Sunday, October 31, 2010

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Mens Short Program

1) Jeremy Ten (Canada)
      Music: A Single Man
  • Stumble out of the first jump
  • He is a very expressive, artistic skater which I love, but he comes across as a bit feminine
  • That back camel spin is lovely
  • Popped second jump
  • He seems very uncomfortable out there on the ice today
  • He is a lovely spinner though
  • SP Score: 30.39 (techincal) + 30.31 (presentation) = 60.71
2) Paolo Bacchini (Italy)
      Music: Pinocchio (musical)
  • Triple axel is very strong
  • Second jump of the combination looked under-rotated
  • Third jump landed low to the ice but looked clean
  • This music is very whimsical and I like it
  • He is a nice spinner with great speed and some interesting positions
  • SP Score: 30.21 (technical) + 29.57 (presentation) = 59.78

3) Grant Hochstein (USA) **
      Music: Suite No. 3
  • Nice artistry and expression
  • Fought very hard on the jump combo to land, possibly under-rotated
  • Took a very hard fall on the second jump
  • Footwork is very nice, I like the choreography of this routine
  • Wonderful spins!
  • SP Score: 27.80 (technical) + 30.18 (presentation) - 1.00 (deduction) = 56.98
4) Yasuharu Nanri (Japan)
      Music: Rondo Capriccoso
  • Landing of first jump looked under-rotated to me
  • He seems to be skating quite slowly, especially against this music
  • A rather unexciting performance overall
  • SP Score: 31.60 (technical) + 29.40 (presentation) = 61.00
5) Kristoffer Berntsson (Sweden) **
      Music: Comptine d'un Audre Ete by Yann Tiersen
  •  I love this piece of music so much. Where do I know it from?
  • I really don't like the costume, it looks sloppy and wrinkled, and the gloves look silly
  • Fall on second jump
  • His spins look choppy and he just looks kind of sloppy overall
  • I was so hoping for him to do well as he is on my fantasy team, but alas, i don't think the scores will be high at all
  • SP Score: 26.32 (technical) + 32.17 (presentation) - 2.00 (deduction) = 57.59

6) Javier Fernadez (Spain) **
      Music: Histoire d un Amour
  •  This costume is very interesting, very jazzy
  • That was a huge jump to open off with
  • Definitely fought to save that landing on the combination jump
  • He looks very tilted in the air on all these jumps, and makes me nervous
  • This guy is very very theatrical, a good performer
  • SP Score: 34.32 (technical) +32.42 (presentation) = 66.74
7) Kevin Reynolds (Canada)
     Music: Moanin, Drum Thunder Suite
  •  Boy, what is happening with your hair?
  • Nice quad-triple, very strong
  • Triple axel was very tilted in the air and landing looked under-rotated
  • That second quad in the short program was huge, and the first time this has ever happened
  • What is with that jazz hand position? Its a little overdone for my liking
  • Foot work is nice and fast, but the arms seem to flail too much for me
  • He may be the reincarnation of "The Quad King" Tim Goebel
  • This boy is going to be somebody to watch
  • SP Score: 46.03 (technical) + 34.06 (presentation) = 80.09
8) Artur Gachinski (Russia)
      Music: Selections from Pink Floyd
  • This boy looks like a young Evgeni Plushenko, which makes sense because he is coached by Alexei Mishin 
  • Stumble out of the first jump but nice recovery on the triple axel
  • This kid's expressions, artistry, and even the execution of his jumps remind me so much of Plushenko its scary
  • His flexibility in his spins is also reminiscent of Plushenko
  • SP Score: 34.14 (technical) + 32.43 (presentation) = 66.57
9) Adam Rippon (USA)
      Music: Romeo and Juliet Overture
  •  I love this boy and he has come a long way, I think its been so good that he has been training with Orser alongside Yu Na Kim
  • Such emotion, even at the top of the program
  • Very strong triple axel
  • Very strong triple-triple
  • This music suits him well
  • Amazing flexibility in his spins
  • Ahmaaaaaazing Rippon triple lutz, which is interestingly enough, modeled after the Tano Lutz made famous by Brian Boitano, the arch-rival of Rippon's coach Brian Orser
  • I'm not commenting on off-ice antics, but in terms of skating quality, Rippon reminds me so much of Johnny Weir
  • SP Score: 41.10 (technical) + 36.43 (presentation) = 77.53
  • I'm not sure why these scores are so low, especially for presentation
10) Alban Preaubert (France) **
       Music: Turtle Shoes
  •  Jump combination looked a little wobbly
  • He is definitely a dynamic jumper, he does not hold back at all
  • I love the theatricality in this footwork, very jazzy
  • SP Score: 35.57 (technical) + 34.14 (presentation) = 69.71 
11) Patrick Chan (Canada) **
       Music: Take Five by Paul Desmond
  •  He is looking very dapper and smooth out there
  • Wow what a huge fall on that opening quad attempt
  • Another huge fall on that triple axel attempt
  • Patrick does not seem himself at all out there, although when I think of him, I always think of inconsistency
  • His spins look amazing though
  • He is surprisingly maintaining composure here despite the falls though which is a true mark of maturity
  • Wow Patrick, a fall on your footwork? That was a tough break to end the program, I really feel for you
  • SP Score: 36.73 (technical) + 39.47(presentation) - 3.00 (deduction) = 73.20
  • I feel bad for Patrick but those scores were way to high; for some reason Patrick has always been a judges' darling
12) Nobunari Oda (Japan) **
       Music: Storm by Yoshida Brothers
  •  Nice triple axel to open; looking strong and composed
  • Nice quad-triple
  • I do not get this costume, why the parachute pants?
  • Traveling a bit on that ending sit spin
  • Good solid program for Oda, he should go easily into 1st
  • SP Score: 43.37 (technical) + 38.00 (presentation) = 81.37

Friday, October 29, 2010

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Pairs Short Program

This pairs event is going to be such a craps shoot. I have no clue what to expect.

1) Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (Canada) **
  • I completely missed this program!
  • I will comment on it later when the live competition is over
  • SP Score: 29.08 (technical) + 25.72 (presentation) = 54.80
2) Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (Canada) **
      Music: Zorba's Dance
  •  They have nice energy and speed across the ice
  • The catch on the twist was rough
  • The entrance into the lift was a little off
  • She takes a fall on the throw
  • I don't like these upside down death spiral positions, they are unbecoming for the woman
  • Good recovery with some nice footwork
  • SP Score: 29.68 (technical) + 25.00 (presentation) - 1.00 (deduction) = 53.68

3) Paige Lawrence & Rudy Swiegers (Canada)
      Music: City Slickers soundtrack
  •  I can already tell that they are very theatrical performers
  • Hand down on the first side-by-side jumps
  • The exit from the first lift was gorgeous
  • She touched the ground in the death spiral, not  sure how I feel about that
  • She totally saved the landing on that throw
  • SP Score: 31.74 (technical) + 24.40 (presentation) = 56.14

4) Britney Simpson & Nathan Miller (USA)
      Music: The Pink Panther
  •  14 & 22, quite the age difference
  • I love her pink costume so much and it fits the piece
  • Nice clean side-by-side jumps
  • That was a low catch on the twist
  • She two-footed the landing on the throw and barely saved it
  • Some loss of unison on the side-by-side combination spin
  • This footwork lacks some flair I think
  • The lift was very nice
  • SP Score: 23.98 (technical) + 22.41 (presentation) = 46.39
5) Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir (USA) **
      Music: Money by Pink Floyd
  •  Pretty solid side-by-side jumps
  • That was actually a very clean twist, even by my standards
  • Definitely out of sync on those spins, they need to clean that up if they want to compete with the best in the world
  • That throw was CRAZY high, it reminded me of the chinese throwing the girls over couches
  • That overhead lift in the leg catch position was ahmaaaazing!
  • This team certainly has some awesome elements and great hilights to their programs
  • SP Score:  32.96(technical) +23.38 (presentation) =56.34
6) Lubov Iliushechkina & Nodari Maisuradze (Russia) **
      Music: The Marriage of Figaro
  •  Nice Sid-by-side jumps
  • The throw was amazing
  • They cover the ice with so much speed
  • I didn't like the catch on their twist
  • They lost a lot of speed in their death spiral
  • They are a bit out of sync in the side-by-side spins
  • That one-handed lift was impressive, but the exit was a bit clunky for me
  • SP Score: 34.03 (technical) + 26.69 (presentation) = 60.72
7) Stacey Kemp & David King (Great Britain)
  •  SP Score: 23.27 (technical) + 20.23 (presentation) = 43.50
8) Huibo Dong & Yiming Wi (China)
  •  SP Score: 22.92 (technical) + 20.61(presentation) = 43.53

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Ladies Short Program

11:22 am-And we are live in Kingston, Ontario. Right now we are looking at empty ice, but if all goes according to schedule, the first warm up group will take the ice in about 7 minutes.
11:29 am-Introduction of the judges as warm up group 1 prepares to take the ice.
11:30 am-Introduction of technical panel.
11:31 am-There are a lot of pink costumes in this group. Agnes just did a jump out of a scratch spin. This girl has talent!
11:34 am-Agnes looks calm and collected. And I obviously love her hot pink costume.
11:35 am-Myriane Samson is also wearing hot pink. I am going to attempt to identify jumps by name as I call this event but I apologize if I make any mistakes.

1) Agnes Zawadzki (USA)**

         Music: Gopher Mambo/Concierto para Bongo
  • Agnes looks calm and collected
  • Great opening and nice control
  • Awesome opening combination (triple-triple)
  • I loved the Ina Bauer into the triple lutz
  • Gorgeous layback into a Bielmann spin showing flexibility and control
  • She is showing great personality in this Mambo
  • Spin sequence lost a little speed
  • The footwork is very intricate and well choreographed but could use some more speed 
  • Another Ina Bauer into the double axel which, save for a tiny balance check on the landing, was clean
  • These interesting entrances into her jumps will earn her extra points
  • Front leg catch spin shows off flexibility and makes for a great ending to a stellar short program
  • What a way to burst onto the senior Grand Prix circuit!
  • SP Score: 32.14 (technical) + 24.15 (presentation) = 56.29
  • Her components should go up as she gets more comfortable with this program and matures with it
2) Myriane Samson (Canada)
      Music: Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell
  •  I can already tell she is a very lyrical, elegant skater
  • Opening triple-double combo is clean
  • Double axel is clean too
  • I think that was a triple flip, pretty clean
  • This footwork is a bit slow, but then again, this musical selection does not necessarily lend itself to footwork
  • Some interesting positions in her spins
  • SP Score: 27.88 (technical) + 23.74 (presentation) = 51.62
3) Sonia LaFuente(Spain)
  • Wow, she took a fall just stroking forward and landed on her knee
  • I think she may be hurt, she is really rubbing and shaking the knee
  • She is speaking to the panel right now
  • She just practiced a single jump to see if the leg would handle it
  • It looks like she'll start again
  • Good for her, landing her triple-double combo cleanly
  • Triple lutz was clean also
  • I admire her ability to calm down enough to jump back into the program after a fall like that
  • She could use some more expression, but I'm sure she must be rattled to say the least
  • After catching and edge on some crossovers, I'm sure this footwork is scaring her quite a bit
  • Wow, I'm so happy for her that she could come out and do a clean skate after that fall
  • SP Score: 22.51(technical) +21.25 (presentation) - 1.00 (deduction) = 42.76
4) Alexe Gilles (USA)
        Music: Excerpts from "Aschenbroedel" by Strauss
  •  Alexe is looking pretty in pink!
  • Its so cool that she, Agnes, and Rachel Flatt train together but are such different skaters
  • First jump of her combo is clean, but she takes a fall on the second jump
  • Took a fall on the next jump too
  • Double axel is clean
  • She is such a pretty skater, it is a shame that she took those falls
  • As I predicted, after 4 skaters, Agnes' lead is still holding
  • Alexe is a nice spinner, with some great positions and good speed
  • She looks visibly shaken in the Kiss & Cry talking to her coaches
  • SP Score: 22.35 (technical) + 20.67 (presentation) -2.00 (deduction) = 41.02

5) Amelie Lacoste (Canada)
     Music: Otonal by Raul di Blasio
  •  From the opening pose, I can already tell she is sassy
  • Opening double axel is clean, she really attacked that
  • Hand down on the second jump of the combination, landed very low to the ice also
  • 3rd jump had a little balance check on the landing, but otherwise clean
  • This program is very front-loaded; I prefer jumps to be spread out across the program
  • Her spiral is a bit weak, could use some more stretch
  • I don't love this choreography and she seems a bit thrashy in her footwork
  • I love spins in the catch leg position, but only if the skater really has the stretch to do it well
  • I have no reason to think she'll top Agnes
  • SP Score: 29.34 (technical) + 25.34 (presentation) = 55.30
6) Valentina Marchei (Italy)
      Music: Requiem for a Dream/Lord of the Rings
  • A hand down on the opening jump
  • She has great attack and this music seems to suit her quite well
  • I don't like how this was choreographed, there are amazing crescendos where jumps could be happening rather than transitions
  • Took a fall in the footwork, but she was really going after it
  • Looks like Agnes will hold off yet another skater
  • She looks disappointed in herself
  • SP Score: 22.61 (technical) +23.96 (presentation) - 1.00 (deduction) = 45.57
7) Fumie Suguri (Japan) **
      Music: Adagio by Tomaso Albinon
  • Fumie is one of those quiet skaters who always seems to fly under the radar
  • Landing on jump one of the combination was wobbly, and jump two was two footed and possibly under-rotated
  • Next jump was fairly clean
  • Her spins seem very slow 
  • She seems uncomfortable out there on the ice, like she can't get her legs under her
  • A bad camera angle on her third jump, but it looked under-rotated to me
  • The ladies competition in  Japan these days is so fierce, and I think Fumie is probably being upstaged by her younger contrymen these days
  • She lacked fire and excitement in that short program that I hope she can find for the freeskate
  • SP Score: 24.85 (technical) + 23.32 (presentation) =48.17
8) Haruka Imai (Japan) **
     Music: Gypsy Dance from Don Quixote
  •  All of these young Japanese ladies have Fumie Suguri to thank as she was one of the first Japanese ladies to really have success on the world stage back in the 2002 season
  • First two jumps were clean
  • Good speed across the ice and in spins
  • I like the variations in spin positions that the new judging system encourages
  • Last jump was clean as well
  • This was a great musical selection for her
  • She seems to be losing some control of her body here toward the end of the program
  • SP Score: 28.18 (technical) + 24.34 (presentation) = 52.52
9) Ksenia Makarova (Russia)
      Music: Flamenco by Didulia
  •  I can only hope that Johnny Weir is here with her in the Kiss & Cry
  • What is with the Spanish pieces this season? If I see one more Tango or Flamenco
  • That was a pretty clean triple-triple
  • Next jump is pretty clean as well
  • Nice clean double axel
  • Traveling on her spins a bit and hitting some strange positions, loses speed on her spins as well
  • Footwork seems energetic, but if I don't know if that is Ksenia or if it is the music
  • She looks like a completely different skater from last season to this season
  • No Johnny Weir....sad
  • SP Score: 31.44 (technical) +26.46(presentation) = 57.90
  • **Just took over 1st place
10) Alissa Czisny (USA)
        Music: Romance from Violin Concerto in D, op 35 by Korngold
  •  This white dress is gorgeous on her
  • With Alissa, it is a complete performance from beginning to end
  • Stumbles out of the first jump, will be downgraded
  • The first jump of the combination looked under-rotated to me
  • Her spiral is the most gorgeous since Sasha Cohen
  • Double axel is clean
  • She is a lovely spinner, and it amazes me the way she can pick up speed
  • This music seems too legato to produce a great footwork sequence
  • She reminds me of the Swiss skaters in the way that she spins
  • SP Score: 28.37 (technical) + 27.58 (presentation) = 55.95
11) Cynthia Phaneuf (Canada) **
        Music: Nocturne by Debussy
  • Alright girl, you are on my fantasy team, get it!
  • Double axel looks very storng
  • Nice triple-double
  • Nice performance quality, this  music suits her
  • Last solo jump is clean
  • Layback positions are lovely
  • I can tell she is going to kill it in the footwork
  • This girl loves those body rolls
  • Footwork was fierce as is the combo spin
  • And the crowd is obsessed with her, as to be expected on home turf
  • I thought she had the edge on Ksenia, but we'll see
  • SP Score: 29.98 (technical) +28.26 (presentation) =58.24
  • **Just took first!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Favorite Figure Skating Memories #1: Sarah Hughes' 2002 Olympic Long Program

I remember this moment like it was yesterday. I was 13 years old and I was watching the ladies free skate at home with my mother. I have been a dancer for my entire life and until a few years ago, there were no dancing shows on television so I gravitated toward figure skating at a young age because the movements and the artistry seemed similar to dancing to me. Like the rest of the world, we were expecting Michelle Kwan to win her long awaited Olympic Gold Medal. But when the 16 year old Sarah Hughes took the ice and gave this phenomenal performance, we knew we were in store for a dramatic evening of fierce competition. I still remember gasping out loud when Scott Hamilton, that evening's commentator exclaimed that Sarah Hughes had won Olympic Gold. I was shocked, amazed, and inspired. I thought to myself, "she is only 3 years older than I am and she is an Olympic champion. If she could work hard that hard and be so successful in figure skating, then maybe I could be that successful as a dancer." While I'm much older now, I still remember her performance and what an inspiration she was and to this day, I still credit Sarah Hughes' Olympic gold medal winning performance with inspiring me to put all of my energy and passion into dance. If you've never seen this program or if its been a while, do yourself a favor and watch it. In all my years of watching dance and figure skating, I don't believe I've ever seen a performance filled with more passion and joy that this truly one-of-a-kind program.

Barbie's Showtune of the Day #14: For Good

Ask me today what my favorite Broadway show is and I'll tell you one thing, and if you ask me tomorrow I'll probably give you a different answer. My taste in musical theatre is constantly changing and evolving, but the show that will probably always remain closest to my heart is Wicked. I have seen Wicked more times than any other show and each time I see the show or hear the music, I respond to a different aspect of the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. The song For Good is near and dear to my heart and each time I hear it, it brings back some very specific memories. First of all, the first time I saw Wicked I had no idea what to expect, but what I took away from the show was this song and what it said about the people who come into our lives for a reason. Another memory is from my senior year of high school, in my last dance recital, where I danced a duet to For Good with my dance teacher who has always been, and still is, one of the closest people to me in my life. Finally, two years ago, I got the chance to play Glinda, my number one Broadway dream role, in a cabaret production where I sang For Good with one of my close friends.

What I love about this video is that it shows the progression of a song and the performance of that song from the rehearsal process to the show. I love the quote from Winnie Holzman, the book writer of Wicked about how the musical's script must rise to service the music. And what I love the most is watching Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth interact with one another in rehearsal as they discover their characters and their relationship with one another.

Figure Skating Jumps Deconstructed

I have been a fan of Figure Skating ever since the 1994 Olympics, which we all remember as the year of the Tonya/Nancy scandal. Anyway....I've gotten pretty good at judging skaters' programs and knowing what to look for in terms of difficulty and precision. However, I've always struggled to identify the jumps as they all look so similar except for the axel, which utilizes a forward takeoff while others use a backward takeoff. I found this video series starring US national champion Michael Weiss and it is actually pretty informative. He describes each jump in detail and then shows examples of each jump in single, double, and triple form. My goal is to be able to identify each jump by the Grand Prix final in December. Enjoy the videos and we will learn together!

Introduction: Michael tells us about the 6 main figure skating jumps in order of difficulty as well as the difference between an edge jump and a toe jump.

Salchow: This is the easiest of the edge jumps. You take off skating backwards with the left back inside edge of the blade. You then use the edge to spring into the air with no assistance from the right foot and perform 1, 2, 3, or 4 rotations. You always land every jump on the right back outside edge. Most skaters jump and spin rotating to the left, but for the rare 15% that jump rotating to the right, they will take off from the right back inside edge and land on the left back outside edge. A 3-turn, or a 1/2 turn my happen on the ice prior to the jump in order to gain momentum for the takeoff.

Loop: This is the second easiest of the edge jumps. You begin on the right back outside edge. After performing your revolutions, you also lend on the right back outside edge.

Axel: This is the most difficult of the edge jumps because it involves an extra revolution. You take off going forward on your left outside edge, perform 1.5, 2.5, or 3.5 revolutions and then land on the right back outside edge. 

Toe Loop: This is the easiest of the toe jumps. It takes off on a right back outside edge and uses the left toe in back to vault the skater into the air. This also utilizes a 3-turn or 1/2 turn to create momentum going into the jump. Like all other jumps, this is landed on the right back outside edge.

Flip:This is the second hardest of the toe jumps. You skate backward on your left back inside edge and toe in the back with your right foot. This is more difficult because the hips are closed to the rotation. This has a 3-turn or 1/2 turn going into the jump to help with momentum and ends on a right back outside edge.

Lutz: This is the cousin of the flip and the hardest of the toe jumps. You skate backward with a long left back outside edge and toe in the back with the right foot. The skater will skate backward for a long time to prepare for this jump. A common mistake is to switch to an inside edge before take-off which is commonly called a "flutz" and will be downgraded by judges. This ends on a back right outside edge as other jumps.

2010 ISU Grand Prix Final Predictions

With the 2010-2011 Figure Skating season underway, my friend Skategate (@arlewis1) and I can hardly contain our excitement, so we've decided to make totally uninformed predictions as to who will make the Grand Prix final. If you aren't familiar with the Grand Prix series, each skater is assigned two events and the six skaters or teams in each discipline with the top combined total scores from their events make it to the Grand  Prix Final. With only one Grand Prix event completed, the NHK trophy, we really have no business guessing which skaters/teams will make the final, but here we go anyway!! Our picks are largely the same, but since Skategate did hers first and I saw them before I made mine, I had to differ on a few to mix it up a bit. Hers definitely make more sense and some of mine are a bit off the wall, but in figure skating, you never know who will crash and burn and who will rise to the top.

Skategate                            BackStage Barbie

Daisuke Takahashi                                       Daisuke Takahashi
Jeremy Abbott                                             Jeremy Abbott
Adam Rippon                                              Adam Rippon
Brian Joubert                                               Brian Joubert
Patrick Chan                                                Nobunari Oda
Tokahiko Kozuka                                        Florent Amodio

Carolina Kostner                                         Carolina Kostner
Rachel Flatt                                                 Rachel Flatt
Mirau Nagasu                                              Mirai Nagasu
Agnes Zawadzki                                          Agnes Zawadzki 
Miki Ando                                                   Miki Ando
Fumie Suguri                                                Mao Asada

Pang/Tong                                                   Pang/Tong
Bazarova/Larionov                                      Bazarova/Larionov
Takahashi/Tran                                           Takahashi/Tran
Iliushechkina/Maisuradze                             Iliushechkina/Maisuradze
Savchnko/Szolkowy                                    Savchenko/Szolkowy
Sui/Han                                                       Evora/Ladwig

Ice Dance:
Davis/White                                                  Davis/White                          
Weaver/Poje                                                Weaver/Poje
Faiella/Scali                                                  Faiella/Scali
Kerr/Kerr                                                     Kerr/Kerr
Pechalat/Bourzat                                           Shibutani/Shibutani
Crone/Poirier                                                Chock/Zuerlein

My Most Memorable Theatre Experiences: #6 Next to Normal

I apologize for neglecting this blog series over the past few weeks. I've been trying to cover the start of the figure skating season but now that that is underway, I'm back to theatre! I lived in Manhattan in the summer of 2009 and made it my personal goal to see every musical on Broadway. After the TONY awards, I became interested in Next to Normal and decided to wait in line for rush tickets. I thought I'd be fine arriving at 9am for a 10am box office opening, but little did I know, that was much too late. I didn't get tickets and saw Rock of Ages that night instead. On the way home from that show, I passed the Booth Theatre and happened to bump into Alice Ripley. She asked if I'd seen the show that night and I was so starstruck I could barely speak, but eventually found the words to tell her I'd waited in line but didn't get tickets. I proudly announced that I planned to get in line at 5am the next week to ensure that I'd get tickets. Then, to my surprise, Alice hugged me and told me how much she loves her fans and that she is so proud to be in a show that people love enough to wait in line for hours for rush tickets. She even told me to friend her on facebook and tell her when I was coming to the show, which I may or may not have done.

The next Friday, I arrived at the Booth Theatre at 5am and was first in line. When the box office opened at 10am I was able to purchase front row orchestra seats for $20 and could not believe my luck. I treated myself to the full theatre experience that night including a nice dinner before curtain. I hadn't listened to the music prior to seeing the show as I wanted to experience it all that night and from the beginning notes of the prelude, I was completely enraptured. I normally fall in love with shows because the music speaks to my soul, and this show was a perfect example of that. I found the blend of soft, traditional musical theatre, with rock and folk music to be genius in getting to the essence of the Goodman family. In some productions, good music can mask a weak story or poorly written book, but this show was one of those rare occasions where all elements worked perfectly in harmony. I use this phrase often, but this show is truly a play with music, because even if the score were taken away, the characters are developed enough to tell a complete story. How this show lost the TONY for Best Musical to Billy Elliott still astounds and infuriates me. Alice Ripley, who did win a TONY for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Diana Goodman, a wife and mother suffering from bipolar disorder and depression was a complete tour de force. Patti LuPone once said that the most exciting performers to watch are those that are on the verge of spinning out of control. This describes Alice's performance perfectly. One minute she was in control of her voice and body and the next moment she wasn't and not only did that make her performance exciting, it made her portrayal of a mentally ill woman believable. While the other performers, J Robert Spencer as Dan, Kyle Dean Massey as Gabe, Jennifer Damiano as Natalie, Louis Hobson as the Doctors, and Adam Chanler-Berat as Henry were all fantastic, in my opinion they only served to support the character of Diana. While I think this show is stellar regardless of the casting, I think that Alice Ripley has become so iconic in this role that without her, it may not have much staying power on Broadway. In fact, now that Marin Mazzie has taken over the role, the show has all but posted its closing notice. But regardless of how much longer it lasts on Broadway, this show shed light on a topic previously untouched by musical theatre, developed a cult following, and truly touched a new generation of theatre-goers. And did I mention that it won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama?

Monday, October 25, 2010

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate Canada Preview

Here is a preview of the skaters you will see at the ISU's second Grand Prix of Figure Skating Event next weekend, Skate Canada in Kingston, Ontario. It is important to notice that Canadian Ice Dance team and Olympic/World gold medalists Virtue/Moir will not be competing due to Tessa's injury. Fellow Canadian and Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette will also not be be competing in the event. Top Canadian pairs team Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison also announced yesterday that they are withdrawing from the competition due to Bryce's injury. Even without their top skaters, Canada will still have a large presence in this competition with 11 entries. Patrick Chan, Canada's top man has the potential for greatness so it will certainly be interesting to see if he can live up to expectations, or if he will cave under pressure. Young American Adam Rippon is also someone to watch and he seems hungry to take the place of Lysacek and Weir among the top American men. In Ladies, your guess is as good as mine among the top competitors. Suguri is aging and hasn't done much in the past few years. Canadian Phaneuf was poised to become a top competitor but fizzled out a few years ago. Csizny has the potential to be spectacular, but often falters under pressure. We'll see how a recent coaching change affects her at the competition. And Ksenia Makarova has the hopes of all of Russia behind her, but in my opinion, she lacks the talent of the world's best. Definitely keep you eye on the young American Agnes Zawadzki. She is immensely talented and has the potential to be the best female skater the US has produced in years. Most of the pairs teams in this competition are young and lack experience, so this event will be a total craps shoot. In dance, the British team of Kerr/Kerr and the Canadians Crone/Poirier are certainly favorites, but we'll have to see how Sinead Kerr's shoulder injury effects her. Also look for Americans Chock/Zuerlein, another up and coming Marina Zoueva & Igor Shpilband team, to make the podium.

When the broadcast times are announced for each event, I will update this post.

UPDATE: Skategate and I have chosen our Skate Canada fantasy teams so here goes! Interestingly enough we have 0/3 of the same picks for MEN, 1/3 for LADIES, 2/3 for PAIRS, and 3/3 for DANCE. Quite the progression we have going here! The letter next to each skater, for those unfamiliar with Fantasy Skating, is the pool they are in. Skaters are grouped in pools based on world rankings and overall performance. Competitors choose one skater from each pool. The system is set up this way so that fantasy competitors cannot simply choose the three skaters or teams they expect to make the podium, but rather one from each ability level in the competition.

BackStage Barbie Skategate Shared Picks


1) Patrick CHAN (Canada) A
2) Kevin REYNOLDS (Canada) B
3) Jeremy TEN (Canada) C
4) Alban PREAUBERT (France) B
5) Paolo BACCHINI (Italy) C
6) Yasuharu NANRI (Japan) C
7) Nobunari ODA (Japan) A
8) Artur GACHINSKI (Russia) B
9) Javier FERNANDEZ (Spain) B
10) Kristoffer BERNTSSON (Sweden) C
12) Adam RIPPON (USA) A


1) Amelie LACOSTE (Canada) C
2) Cynthia PHANEUF (Canada) A
3) Myriane SAMSON (Canada) C
4) Valentina MARCHEI (Italy) B
5) Haruka IMAI (Japan) B
6) Fumie SUGURI (Japan) A
7) Ksenia MAKAROVA (Russia) A
8) Sonia LAFUENTE (Spain) C
9) Alissa CZISNY (USA) A
10) Alexe GILLES (USA) C\
11) Agnes ZAWADZKI (USA)
**Sarah Meier has withdrawn due to injury  
1) Meagan DUHAMEL / Eric RADFORD (Canada) B
2) Paige LAWRENCE / Rudi SWIEGERS (Canada) C
3) Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS/Dylan MOSCOVITCH (Canada) C
4) Huibo DONG / Yiming WU (China) B
5) Stacey KEMP / David KING (Great Britain) B
7) Anastasia MARTIUSHEVA / Alexei ROGONOV (Russia) C
8) Marissa CASTELLI / Simon SHNAPIR (USA) C
9) Britney SIMPSON/Nathan MILLER (USA) C

Ice Dance:

1) Vanessa CRONE / Paul POIRIER (Canada) A
2) Alexandra PAUL / Mitchell ISLAM (Canda) C
3) Pernelle CARRON / Lloyd JONES (France) B
4) Stefanie FROHBERG / Tim GIESEN (Germany) C
5) Sinead KERR / John KERR (Great Britain) A
6) Lorenza ALESSANDRINI / Simone VATURI ITA (Italy) C
7) Kristina GORSHKOVA / Vitali BUTIKOV (Russia) B
8) Madison CHOCK / Greg ZUERLEIN (USA) B
9) Rachel TIBBETTS / Collin BRUBAKER (USA) C

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: NHK Results

I had originally planned to live-blog each NHK event as I did with the Short Dance and the Pairs Short, but due to the odd times at which the events were broadcast, I didn't get a chance to do so. Nonetheless, I'm at least going to summarize the results. In this post I am also going to introduce my guest blogger for the ISU figure skating season, Skategate! We are both playing Fantasy Skating this season and so far she is ahead of me with 1945 points and tied for 60th. I currently have 1916 points and am tied for 228th. By the way, my fantasy team name is BackStage Barbie (duh) for anybody else who may be playing.


Color Key: BackStage Barbie Skategate Shared Picks

1) Daisuke Takahashi (Japan) 234.79
2) Jeremy Abbot (USA) 218.19
3) Florent Amodio (France) 213.77
4) Yuzura Hanyu (Japan) 207.72
5) Shawn Sawyer (Canada) 193.80
6) Takahito Mura (Japan) 191.85
7) Jialiang Wu (China) 189.85
8) Kevin Van Der Perren (Belgium) 189.41
9) Ross Miner (USA) 186.62
10) Adrian Schultheiss (Sweden) 181.47
11) Jeremy Ten (Canada) 176.48
12) Denis Ten (Kazakhstan) 171.68

1) Carolina Kostner (Italy) 164.61
2) Rachael Flatt (USA) 161.04
3) Kanako Murakami (Japan) 150.16
4) Kiira Korpi (Finland) 148.44
5) Ashley Wagner (USA) 143.73
6) Elene Gedevanishvili (Georgia) 141.52
7) Caroline Zhang (USA) 133.86
8) Mao Asada (Japan) 133.40
9) Viktoria Helgesson (Sweden) 130.11
10) Lena Marrocco (France) 122.03
11) Jenna McCorkell (Great Britain) 121.52
12) Diane Szmiett (Canada) 88.33

1) Pang/Tong (China) 189.37
2) Bazarova/Larionov (Russia) 173.83
3) Takahashi/Tran (Japan) 155.66
4) Yangkowskas/Coughlin (USA) 154.88
5) Denney/Barrett (USA) 152.38
6) Brodeur/Mattatall (Canada) 151.97
7) Hausch/Wende (Germany) 148.31
8) Zhang/Wang (China) 138.55

Ice Dance:
1) Davis/White (USA) 165.21
2) Weaver/Poje (Canada) 141.57
3) Shibutani/Shibutani (USA) 136.93
4) Ilinykh/Katsalapov (Russia) 135.05
5) Cappellini/Lanotte (Italy) 127.43
6) Mysliveckova/Novak (Czech Republic) 115.17
7) Reed/Reed (Japan) 114.52
8) Penny Coomes/ Nicholas Buckland (Great Britain) 109.80
9) Yu/Wang (China) 102.65
10) Turoczi/Major (Hungary) 87.40

Friday, October 22, 2010

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: NHK Pairs Short Program

1) Vera Bazarova & Yuri Larionov (Russia)
     Music: Adagio by Secret Garden
  •  I love this piece of music, I hope I love the program as much
  • Side by side opening jump, slight bobble on landing but basically clean
  • Twist was lovely and I usually hate that element
  • His costume looks too feminine for me, I'd prefer it in all black
  • I don't know how she pulled out a landing on that throw but she did
  • Nice interesting exit out of the death spiral
  • Russia could use some good pair teams to continue the dynasty after the recent slump
  • Positions could have been  held longer in the lift
  • She broke character before the music ended which ruined a beautiful moment for me
  • I missed this the first time, but they actually changed hands during the death spiral, very interesting choreographically
  • SP Score: 34.36 (Technical) + 25.80 (Presentation) = 60.16
2) Maylin Hausch & Daniel Wende (Germany)
    Music: Tango de Roxanne from Moulin Rouge
  • I personally feel that tango is overused in figure skating, and Spanish music in general, but we shall see
  • Very clean side by side jumps
  • The catch on the triple twist was a bit clunky for me
  • The throw was pretty clean but lacked the power to match the music
  • A few bobbles on the mirroring step sequence
  • She seems to have much more attack than he does
  • Was her head on the ground in that death spiral?
  • The position was barely held in the overhead lift, I'm wondering if he may have started to lose her and decided just to set her down prematurely
  • She was quite fierce and I'd like to see him bring the performanc up to her level
  • SP Score: 28.40 (Technical) +22.09 (Presentation) = 50.49
3) Caitlin Yankowskas & John Coughlin (USA)
     Music: Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla
  • This is my pick from group B in Fantasy Skating and so far I like my chances
  • I've never seen this pair before but from the oening pose, I can already tell that she is quite a performer
  • Double twist was pretty good, fairly seamless landing
  • A lovely throw with an easy landing
  • They have good speed over the ice
  • Nice side by side jump with a clean landing
  • The overhead lift looked a bit unsteady in the position changes
  • Synchronization was off in the side by side spin sequence
  • Mirroring in the footwork sequence must be the theme of this season in both pairs and ice dance
  • A lovely death spiral to end a very solid program
  • This young pair could be great for the US pairs program if they improve from here throughout the season
  • SP Score: 29.93 (Technical) + 24.26 (Presentation) = 54.19
4) Yue Zhang & Lei Wang (China)
      Music: Tango de los Exilados by Walter Taiob
  • This is my C group fantasy team so I'm hoping they can pull a big upset
  • It looks like we have a new Bin Yao team, China really has become the world's new pairs dynasty
  • Another tango?
  • That double twist demonstrated everything I hate about the element, clunky catches and open legs
  • Landings on the side by side jumps were a bit wonky but decent
  • Throw was pretty good
  • They seem very young in the way that they land everything, but lack polish
  • Spins are very slow and slightly out of synch
  • This team definately has the makings of a good pair, but needs to work on their choreography, transitions, and overall presentation to truly make a complete program
  • That death spiral was so slow she looked dead
  • SP Score: 27.63 (Technical) + 22.09 (Presentation) = 49.72
5) Mylene Brodeur & John Mattatall (Canada)
    Music: My Way by C. Francois
  • His costume is not doing it for me but hers is gorgous, very Joannie Rochette
  • That double twist was a clunker
  • Nice solid side by side jump
  • The throw was decent, but lacked a lot of power
  • The combination spin sequence started out nicely but ended out of synch
  • They are definately hitting some awkward positions that need to be ironed out before the next competition
  • This choreography really lacks flair, in my opinion
  • She seemed very hunched and gripped in the overhead lift, as if she were trying not to fall
  • A bit of a wobble on the ending pose
  • This program was sloppy today, but has good potential to grow this season
  • SP Score: 31.00 (Technical) + 23.28 (Presentation) = 54.28
6) Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett (USA)
     Music: Love Theme from Cousins (Soundtrack)
  • It still astounds me how young Caydee is
  • Five seconds in and I already A) like the choreography and B) notice a new maturity level
  • Double twist was clunky, but maybe I just have a vendetta against that element
  • Pretty solid side by side jumps and it came at a nice climax in the music
  • That throw was quite powerful and again, well placed in the music
  • I wasn't crazy about the upside down death spiral
  • Spin sequence was in and out for me, out of synch at times yet lovely at others
  • And another mirrored footwork sequence
  • They are coached by John Zimmerman who I've always loved and if he choreographed this routine, I now love him even more
  • Their musicality has improved tremendously from last season and they seem very calm and collected
  • SP Score: 30.22 (Technical) + 24.81 (Presentation) = 55.03
7) Narumi Takahashi & Mervin Tran (Japan)
     Music: Feeling Good by Michael Buble
  • How tall is this girl? 4'8"?
  • The side by side jumps were very out of synch
  • A nice synchronized spin sequence, thank you very much for that
  • This girl has legs for days for somebody so petite
  • Her flexibility is insane, especially that leg catch overhead lift
  • Their performance style is very North American in terms of theatricality
  • Their lift positions are very strong
  •  I was pleasantly suprised by this team actually
  • SP Score: 31.70 (Technical) + 25.53 (Presentation) = 57.23
8) Qing Pang & Jian Tong (China)
     Music: Nocturne in C Sharp Minor by Chopin
  • This is my pick from group A on my fantasy team  and I have no doubt they'll pull through
  • So lyrical and elegant
  • Choreography, grace, and presentatio has always been their forte
  • With Shen & Zhao retired, they are the top Chinese team, and probably the top team in the world
  • Gorgeous side by side jumps and an exquisite throw
  • This is what I mean by holding positions in the over head lifts
  • I am a big fan of this choreography, especially their coverage of ice in the mirrored footwork sequence
  • SP Score: 34.23 (Technical) +  32.87(Presentation) = 67.10
How did my picks in Fantasy Skating Fare?
A) Pang/Tong in 1st
B) Yankowskas/Coughlin in 6th
C) Zhang/Wang in 8th

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: NHK Trophy Short Dance

1) Dora Turoczi & Balazs Major (Hungary)
    Music: The Royal Waltz/Quickstep
  • Entrances/exits from lifts are a bit awkward
  • Positions could use more stretch
  • They lost some speed mid way through the program
  • The program has good potential but looks under-rehearsed
  • Balazs lost momentum in his twizzle sequence which affect synchronization in footwork
  • SD Score: 15.81 (Technical) + 16.87 (Presentation) = 32.68
2) Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang (China)
    Music: Waltz The Blue Danube, Tango
  • The speed in the opening is nice
  • They are a very expressive couple and remind me of the pair Pang & Tong
  • The raised arms in the twizzle sequence is a daring choice becuase it highlights the errors in synchronization; it did not work in their favor today
  • I really like their dynamic shifts from the waltz to tango, there is a nice attack in the later portion
  • SD Score: 22.85 (Technical) + 20.65 (Presentation) = 43.50
3) Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland (Great Britain)
      Music: La Valse d'Amelie, Tango de los Exilados
  • They have a great speed and overall flow over the ice
  • They have nice extension in their limbs and are very graceful together
  • I really like their musicality and its relationshp with the choreography
  • Nice attack in the tango, but like the previous teams, their twizzle sequence gave them trouble
  • The footwork sequence is starting to look sloppy, they are losing energy and momentum
  • SD Score: 22.36 (Technical) + 21.16 (Presentation) = 43.52
4) Cathy Reed & Chris Reed (Japan)
      Music: Waltz A Party for Me, The Tango
  • I like this team but Chris's mustache is just creepy
  • Their opening lift/weight share was an interesting position, it was an awkward exit but it will improve during the season
  • This routine is very "danse macabre"
  • It still seems so bizarre to me that they compete for Japan...they went to high school with a friend of mine in New Jersey
  • They seem very fluid and smooth
  • This music suits them well
  • Chris seemed very out of control in his twizzles, and then as I suspected, he fell
  •  I like their footwork choreography, it is vey interesting, but Chris looks a bit spastic
  • SD Score: 21.86 (Technical) + 23.04(Presentation) = 44.90
5) Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalopov (Russia)
      Music: Waltz from Agony soundtrack, Tango
  • The best unison in twizzles that we've seen so far in this competition
  • Very good speed over the ice
  • She had a bit of a bobble but otherwise very clean so far
  • That lasso around the head lift will be lovely once they clean up the entrance/exit
  • He had a bobble in the footwork and is starting to look very sloppy in the second half while she still looks exquisite
  • Ending pose was a little rough, she looks unhappy with the performance
  • SD Score: 29.79 (Technical) + 27.10 (Presentation) = 56.89
6) Lucie Mysliveckova & Matej Novak (Czech Republic)
    Music: Waltz, Quickstep
  • This team was my pick from the C group in fantasy skating so I am pulling for them
  • This is very "folksy" and the tempo of the music seems to slow them down
  • The quickstep portion seems to suit them well and made them instantly more energetic
  • Unison is very rough in the twizzle sequence and the footwork
  • SD Score: 22.07 (Techincal) + 23.13 (Presentation) = 45.20
 7) Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani (USA)
    Music: The Carousel Waltz
  • I love this piece of music so much and it suits this team well
  • Bobbles in the twizzles like every team before them today
  • Beautiful lines and expressions; I can see Marina Zoueva's work with them
  • Oh wow, a fall from Alex, and on a fairly routine movement
  • There is a piece of fabric hanging from Maia's dress and its dangerously close to her skate
  • Igor is a wonderful coach, explained to Alex that the fall wasn't his fault, the skate got caught in the skirt, causing the fall
  • SD Score:  28.57 (Technical) + 26.11 (Presentation) - 1.00 (Deduction) = 53.68
8) Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (Canada)
     Music: At Last, Cheek to Cheek
  • This is my B group selection in fantasy skating so I'm pulling for them
  • Gorgeous musical selections from an absolutely gorgeous couple
  • So elegant and graceful
  • Opening lift on his should was lovely
  • I have been a fan of their coach Shae-Lynn Bourne since the late 1990s when she skated with partner Victor Kraatz
  • This program looks completely effortless for this couple, such wonderful maturity
  • This choreography is fabulous, so elegant, yet theatrical
  • The twizzles & footwork looked like near perfect unison from my angle
  • SD Score: 31.15 (Technical) + 27.54 (Presentation) = 58.69
 9) Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (Italy)
     Music: Waltz, Quickstep
  • Que Sera Sera gives this piece a very lighthearted feel
  • This team is experienced and it shows
  • The transition from Waltz to Quickstep is very awakward in this program, both thematically and musically
  • Lost some synchronization in the twizzles
  • Oh wow that hand in the crotch lift looked uncomfortable for her and was uncomfortable for me to watch
  • The synchronization issue was even more apparent on the replay, the arms seemed to flail a lot
  • SD Score: 27.57 (Technical) + 28.11 (Presentation) = 55.68
10) Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA)
        Music: Waltz
  • This is my A group team in fantasy skating and I have no reason to think they won't finish first in this competition
  • They look more mature to me this year, I think it is Charlie's shorter hair
  • Now that his what I call a perfect twizzle sequence
  • And this is how to do a mirroring footwork sequence and make it look elegant
  • Everything about this team screams polish and elegance
  • I loved them last year but they still had that youthful air, now there is more of a maturity
  • This opera selection was a perfect choice
  • Now that lasso around the neck lift was amazing from entrance to exit
  • This program is in great shape and I can't wait to see it grow throughout the season
  • SD Score: 32.28 (Technical) + 34.69 (Presentation) = 66.97
How did my Fantasy Team picks fare?
A) Davis/White in 1st
B) Weaver/Poje in 2nd
C) Mysliveckova/Novak in 6th

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Kelli O'Hara in Concert at the Kennedy Center

I have been waiting for years to see Kelli O'Hara perform live, and when I attended her solo concert tonight at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, I was certainly not disappointed. She opened with He Loves Me, a tweaked version of the song She Loves Me. She then continued into Wonderful Guy from South Pacific and also sang a selection from Most Happy Fella. After the first two to three songs, Kelli addressed the audience. She seemed incredibly comfortable speaking to the audience and while she wasn't as funny as other performers I've seen in concert, she was incredibly sweet and charming in her own way, not to mention incredibly gracious. She told us that this was a new concert and it is the same she will be performing at her upcoming show at Feinstein's in New York. The theme of this concert was her growth as an artist and she began with ingénue songs and progressed into songs sung by more adult characters to reflect her maturity and life experience. She did a lovely rendition of Kurt Weill's My Ship and we were also privileged to hear The Beauty Is from The Light in the Piazza as her final ingénue number.

She then continued into Something Wonderful from the King and I and an absolutely stunning rendition of This Nearly Was Mine. She spoke of how much she fell in love with this song hearing Paulo Szot perform it nightly in South Pacific. She even acknowledged that performing the song was a huge risk but I found it to be a phenomenal rendition. She then gave a small discussion of her appreciation for Sondheim, performing Finishing the Hat, and a song written for her by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey in the style of Sondheim for the brilliant composer's 80th birthday celebration. The one selection she chose from her solo album Wonder in the World, which is great I might add, was All The Way.

Kelli discussed the importance of family in her life, specifically her husband and son, and the balance it takes to be a mom and a performer. Everything she said was just so incredibly charming that I darn near fell in love with her! She then sang Opera-Country a number written for her by her musical director that discusses a country singer who secretly wants to be an opera star. This song made use of her lovely upper range and in its use of character voices and a somewhat autobiographical storyline, I found it quite similar to the Kristin Chenoweth standard The Girl in 14G. For her final number, Kelli performed West Side Story's Somewhere, which she also did two years ago for Barbra Streisand at the Kennedy Center Honors.

After tremendous applause and a standing ovation, she returned for an encore, I Could Have Danced All Night, which I thought was her best number. I've been saying for what seems like forever that she needs to play Eliza Doolittle in a Broadway revival of My Fair Lady and I stand by that choice.

In conclusion, I found Kelli's voice to be in tip top shape, and for someone who I admire primarily for her voice, this concert was the perfect medium for me to have my first live experience with Kelli. I could listen to her sing for hours. What I love about her is that her vocal training is definitely apparent, but when she sings, it sounds effortless. Singing clearly gives her great joy and it is very evident in her performance. And as for her stage presence? There were definitely times where her jokes didn't land or she didn't say exactly what she was meaning to say, but she is so darn sweet that you can't help but fall in love with her. I left the concert as an even bigger fan that I was when I arrived and from the mood in the theatre, she was a hit!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Most Memorable Theatre Experiences: #7 A Little Night Music

I apologize now if I start gushing, but of my list of top 10 theatre experiences, the revival of A Little Night Music was my most recent show so it is incredibly fresh and vivid in my memory. This show was a highlight of my life as a theatre-goer for several reasons. First of all, it was my first experience with a Stephen Sondheim work live on stage, other than Sondheim on Sondheim, and I was certainly not disappointed. From the top of the overture the final waltz, I was enraptured by the intricacies of the music, eloquence of the text, and the actors' polished performances. I found myself humming in 3/4 time several days after seeing the show. I try to see as many theatrical productions as possible, particularly those with historical significance that have made a grand impact on the musical theatre canon, but perhaps the biggest draw for me was Bernadette Peters. I wanted to see A Little Night Music when Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury were playing Desire and Madame Armfeldt, but I simply had to see this production when Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch took over the lead roles.

I have been a big fan of Miss Peters since I started my vocal training. My voice professor in college was frustrated because I learned vocal technique very quickly, but she was having trouble teaching me to "act the song." Finally, she sent me home with a VHS copy of Sunday in the Park with George and said "watch Bernadette Peters and learn from her." At that moment I got it. I realized that in the musical theatre, one must deliver a song as the character rather than themselves and that that often means letting go of vocal technique in order to allow the characters' emotions to seep through. Because Miss Peters has had such a profound impact on my growth as an artist, I was delighted to finally have the chance to see her on stage.

I was literally shaking in my seat as the curtain rose in the Walter Kerr Theatre. The actors entered in darkness but the moment I saw her signature red curls, I knew that I was in the presence of my Bernadette. I expected to fall in love with Bernadette's performance, and I did, but I also fell in love with the entire company and the show as a whole. Elaine Stritch was perfection in her comic timing and Alexander Hanson was a debonair, yet vulnerable Frederick.  The younger cast members sparkled as well from Leigh Ann Larkin's Petra with her 11 o'clock showstopper The Miller's Son to Erin Davie's Charlotte and her acerbic sense of humor. But the true highlight of the evening for me was Bernadette Peters' Send in the Clowns. This is arguably Sondheim's most well known song and I've heard it many times over, but never truly understood its meaning. But in the context of the show and this specific scene where Frederick rejects Desire's love despite their history, I began to realize the weight of this song. They realize that they are in two very different places and when Desire is finally ready to love Frederick, he has found another wife, and the only way she can cope with the tragedy of the situation is to fake humor. In this respect, the song is truly heartbreaking and while Bernadette was visibly crying during her performance, I was doing the same from my orchestra seat, for many reasons. Not only was I feeling sympathy for Desire and her grief, but I was thinking of how lucky I was to finally see my idol perform live. (This is the point where I gush) I started thinking of how inspirational Bernadette Peters is as a performer and how giving she is to the audience. She has had such a long, illustrious career and she could easily retire or focus on film and concert work, but she has given us all the gift of returning to the stage where I am certain that a whole new generation of theatre-goers are falling in love with her at every performance. As I watched Bernadette Peters in A Little Night Music, I said to myself, "I will never forget this performance," and I'm certain that I never will.