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And You’re Shining, Like the Brightest Star

Alright Broadway bitches – it’s been a while, but not without good reason. Ashley has been working extra hard in midwifery school, so she’s been out of town a lot. But. In one of her brief interludes actually at home, we got a chance to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch AGAIN – this time starring Andrew Rannells! We’ll skip some of the pieces we usually add at the end about best places to eat, etc. – you can get all of that from our earlier review. This is just the details on this particular Hedwig, with the full disclosure that his tenure was brief and you can no longer see him in the show.

Without further ado:

Key cast: Andrew Rannells (original cast, The Book of Mormon; Girls on TV; etc.) as Hedwig, Lena Hall (Nicola in original Kinky Boots cast) as Yitzhak. Note that Michael C Hall is now in the titular role, and we sincerely hope to catch him before he goes!
Theater: Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th Street
Ticket price range: $65 – $200
Our rating: 4.5 wig-raising stars
Our theater rating: 3 – a smaller theater makes tickets a little pricey and harder to come by without shopping about a month in advance; side views are definitely impaired in this theater, even in seats that aren’t marked as such when you buy them, so BE AWARE!
On through: January 4, 2015 (extension TBD)
Synopsis: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical comedy that tells the story of a fictional rock ‘n’ roll band, fronted by Hedwig, a transgender woman and “internationally ignored song stylist” from East Berlin.”

The nitty gritty – our thoughts on this show: We’ll begin by saying that seeing this show a second time doesn’t in any way diminish the take away value; in fact, we think it enhances it. Sometimes you see a show too much and it sort of loses its luster, its awe-inspiring qualities. A second viewing really allows you to observe and take in some of the finer details of the show that you may have missed in all of the powerhouse, emotionally wracking parts of the plot. This definitely makes it a little tricky to grade fairly; some of the emotional poignancy feels a lot stronger the second time around, but we think that’s more to do with the overall plot than casting.

That said, we came to this big conclusion. In terms of singing, Rannells crushed this out of the park. He was better and more suited to the role than NPH – particularly in some of the sadder songs, like Wicked Little Town. But. In terms of comprehensive package, we’re going with Neil. Better physicality, better improv, better audience interaction, just better acting. Not to mention that Rannells’ German accent was just abysmal – gasp! No, we love Andrew, truly. It was incredible to see him perform live (and particularly to listen to him live). His vocals were absolutely glowing and definitely gave us chills in some moments, but the allure and chemistry of NPH is just hard to beat.

We’re looking forward to seeing this somewhat unexpected casting with Michael C Hall in the future, but the next post (outside of some awesome photos) will actually be a review of a non-musical play, the old time classic You Can’t Take it With You.

Obligatory theater selfie time!

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Hey Sugar Daddy, Bitches Need Some Sugar in Their Bowl

Alright, it’s time for the long-awaited return of a bitches on Broadway review – and we’re taking it to the top right now with multiple Tony winning show, Hedwig and the Angry Inch!

Hedwig Set

Key cast: Neil Patrick Harris (I don’t need to provide credits for him, right??) as Hedwig, Lena Hall (Nicola in original Kinky Boots cast) as Yitzhak. Note that NPH is leaving soon to be replaced by Andrew Rannells (Elder Price in the original Book of Mormon cast) as of August 20
Theater: Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th Street
Ticket price range: $65 – $200
Our rating: 5 wig-raising stars
Our theater rating: 3 – a smaller theater makes tickets a little pricey and harder to come by without shopping about a month in advance; side views are definitely impaired in this theater, even in seats that aren’t marked as such when you buy them, so BE AWARE!
On through: October 2014 (additional dates TBD)
Synopsis: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a musical comedy that tells the story of a fictional rock ‘n’ roll band, fronted by Hedwig, a transgender woman and “internationally ignored song stylist” from East Berlin.”

The nitty gritty – our thoughts on this show:

This is, hands down, one of the best shows we’ve ever seen. EVER. Kristin is putting it second – behind only Kinky Boots (which the bitches are going to go see again this week). We’re talking about a complete package deal, from hilarious numbers & witty banter, through powerful ballads and intense moments where you are practically jumping out of your damn seat. Let’s get into this sugar bowl of a show, shall we?

This show is structured in a very interesting way, with Hedwig primarily narrating her own story while performing a concert with her band. There are no scene changes, only a handful of moving set pieces, and everyone on stage at the beginning will be there almost the entire time, with no new additions. It runs as one enormous monologue, more or less, with occasional punctuation from other characters (mostly Yitzhak) and a never-seen ex-boyfriend Tommy Gnosis. Needless to say, the role of Hedwig is incredibly demanding and really requires a special kind of actor to deliver – someone who can single-handedly carry you through a very difficult emotional plot, while still engaging and connecting you with the others on stage. NPH is clutch, and hopefully Andrew Rannells can bring that much-required star power to the role.

Flawless! Eat it, bitches.

Flawless! Eat it, bitches.

Hedwig aside for a moment, we don’t want to mislead you at all about Lena Hall’s Yitzhak. Minor character though he may be, Yitzhak has a powerful and much-needed presence on his own, even in relative speaking silence. He’s suave and sexy, and his song “When Love Explodes” – though it may be a bit tongue in cheek – is actually one of the best in the show. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride with Hedwig – from her joy at interacting with you at the beginning, to the heart touching “Origin of Love,” to the pounding and crushing “Angry Inch,” all the way to the very end. And let us just tell you, the finale will give you absolute chills. It is so ripe with so many emotions, so intense, and yet finally uplifting in the best kind of way.

If we had any complaints to speak of, they’d be as follows – and this is TRULY getting into nitty gritty: the acoustics are incredibly loud, and it can make some pieces a little difficult to process and understand. This is doubly true if you’ve never seen the film version or don’t know the music – it would be pretty tricky to keep up with this kind of plot at this sound level if you don’t already know the gist of it, so study up before you go. As a second mark against it, it seems like the show had a botched cut job itself – it’s an angry inch (or 30-60 minutes) short of what it could be. It runs a mere 90 minutes and has no intermission whatsoever – there’s not a single moment for you to really process or take a breather from the dominance that is Hedwig. And maybe that’s intentional, but we want MORE Hedwig, while also wanting a bit of a break to process some of the big numbers.

Those downsides aside, this is an impeccable masterpiece if done with the right cast, and you will not regret mustering up the change to see it. Remember, study the tunes & book in advance! You’ll actually find some reasonable prices if you give yourself time.

Our recommendations:
Best seen with: Anyone that isn’t a prude / is ready for the intense experience of up & down emotions with our much-beloved Hedwig; also a perk if they’re the type that will get really invested in a show and lift up their hands in that finale
Best food nearby: We went to Wolf & Lamb, a gourmet kosher spot with a short but well-executed menu. They have fried pickles that are out of this world, and some incredible burgers that are juicy, flavorful, and well-portioned. It’s a little bit further than some of the other restaurant-to-theater plans we’ve made, but well worth it. If you’re looking for something closer, there’s The Lamb’s Club across the street (a little pricey), and the well-rated and very modestly priced Kellari Taverna one block off.
Best metro stop: Times Square-42nd Street (1, 2, 3, N, Q, R, S, 7)
Best parking garageEdison ParkFast at 50 W. 44th Street, which we used for Book of Mormon, is still very reasonable (at $10-25) and quite close at a mere 2 blocks away

Time for the obligatory Hedwig selfie – we’ll have some more photos of us and the cast to share with you later this week. You can also anticipate seeing some new pics from Kinky soon, too, because a reprise was definitely in order!

hedwig selfie

 

Tony Highlights / A Little Sugar

Hey everyone! It’s the bitches back from our hiatus. We’ve had a busy few weeks – one of us has returned to midwifery school while the other languishes alone in NYC, waiting for the much-anticipated return. Finally, we’re back in season. We have tickets to a VERY special show in just over a week – cannot WAIT to tell you all about that one.

In the meantime, we’re promising not one, but TWO posts. This first one is a delightful recap of all things TONY!

Check out this amazing Buzzfeed article that shows all of the top performances of the evening – bless you Buzzfeed!

The WINNERS:

Best Musical: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”
Best Leading Actress in a Musical: Jessie Mueller, “Beautiful – The Carole King Musical”
Best Leading Actor in a Play: Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”
Best Leading Actress in a Play: Audra McDonald, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”
Best Featured Actor in a Play: Mark Rylance, “Twelfth Night”
Best Featured Actress in a Musical: Lena Hall, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Best Leading Actor in a Musical: Neil Patrick Harris, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Best Play: “All the Way”
Best Revival of a Play: “A Raisin in the Sun”
Best Revival of a Musical: “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Best Lighting Design of a Play: Natasha Katz, “The Glass Menagerie”
Best Lighting Design of a Musical: Kevin Adams, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”
Best Costume Design of a Play: Jenny Tiramani, “Twelfth Night”
Best Costume Design of a Musical: Linda Cho, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Featured Actress in a Play: Sophie Okonedo, “A Raisin in the Sun”
Best Choreography: Warren Carlyle, “After Midnight”
Best Featured Actor in a Musical: James Monroe Iglehart, “Aladdin”
Best Score: Jason Robert Brown, “The Bridges of Madison County”
Best Director of a Play: Kenny Leon, “A Raisin in the Sun”
Best Director of a Musical: Darko Tresnjak, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Book of a Musical: Robert L. Freedman, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Best Orchestrations: Jason Robert Brown, “The Bridges of Madison County”
Best Scenic Design of a Play: Beowulf Boritt, “Act One”
Best Scenic Design of a Musical: Christopher Barreca, “Rocky”
Best Sound Design of a Play: Steve Canyon Kennedy, “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill”
Best Sound Design of a Musical: Brian Ronan, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater: Costume designer Jane Greenwood
Isabelle Stevenson Award: Rosie O’Donnel

Our Thoughts

All very exciting stuff, of course! Obviously, Hedwig and A Gentleman’s Guide cleaned up shop. The REAL treat, if you ask me, was seeing Audra McDonald smash the Tony record and accept her award with such grace and enthusiasm. She is just a goddess of all things Broadway.

Other highlights – obviously, Sting getting a lapdance from the one and only NPH in DRAG. In fact, there’s an entire Buzzfeed article about the amazing things NPH did during his performance.

Just so many things to squeal with joy over here.

One thing we can say, though, is that the opening number was kind of a bust. We LOVE Hugh Jackman, but he didn’t bring the energy we’ve gotten over the last few years with NPH as the host. Nice to look at all night, but just not impressed.

Anyway, there’s our short recap. What did you think of the Tonys?

Picture post coming soon from us and the Kinky cast!

The Sex is in the Heel

Honey, you can’t fake it. And let us just say, Kinky Boots fakes absolutely nothing. Let’s just get right into this high energy, high heeled masterpiece – winner of the 2013 Tony best musical.

Everybody say yea!

Everybody say yea!

Key cast: Billy Porter (STILL the original lead and Tony award winner) as Lola / Simon, Andy Kelso (originally Harry in the opening cast of Kinky Boots) as Charlie, and Jeanna de Wal (Heather in American Idiot – ew, that show) as Lauren
Theater: Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th Street
Ticket price range: $65 – $180
Our rating: 5 stiletto-high stars
Our theater rating: 4 – decent sized theater of about 1,500 seats (could be larger considering how popular this show is), but feels spacious and a little old and gritty, just like Price & Sons shoe factory
On through: January 2015
Synopsis: “Winner of six Tony Awards including BEST MUSICAL, this inspirational story follows a struggling shoe factory owner who works to turn his business around with help from the most unlikely person. Together, these two become an unstoppable team, and find that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… proving that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.”

The nitty gritty – our thoughts on this show:

In the entire history of shows we’ve seen, it is almost impossible to find a show that manages to be so lively and fun, while also addressing some deeper, more serious issues like masculinity and embracing yourself. It’s just truly touching without being overkill on the sap and sentimentality. Let’s talk about story and cast.

The divine Billy Porter

The divine Billy Porter – ugh, those legs!

First, the story is based on an LGBTQ classic film of the same name. Short version, the son of a shoe factory owner is forced into taking ownership of the factory – a role he isn’t so keen on. As the factory struggles to make ends meet, he realizes what they really need is a niche market. Enter Lola, the fantastic drag queen played by the to-die-for Billy Porter. The only rational and obvious choice is to manufacture heels and boots big and sturdy enough for a man to dress as a woman. That’s right, my friends. There are drag queens by the dozens in this show. Along the way, both the factory owner Charlie and Lola/Simon learn about themselves and others, and find a way to embrace who they are. Which all confirms why Cyndi Lauper was the obvious choice for songwriting for this show, am I right?

Anyway, the cast. First, Billy Porter is all you will ever need in life. We have NEVER seen a drag queen look that good in a white sparkling dress or flaming red, knee high stiletto boots.  His voice is unique and exquisite, delivering the perfect kitschy queen when appropriate, but also crooning out the more emotional numbers. Opposite him as Charlie was Andy Kelso, who is a perfect match with his uptight appearance and controlled performance. Finally, Jeanna de Wal as Lauren just adds a much-needed layer of pure comedy – so awkward to watch that you almost want to look away.

The set and actual stage production is relatively simple, with a handful of numbers that are a little on the high-end side (anyone that can run on a treadmill in heels has our sincere appreciation and admiration). The plot is utterly relatable, in a way that may not seem so apparent at first. And ultimately, the musical numbers have such a dynamic range of emotion – from the oh-so-catchy and entertaining “The Sex is in the Heel,” to the more serious “Not My Father’s Son.” Last but not least, the finale is SO good that you will be on your feet, clapping and dancing and shouting your ass off. Everybody say yea, this show is fantastic. You do NOT want to miss this festival of fun.

Our recommendations:
Best seen with: Anyone with a serious appreciation for drag queens or, really, anyone that is absolutely fun and has no reservations about fun, dancing, clapping, and cheering in a show
Best food nearby: We went to Bourbon Street Bar and Grill, which had astonishing happy hour cocktails that were out of this world. Food portions were enormous and well-priced, and while not amazing, were still good. There are also a ton of Italian places nearby, all of which have very good reviews. But for a nice cocktail before you get your kinky boots on, we still vote Bourbon Street.
Best metro stop: 42nd Street-Port Authority (A,C,E), 49th Street (N,Q,R)
Best parking garageBright Management at 344 W. 45th Street is RIGHT by this theater, and is VERY well-priced (about $25)

That’s all for now. Check out the obligatory theater selfie below (Kristin with her beloved friend Nick), and stay tuned for our next review. In the next week or so, we’ll be posting photos of the cast that we took backstage.

We always manage to capture the most AWKWARD people in the background

We always manage to capture the most AWKWARD people in the background

Broadway News: Phantom Cast Changes

Since the bitches on Broadway don’t have tickets for a show for another few weeks, we thought it’d be nice to provide some Broadway news about one of the shows we just reviewed.

The Phantom cast is changing – and it’s going to be good.

Sierra Boggess will be moving into the role of Christine effective mid-May – for those of you that don’t know the name, she actually played Christine on the DVD version of The Phantom of the Opera: Live At Albert Hall. As a sidenote, those that love this show but can’t afford a trip to NYC should definitely invest in this DVD – it’s really quite good. I found her performance on the DVD, a live recording of the stage version, to be quite phenomenal, so that’s very exciting for anyone going to see this show over the summer.

Another MAJOR casting change – Hugh Panaro will be retiring from the cast (boo). Don’t get too sad, though. In his stead will be… Norm Lewis, a Tony award nominated actor for Porgy and Bess in 2012 AND – again, a DVD reference – Inspector Javert in the Les Miserables in Concert DVD. That DVD has some weak points – I’m talking to you, whichever Jonas brother you are – but Norm Lewis is definitely not one of them. As a historical fact, Lewis will be the first black man to play The Phantom on Broadway.

Such exciting news, in fact, that perhaps the bitches will make a repeat show of it. Check out the full story here.

Hold tight, as we’ll keep providing Broadway updates in the next few weeks. Our next show will be in late April, and we promise it’ll be worth the wait.

Hello, My Name is Elder Price

And we would like to share with you the most amazing show. You’ve been so patiently waiting, and now we’re ready to give you the scoop on this Tony Awards heavyweight champion from 2011, The Book of Mormon!

Key cast: Nic Rouleau (original cast Elder Price understudy in Book of Mormon, Emmett in the national tour of Legally Blonde) as Elder Price, Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect!) as Elder Cunningham, Syesha Mercado (American Idol Season 7) as Nabulungi
Theater: Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 230 West 49th Street
Ticket price range: $69 – $252 – NOTE that you will not be getting tickets below the cost of $120 any time soon, particularly for weekend showings. Anticipate paying somewhere around $160-$200
Our show rating: A heavenly 4.5 stars
Our theater rating: 2.5 stars – this theater is in a really convenient location in terms of restaurants and the staff were a hoot, but that’s about all we can say in its favor; it’s MINUSCULE, especially considering how big this show has been (about 1,000 seats compared to the Gershwin’s 2,000) and you don’t even get a show-related cup with your 15 dollar wine – boo!
On through: February 2015
Synopsis:The Book of Mormon follows a pair of mismatched Mormon boys sent on a mission to a place that’s about as far from Salt Lake City as you can get. Described by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show as “a crowning achievement, so good it makes me angry” and by Entertainment Weekly as “the funniest musical of all time,” see it now or find yourself asking, “Dear God, how do I get tickets?” (Village Voice).”

The nitty gritty – our thoughts on this show:

How do we even begin to describe this show? Oh yes, ridiculously funny. Like diaper might be necessary because you’ll piss yourself funny. Let us start by saying that neither of us are South Park fans – we’re not haters, but it’s mostly ‘meh’ for us. This show surprisingly relies less on the bodily function, sex joke, crude humor that some of us might expect and hones in on poking fun at the absurdity of religion and the insanity of two white teenagers telling other people (with larger concerns at hand) how to live their lives. There’s a ton of awkardness from Elder Cunningham that seals the deal, and only one or two moments really remind you that these are the South Park guys at work (notably the pageant song Joseph Smith American Moses and Man Up). Yes, dildos are used as props during one of those songs, and we’re counting that as a positive. So we guess now is the time to say that the show is possibly offensive… and you’ll laugh anyway.

One of the best numbers of the show is at the very beginning – Hello. If you saw the 2012 Tony Awards, you’re familiar with this one as it was the opening number of the night (for a damn good reason). It’s all one big laugh at the doorbell ringing Mormons who many of us are familiar with. It’s catchy and kitschy and there is no better way to start a Broadway show, period. The first act breezes by with a hilarious spoof on Hakunah Matata, a gay tap dance with sparkling vests (we mean gay because the key singer in this number is talking about suppressing his homosexual thoughts by turning them off like a light switch), and an identity crisis. The second act starts strong and includes the quintessential number I Believe, so perfectly delivered by that fierce tenor, Nic Rouleau, and finishes with a tie-in back to the opening number. Ben Platt – that’s right, Benji from Pitch Perfect – milks his part for all it’s worth (calling Nabulungi such delightful things as noxzema, necrophilia, nala – are we missing any? – while squeezing onto Elder Price like a pair of spanks).

A sneaky shot taken during the opening number

A sneaky shot taken during the opening number

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (because you’re laughing), you’ll feel so wrong… but it will all feel so very right. This show comes with a high price tag for a reason, and it will be worth every dollar you have. There’s no limit to what this show can do for me and you, but mostly…. well, uh, everyone!

Our recommendations:
Best seen with: Someone with a diabolical sense of humor OR someone with none at all if you’re the diabolic person that likes to watch others squirm (Kristin)
Best food nearby: Restaurant Thalia is an amazing spot just around the corner that has brunch down to a science – it’s pretty reasonably priced for downtown Manhattan, the portions are enormous, and we cannot resist the allure of two hours of unlimited drinking for $10. MAKE RESERVATIONS a few days in advance. An alternate option – that’s conveniently right across the street from the theater – is E&E Grill House. Finally, if you’re a food tv personality type, Eric Ripert’s Le Bernadin is also nearby (and quite expensive).
Best metro stop: 50 Street (1, C, E), 49 Street (N, Q, R)
Best parking garage: Edison ParkFast, 50 West 44th Street – we were able to nab parking for a meager $10 here for THE DAY through ParkWhiz, and that’s just a steal considering how close this theater is to Times Square. With that in mind, give yourself extra traveling time no matter how you get here, because you will be weaving through the slow trail of tourists.

That’s all these bitches on Broadway have to say about this show. Check out our obligatory theater selfie below (and a boozey brunch selfie, too!), and stay tuned for a photo post later this week – us with a MASSIVE amount of the cast (because we’re utterly shameless in harassing them for pictures). After that, we’ll unmask our next review of… The Phantom of the Opera!

Mormon Selfie

Kristin on the left, Ashley on the right, brunching before a show

Kristin on the left, Ashley on the right, brunching before The Book of Mormon

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