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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rasheeda Speaking

Speaking, starring Tonya Pinkins and Dianne Wiest, marks the directing debut of acclaimed actress Cynthia Nixon. Written by Joel Drake Johnson, this workplace drama brings to light the racial tensions that are still so present in America today. Ileen (Wiest) is the eager-to-please manager of Dr. Williams' (Goldstein) office, while Jaclyn (Pinkins) seems to always rub everyone the wrong way. The stark contrast between these two women is amplified by the staging--two desks splitting the stage--and the obvious difference of one woman being black while the other is white.

The tension between Jaclyn (Pinkins) and the white employees in the office is palpable immediately as Ileen and Dr. Williams discuss how to get Jaclyn fired without creating an HR nightmare. This motif of Jaclyn walking into a room stealthily as she's being gossiped about is repeated several times throughout the play. At the beginning, Jaclyn and Ileen are friendly, with Ileen saying "you are full of drama, I missed your stories, your yammerings." Then things start to unravel as Jaclyn starts showing up late, mixes up details when she tells stories, and grows increasingly negative. This wears on Ilene until she reaches a point of such hysteria that she brings a gun to work and quits.

As the audience, we get what Johnson is trying to do here. He wants to show us that as much as we try to push them under the carpet. Unfortunately, in making Jaclyn, or as she later refers to herself, the stereotypical Rasheeda, he undermines his point. We have to assume that Johnson wants us to pull for Jacylyn since he establishes her as an underdog early on, but she is just such a horribly unlikable character. The pacing is also quite slow, making it difficult to feel engaged in the piece. The subject is certainly an interesting one, but a play may not be the best vehicle. The drama of the piece never really ramps up until the final twenty minutes, with the highlight being Dianne Wiest's exquisite portrayal of the physical effects of emotional stress on Ileen. Cynthia Nixon does a fine job in her directorial debut, but I have to wonder what she could have done with a more interesting script?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU on Broadway!

It Shoulda Been You, one of the most anticipated new musicals of the Broadway season marks the directing debut of TONY and EMMY winner David Hyde Pierce. This stellar cast includes Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris, Sierra Boggess, Lisa Howard, Chip Zien, Montego Glover, and David Burtka to name a few. This new musical comedy about families from different backgrounds begins previews on March 17th and opens at the Brooks Atkinson on April 14th. In the meantime, check out this great youtube preview featuring the cast http://bit.ly/1CxzKOP.

We are also offering a great new chance to win tickets between now and the opening. You'll get the chance to gain multiple entries to the contest by performing different tasks on social media and by sharing your own wedding stories with us. Each week one lucky individual will receive a pair of tickets to Broadway previews. Additionally, one lucky winner will receive an original song written for them by show composers Hargrove and Anselmi based on the story they submitted. What could be better than that? The link to the contest page can be found here: http://bit.ly/1BcRzWp

Start reminiscing about your own crazy wedding stories and we will see you on social media!


Facebook: /shouldabeenyou
Twitter & Instagram: @shouldabeenyou

Friday, December 12, 2014

DISGRACED on Broadway

Dear readers, I want to take this opportunity to make one final push for one of the finest, most thought-provoking plays I've seen on Broadway in years. Do your best to catch it before it closes on March 1st! I want to share with you a special discount code for tickets as well as a new trailer for the play. Below is my review of the play.

Code DIBBOX105 can be used over the phone (212-947-8844), in person at the Lyceum Theatre Box Office (149 West 45th Street), or online at TelechargeOffers.com. The discount offers $95 Select Orchestra and Mezzanine seats and $55 Rear Mezzanine seats. Some black out dates may apply.

The new trailer can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn-py-3JJrE


A few days ago I had the pleasure of seeing DISGRACED on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre. I didn't do much research beforehand and needless to say, I was surprised. Ayad Akhtar's play is though provoking and it will hit your preconceptions like a punch in the face. You have a Muslim Pakistani man, Amir (Hari Dhillon) who is married to a white woman, Emily (Gretchen Mol). Amir works as a lawyer with Jory (Karen Pittman), whom is married to Isaac (Josh Radnor). Isaac and Emily are both artists and having a secret affair. The fifth character, Abe, (Danny Ashok) is Amir's nephew and a supporter of a radical Imam. So now you are caught up.

I saw this play as an allusion to Adam and Eve. Amir has renounced his Muslim upbringing and wants nothing to do with it, while his wife Emily celebrates Islam, studies Islamic art, and encourages Amir to go back to his roots. When Abe wants legal help for an Imam accused of supporting terrorist activity, Emily convinces Amir to jump in. When Amir does get involved, even on the fringe, that's when things fall apart, just as they did for Adam and Eve when Eve convinced Adam to eat the apple. Ownership is such a major theme in this play. Each character meets their downfall when they choose to take or not to take ownership of their own actions. This is particularly interesting because coupling is so important in the structure of Akhtar's play. We have the marital duos and the career duos, but each conflict is ultimately about individuals' decisions.

You may think you are completely open-minded when it comes to race and religion, but Akhtar's work will make you feel uncomfortable. It forces you to ask yourself the difficult questions. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you expect theatre to make you think and feel, this is your show. Don't make plans for any post-show events unless you can discuss the play. Trust me, you will have plenty to talk about. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

2014 SKATE CANADA: Pairs Preview

The 2014-2015 edition of the Meagan Duhamel show kicks off tomorrow. I hope she learns to point her feet for the event. The top two seem pretty clear here, but bronze is up for grabs.





Podium Predictions:
Gold: Duhamel & Radford (CAN)
Silver: Sui & Han (CHN)
Bronze: Tarasova & Morozov (RUS)

Duhamel & Radford (CAN) pretty much felt they were guaranteed an Olympic bronze last year, but then Ksenia Stolbova happened. They repeated as world bronze medalists last season, but I feel like that's not enough for Meagan. She is in it to win it for another four years cycle, but finding the perfect programs will be key. The artistic side of skating is foreign to them, but God bless her vegan diet.

Sui & Han (CHN) are looking to hit the reset button after a strong campaign the last quad ended without a trip to the Olympics. Age is no longer a concern, and if they are healthy, they could be on the verge of a world medal this season. Now that they are teamed with Bin Yao and Hongbo Zhou, their ISU standing should escalate.

Tarasova & Morozov (RUS) have two of the most famous names in the figure skating world. They placed an impressive second at the Nebelhorn Trophy after also placing second at junior worlds last season. They have an excellent opportunity to medal here if they hit their elements.

The Rest of the Field:
Jones & Reagan (CAN)-4th at 2014 US International Classic, 7th at Skate Canada Autumn Classic
Moore-Towers & Marinaro (CAN)-No competitive history
James & Cipres (FRA)-5th at 2014 Europeans, 10th at 2014 Olympics, 10th at 2014 Worlds, 4th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trohpy
Vartmann & Van Cleave (GER)-9th at 2014 Europeans, 3rd at 2014 Coup de Nice
Aaron & Settlage (USA)-5th at 2014 World Juniors, 3rd at 2014 US International Classic, 6th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy, 5th at 2014 Skate America 

2014 SKATE CANADA: Ice Dance Preview

This Ice Dance event is going to be exciting! The winners will pretty much be a given, but about 5 teams will be in the mix for the rest of the podium. I can't wait to see the new programs!

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Weaver & Poje (CAN)
Silver: Hubbell & Donohue (USA)
Bronze: Gilles & Poirier (CAN)

Weaver & Poje (CAN) are finally the top team in Canada with the retirement (??) of Virtue & Moir. They finally took a world medal last season and they should remain perennial world medalists throughout this upcoming quad. They are an innovative team, usually tending toward more contemporary or sensual programs, so the Vivaldi free skate is a huge departure for them. They will likely play with many different styles of choreography to find the perfect piece for 2018.

Hubbell & Donohue (USA) are heading into a huge season. They barely missed the Sochi team and will want to lock up the second or third spot in the US before the hot juniors come up. They will want to outscore the Shibutanis from Skate America or stay really close to them. Their Great Gatsby program should highlight their connection and their romantic style.

Gilles & Poirier (CAN) are going to look to seal up the number two spot in Canada. From 2013-2014 they made a huge jump at Worlds from 18th to 8th and this year, in a depleted field, they will have the opportunity to make another big move.

The Rest of the Field:
Paradis & Ouellette (CAN)-5th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy, 4th at 2014 Skate America
Zhiganshina & Gazsi (GER)-7th at 2014 Europeans, 11th at 2014 Olympics, 11th at 2014 Worlds, 3rd at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy, 2nd at 2014 Finlandia Trophy
Monko & Khaliavin (RUS)-6th at 2013 Trophee Bompard, 5th at 2014 Rostelecom Cup, 1st at 2014 Ice Star Minsk
Hurtado & Diaz (ESP)-10th at 2014 Europeans, 13th at 2014 Olympics, 16th at 2014 Worlds, 2nd at 2014 Nestle Cup, 5th at 2014 Skate Canada Autumn Cup
Aldridge & Eaton (USA)-3rd at 2014 Four Continents, 17th at 2014 Worlds, 1st at 2014 US International Classic

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 SKATE CANADA: Ladies Preview

Much like the mens event, there are no clear favorites here in the ladies event at Skate Canada. About five different ladies could win this event, so it will be fun to watch. I have a feeling someone is going to even bomb the short program and come back with a strong free to medal. Anything can happen when there isn't a true headliner.

My Podium Predictions:
Gold: Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
Silver: Ashley "Diva" Wagner (USA)
Bronze: Satoko Miyahara (JPN)

Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) is another in a long line of up and coming young Russian Divas. Girlfriend surprised us all by finishing fourth at Worlds in 2014 post-Sochi. She has been overshadowed by Sotnikova, Tuktamysheva, and Radionova in recent years, but she seems poised to make a name for herself and break out here.

Ashley Wagner (USA) is entering a crucial season. She will have to fight all of the critics that say she is too old, as well as all the young skaters who very well may prove she is too old. I question her decision to do the Moulin Rouge free skate, because I don't think it helps to fix her image. However, this might be her way of saying screw the skating establishment, I'm doing what ever I want. She tends to peak early in the season, so I don't see her leaving Canada without a medal of some color. She needs to make a strong showing to prove to USFS that she is worth investing in with another trip to Worlds.

Satoko  Miyahara (JPN) has a huge role to fill with Mao Asada moving on. The classic Japanese ladies have all gone, and they are waiting for their next champion to emerge. Satoko was a junior circuit star, but she never won a junior World medal. She peaks early in the season so I see her putting up a strong fight here. She won the Gardenia Trophy and the Lombardia Trophy here, so she shouldn't be rusty at all.

The Rest of the Field:
Brooklee Han (AUS)-14th at 2014 Four Continents, 20th at 2014 Olympics, 19th at 2014 Worlds, 4th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy, 10th at 2014 Skate America
Alaine Chartrand (CAN)-5th at 2014 World Juniors, 7th at 2014 Four Continents, 4th at 2014 US International Classic
Veronik Mallet (CAN)-13th at 2014 Four Continents, 7th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Julianne Seguin (CAN)-3rd at 2014 Skate Canada Autumn Classic
Rika Hongo (JPN)-8th at 2014 Junior Worlds, 1st at 2014 Triglav Trophy, 1st at 2014 Asian Open, 3rd at 2014 Finlandia Trophy
Hae Jin Kim (KOR)-6th at 2014 Four Continents, 16th at 2014 Olympics, 23rd at 2014 Worlds, 5th at 2014 Asian Open, 9th at 2014 O. Nepela
Alena Leonova (RUS)-4th at 2014 Europeans, 2nd at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Viktoria Helgesson (SWE)-14th at 2014 Europeans, 27th at 2014 Olympics, 2nd at 2014 Nordics, 8th at 2014 Lombardia, 4th at 2014 O. Nepela
Courtney Hicks (USA)-5th at 2014 Four Continents, 2nd at 2014 US International

Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 SKATE CANADA: Mens Preview

I always like Skate Canada because for some reason I feel like they consistently get the best talent. I don't see anyone running away with this mens event like Machida did at Skate America. I think we will have a cluster of 5 at the top and 4-5 in the middle.

Podium Predictions:
Gold: Javier Fernandez (ESP)
Silver: Takahito Mura (JPN)
Bronze: Takahiko Kozuka (JPN)

Javier Fernandez (ESP) has been hyped up for the past two years, but hasn't actually lived up to the hype for most of that time. He's the Gracie Gold of mens skating if Gracie had two world medals. He's a jumper and he performs like Elvis Stojko. Brian Orser needs him to step up this season in the depleted post-Sochi field. He hasn't competed a major international since Worlds so he may have to kick the dust off the tires a bit. The mixture of the tacky as hell Black Betty and highbrow "Barber of Seville" sum up Javier perfectly.

Takahito Mura (JPN) has suffered greatly from the depth of mens figure skaters in Japan. He won the 2014 Four Continents, won the recent International Challenge Cup and placed 2nd at the Lombardia Trophy. This is going to be his season to break out.

Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) has had an up and down go of it the past few years. The 2010 Grand Prix looked like his coming out party, but he has struggled with his jumps as of late and Yuzuru Hanyu blew by him at home. Missing the Sochi team must have shredded his confidence, but he finished a respectable 6th at the 2014 Worlds and will look to reestablish himself this season. I think he could've benefitted from performing a senior B event.

The Rest of the Field:
Elladj Balde (CAN)-11th at 2014 Four Continents, 18th at 2014 Worlds, 5th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Liam Firus (CAN)-28th at 2014 Olympics, 9th at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Kevin Reynolds (CAN)-15th at 2014 Olympics, 11th at 2014 Worlds, 6th at 2014 Autumn Classic
Michal Brezina (CZE)-4th at 2014 Europeans, 10th at 2014 Olympics, 2nd at 2014 Nebelhorn Trophy
Florent Amodio (FRA)-13th at 2014 Europeans, 18th at 2014 Olympics, 7th at 2014 Lombardia Trophy
Konstantin Menshov (RUS)-3rd at 2014 Europeans, 3rd at 2014, Nebelhorn Trophy
Max Aaron (USA)-8th at 2014 Worlds, 1st at 2014 US International Classic
Stephen Carriere (USA)-1st at 2014 O. Nepela
Adam Rippon (USA)-8th at 2014 Four Continents, 2nd at 2014 Finlandia Trophy