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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sat Mar 02, 2013 5:29 pm 
Billy
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Location: Rhode Island, USA
Here's another review from EU Jacksonville, this one written by Katie Gile:

http://www.eujacksonville.com/story2.php?storyid=2944


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:41 am 
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Billy
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Location: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Another brief youtube review:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXzj_fzoY6Y

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"I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.”
-George Balanchine 1904 -1983


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:40 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6747
Saturday, March 2nd: Matinee (Ben Cook and Jake Kitchen). No Cast substitutes.

"It's freezing!" I exclaimed as the cold wind hit my face in front of the Times-Union Performing Center in Jacksonville. I had time to kill, so I walked over toward the riverside eating and shopping center, the Jacksonville Landing, avoiding the ubiquitous Hooters Restaurant, and instead availing myself of a plate of Irish sausages and mash , and a Guinness, at the rather good Irish pub there. Despite it being cold outside, once inside the theater is was hot. Hot, as in a performance of sheer perfection. I do not say that lightly; Ben was simply phenomenal; entirely comfortable with his role. Since my first encounter with Ben's Billy, I have watched the demeanor change from childhood innocence to tweenage questioning and now, full bore teen determination and confidence. I saw, yesterday, Ben turning Billy into a hint of a Tony. The scowls; the look of 'You must be joking'; even the paucity of tears; all display a Billy that, in terms of real life 1984 County Durham, might be more realistic. Even Debbie's entreaty leads to a reaction more like: 'Bugger off, kid, you're FAR too young for me!'. All of which makes Ben's interpretation all the more interesting; a bit like teaching an English class for two years in a row, and watching as the ideas and the maturity grow. He absolutely nailed this performance.

It is interesting to note that Ben no longer leaps into Dad's arms, but hugs him instead. He does do the chairlift, however.

I would like to heap praise upon Jake Kitchen. I have seen him four times in as many months and have to say that he has really grown into the role, and has created an entire sideshow of funny moments that not only enhance his part but makes it his own.

The entire cast was in top form, and I saw only one funny error: when Ben was lifted onto Jackie's shoulders, no one had given him a miner's helmet. So he pointed at us with one hand and lightly slapped Jackie's head, no doubt as a 'punishment' for forgetting this prop!

After, as I walked by the two parked Billy trucks, the stage door opened, and a teenager's voice loudly said "It's freezing!" I turned and watched as its speaker, and his guardian, walked over to the Jacksonville Landing, passing (I hope) Hooters, for a more suitable destination!


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:44 pm 
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Billy
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Location: Malverne (Long Island), NY
kport wrote:
It is interesting to note that Ben no longer leaps into Dad's arms, but hugs him instead.


Aww, just as sweet, I like hearing that. =)


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:53 pm 
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Billy
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Location: Williamsburg, Virginia, USA
Thanks for your review, kport. It really is a wonderful privilege to get to watch a Billy's performance change and grow with him, isn't it?

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"I don't want people who want to dance; I want people who have to dance.”
-George Balanchine 1904 -1983


To follow the forum's Twitter at http://twitter.com/BEForum, click on the direct link in Applies to All Forums above.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:20 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6747
Saturday, March 2nd - Evening Performance Noah Parets and Sam Poon (no cast substitutes)

Lunch at the Irish Pub was so good that I decided to have a quick supper there, too: the fish and chips was excellent and put me in the mood for a return to the Durham coast. The peas were not mushy, though. A pint of Newcastle Brown Ale made up for that. The bracing wind added to the Easington ambiance.

What can I say? This was one of the best performances I have seen - anywhere. It seems as though the cold weather outside pulled the cast together into a huddle to spark creative warmth. Noah dances beautifully. He has the poise that comes after 60-odd performances. Sam has really nailed down his Michael - the timing flows well and the 'jokes' and mannerisms have time to sink in.

But what really knocked me out was the singing in Expressing Yourself. Noah has an A* singing voice. So does Sam (as you would expect from a former National Tour Gavroche). But they were doing something that few soloists can do when they sing as a duo: their voices match. They match to the beat, to the consonant, to the pitch. When that happens a strange effect is heard: almost a bell-like sound happens that is hard to explain but, when it happens, it is there. And all this happens while they are dancing! I have never heard two voices blend so well, in these particular roles, as last night.

The cast were on top form. As always! (I think touring casts may develop a stronger on-stage bond that do theatre-based ones, but that is only my opinion.). I enjoyed one new little addition; at the start of the company dance (at the end, when Billy starts the tap), the Ballet Girls and Ensemble are crouching on the floor along the rear of the stage, playing a hand drumbeat on the floor as a sort of intro for Billy's first tap. It is always good to see new things added to keep the show fresh.

I left, quickly, to scrape the inches of ice and snow that must have covered my car during this performance ;) . I did have a moment to apologize to one cast member's mum for the unseasonable Florida weather. I promised it would improve by the time they reach West Palm Beach. She promised to hold me to it!


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:52 pm 
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Billy
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Location: Malverne (Long Island), NY
kport wrote:
[color=#0000FF]I enjoyed one new little addition; at the start of the company dance (at the end, when Billy starts the tap), the Ballet Girls and Ensemble are crouching on the floor along the rear of the stage, playing a hand drumbeat on the floor as a sort of intro for Billy's first tap. It is always good to see new things added to keep the show fresh.


The way you describe it, it sounds like something they've always done, but maybe they did something slightly different that made it stand out more?

Love hearing about the Tour Michaels, as both were great when I saw them, and I was hoping to hear they only grew further comfortable with the part and the timing necessary to really land the jokes perfectly. Your reviews indicate they are on top form, which is awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:27 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6747
The Moran Theater; The Times-Union Performing Arts Center, Jacksonville

It is perhaps unusual to review a venue, but perhaps by the end of this screed, its purpose will be evident.

This is a first rate venue for Broadway Shows. Built in 1997, it is set up for amplified performances. The Moran Theater seats 3000 with one vast, multi-tiered balcony seating about 1200; there are a number of boxes along the sides on two levels.

Things that impressed me:

The stage is about the perfect size for BETM, with a large, open orchestra pit. There are two several center aisles, as well as side aisles. In order to reach the stage, Small Boy and Billy have to climb to a walkway strung over one side of the pit.

The theater sits alongside the St John's River with panoramic windows and outside gardens overlooking it. Being a PAC, other things were happening. During last night's performances, a choir was rehearsing Bach's Mass. In many ways it resembles Tampa's Straz PAC.

Access to the theater is easy; car parks are across the road; there is a vibrant nearby outdoor shopping/food mall called The Landing; the streets are easy to walk (judging by the comings and goings of the Ballet Girl crocodile, the cast were accommodated very near by and could get there by foot).

I loved the fact the the audiences at both performances were young (for Florida); lots of 20s-50s and loads of kids. I enjoyed sitting in front of a family with three tween-age kids plus parents and grandpa and listening to their reactions - when one has seen the show many times, one tunes into these things. The kids' squeals of laughter really made that performance special - and grandpa loved it (I think he had eyes for Patti Perkins!).

Jacksonville is more religiously conservative than the other Florida venues. Driving up, I counted eight local radio stations that were purely religious on the FM dial. However, the fact that there were lots of families with young kids who enjoyed the musical was refreshing.

However, the numbers in the seats for BETM are not good. Management told me that the theater has been only 1200-1400 seats sold each performance. Only 100 seats were sold in the balcony at last night's performance, so price is not the only reason people stayed away (they let everyone in the balcony choose their own seat). The staff are exceptionally friendly. It is a very well run venue. It is clearly cherished by the city.

Simply put, the week will probably run at a loss. The upside is that the cast and crew will travel to and from, Jacksonville by road - always a big cost saver.

So, what is 'the problem'? Could it be that the story is too remote for Jacksonville?

Or the religious views of many of its citizens? The cold weather? The economy? Lack of promotion?

I think it is a bit of 'Yes..and yes...and yes...and yes...'.

But my hunch is that Mary Poppins, which played a month ago, sapped away many of those who go occasionally to theater. Management told me it averaged 2400 seats sold per performance - one performance was 2700.

I guess these are the risks with going on road: some you win, some you lose; you hope that, overall, you win. A bit like my 401k.

I hope West Palm Beach has good sales. Clearwater and Naples were near sell-outs.


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:34 pm 
Billy

Joined: Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:54 pm
Posts: 6747
angelenroute wrote:
kport wrote:
I enjoyed one new little addition; at the start of the company dance (at the end, when Billy starts the tap), the Ballet Girls and Ensemble are crouching on the floor along the rear of the stage, playing a hand drumbeat on the floor as a sort of intro for Billy's first tap. It is always good to see new things added to keep the show fresh.


The way you describe it, it sounds like something they've always done, but maybe they did something slightly different that made it stand out more?

Love hearing about the Tour Michaels, as both were great when I saw them, and I was hoping to hear they only grew further comfortable with the part and the timing necessary to really land the jokes perfectly. Your reviews indicate they are on top form, which is awesome.


I know they always did it, but for these performances the Ballet Girls almost surround Billy, making it much more evident. At least is seems to be more of a feature!

Re the Michaels: their timing is perfect now. And the voices are much clearer. You do not miss a word now. They are as good as it gets!


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 Post subject: Re: Jacksonville Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:03 pm 
Billy
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Location: Rhode Island, USA
Thank you, kport, for the wonderful reviews. I loved hearing that the show is being presented so well and the cast is in top form. The only bummer was reading about the less than half-filled theatre. As you say, you win some and you lose some.


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