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Fiddler on the Roof – Seattle, May 26, 2010 by YFA

I’m going to watch another musical tonight and I suddenly realized I didn’t write a review for the last musical I watched :).
Fiddler on the Roof with Harvey Fierstein
A little background on the musical if you haven’t heard of it: Fiddler held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. It was nominated for ten Tony Awards (1965), winning nine, including Best Musical, score, book, direction and choreography.

I didn’t do my pre-study for this musical as I was rather busy planning for my Yellowstone trip, and was slightly surprised to again see Jerome Robbins as the choreographer – this makes the 4th musical in a row that I saw with him as the choreographer (South Pacific, On the Town, Anna and the King, Fiddler on the Roof). Granted, he is an amazing choreographer – and that really shows in the large dance numbers in this musical.

Being another old musical, it was quite long (just over 3 hours I think, with intermission). The plot was set in 1905 in Russia and talks about the lives of Russian Jews, so culturally and musically I did not connect. (It makes me wonder if non-Asians have the same problem when they watch more Oriental plays like Anna and the King). The only song I knew from Fiddler was “Sunrise, Sunset”, which to my surprise was a wedding song for the play 😐 (it is in a minor key).

The house was more packed than I expected and so I guess the play itself is rather popular – either that or people are present to see Harvey Fierstein, who is a very lively actor. The production was solid, but I did not enjoy it as much as some other musicals – just not my taste I guess.

2.5 TP rolls for me:

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The Generous Mr. Lovewell by sadd3j

Been listening to the new MercyMe album for about a week since it’s come out and of course after the first listen, nothing immediately jumped out at me. Since, however, I’ve really come to like the album in it’s entirety.

It’s not the most “original” album, but honestly, I like my artists to do what I like them for (ahem Norah Jones). The Generous Mr. Lovewell is definitely original enough that the songs don’t sound rehashed, but it’s still got that melodious MercyMe style. I haven’t identified each track but I like almost all the majority of the songs.

Here’s a sample, in no order:

The Generous Mr. Lovewell – the title track .. would be great for a good times video, very uplifting, works well for driving/moving scenes. Verse/prechorus/chorus dynamics are very polished.

Crazy Enough – Slower, darker.. reminds me of the mellow alternative music that I was a fan of. Some Beck or Eels, The Refreshments and other kinda fringe alternative bands.

All of Creation – probably getting the most air time on the radio, the most worship-worthy, but verse is mercyme-range singable. Chorus is catchy.

I also like Move, Free, Beautiful, This So Called Life.. etc. If I had to sum it up, I’d say it’s an excellent roadtrip album as a number of the songs are good driving songs. Don’t look for something to blow you away, but definitely enjoyable listening.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 rolls!

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Tell Me on a Sunday – Seattle, May 5, 2010 by YFA

Tell me on a Sunday

Went to see ALW’s Tell me on a Sunday last night. Strictly speaking, “Tell Me on a Sunday” is a song cycle and not so much a musical – there was barely any acting involved. It primarily is an English girl singing about her experiences in New York, and so it was 1 singer + 1 pianist/conductor + 1 violin, viola, cello. The entire thing was quite short – lasted around 75 minutes with no intermission, and consists of 4 scenes, with 4-5 songs per scene.

I think this piece was written in the early ’80s by ALW and it has all his classical music goodness. (I heard Phantom 2: Love Never Dies is bizarre and not that great). The music is superb with a lot of revolving themes. With one actor portraying one role, the acting is quite limited, and at times it was bizarre because she sings to an imaginary person on stage (e.g. she may open a door and invite her boyfriend in and start singing to him – but nobody actually comes in through the door). For once I think this was a “story driven” plot that had minimal character development (usually in plays and musicals, I complain about too much character development and not enough plot movement), and on the other end of this spectrum it felt rather strange (in the last scene the girl sings “What have I become?” and it didn’t touch me at all since I didn’t know who she was in the first place). Otherwise for a small production (only filled 4 rows of around 12 people each on a Wed night) it was perfect.

I went home and wiki-ed it to find out that this song cycle apparently is the “song” part (act 1) of ALW’s work “Song and Dance”. One more checkmark on ALW quest! I rate “Tell Me on a Sunday”:

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On the Town – Seattle, April 21, 2010 by YFA

It is “Seattle Celebrates Bernstein” season in Seattle (which strikes me as a little strange since Bernstein isn’t from nor really resided in Seattle, I don’t believe), so the theater I have season subscription to is putting on 2 classic Bernstein musicals, the first of which is “On the Town”.

I’ve only studied West Side Story (what Bernstein is most famous for) before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The musical definitely had a more classic feel to it, and it ended up being quite a funny comedy (A mixture of slapstick and witty humour). The songs felt classical with a slight touch of modernism, which really fits my taste in that it was easy to digest (not like Sunday in a Park with George) yet a little adventurous (e.g. the major 7th (I think) motive for “Oh well” in Act 2’s “Some Other Time” is quite angular and not classical). There were a few memorable songs as well (at least memorable enough that I can hum parts of it leaving the theater), such as “Carried Away”.

What is special about On the Town (and I suspect this is common for Bernstein’s musicals) is his heavy use of dance (probably because of Jerome Robbins) – it was pretty and at times felt like a ballet, and the genius in it is the dance sequences (nothing is sung) is used to advance the plot as well. So I thought that was quite fresh and clever.

The only downside was the plot was a little thin (although that’s somewhat expected for a slapstick-ish comedy). But overall the music, choreography and stage directing is quite well done, so:

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Starfield, The Saving One Concert – Apr 9, 2010, Bothell, WA by YFA

My friend told me about this “little” Starfield concert that is happening up north, 20 minutes from Seattle. Tickets were $10 and since Starfield just released a new CD that I like, I figure I’d go and check it out. It ends up the concert is held at this semi-big Korean church in their gym – and there were a lot of Korean youngsters (high school or college, I can’t tell) attending, so it felt a little bit like… high school :P.

Anyhow, Starfield is stellar (har har) in their performance, although I have a feeling since it is a smaller venue they were taking it a little easy. I think they opened some of their new songs in a much lower key than their album version, and there were definitely some wrong notes here and there (hehe that’s how well I know their material). It was a shame that their projector wasn’t working out so they couldn’t display the lyrics and get more people to sing along with them (which might have been why they dropped the key in the first place), but they did manage to do a bunch of older material and other worship songs so everyone could participate.

I haven’t taken much photos with my SLR lately, so this was a good chance to practice; but I didn’t want to spend too much time editing and processing (and I wanted to enjoy the concert), so I only took a selected few. They seem to turn out quite nicely still with minimal processing – I’m quite happy with them (minus some mic stand focusing challenges, and expected graininess from high ISO). Here are some highlights:

Tim Neufeld in the opener
Tim Neufeld went down to the crowds
Tim Neufeld again, with a sharp mic standThe Neufeld brothers!

Oh and as a bonus! We saw a local band called “New Heights” that opened for Starfield, and I noticed their guitarist looks a bit like sadd3j – maybe young sadd3j 😛 so I took a quick snapshot:

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