A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – Proctors Theater (Schenectady, NY), 9/23/15

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What’s a little murder among family members?

This week I saw a traveling production of the Broadway musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which won the Tony for best musical in 2014. I’m on quite a streak lately with seeing Broadway shows, though it was nice to see one in the good old 518 for a change. I love going to New York City, obviously, but being able to squeezing in a musical after work without having to travel more than 20 minutes is nice every once in a while. I’m still suffering from my Hamilton hangover – I’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much non-stop since it was made available on-line – but I think there’s enough distance that I could be objective and evaluate A Gentleman’s Guide without the shadow of my latest obsession hanging over it. Overall, I enjoyed A Gentleman’s Guide, though it started off a little slowly and some of the comedy was just a little too silly or over-the top for my tastes. It was an entertaining and fun theater experience, but it was something of a trifle. That’s not an insult –trifles are delicious when prepared properly.

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A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder tells the story of Monty Navarro, who discovers after his mother’s death that he is actually a member of the prominent D’Ysquith family. His mother was disinherited and expelled when she dared marry for love instead of money and had no contact with the family since before Monty was born. The Navarros lived a meager life – Monty’s mother made ends meet as a washerwoman after his father died – which has left Monty in a poor position as a potential suitor for Sibella Hallward, the woman who he loves. Monty, it turns out, is actually ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst and he isn’t particularly patient to wait to reap the benefits of his ancestry. When his attempt to reconnect with his estranged family is spurned and with Sibella poised to marry a man of more substantial means, Monty decided that he just may have to help remove the heirs that stand in his way. It’s a dark premise, but it’s totally done for laughs. Despite the early warning to the audience that they may be disturbed by the events that unfold at the beginning of the play, the violence and murder that ensues is completely comedic.

As Monty, Kevin Massey was completely charming and likable; it’s hard to be on board with a character that is systematically knocking off his family members one by one, but somehow you’re still kind of rooting for Monty in his pursuit. Though Monty is the main character, the real star of the show was John Rapson, who takes on the impressive feat of playing all the members of the D’Ysquith family that must be assassinated – male and female. Which each new character, Rapson seemed focused on outdoing what he had done with the character before and he mostly succeeds. The D’Ysquith family members are an odd lot and have their quirks, but Rapson makes them each their own character. He makes the show with his many incarnations – it’s really quite the challenge for an actor to play nine different characters through the run of the show. Some get more stage time than others, but he nailed it every time. The women of the show – the aforementioned Sibella (Kristen Beth Williams) and a D’Ysquith cousin Phoebe (Adrienne Eller), who is also a potential love interest for Monty – were very strong as well. The performances were universally fantastic; it may not be the original Broadway cast, but there was no discernible drop off in quality. Everyone did a really great job.

The pacing of the slow leaves a little something to be desired; it took me a while to fully warm up to A Gentleman’s Guide as the first act gets off to a very slow start. Once it gets going it is fun, but you have to stick it out a bit. The first few numbers are kind of forgettable, but once the murdering starts, the musical finds its footing and becomes more enjoyable. The couple sitting next to me didn’t return after the intermission, which was a little surprising. I guess they just weren’t into it – or perhaps they found empty seats elsewhere (though we were in the third row, so it would have been hard to find better seats). I didn’t love the ending of the show either – it felt a little rushed and the resolution was– but the majority of the second act is strong as well. The songs aren’t totally memorable – I’d be hard pressed to name more than a few of them only two days after seeing the musical – but they serve their purpose during the course of the show and are engaging while they are being performed.

A Gentleman’s Guide is a farce and sometime the sillier aspects of the show just didn’t connect with me. For the most part, the jokes landed for me, but there are few scenes where it was just too over-the-top for me. Silliness is fine, but this crossed the line for ridiculous for me and the characters involved were nothing more than caricatures (if you’ve seen the show, I didn’t dig the dining room scene in particular). It’s not frequent enough to take away from the overall enjoyment of the show, but there were moments where it just took me out of the show for a bit. It’s a tough balance and the rest of the audience seemed to really enjoy some of these puerile aspects of the storyline. A minor complaint; I still enjoyed myself and was entertained.

I don’t know that A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder will stick with me as long as some other musicals, but it was a solid and amusing night at the theater. The story was inventive and engaging and a very strong cast further drew me into the show. I mean, who hasn’t thought about offing a family member at some point? (just kidding mom) Getting to live vicariously through Monty and laughing along with his murderous rampage resulted in a very enjoyable evening. I’d encourage people to check out A Gentleman’s Guide if the opportunity presents itself.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is currently on a national tour and will close on Broadway on January 17, 2016.

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Pop Culture Odds and Ends – It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over Edition

I woke up to some very sad news this morning – Yankee great Yogi Berra had passed away at the age of 90. This wasn’t a total surprise – the fact that he was unable to attend the ceremony when his fellow catcher Jorge Posada’s number was retired was a clue that he wasn’t well – but it still hurts all the same. I’m too young to have ever seen Berra play live, but his legacy was well known to me. Not only did Berra earn 10 World Series rings and multiple MVP and All-Star game appearances, but he was just an adorable man known for his paradoxical quotes and sayings. I looked forward to seeing him at Old Timers Day and various other Yankee events and he always received standing ovations. It just makes me so sad to know that I won’t ever see him again riding around in a golf cart, waving to the fans. He was one of the greats – not just for the Yankees but in all of baseball. I’m sincerely going to miss him. Rest in peace, Yogi.

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But the show must go on….as usual, I’ve searched the Internet high and low to curate for you the best that the world of pop culture has had to offer in the last week. So tip your cap to Yogi and then find some solace in this week’s pop culture round up.

  • Beyoncé dropped a new song with Naughty Boy:

 

  • Stephen Colbert and Steph Curry square off:

 

Time for some teasers and trailers….

  • The American Horror Story: Hotel teasers keep rolling out:

 

  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant:

 

  • Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs:

 

  • FX’s American Crime Story:

 

  • IFC’s Benders:

 

  • Freeheld with Julianne Moore and Ellen Page:

 

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2:

 

  • Baskets with Zach Galifianakis on FX:

 

  • Kristen Wiig in Nasty Baby:

 

  • Netflix’s With Bob & David:

 

  • Season 3 of Nathan For You:

 

  • The Last Witch Hunter:

 

  • In the Heart of the Sea:

 

  • WWE 2K16:

 

  • Mariah Carey is a dragon slayer in this trailer for Game of War:

 

  • A new trailer for the Point Break reboot:

 

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Walk:

 

  • The Good Dinosaur international trailer:

 

  • Season 3 of The Originals:

 

  • Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell in The Big Short:

 

  • The Peanuts Movie:

 

  • CBS’ Supergirl:

 

 

  • Justin Timberlake attempts to write a sew theme for Seth Meyer’s Late Night (who knew Timberlake was allowed on other late night shows?:

 

  • CNN congratulates Jon Hamm on winning an Emmy by tweeting a photo of someone who is not Jon Hamm. Get your sh*t together, CNN.

 

  • Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on the Superman TV show, has passed away.

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts….

  • The 1967 Jungle Book meets the 2016 remake:

 

  • Fantastic Mr. Fox raps some Blackalicious:

 

  • A mashup of 100 movie dance scenes to “Uptown Funk”:

 

  • A supercut of a single phone call across 57 films:

 

  • Yeezy for President:

 

  • Foo Fighters perform with HAIM and Stevie Nicks:

 

  • A compilation of Superman’s kill count in the movies:

 

  • Ryan Adams’s cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 is streaming track by track on YouTube:

 

 

  • Not to be outdone, Father John Misty covered “Blank Space” in the style of Velvet Underground:

 

  • A mash-up of Taylor Swift songs from YouTube star Todrick Hall:

 

  • The Tonight Show parodies Empire:

 

 

#Parksandrec #parksandmadmen #parksandrecreation #madmen #tvquotes #megandraper #sallydraper #treatyoself #treatyourself #tomhaverford #donnameagle

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2015 Emmy Running Diary

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I’ll be honest – I wasn’t much feeling the Emmy awards this year. I don’t know if I was just tired from being out at football or I’m just in a bit of a funk; whatever the reason, I would have much preferred to go to bed early rather than stay up. My only real investment in the Emmys was to see if Jon Hamm would finally get to take home a trophy. If he got his moment, I didn’t want to miss that. But since I am a professional, I sucked it up and watched the whole telecast. One perk of the Emmys following a football game – blessed little pre-show nonsense had to be watched and it was amusing to see a bunch of football commentators try to talk about television. They should put Terry Bradshaw on the red carpet for all future events.

On to the main event…….

8:00 pm – Here we go – right on time despite the late football game.

8:02 – Cute opening from Andy Samberg. I need one of those TV bunkers. I’ve got a lot of TV to catch up on.

8:03 – Ugh – enough with the Les Miserables references.

8:05 – “Suck it books.”

8:06 – Haha – “Between Bill Cosby, Jared Fogel and Robert Durst stopping off for a sandwich, not a good year for people who love hoagies.”

8:06 – “If your speech goes too long, you need to deal with the mean nun from Game of Thrones.”

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8:08 – A Donald Trump jokes pulls Andy out of a joke slump. Trump is comedy Viagra.

8:09 – “Paula Deen is on this season of Dancing with the Stars but I gotta say, if I wanted to see an intolerant lady dance I would have gone to one of Kim Davis’ four weddings.” *zing*

8:10 – “We also said goodbye to True Detective, even though it’s still on the air.” Harsh, but true.

8:11 – I would watch Dick Whitman: Horny Hobo. Whatever keeps Jon Hamm on my TV on a regular basis.

8:13 – Two of the greatest Amys ever – Poehler and Schumer – to present best supporting actress in a comedy series. Holy hell there are a LOT of nominees.

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8:15 – Allison Janney wins for Mom – and brings her blotting papers. Plus she sings part of her speech. She seems fun.

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8:22 – Anthony Anderson and Tracee Eilis Ross here to present writing in a comedy series. A well-deserved win for Veep.

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8:25 – Ricky Jervais has been nominated for 22 Emmys? He pretends to have won before presenting the award.

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8:27 – Best Supporting Actor in a comedy series goes to Tony Hale for Veep! Can’t argue against that – well deserved – but would have loved to see Titus Burgess.

8:28 – Mid-speech, Hale says “I just had a sudden fear that my zipper’s down.”

8:29 – Anna Chlumsky cries every time Veep wins. I hope she has more tissues.

8:34 – John Stamos and Gina Rodriguez to say who received awards already for guest actor and actress in a comedy series – Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack. Jon Hamm remains Emmy-less.

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8:37 – Whitford and Cusack here to present best directing in a comedy series. Whitford is inexplicably wearing a hat.

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8:37 – Whoa – I had no idea what Mike Judge looked like!

8:38 – Jill Soloway wins for Transparent, which I still need to watch.

8:40 – Jimmy Kimmel here to present Lead Actor in a comedy series and he is drunk with power. He is threatening to just give the award to anyone he wants. He just ate the card with the winner’s name.

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8:43 – Jeffrey Tambor wins (maybe?) for Transparent. Big night for Arrested Development alums.

8:44 – Tambor’s speech is very powerful – “I’ve been given the opportunity to act because people’s lives depend on it.” He dedicates his award to the trans community – “thank you for letting us be part of the change.”

8:45 – Meanwhile, Matt Le Blanc lets Kimmel know what he thinks of his stunt.

8:50 – Seth Myers joins Andy on stage for lead actress in a comedy series, but first they present Lorne Michaels with a “World’s Best Boss” mug.

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8:53 – Amy Poehler is an American treasure:

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8:53 – The #VeepSweep continues – Julia Louis-Dreyfus wins it. Would have really liked to have seen Amy Schumer win. And it’s a freaking crime that Poehler never won for Parks and Recreation.

 

8:56 – Key & Peele here to give the award for best reality competition. Zzzzzzzz.

8:57 – The Voice wins and there is really absolutely no reason for all these people to come on stage.

8:58 – They are playing the Ghostbusters theme into commercial break. Seems like an odd choice.

9:03 – James Cordon here to present the accountants from Ernst & Young.

9:04 – Haha – LL Cool J started a standing ovation for them.

9:05 – Dear lord – Terrance Howard at a microphone. Anything can happen. Hopefully Taraji P. Henson can reel him in. He literally seems like the worst. They’re here for best writing in a limited series or movie.

9:07 – Olive Kitteridge wins, which seems like it was on a very long time ago.

9:08 – Now the best actress in a limited series or movie. The winner is Regina King (American Crime), who I have always liked (and is the first person of color to win tonight).

 

9:13 – Andy Samberg gives out his HBO Go log-in and password (and as of last night, it worked!)

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9:14 – John Oliver here to present best direction in a limited series or movie. He’s got some jokes about Jeopardy! and Alex Trekek.

9:16 – Another award for Olive Kitteridge.

9:24 – Maggie Gylenhaal and Liev Schreiber  present best actor in limited series or movie. I like her dress.

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9:24 – Bill Murray isn’t there because Bill Murray does not give a f*ck, but that just sped this award show up a bit.

9:25 – Samberg does a parody of the Mad Men finale.

9:26 – Rob Lowe and Kerry Washington present lead actress in a limited series or movie. That’s too much beauty for one stage.

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9:27 – Frances McDormand wins for Olive Kitteridge. Maybe they’ll even get her look remotely happy to be there

9:28 – Nope.

9:29 – Short speech too: “We’re all here because of the power of a story well said. Sometimes that’s enough. Thank you.”

9:33 – That red carpet cam bit was odd.

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9:34 – Lady Gaga – she’s a TV person now! She’s here to present lead actor in a limited series or movie. If David Oyelowo doesn’t win I’ll be PISSED.

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9:35 – Well, I’m pissed. No disrespect to Richard Jenkins, who is great, but if you haven’t seen Nightingale, he’s freaking spectacular.

9:37 – Here’s Fred Savage to pay tribute to shows that ended this year. Fun fact – I used to have pictures of him on my bedroom wall when I was 12.

9:39 – This tribute is making me sad – so many shows that I loved are gone 😦 And some people are going to be annoyed that they gave away the ending to a lot of shows.

9:40 – Marcia Gay Harding and Lena Headley here to present best limited series.

9:41 – Again with Olive Kitteridge, which is winning pretty much everything.

9:48 – “Welcome to the Spoiler Awards.” I guess that Samberg was checking social media during the commercial break.

9:49 – Mindy Kaling and Zachary Levi here to give an award for best writing for a variety series. This is a stacked category.

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9:50 – I love these little clips that they are doing for the writers.

9:51 – And The Daily Show wins it. I think it is nice that Jon Stewart let someone else give the speech and stood in the back.

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9:53 – Jane Lynch and Eric Stonestreet here to present best variety sketch series.

9:54 – WOO-HOO!!! Inside Amy Schumer for the win!! Suck it, SNL.

10:00 – Colin Hanks and Will Forte – two likable enough guys – here to present best direction in a variety series.

10:02 – Another win for The Daily Show. Not super surprising.

10:03 – LL Cool J here to present best variety talk series. I’m guessing either Letterman or Daily Show.

10:05 – See – I’m smart. All The Daily Show does is win.

10:08 – Ben McKenzie and Jamie Alexander to announce more awards that were already given out (guest actor and actress in a drama series).

10:09 – Winner Reg E. Cathey (and The Wire alumni) is here to present best writing in a drama series.

10:10 – Game of Thrones wins. The writers forget this isn’t HBO and drop some cuss words.

10:16 – Ah….Ray Parker Jr. is in the band. That explains “Ghostbusters.”

10:18 –Jamie Lee Curtis and Emma Roberts here to present best supporting actress in a drama series. I sincerely hope something interesting happens soon. This is so boring.

10:19 – Yay! Uza “Crazy Eyes” Aduba wins. And she’s so emotional, which is nice to see.

 

10:21 – Curtis and Roberts doing double duty and are back to present best directing in a drama series. No surprise – goes to Game of Thrones. Though that’s not the episode that should have won.

10:27 – If you are curious about what’s up with all the green ribbons people are wearing, here is the explanation.

10:28 – Viola Davis here to present best supporting actor in a drama series.

10:29 – Peter Dinklage wins!

10:30 – Now the In Memoriam segment. There’s a weird mix of musicians in here. Did B.B. King do television?

10:34 – Leonard Nimoy in the final position.

10:35 – I’ve seen this Apple music commercial multiple times now and my main takeaway is that I want to spend an afternoon hanging out with Kerry Washington, Taraji P. Henson and Mary J. Blige.

10:39 – Tina Fey showing up is always a good thing. She’s here to present best actor in a drama series. If Jon Hamm doesn’t win I WILL RIOT.

10:40 – YAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jon Hamm finally wins a mother f*cking Emmy!

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10:41 – In thanking everyone that supported him, he thanks his now ex-partner Jennifer, which is very nice.

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10:42 – Honestly, the rest of this show seems anticlimactic now.

10:43 – Adrian Brody here to present best actress in a drama series. Somehow he stumbles over the easiest name in the bunch: Elisabeth Moss.

10:44 – Kind of surprised that Viola Davis won; thought Taraji had this one in the bag. But Taraji is really happy for her, which is nice. And Viola gave a pretty great speech about opportunities for women of color.

10:51 – Mel Brooks here to present outstanding comedy. No surprise here – the #VeepSweep is complete. And Modern Family didn’t win, which is always a positive.

10:54 – Tracy Morgan is here to give out the outstanding drama award. So nice to see him back on stage. The look on Tina Fey’s face says it all.

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10:56 – And he dropped a “people are going to get pregnant” joke. He is, indeed, back.

10:57 – Would have loved to see Man Men win this, but I can’t argue with Game of Thrones.

10:58 – The benefit of a show where nothing much happens? You end early!

Man – as far as awards shows go, this year’s Emmys were a real snoozer. Nothing very interesting happened at all and the winners were all fairly non-controversial. I don’t know if they need to start serving more alcohol at these things or what, but people need to up their game to create more memorable moments. It’s less than 12 hours after the ceremony and I’ve already forgotten a lot of it. But I got to see Jon Hamm get recognized for the great work that he did on Mad Men, so I guess that alone was worth my three hours. Andy Samberg was fine – he did seem a little nervous – but they really need to do something to liven up this broadcast.