I always say I don’t like musicals. I’ve never been able to sit through Rent. I happily mutilate the “Five thousand, sixty one hours, six hundred minutes” song (or whatever it is) and then I’m over it. Anytime I watch a movie and people get to singing, I get mad. Even Glee, which I am a huge fan of, took some getting used to. I still space out during some of the songs, even if they’re doing a good job.
Now this isn’t to say I hate them all. EXCELLENT musicals like Dreamgirls, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Wiz (at least when Michael Jackson sings) will capture me.
Still, there is something that I ALWAYS do and that’s FREE SHIT! I love free shit!
As such, when my homegirl called up and mentioned she had a free ticket to see ‘S Wonderful at the Straz Center, I promptly said yes. Hell, I didn’t even know what she was talking about. I had to get off the phone and Google it! It was still a no brainer though. I firmly believe in supporting the arts. I like museums. I like concerts. And for free…maybe I could even learn to love plays?
I’ll accept that I “lack culture” as rich people love to inform broke people. I’ve found myself at many a corporate dinner or classy event wondering which fork to use and/or questioning proper etiquette. I’ve also found that, for the most part, I don’t give a shit. It’s only embarrassing if you let it be. I’m never ashamed to ask someone for help, and if there’s nobody around to guide me, hell, I just do what I want. A fork is a fuckin fork. What I’ve learned from dealing with people from all walks of life is this: Culture, unlike class, isn’t anything other than exposure. Everybody can get some. I never miss out on an opportunity to broaden my horizons.
And I’m so glad I went!
When my homegirl told me she had me a free ticket, I figured we’d be in the nosebleed section. Um, no. We had orchestra seats. We were on the floor. I was only 2 tables back from the stage!
Our seats were perfect. I was so close I could see the sweat on the brows of the performers, but far enough that I didn’t have to strain my neck to watch them or dodge any spittle. (Those guys sing and dance their butts off. Fluids are bound to fly!) I’ve actually decided that these seats ruined me for any other show. If your first time eating beef is a steak, you can’t go and start eating hotdogs! That’s a joke. Watching a show in the nosebleed after this would be a joke.
‘S Wonderful is divided into 5 mini musical acts: “New York in 1916”, “Paris in the 1930s”, “Hollywood in the 1940s”, “New Orleans in the 1950s” and “Present Time”. There are about 40 classic songs and tons of singing and dancing. Our show had 5 actors and one seriously talented pianist. This show lasted about 2 hours, with a 10 minute intermission.
(The cast, from left to right: Tia Jemison, Musical director Michael Sebastian (piano) Andrew Mauney, Kristina Huegel, Laurie Sutton and Christopher Timson.)
THE MUSICAL ACTS…
New York was my least favorite. It was all about a geeky white dude working for a paper. Think Superman, without the superhero aspect. LAME! While I enjoyed the music and the actors did an amazing job, the actual storyline was just too damn corny for words. I rolled my eyes quite a bit and found myself praying the other acts wouldn’t mirror this one. Thankfully, they did not!
New Orleans was definitely my favorite! It was so jazzy and actually quite modern, as the subject line was about the pain of relationships. Doesn’t matter what era you put it in…love hurts. Tia Jemison was the lead singer here and that woman has some pipes! Good lord.
Paris was okay…but I started dozing off towards the end. I only remember it in bits and pieces. I’m willing to take the blame for that, though. As busy as I am, sticking me in a cold, dark room is a nap session waiting to happen. Thankfully intermission came after this act. I woke up to claps and ran for the bathroom to freshen up!
My Second favorite act was Hollywood. The whole skit is freaking hilarious and the lead actress, Kristina Huegel, had great comedic timing. I also appreciated this act because, after the intermission, I feared falling back asleep. Luckily, I was too busy laughing to doze off and finished the rest of the show wide-awake.
The Present day act was just pure fun. It wasn’t about storyline, so much as singing and dancing. They bounced around the stage like chickens in heat for about 9 songs and then we were done!
All of the singing and dancing didn’t bother me one bit! Unlike in a movie, you feel apart of a performance show. You’re bouncing and singing along if you know the words. Your eyes are darting around as all the performers move and shake…you really don’t have much time to over think the dialogue being sung. Everything is moving fast and you’re along for the ride. I quite enjoyed this musical.
I also came away from the show with a HARDCORE RESPECT for the artists that perform in musicals. Unless you’re on Broadway, this isn’t exactly a high paying gig. And yet, there they are, giving their all. Singing, dancing, acting, emoting…all at the same damn time. They absolutely, positively put popular musicians to shame. I want to kick Taylor Swift and Rihanna in the ass. They aint got nothing on these cats!
I am also certain that fat people will never do Broadway, and on the off chance that they do, they will lose all their weight within months. These folks moved like somebody had injected Maximum Strength Five Hour Energy drinks into their veins. Screw Jenny Craig, audition for a play!
If you haven’t already, go see a play! And if you have the money in your budget, get orchestra seats.
LESSON LEARNED: Yes, this show taught me a dang lesson, and that is to always keep my phone charged, especially when I don’t have my camera nearby. I messed around and got to the Straz Center with a phone on 20% life. As such, my phone didn’t have enough power to operate the flash and by show’s end, my phone was dead. So, in addition to having crappy photos, I also missed out on getting a picture with the cast. NOT COOL!