well-read this website is within the theatre-community. I hope Ms. Wolf and Ms. Alers  read it. Will this be the beginning of my quest to see "The Capeman" on a Portland Stage? I don't know, but in the words of Abuela Claudia: I shall have "paciencia y fe."