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Musicals

My Broadway Review System:

Plays take me away from reality, so my measurement system for reviews is for how many levels of reality do I escape. People go to plays to escape the reality of their lives. Here are my levels on how I rate a play:

1 Escape: It will help you forget a weird haircut :)
2 Escapes: It will help you forget that you don’t have hot water :)
3 Escapes: It will help you forget you missed your subway stop :)
4 Escapes: It will help you forget that your dog pooped on the rug :)
5 Escapes: It will help you forget your break up with your girlfriend :)
6 Escapes: It will help you forget work :)
7 Escapes: It will help you forget your body weight :)
8 Escapes: It will help you forget your family problems :)
9 Escapes: It will help you forget the last play you saw was really awful :)
10 Escapes: It will help you forget that you will die someday :)

 

Miss Saigon

Thomas Ellenson

Last week I saw the Tony-nominated revival of “Miss Saigon” on Broadway. This production played London’s West End in 2014, and I am thrilled to say that I have seen both incarnations. This epic megamusical is the story of Kim, an orphan who is forced to work as a bargirl in a sleazy nightclub owned by the notorious “Engineer.” During the last days of the Vietnam War, she meets an American GI, and their lives are changed forever. 

Score:

This sung-through musical contains an epic score written by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil (they also wrote the score to another famous megamusical, “Les Misérables”). It consists of gorgeous ballads and soaring duets like “I’d Give My Life For You,” “I Still Believe,” “The Last Night of the World;” and even The Engineer’s flashy 11 o’clock production number: “The American Dream.” Some lyrics have been changed since the original production (including the addition of a new song called “Maybe”), and are major improvements compared to what can be heard on the original Broadway cast recording. 

Acting:

The two leads of the show are Eva Noblezada and Jon Jon Briones, as Kim and The Engineer respectively. They are reprising their roles from the 2014 West End engagement, and I am so glad that they brought their brilliant performances to Broadway audiences. Noblezada is a well-deserved Tony nominee for this role (she’s my favorite of the 5 Best Actress nominees), and she portrays Kim with raw emotion and powerhouse vocals. She is making her Broadway debut at age 21! Briones is a fantastic Engineer, and I so wish that his performance was recognized with a Tony nomination; it’s one of my favorites of this VERY competitive season. Other significant performances include: Alistair Brammer as Chris (the American GI), Nicholas Christopher as John (another soldier and friend to Chris), Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi (another bargirl), and Katie Rose Clarke as Ellen (Chris’s wife after he returns to the US); all in excellent voice. 

Set design:

It isn’t a review of “Miss Saigon” without talking about the iconic helicopter. While the effect has certainly dazzled audiences since the show’s debut in 1989, it had to be updated for audiences in 2017. This included the addition of stunning projections and sound effects that really immerse the audience during this scene. Once the projection opens up to reveal the “real” helicopter, the theatre magic is definitely still there, even if the moment itself runs a little long. 

My opinion:

This is a stunning revival of an epic musical, and it’s great that a new generation can be swept away with the heartbreaking story. I give it 8/10 escapes! “Miss Saigon” is currently playing at the Broadway Theatre through January 2018.

Groundhog Day

Thomas Ellenson

Happy Memorial Day weekend!! Since I haven't written a review in a while, I'll post two today! Recently I saw the new Tony nominee for Best Musical, "Groundhog Day."

Score/Book:

"Groundhog Day" is an adaptation of the 1993 cult classic film starring Bill Murray. The story revolves around Phil Connors, an arrogant weatherman who has to report the annual Groundhog Day festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney, PA. Inexplicably, Connors must relive February 2nd over and over again, until he learns how to become a better person and win the heart of his coworker, Rita. The musical's book is written by Danny Rubin, who also wrote the original film's screenplay. The show follows the film, but also deviates from it, adding new moments/scenes to make it more than just a simple screen-to-stage adaptation. The score and lyrics are written by Tim Minchin (who also wrote "Matilda"). The music covers MANY different genres, from country ("Nobody Cares"), to hard rock ("Hope"), and moving ballads ("Night Will Come" and the finale "Seeing You"). Minchin's lyrics are incredibly clever and unique, especially in songs like "One Day" and "Stuck." Despite a repetitive premise, the material presents slightly different moments as the same day is relived over and over again, so the show never drags.

Acting:

Andy Karl is PHENOMENAL as Phil Connors!!! He is playing an incredibly demanding role, and giving a comedic tour de force performance-- one of the best this season. He infamously tore his ACL a few days before opening night, but jumped back into the role so quickly, and even incorporated his knee brace into a few ad libbed jokes. His character arc is played perfectly, from his unlikable personality in the first act, to his newfound humility in the surprisingly touching second act. I am thrilled that he was nominated for Tony Award (his third nomination) for this role!!! Opposite Karl is newcomer Barrett Doss as Rita. She gives a terrific performance, and I hope it's the first of many on Broadway. I also loved John Sanders as Ned Ryerson, especially his performance of the underrated and beautiful second act ballad, "Night Will Come." The rest of the ensemble are perfectly quirky as the different citizens of Punxsutawney.

Set:

The set is designed by Rob Howell, and consists of a complex series of turntables around the stage. This paves the way for some truly genius staging moments, especially the car chase segment of the "Nobody Cares" number, and the entirety of "Hope." Since "Groundhog Day" was originally a film with many cinematic jump cuts and quick edits, some of those techniques are replicated on stage with the turntables, representing the different choices Connors makes as the day repeats. 

My opinion:

"Groundhog Day" is such an excellent, well-written musical, and I highly recommend it!! It's both hilarious and heartwarming; the perfect balance for a night at the theatre. I want to see it again and again! I am so glad it was recognized with 7 well-deserved Tony nominations! It is currently playing at the August Wilson Theatre. I give it 10/10 escapes!!

My Musical Review System

Thomas Ellenson

We are a Critic with a heart. We only write what we like about a play. We don't write about what things are bad in a production because people work really hard on shows.

 Plays take us away from reality, so our measurement system for reviews is for how many levels of reality do we escape. People go to plays to escape the reality of their lives.

 Here are our review system:

1 Escape: It will help you forget a weird haircut :)
2 Escapes: It will help you forget that you don’t have hot water :)
3 Escapes: It will help you forget you missed your subway stop :)
4 Escapes: It will help you forget that your dog pooped on the rug :)
5 Escapes: It will help you forget your break up with your girlfriend :)
6 Escapes: It will help you forget work :)
7 Escapes: It will help you forget your body weight :)
8 Escapes: It will help you forget your family problems :)
9 Escapes: It will help you forget the last play you saw was really awful :)
10 Escapes: It will help you forget that you will die someday :)

Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812

Thomas Ellenson

After sold-out productions at the Off-Broadway Ars Nova, and a makeshift tent in the Meatpacking District (and later Midtown NYC), "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" has arrived on Broadway at the Imperial theatre, and it's better than ever! 

Book: "The Great Comet" is an adaptation of a slice (about 70 pages worth) of the masterpiece Tolstoy novel, War and Peace. Set in 19th century Russia, the musical is about Natasha, a young girl engaged to Andrey (who is off fighting in a war), but starts a scandalous relationship when she unexpectedly meets the dashing Anatole at the opera. Meanwhile, Pierre, a friend of Andrey's, is having an existential crisis and is searching for the meaning of life.

Acting: Josh Groban leads the cast, and gives an incredible performance in his Broadway debut. We all know that he has a phenomenal voice, but he also completely embodies the role of "dear, bewildered, and awkward" Pierre. His rendition of the aria "Dust and Ashes" is a show-stopper, and one of the highlights of the evening. Other cast standouts include Denee Benton as Natasha, Lucas Steele as Anatole, Amber Gray as Helene (the wife of Pierre and sister to Anatole), Grace McLean as Marya D., and Brittain Ashford as Sonya. There are so many characters in this musical, and each one has a big song/moment that highlights each actor's immense talent. 

Score: The sung-through musical has an electropop score by Dave Malloy. It is unique and very different to the typical Broadway showtune. My favorite songs include the "Prologue," which explains the different characters and their relationships (there is also a "family tree" in the Playbill because there are so many different major roles from the "complicated Russian novel"), "Pierre," "Charming" (Helene (Amber Gray)'s big showstopper), the aforementioned "Dust and Ashes," the fun and delightful "Balaga" sequence, Natasha's aria "No One Else," and "Sonya Alone." There is a cast recording out with the 2013 Off-Broadway cast, but I hope they record another one to reflect some of the score changes and preserve Groban and Benton's wonderful performances. 

Design: The Imperial theatre has been transformed into an immersive environment with chandeliers, lights, Russian portraits, pre-show Russian folk songs, and a stage that winds around an added section of seats. Director Rachel Chavkin brilliantly staged the performance. The cast runs around the entire setting, and some even make appearances in the mezzanine throughout the show, so no matter where you are sitting you still get the interactive experience (and if you're lucky, maybe even a pierogi, love letter, or egg shaker!). Having seen the show Off-Broadway, I wondered how they would transfer the scenic design on a larger scale, and it's even more spectacular! 

My opinion: "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" is an incredible theatrical experience, definite must-see, and unlike anything I've ever seen on Broadway before. If you saw it Off-Broadway, give it a revisit at the Imperial Theatre. I give it 10/10 escapes!!

Chicago

Thomas Ellenson

Last week I saw the long-running hit revival "Chicago" on Broadway. The show recently celebrated a milestone 20th anniversary. The classic musical is the story of Velma and Roxie, two rival murderesses hungry for fame and attention during the Roaring Twenties. 

Acting: Velma and Roxie are currently played by Lana Gordon and Veronica Dunne respectively, and both ladies are triple threat actresses, singers, and dancers, and nail the Fosse choreography. A real standout for me was Paul Nolan (last seen on Broadway in "Bright Star") as the smooth-talking lawyer Billy Flynn. I loved his rendition of classic songs such as "They Both Reached for the Gun" and "Razzle Dazzle." Also of note is the beautiful ensemble made up of Broadway vets. 

Score: The iconic score is written by the legendary Kander and Ebb, one of my all-time favorite musical theatre writers. Each song perfectly reflects the vaudeville standards of the '20s, with crowd-pleasers like "The Cell Block Tango," "All That Jazz," "Mr. Cellophane," the two songs I mentioned earlier, and "Nowadays." 

My Opinion: "Chicago" is the second longest-running musical of all time on Broadway, and even though the show is an audience favorite, some of the "razzle dazzle" has faded over the years. It is still a classic, and the current cast is a reason to go and see it if you haven't done so, or to make a return trip to the Ambassador Theatre. I give it 6/10 escapes!

American Psycho

Thomas Ellenson

Hello! It's Emma (AKA Emmaloucbway), and I'm so happy to be collaborating on Theateriffic and writing reviews. First up is American Psycho, which is sadly in its final week of performances.

 

Acting:

Benjamin Walker is giving an incredible performance as the antihero Patrick Bateman- he brilliantly embodies the twisted character. Helene Yorke is hilarious and another standout in the cast as Patrick's girlfriend, Evelyn. Jennifer Damiano and Alice Ripley don't have very much to do, but it's nice to see them back on Broadway.

 

Score:

American Psycho is set in the 80s, so Duncan Sheik's unique score is in the EDM genre that was popular at the time (there are a few already-existing pop songs that also appear during the show). Highlights of the score include the opening number "Selling Out," "You Are What You Wear," "Killing Spree," and the haunting "This is Not an Exit." The Original London Cast album is on Spotify, and I highly recommend it!

 

Design:

The Tony-nominated lighting design for this show is honestly my favorite of this Broadway season. Projections cover the entire stage to reflect what is going on in Bateman's mind, and in some scenes add color to an otherwise monochromatic set.

 

My Opinion:

Overall, I am sad to see American Psycho close so abruptly, but it's a very dark and polarizing show so I can see why it never found an audience. If you're in the city this week, it's a must-see, especially for Benjamin Walker's performance and the fantastic production elements. I'll give it 7 escapes!

 

Waitress

Thomas Ellenson

Last night I saw the new Tony-nominated Best Musical, Waitress, currently playing at the Brooks Atkinson theatre.

Book:

Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a pregnant waitress with a gift for making creative pies. She is trapped in an unhappy marriage and looking for a way out, and sees an upcoming pie contest as her chance. Jenna also starts a passionate affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Pomatter. Jessie Nelson wrote the book for the musical, which is based off of a 2007 independent film.

Acting:

Jessie Mueller plays the main character, Jenna. The role is incredibly demanding- she carries the show and has very little offstage time. She earned a well-deserved Tony nomination for her performance, and her emotional rendition of the show's hit song "She Used to Be Mine" is one of the highlights of this Broadway season. But the real scene-stealer is another 2016 Tony nominee, Christopher Fitzgerald, the comic relief of Waitress. He plays Ogie, the hilariously quirky boyfriend to Dawn (played by Kimiko Glenn), Jenna's friend and another waitress at the diner. Fitzgerald stops the show at the penultimate scene of Act I with his comedic antics and big song. Other cast standouts include Drew Gehling as Dr. Pomatter and Nick Cordero as Earl, Jenna's abusive husband.

Score:

Pop star Sara Bareilles wrote the unique score. The songs are very different compared to the standard "Broadway" sound, and are a perfect fit for Waitress. My favorite include the opening number "Opening Up," Ogie's showstopper "Never Ever Getting Rid of Me," and Jenna's powerful 11-o-clock-number "She Used to Be Mine," which I mentioned earlier.

My opinion:

I give Waitress 8/10 escapes, as there were a few songs/scenes that dragged a bit. But on the whole the show is a must-see for the performances and Bareilles' pop score.

 

The Color Purple

Thomas Ellenson

Review by Emma Citron

Last week I got to see the Tony-winning Best Revival of The Color Purple, an inspirational musical that tells the triumphant story of Celie. The musical is set in the American South and is based on the novel of the same name by Alice Walker.

Acting:

This is one of the strongest casts I've seen in a long time. Everyone does an amazing job and brings something important to the show and their roles. The obvious standout is Cynthia Erivo as Celie, who gives one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. Her brilliant rendition of "I'm Here," the empowering eleven-o-clock number, is a definite highlight of the 2015-2016 season, and I'm thrilled that she won the Tony Award for Best Actress. Other cast standouts include Heather Headley as Shug Avery. I've seen this production once before with Jennifer Hudson, and while I love Hudson's powerhouse vocals, I preferred Headley's overall performance. Danielle Brooks plays Sofia and steals every scene she is in, making her big song "Hell No!" another thrilling moment of the production. Another standout is Isaiah Johnson as Mister.

 

Design:

The Color Purple appeared on Broadway 10 years ago, and the production value was lavish to match the epic story. The current revival is directed by John Doyle, and he goes the opposite direction by giving the show a minimalistic approach. The only set pieces are chairs used throughout the show. This way the audience can focus on the phenomenal acting and singing onstage.

 

My opinion:

This revival is a must-see and deserves all the critical acclaim it has received. I give it 10/10 escapes!

Cats

Thomas Ellenson

Review by Emma Citron

Last week I saw the return of Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running musical "Cats" at the Neil Simon Theatre. This "love-it-or-hate-it" show has divided audiences for years since its debut in 1982. This was my first time ever seeing a production of it and I really enjoyed it!

Score/"Book:"

"Cats" has little plot, it is simply an adaptation of a book of poems by T.S.Eliot ("Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats") put to song. Each musical number centers around a different cat and their personality/significant traits. These songs are strung together through the Jellicle Ball, an event where one cat in this Jellicle tribe is chosen to ascend to the "Heaviside Layer" and come back in a brand new life. Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic score still holds up today, especially the show's most famous standard, "Memory." Other memorable numbers were the opening "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," and the songs focusing on "The Rum Tum Tugger," "Mr.Mestoffelees," and "Macavity: The Mystery Cat."

Acting: This cast is HUGE, I didn't realize there were that many cats in this tribe! Definite standouts include Tyler Hanes as the Rum Tum Tugger (a "flashy tomcat"), Ricky Ubeda as Mr. Mestoffelees (a cat with magical powers), Quentin Earl Darrington as Old Deuteronomy (the aging leader of the tribe), Christopher Gurr as Gus (the old theatre cat and former actor), and Eloise Kropp as Jennyanydots (the "Gumbie" cat). British pop star Leona Lewis plays Grizabella, the faded "Glamour Cat," and while she is lacking in the acting department, her performance of the final notes of "Memory" is chilling.

Design/Choreography:

The design elements of this revival are virtually identical to the original 1980s production (it has the same costume/set designer: John Napier). Upon entering the Neil Simon, the audience is "transported" to a junkyard through an immersive set that stretches out from the stage and into the audience. It is incredibly detailed with items strewn everywhere (meant to look like the audience is viewing them from a cat's perspective). At some points during the show, cast members even go out into the audience (orchestra AND mezzanine) to interact with theatergoers. The choreography by Gillian Lynne is basically the same as before, but Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler joins the creative team to spice up and modernize some of the bigger production numbers, most notably "Mr.Mestoffelees."

My opinion:

Overall, "Cats" really is just a show about a stage full of singing and dancing cats, but this production is definitely worth seeing (especially to those who have never seen a production before) for the triple-threat cast, timeless score, choreography, and set. I give it 7/10 escapes! "Cats" is currently playing an open-ended run at the Neil Simon Theatre.

 

Hamilton

Thomas Ellenson

I agree with everyone about Hamilton, it is just AMAZING!! It has the most remarkable music.

Acting
The cast is so talented. I am so impressed that they can sing hip hop. Jonathan Groff is a very talented artist who sounds exactly like the soundtrack. I met Lin Manuel. He is so genius. When I asked him how he prepared for the role he said "The hard part was deciding which role I wanted to play. Every time I wrote an Aaron Burr song I was like, 'I wanna play Aaron Burr!  This is dope!' That was part of it, but I think, I just a read a lot and a lot of the writing prepared me to do it. By the time I'd written the show I knew how Hamilton moved, I knew how he talked, and I just wanted him to be the most impatient guy 'cause as a guy who's pretty patient, it's fun to play a guy who's a jerk all the time on stage, it's really fun!

Book
Also, Lin Manuel wrote the book. It is really good because it's emotional and awesome. I wanted to know why he wanted to make a musical based on Mr. Hamilton. I asked him that question. He said "Well I didn't know anything about him until I picked up his book, Ron Chernow's Biography, and I guess its cause he's a writer at the end of the day. He wrote his way out of poverty, he wrote his way into Washington's friendship, he then also wrote his way into fights with every other founding father, he then wrote his way to his own distraction. To me, that was sort of a cool tragic arc and I just felt like I know this dude."

Score 
Lin created the music and lyrics too. Isn't that impressive that he is in the show, and he wrote the book, the music and the lyrics? The music and lyrics are so good. I wanted to know how did he combine hip hop and soft music for both of his shows? I asked him that question. He said  "That's the fun part. The process was that I used all the music I love; hip hop music and I love Broadway music too. The fun is getting to assign hip hop flows to different characters, you know? Hamilton is very Eminem-ish and Rakim-ish. George Washington is more like Common, he's much more straight away. Busta Rhymes is Hercules Mulligan. There's a lot of musical theater love in it too. The narrator is Burr, the guy that kills Hamilton, like Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar."

My opinion
I give it 10 escapes for my review. It is a must see. It is playing at the Richard Rodgers Theater. Good luck getting tickets!!!!!!

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Spring Awakening

Thomas Ellenson

Spring Awakening is remarkable. It is a beautiful and moving show. It is about sex and growing up in the 1800's. Another reason it’s remarkable is that some of the actors are deaf!

 

Acting

The cast is fantastic and a real team. Some are deaf and some are not. They were amazing. It was also especially meaningful because in the 1800's, people were trying to ban sign language. This show, however, uses sign language boldly and the cast collaborates in brilliant ways. The first way is that two people sometimes play the same role: a deaf person acts out the emotions, while another person, in dimmer light, speaks or sings the words. That makes you really see how one person can struggle with himself. The second way is that a person who isn’t deaf still uses sign language. That means their whole body carries the emotion of the words.

 Everyone on stage learned the sign language, even if they weren’t deaf. One of them is Austin P. McKenzle, who's the lead. He was excellent. Also this show has a woman in a wheelchair. She is the first person in a wheelchair on Broadway!!!! Her name is Ali Stroker. She was terrific!! I hope that Broadway will have more people with disabilities in the future.

 

Score 

The music is so good! The lyrics really move the plot along. Every song tells you something new. The songs definitely always do that. My favorite songs  is "totally F***ed" and "the Bitch of Living". The meanings are so true.

 

My opinion

I give it 10 escapes for my review. It is a MUST SEE!!!!!  Go see it before it closes!!! It's closing on 24th!!  It is playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Spring Awakening will really change your world and give you hope.

School of Rock

Thomas Ellenson

School of Rock is just awesome. If you watched the movie, you know the story. The musical uses the same story but it has music.  It is a great musical for families.

Acting
The cast is fantastic. The kids are amazing because they play instruments live and have really great voices. Alex Brightman is awesome. He plays Jack Black's character from the movie. Hecaptures the role perfectly. Bobbi MacKenzie who plays Tomika has a ridiculous voice!

Score 
Andrew Lloyd Webber created 14 new songs to create a score and features all the original songs from the movie. It has a sensational live kids’ rock band. The songs are perfect for this musical. They move the plot along, and tell you something about the story. The songs always do that! My favorite songs are "if Only You would Listen and "Stick it to The Man.

Book
Julian Fellowes created the book. He had to transform it to become musical theater. But he still used the same storyline. I think that he did a really good job!

My opinion
I give it 10 escapes for my review. It is a must see. It is playing at the Winter Garden

Finding Neverland

Thomas Ellenson

Finding Neverland is the most creative musical ever. I've never seen any shows like Finding Neverland because it is really well done. The story is about how J.M Barrie made Peter Pan.

Acting
The cast is amazing and they are very talented people. Also, there are four children in the show who are fabulous. I met a few people who are in it after the show. They were extremely nice. I also met Matthew Morrison. He is a super talented actor. I asked him how he prepared for the role? He said that he talked to his friends who are writers and learned a voice. Also, I asked him how did you feel about your return to Broadway. He said that he was really happy to return home.

Design 
The set is the most beautiful and creative set ever. Truly, I've never seen any sets like this one because it's really unusual for a musical. Also it is really magical. For example, the scene where the mother dies, they used sparkles. I was so impressed and moved!! Bravo!!!!!!!

Score 
The music and lyrics are so fantastic because they are perfect for this musical. It moves the plot along, and tell you something about the story. The songs always do that! The most beautiful song is When Your Feet Don't Touch The Ground. There are also many more songs that are beautiful throughout the show.

My opinion
I give it 10 escapes for my review. It is a must see. It is playing at Lunt Fontanne theater

Something Rotten

Thomas Ellenson

Something Rotten is a brilliant and funny musical. It takes place in the Renaissance! It is about Nick and Nigel Bottom, brothers who are desperate to write a hit play. They live in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar known as “The Bard.” (That’s Shakespeare.) They ask an old man from the town what to do. And he foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting. So Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical!

Score  

The lyrics are really genius! The most crazy fun song is called A Musical! because it has a lot of connections to today. It has neverending jokes about how people write musical. The music is fun. I have to say that Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick who wrote the music and lyrics are really brilliant.

Acting
The cast is awesome. Christian Borle is just amazing. He has an aura! Brad Oscar is fabulous and hysterical. Also he sings the song called Musical and brings the house down. How can he do that every day!?!!?

Design 
The set feels just like the renaissance. I feel like I was in the 1600s!

My opinion
I give it 8 escapes for my review.

Fun Home

Thomas Ellenson

Fun Home is a really special and emotional musical. It's based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel. It's about a girl who is gay and she didn't know that her dad was gay and how they got along with each other. It is totally different from any musical I have seen, because the topic of Fun Home is LGBT culture. The fact is that this is the first show ever made about lesbians.

Acting
The cast is so amazing because they all have talent! I have to say that Sydney Lucas is fabulous! Beth Malone is really terrific. I met Beth. I asked her, "how did you prepare for the role?" She answered she watched a lot of Alison's videos, read the book (graphic novel) and other books. I have to say that she plays Alison so well and even looks like her!!!!

Score 
The music and lyrics are beautiful. It moves the plot along, and tell you something about the story. The songs always do that! My favorite songs are ring of keys, flying away and changing my major. The funniest song is Come to the Fun Home!

Design 

The set is creative because it is small. It's playing in Circle in the square.

My opinion
I give it 10 escapes for my review. It won the best musical in 2015!!! It is a must See!! It is my favorite musical ever!

Matilda

Thomas Ellenson

Book
I didn't like the story because it was boring. I think that they could change the story a little bit because it is same as the movie. I totally didn't like that the musical is same as the movie because I think that any musicals should change the original story a little bit.

Score 
The music and lyrics are great. I think in a musical every song is supposed to move the plot along, and tell you something about the story. The songs didn't always do that. Many are about people that don't matter that much. Matilda has two great songs. They are When I Grow Up and Revolting Children. They have a great messages.

Acting
The cast is amazing. The children are so good. I've never seen any shows that are ruled by children. (The adults are not bad either!)

Design 
I can say only one thing..... The set is so awesome!!!!

I give 3 escapes for my review.

Holler if Ya Hear Me

Thomas Ellenson

Holler if Ya Hear Me was totally magnificent. It was like the musical In the Heights. I can't believe that people don't like this show because the singing and dancing was terrific.

Design 

The set was really creative. A bedroom came down from the ceiling. My favorite part was the purple Cadillac. The theatre changed the seating for the show. They put in bleacher type seats. It was cool.

Acting 

Saul Williams was amazing and Otis Cotton was totally terrific. It was Otis's first broadway show. I hope he will be in more shows.

Dancing 

Wayne Cilento choreographed it. It was stupendous.

Score  

Tupac wrote the lyrics for Holler if Ya Hear Me.

My Opinion 

I gave this play 9 Escapes for my review. It was a must see because it had unique music.

Rocky

Thomas Ellenson

Is boxing believable on Broadway?

Rocky was an amazing and heart-stopping theatrical experience. I totally loved it. I know everybody will love it. 

 design 

The set is the best set ever! It has a lot of movement. I thought how did they do it? They used motors with automation. In the end, the boxing ring came out in middle of the theater. WOW

Acting
Andy Karl was believable because he looks like Rocky and his voice was outstanding. The cast was terrific.

Score 
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens wrote the perfect songs for Rocky.

Dancing 
Steven Hoggett and Kelly Devine choreographed it. It was an excellent job but the most incredible part was the boxing. Yes, boxing is believable on Broadway.

My Opinion 
I gave this play 10 Escapes for my review. it was a must see.

Beautiful

Thomas Ellenson

Beautiful the Carole King musical is creative and terrific. It's like Jersey boys because it is a story about teens who beat the odds and became stars.

Design 
Derek Mclane is brilliant because he made a nice set with magnets. The props glide across the stage. Of the many musicals I've seen, the set here is fantastic. 

Acting
Jessie Mueller is totally amazing because her voice and look is like Carole King. She's Extremely talented at piano. I had never seen a main actor and cast who played piano and Instruments in any play.

Book
Douglas McGrath is great because he wrote it with 25 songs. 

Score 
The music is Genius because they put all her songs in this show

My opinion 
I give this play 9 Escapes for my review. It’s playing at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre

The Book of Mormon

Thomas Ellenson

The best comedy musical on Broadway is the Book of Mormon.

Book
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone wrote an incredibly rude story but people laugh the whole time. The story is so funny and good and the audience stays totally interested in this show the whole time.

Score 
Also Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone made the music and lyrics. The lyrics are hilarious I could not stop laughing! My favorite song is "I believe". 

Directing 
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker are so brilliant because they directed the best comedy show. I thought that many actors in this show are really young but they were excellent!


My opinion
I give this show 10 escapes for my review. It's playing at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. It's a must see.