Episode 44: Turn Off Your Phones

Patty & Emily discuss a new reading Speakeasy and the Transport Group’s production of Once Upon A Mattress starring Jackie Hoffman. They also talk about recent announcements, including Cabin in the Sky casting and Josh Groban’s Broadway debut. Also, old people are ruining everything.

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Love Never Dies: Patty & Emily at The Phantom of the Opera Again!

When the Angel of Music calls you, you follow. Seriously. If you don’t, he’ll hypnotize you and murder people around you. So, we certainly weren’t about to say no to seeing Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess again in Phantom. What if something happened to Beth Leavel?! But luckily, nothing went wrong, and the show moved along like a well-oiled, slow-moving chandelier. Norm and Sierra were in great voice, and still playing up the camp factor to great effect. The audience was super into it, as usual. A woman near by whispered, “Wow!” after Norm’s Music of the Night and was moved to tears by the end. Not like our tears of laughter, but the important thing is that everyone had a good time.

Before the show, as an added bonus to the Phantom experience, there was a reception at NYY Steak, a Yankees themed restaurant. We were excited to see that they even offer Broadway themed cocktails, like the Bronx Bomber! Then someone reminded us that’s a nickname for the Yankees, not just a play from last season starring Chris Jackson. The next time you have sports loving relatives in town, take them to NYY Steak. It’ll ease the transition into the glitz of Broadway. Plus, they had delicious sliders and cheese empanadas.

See Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess in The Phantom of the Opera! Get tickets here!

And before the show, get dinner at NYY Steak. Don’t forget to sing the score to Damn Yankees!

Patty & Emily at The Phantom of the Opera

Two days before the 2014 Tony Awards, we sat down in the theatre ready to see a show we had been anticipating ever since casting was announced. Of course in this season of must-see performances, we were ready to see Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess in The Phantom of the Opera!
It was Emily’s first time seeing the show, Patty’s second, and we weren’t disappointed. First, we have to say we do not understand how anyone takes this show seriously. It is not romantic; The Phantom is a murderer! And Christine just seems confused. At one point, she throws a fit, insisting she will not participate in The Phantom’s opera, but in the next scene, she shows up to rehearsal with no explanation. It’s also hard to tell whether we’re to believe The Phantom can do magic or is just a very talented “inventor.” The main characters aren’t the show’s only distraction. When the set changes aren’t ridiculously long, they are basically just curtains opening and closing. And oftentimes, there are actors waiting behind those curtains or set pieces for huge stretches of time. Norm Lewis was hanging above the audience for the entirety of “All I Ask of You.”
It’s hard to say how casts have played the drama in Phantom over its thousand year reign (really 26 years), but this superb cast really seems to understand the gothic melodrama of it all. Let’s talk about Ellen Harvey’s fantastic Madame Giry. Her deliberate and dramatic line readings really set an ominous tone. And Michelle McConnell and Christian Sebek delightfully played Carlotta and Piangi, the diva and divo of the opera, with great flair. The ensemble did a great job whipping back and forth between the show’s almost farcical comedy to its intense drama. One minute they are dancing at a masquerade, and the next recoiling in horror as The Phantom stands inches away (yet no one bothers to try and grab him).
And leading this ensemble were Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess as The Phantom and Christine Daae. As usual, the title number seemed to be tracked, which was disappointing. But throughout the rest of the show, Norm and Sierra did not disappoint. Sierra effortlessly sang Christine’s many songs, ringing with a clear soprano. Not to mention keeping up the hood to her cape. And Norm really got the over-the-top desperation of The Phantom, sometimes even playing him like a whiny child. These two phenomenal actors kept us interested, even as the story lead to some pretty crazy places. Just don’t think too hard about the fact that they once played father and daughter.
In the end, as the curtain came down, the crowd in the Majestic Theatre rose to their feet, having loved every minute of it. And while it might not be one of our favorite shows, to be able to have seen these two performers and the cast around them was truly an experience.
Norm Lewis and Sierra Boggess currently appear in The Phantom of the Opera. You can get tickets here.