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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:49 pm 
Tall Boy

Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:07 am
Posts: 119
Mactor17 wrote:
@muck912 Ben did the flip off the piano Saturday afternoon which I thought was interesting since he didnt at the Wednesday performance.


It will be easy to spot me at the theatre in Ottawa. I'm the guy with his arm in a sling. I hurt my shoulder patting myself on the back for single-handedly bringing piano flips back to the BE Tour. Let me explain. Over the last few months my reviews have been loaded with diatribes about the disappearance of "wow-factor" (i.e. piano flips) moments from tour performances. It has been a long, hard, lonely battle. Few forumites sided with me, as they were willing to accept the reduced status quo. Piano flips have been gone for months (except for Kylend's final few performances) and now they mysteriously return following my forum onslaught. Cause and effect? No doubt! BETM tour management succumbed to my pressure.

But wait a minute. Do we know if the BETM Grinches even read this forum? Or could it be that piano flips aren't really back? Could Ben Cook have just gone rogue last Saturday afternoon and pulled off an unauthorized piano flip? If any Billy past or present has what it takes to go rogue, it's Ben. Remember, he is the Billy in St. Paul who grabbed the letter back from Mrs W in the middle of the Letter scene and then pulled it farther away from her when she reached for it. Yeah, Ben could have just gone rogue.

But questions about the worthiness of the credit have never stopped me from claiming full credit in the past, and it's not stopping me now. I claim full credit for the return of piano flips to the tour. Well, not quite. In a moment of pure generousity I'm only claiming 90% credit. I'll give the other 10% to Ben.

So, if you see me in Ottawa give me a well-deserved pat on the back. Just be careful to not reinjure my shoulder. I'm going to need that shoulder for another self-congratulatory pat on the back when crossovers return to B2B, or f-bombs and blood-curdling screams return to AD.


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 7:54 pm 
Small Boy

Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:07 pm
Posts: 58
Ben had a lot of fans at that performance as he knew due to the very loud applause and cheer when his name was introduced pre-show. My guess is he just decided to do it but we will see if it continues.


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:52 pm 
Billy
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Location: Rochester, NY
atreyu wrote:
From the aunt that wasn't enamored because she couldn't understand the accent comes this testament to the skill of the actors: "The cast is from England, right?" Umm....no. :lol:

I can't tell you how many times I spoke with audience members in Baltimore who asked the same thing. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:01 pm 
Tony
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CJ-Rochester wrote:
atreyu wrote:
From the aunt that wasn't enamored because she couldn't understand the accent comes this testament to the skill of the actors: "The cast is from England, right?" Umm....no. :lol:

I can't tell you how many times I spoke with audience members in Baltimore who asked the same thing. :D

I believe the audience members would be correct (at least on one count).


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:12 pm 
Tall Boy

Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:05 pm
Posts: 155
Location: USA
Doesn't Mr. Braithwaite have to know to hold the piano in place? Maybe he does that anyway when there's just a jump, but you would think all three actors present onstage at the time would be aware of a flip ahead of time.

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UK/Ireland Tour
Billy: Lewis Smallman
Michael: Elliot Stiff

2nd American Tour
Billy: Giuseppe Bausilio, Michael Dameski, Ty Forhan
Michael: Griffin Birney x2, Cameron Clifford


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:17 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6807
ActingDude17 wrote:
Doesn't Mr. Braithwaite have to know to hold the piano in place? Maybe he does that anyway when there's just a jump, but you would think all three actors present onstage at the time would be aware of a flip ahead of time.


Mr Braithwaite very clearly engages the foot locks that many pianos have. These lock the wheels from moving and stabilize the piano (the London piano rises from under the floor and is not rolled into place. I assume that it, and the dining room table, are firmly locked into position.).

I think the choice to do the flip or not is left up to each performer.


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:29 pm 
Tony
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Joined: Sat Nov 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 628
ActingDude17 wrote:
Doesn't Mr. Braithwaite have to know to hold the piano in place? Maybe he does that anyway when there's just a jump, but you would think all three actors present onstage at the time would be aware of a flip ahead of time.

Mr. Braithwaite holds the piano in place regardless of whether there is a flip.


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:56 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6807
BEtourfan wrote:
ActingDude17 wrote:
Doesn't Mr. Braithwaite have to know to hold the piano in place? Maybe he does that anyway when there's just a jump, but you would think all three actors present onstage at the time would be aware of a flip ahead of time.

Mr. Braithwaite holds the piano in place regardless of whether there is a flip.


Not, I recall, in London.


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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:36 pm 
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Billy
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Location: Malverne (Long Island), NY
Undoubtedly, I will leave details out that I really wanted to tell you, but I better start now before even more escape me!

I saw all 4 shows Saturday and Sunday in Baltimore, which included Ben/Jake, Noah/Sam, Drew/Jake, and Mitchell/Sam in that order.

BEN

First, Ben Cook. There aren't enough accolades to say how wonderful he is, and as someone who cares deeply about great acting even more than dancing or singing, I'm always gripped to Ben's performances. He will be an incredible actor going forward, and I am giddy to think how bright his future will be. None of that of course is to say his singing and dancing aren't absolutely awesome too. You'll often read a lot of sidestepping characterizations of a senior Billy's singing, but let me just say that rest assured, Ben is a perfectionist in every way on stage, and he does a masterful job. And the dancin'? Well that aerial at the start of Electricity is just WOW. I didn't hear the same audience-wide gasp at it that I heard in Boston (whose audiences were just much better than Baltimore--sorry to any parents of Baltimore audience members reading lol) but there was still a quite palpable expression of awe in the air.

Ben had a lot of trouble getting one of his ballet slippers on at the start of Shine, not due to his own fault, but most likely someone who either made a mistake or was being mischievous. The one slipper was just tied up or something, so poor Ben had to sit down for a few seconds and figure it out instead of jumping right into the class.

NOAH

I THOUGHT the slipper mishap was a one-off until the same thing happened to Noah Parets at the Saturday night show. "Again!" I thought, surprised and half-concerned, until I saw a huge grin on Janet Dickinson's (Mrs. Wilkinson) face and more than a few showing up on various ballet girls' faces as well. It sure looked like a really funny prank on Ben and Noah at that point, though neither of them showed any amusement. =) The suppressed smiles continued from Janet for a while afterward, which just sent me into giggles too.

Noah was everything I remembered from Boston, though more intense and borderline angry at times. Though I'm not a fan of that usually, I have to say it always makes the eventual smiles more of a reward that lifts your soul. Billy's had it so hard and been working so much to improve his dancing throughout the show, so by the time he gets into the Royal Ballet School and soon after leads the company in the Finale, the smiles are just very uplifting. The audience at Saturday night's show, especially pre-Intermission, was just horrible! I looked at fellow fans and had to whisper, "Are they all asleep or something?" It was really annoying. They thankfully woke up a bit after Intermission, but it was still a sad showing.

DREW

Then came Sunday afternoon. I was really looking forward to seeing the 2 new Billys, which is always a fun treat seeing how they react to lines, how they play Billy, how they do everything in their own way.

As I've already mentioned, Drew Minard is phenomenal. Perfection. Brilliant in every way, and that emotion was felt by all who saw him. It's been a long time since an Angry Dance finished and I just sat in my seat in astonishment at a Billy's First Act. But that's what happened for me Sunday afternoon. Usually jumping ahead of the bathroom line or finding fans to talk to right away trumps anything else, but nope, I was just stuck in my chair like I had a seatbelt I had to undo first. His acting, his accent, his singing, his dancing, his everything was just amazing!!! I wanted to just find a red, white, and black Forum Phone to call right away and let everyone here know to get to the theatre right away! :D

Maria mentioned his serious reactions in Grandma's Song. I have to say yet again a new emotion overtook me during Drew's performance. Not necessarily a new feeling that no one else has ever felt about it before, but for me it felt very new: He listens to Grandma sing like he's learning a lesson of how a gentleman should and should not act, how to treat a woman, how to behave as a man in general. The scene took on a more ethereal magic than usual for me, just from his dedicated looks to Grandma.

I could fill pages on his performance but will not. Just trust me on this one: you HAVE to see this kid perform as Billy!!!

MITCHELL

After seeing the two senior Billys (funny to think of Noah that way haha) on Saturday, then Drew on Sunday afternoon, I got to see a very different Billy in Mitchell Tobin. All the talent you expect from a Billy, and a fine performance all around for someone who's only done the role a handful of times so far, Mitchell's difference is in his size. Though we avoid over-talking a Billy's height for good reason here, it's worth mentioning how small young Mitchell is. As Maria said, he brings out so many motherly instincts in her, and I'd suspect that a great portion of the audience felt the same way too. The excitement and joy Mitchell's Billy exhibits are even more delightful because he's such a little boy, his sadness and tears even more poignant and heart-wrenching because he's so small, and his thrilling Electricity even more amazing because of his small frame. I joked Sunday that for the first time, Small Boy had a real, honest-to-God chance of snatching his lollipop back from Billy! And when Mitchell told Mrs. Wilkinson in the Letter scene, "She wrote it for uz, for when I was 18," I expected him to then say, "but I opened it 12 years early." :lol: But at 12 years old, Mitchell really is Billy's age, and he is a very fine addition to this already wonderful cast!

JAKE and SAM

Two fun Michaels with different takes on their parts in various scenes. Jake does the lovely, sadder goodbye to Billy at the end, and in general has a very fun, purposeful, borderline weird (in a good way) style of acting in his scenes with Billy, and Sam has a very take-charge, hugging the spotlight style, and does a really great job nailing the singing and dancing of Express Yourself. Both are great, and I think fans will appreciate many elements of both their performances.

On Saturday evening between shows, I was sitting in Panera Bread across from the stage door, tons of cast and fans all over the place, and I had a moment to myself while others were ordering their food. Sam Poon's family sent out autographed headshots to fans in the mail recently, and I noted how funny it was that his name is basically SPoon, or "Spoon".

So I'm sitting there and it hit me: Jake Kitchin! Kitchen Spoon! I told Sam about my revelation after the Saturday night show and he smiled widely and said, "Yes, and there's another boy, Ben Cook (ha!), and so we say, "Cook in the Kitchin with Spoon!" :lol:

Annnnnnyway, just thought you'd all like that. :D

BALLET GIRLS

Before I stop (for now) so there's a better chance you'll read this and not gasp at the length and move on (too late?), I have to tell you how much I love the ballet girls! I loved the previous ones too, and hope I've given them their due as well, but this cast, originals and newbies (or at least new to me) are great!!! I LOVE how Debbie (Samantha Blaire Cutler) looks so longingly at Billy during Solidarity (in the part where Mrs. Wilkinson has them all looking at the spot on the wall). For each and every Billy, Samantha is standing there looking absolutely smitten with her leading man, and it is so cool! She also nails the bathroom scene line where she says, "He was shaggin' this woman at work, but nowwwww he's an alcoholic!" (with a big smile on her face). Though the audience rarely enjoys this line (1 audience in 4 did this weekend), I've always thought it to be really funny. I put it up there with, "I don't care if your mam does have cerebral palsy, you have to bring your shoes!" It's dark humor, too strange for some, but I always smile widely.

Tracey Atkinson (Rebecca Marlowe) got a different line from Mrs. W. on Sunday night that wasn't used the first three shows. "You look like two sausages hanging out of a tutu!" I gather this one's used elsewhere and/or has been used before, and I'm just forgetting? Not sure, but I thought it was very funny. Rebecca also had me laughing during Solidarity when Mrs. Wilkinson asks, "Is that understood" after she explains pirouettes to them. They all tiredly/confusedly say, "Yes, Miss." but Rebecca as Tracey Atkinson shakes her head and mimes a big ol "NO". Very funny. Then when Billy comes to say goodbye to Mrs. Wilkinson, and the girls all run to get Billy's autograph, Rebecca as Tracey asks, "Will you sign my pie for me?" Again, this may be an old line, but it was new to me and really made me laugh.

Loved Lexi Viernes too! She's so sweet and friendly in person and is wonderful in the show!!!

And of course a very happy anniversary again to Madison Barnes for her 900th performance!!! I told her mom on Saturday that it was my 50th time seeing the show, so I suddenly felt much less impressive! ;)

_______________

Okay, I promise, I'm done now. Will post a few more thoughts at another time. Happy New Year, all!!!

Sean

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 Post subject: Re: Baltimore Reviews
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:14 pm 
Billy
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Posts: 8307
Location: Rhode Island, USA
Sean -- I am never daunted by the length of your reviews -- just the opposite. I enjoy reading every word and thought you write down. They really bring the reader into the theater and allow one to vicariously enjoy the moments.

I'm really loving these first few reviews from Austin and Baltimore regarding the new Billys -- Drew and Mitchell. The descriptions of their strengths and the nuances of their portrayals begin to give a picture of the type of Billy they are -- not in terms of talent, because we know they wouldn't set foot on that stage without bountiful amounts of that -- but in how they've chosen to portray the role.

I'm curious: I've read from the various Baltimore reviews about audience responses (or not) to various lines and bits of acting, and even comments about the overall rating of an audience for a particular performance with regard to how responsive it was (or wasn't). But I don't recall reading anything about the sizes of the audience.

From those who have seen the show over the last few stops -- how is the production doing with regard to filling the seats?


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