Rss

  • linkedin

Archives for : Musical

Movie Review: “Pitch Perfect 2” is an Aca-Awesome Sequel


The Barden Bellas are back and ready to pitch-slap the world’s best a cappella groups!

It’s been three years since we last saw our Bella’s beat out the exuberant Treblemakers for the national title. Since then, they have gone on to be reigning champs. But just before this all female singing group could finish out their college careers with 4 straight national wins, an unfortunate mishap occurs during a live broadcast performance at the White House. This results in the Bellas being banned from competing in the United States. Their one shot at redemption and reinstatement is to win the international competition, in which no American group has ever won. To make matters worse the undefeated champs from Germany, Das Sound Machine, are incredible!

Anna Kendrick returns as Beca, the aspiring music producer, who is now focused more on life after college and is secretly interning at a record label.  Brittany Snow also returns as Chloe, who purposely is failing college every year so that she may remain a Bella. And we are introduced to a new freshman, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who desperately wants to become a Barden Bella.

For the most part, Pitch Perfect 2 hits all the right notes. For starters, the film skips straight to the girl’s senior year in college and avoids dragged out year by year sequels. Also, Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) are still together and going strong. Nice to see they didn’t have a dramatic break up that would lead to an inevitable reunion. Only problem here is we don’t get nearly enough time with the lovable Skylar Astin. I would have much rather watched more of Jesse’s plan for life after college versus any time spent with newcomer, Emily. I can’t quite put my finger on why Steinfield never clicked with me. Other than her character writing the touching, original song “Flashlight,” Emily is just wasted time that could be spent on the growth of an already beloved character.

Speaking of beloved characters, Bumper (Adam DeVine) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) are still keeping their love affair under-wraps. It’s a hilarious and unique pairing that audiences will surely enjoy.

Pitch Perfect 2 is definitely flashier than the first film, yet it is also less charming. Under the direction of Elizabeth Banks, the movie focuses on a sort of girl power theme. That isn’t a bad thing, but it would have been nice to maybe see a collaboration between the Treblemakers and Barden Bellas. It’s a performance I still hope to see one day.

Overall I praise the film for its effort in an original sequel.  Instead of recycling story-lines, they allow their characters to develop through new experiences while also highlighting how bittersweet it can be to move on after college.

There is no doubt that fans of the first film will be satisfied with Pitch Perfect 2.  The movie is an extremely fun, comedy packed with awe-inspiring musical numbers to which you can’t help but sing-along.

Rating: 4/5

Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters May 15.

“Pitch Perfect 2” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Get On Up”- Chadwick Boseman Fires Up the Screen as James Brown

Get On Up may confuse with it’s non-linear timeline, but there is no misunderstanding the brilliance of Chadwick Boseman.

In last year’s 42, Boseman played baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a man suppressing his pride and bottling up his anger.  It was a strong breakout performance by an actor we knew we’d be seeing again very soon.  He then made a small appearance in the underrated Draft Day, as hopeful pick for the NFL draft.  In Get On Up, Boseman gets the chance to let loose in a firehouse of passion, funk, and intense ferocity.

The story itself may not have audiences captivated, as the constant back and forth jump from one year to the next tends to scramble the brain.  I understand not wanting to follow they typical bio-pic formula but in an attempt to be different, they might have lost track of what is more effective to moviegoers.  Getting emotionally wrapped up in one scene only to be abruptly pulled away to a moment that occurs 5 years later is not only frustrating, but it is distracting.  You don’t want to to forget what you just saw because you know they will be coming back at some point to finish the scenes they just started (confusing, I know).   So instead of concentrating on the current sequence, you are bookmarking everything you watch.  Luckily, this film isn’t about the story, it’s about the performances.

Chadwick Boseman’s phenomenal portrayal as James Brown and his A-list supporting cast is all you need to remember about this movie.   The Help alums: Octavia Spencer, who plays Brown’s brothel-owning aunt, and Viola Davis, who plays Brown’s neglectful mother, slides in for the film’s most emotional scene.  But it is Nelsan Ellis, who plays Bobby Bryd-Brown’s loyal best friend, that proves once again, he is more than the flamboyant comic relief as seen on True Blood every week.  Boseman and Ellis share great chemistry on screen and complement each other extremely well.

In comparison to the recent bio-pic/musical, Jersey Boys, Get On Up wins by a landslide.  The acting, the story, and most importantly the ability to have us care for the characters.  Had the story just been slightly more chronological I would have given the film a much higher rating, but none of the faults in Get On Up deteriorates from the sensation that is Chadwick Boseman.

Rating: 3.5/5

“Get On Up” Official Trailer HD

Musical Review: “Mamma Mia!” will have you Rocking Out like a Dancing Queen

Mamma Mia makes it almost impossible for you not to jump out of your chair and dance along to the music!

The first time I saw this musical was in theaters with Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried as the leading ladies.  I remember how much fun I had while watching that film.  The music, the color, the dancing, it was a blast!  But, that was before I got to experience the live Broadway musical performance in which I was truly able to feel the energy and joy of this story by such a talented cast.

For those who don’t know the story or haven’t seen popular film, let me sum it up.  Three months before Sophie’s (Chelsea Williams) wedding day she decides to send out a letter to three men, one of whom could possibly be her father, in hopes that she will have her dad walk her down the aisle.  Surprisingly enough, all three men agree to come only because they believe Donna (Rebecca Mason-Wygall), Sophie’s mother, sent the invites.  The day before her wedding the three men arrive and they reluctantly agree to not tell Donna what Sophie did and just act like they are in town coincidently.  When Donna finally runs into her past lovers, old feelings return and a possible relationship is rekindled.  As Sophie struggles to figure out which man is her father, she begins to discover a realization in herself.

Talk about a vibrant cast, from the leads to the chorus, everyone involved gave their all while on that stage.  Once you hear t the soft, angelic, voice of Chelsea Williams in the opening number, goose bumps will appear and eyes will be glued to that riveting star.  That is until you meet Rebecca Mason-Wygall.  Her sultry voice will awe you in the hypnotic “Money, Money, Money” number.  The two women make for a fantastic mother/daughter pairing.

Even though these ladies lead the show, each cast member managed to have plenty of “star” moments.  Each of the three men had no problem making a fool of himself for this ridiculously entertaining story.  Mark A. Harmon, who plays Harry Bright, lets loose as the “head banging” British gentleman.  Michael Colavolpe gives a raunchy comedic performance as Bill Austin.  And with a voice that demands to be heard, Jeff Drushal solidifies the fact that Pierce Brosnan should probably leave the singing to the pros.  Expect plenty of laughs anytime Gabrielle Mirabella and Carly Sakolove make an appearance.  The two play Tanya and Rosie, Donna’s long time best friends.  They are immature, outlandish and downright hilarious!  And boys, Tanya’s got a pair of legs that goes on for days.

After an already exciting start, Act II comes back with a bang.  The entire musical flies by, but if you’re sad to watch it end (like me), don’t fret; you will be treated with THREE encore performances.  And this time, everyone is already standing from the deserved ovations, so you can feel free to foolishly dance (like me).

Mamma Mia is running at the Dallas Music Hall at Fair Park through Sunday, June 15.

Rating: 4.5/5

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Theatre Review: “Beauty & the Beast” is a Terrifically Enchanting Musical

Rating: 4.5/5

It’s as true as it can be.  Disney fans will be in bliss as they watch one of the most beloved classics come alive on stage. Beauty & the Beast performed as a Broadway musical may seem like a tough feat with the surely difficult theatrics that the play would need to pull off.  Fortunately, AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House put on a magical show that the whole family will enjoy.

Beauty & the Beast is one of the most beautiful tales of how the beauty within prevails over any outer appearance.  When Belle (Hilary Maiberger) sacrifices her own freedom in exchange for her fathers, she is forced to stay in an enchanted castle that is run by an angry and bitter Beast (Darick Pead).  To ease her distress, Belle is comforted by the other unusual members of the house who happen to be a candle stick, a clock, and tea pot.   Little does she know that the fate of everyone around her, including the Beast, hinge on whether or not she can fall in love with someone who looks like a monster.

Following the original Disney animated feature, this musical still contains the same script and music, but has added a few originals songs that go along with the familiar score.  The new songs blended in perfectly with the story, but they were no match for the classic soundtrack we all love to sing.  When “Gaston” is performed by the tavern patrons and the well-played arrogant Gaston (Tim Rogan), you might think “it doesn’t get any better than this.”  The musical number is humorous, creatively choreographed, and thoroughly entertaining.  But you have spoken too soon, because you have yet to witness the luminous, breath taking, work of art that is “Be Our Guest.”   The song begins with the voice of Hassan Nazari-Robati, who gives a stand out performance as the hilarious talking candle stick, Lumiere.  Hassan, along with the eloquent Kristin Stewart (not Twilight) who plays Mrs. Potts, lead the rest of the enchanted objects in a colorful dance that is enhanced by the vibrant set design (Stanley A. Meyer) and well produced lighting (Natasha Katz).  I am delighted to know that I will surely dream about dancing plates and silverware tonight.

They could not have cast a more perfect Belle.  Hilary Maiberger is no stranger to playing a Disney princess.  Having played Cinderella and Jasmine in previous musicals, she handled the role of Belle with such ease, and not once did she over act her character.  Her vocals are incredible, best out of the entire cast.  When she sings, goose bumps appear, as well as a smile on your face.  Her leading man played by Darick Pead did a fantastic job as the intimidating, yet sometimes juvenile Beast.

Beauty & the Beast the musical throws in some extra comedic moments that will only add to your laughter, and music that you will want to add to your play list.  I could go on and on about this lively performance, but I’d rather you allow yourself to be a guest and take pleasure in this remarkable “tale as old as time.”

Musical Review: ‘Godspell’ Might have been more Entertaining in the 70’s

The wonderful music sung by these great actors doesn’t ignore the fact that the Winspear Opera House’s production of Godspell felt like it should have been played in an after school special.

I can’t rag on the premise of the musical because it has been a Broadway classic for decades.  Personally a musical interpretation, that feels more like a lesson of the parables from the Gospel of Matthew, just isn’t my cup of tea.  However, the amazing actors who starred in the Dallas production delivered incredible vocals, and filled the stage with energy.  And the stain glass background made for a relevant and beautiful set. Director David Hogan gave audiences a color full set, and made sure his cast worked well with the limited amount of space on stage.  On the other hand the immature dance moves choreographed by Adele Mackenzie are unimpressive and a little cheesy.

What was flawless was the variety of talented voices among the cast.  Lead by the standout voice of the group, Jake Stern, who not only looks like Jesus but gives a sincere performance as him.   This guy easily had the best voice of the cast, who were all vocally gifted.  Stern’s angelic and soulful voice is made for Broadway.  Graham Parhurst did a fantastic job as the antagonist in this play, adding some drama and mixing things up for the incredibly peppy cast.  And the entire cast started off the play right with an engaging, harmonized a cappella opening number.  I just wish the rest of the play could have been that enjoyable.  You don’t feel that kind of interest until the finale.  This musical just felt a little campy, with the overly excited characters and the constant assurance for the audience understanding the messages of each parable.  I really felt like I was watching an educational skit.

Even the current inside jokes made through out the play felt forced and tacky.  Some of the jokes felt outdated. Godspell was not as exciting for some as it may have been for others, but when I saw the people around me walk out of the musical mid Act I, I did feel envious.

Godspell wouldn’t be my first musical choice, but for those who enjoyed any previous performances they had seen before, this show could be a fun and nostalgic experience.

The show will be running at the Winspear Opera House until Sunday March 2nd.

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Musical Review: ’50 Shades! The Musical’ Is A Laugh Out Loud Riot!

Get ready to see and hear Ana and Christian like you’ve never imagined them before!

Samuels, Dorezas and Cordell present the original 50 Shades of GreyParody.  “50 Shades! The Musical” has been a phenomenon in Chicago , New York , and at the Edinburge Fringe Festival.  The Dallas City Performance Hall’s premiere lived up to the all show’s hype.

Taking place in a more intimate theater, the show becomes immediately engaging for the audience.  The Musical opens with three women who gather for a book club meeting and decide to read Fifty Shades of Grey.   As the women start to read the novel, their interpretation of it begins to play out by some corky and colorful actors who play exaggerated versions of the book’s characters.  From there, you are in for a hilarious ride packed with dance numbers and witty original songs with a live on-stage band.

With such an animated and lively cast, you will forget that the main setting on the stage is a plain, single, grey bed.  A few props here and there, and some run of the mill choreography will every now and then fill the stage.  Luckily, the entire cast that consists of 8 does such a wonderful job of filling the stage with energy, especially Anastasia and Christian.  Both actors who played the characters had power house voices, and had no problem making completely inappropriate fools of themselves.  Given that this is a spoof, the two characters are different in a lot of ways in comparison to what fans have read.  Ana is a more dim-witted virgin who has traded her independent, smart mouth for a high pitched naïve voice.  And Christian Grey…well I think it’s best for audiences to just go see this Christian for themselves.

The biggest stand out in this musical was the ridiculous original songs that you will surely want to hear again.  “There’s a Hole Inside of Me” could not have gone more perfect with the story and could not be more unsuitable for children.

This play does contain adult content and is very much intended for mature audiences, obviously.  Even if you haven’t read the book, I’m sure you know what it is primarily about.  It is 69 minutes with a 15 minute intermission.  The musical flies by and is over before you know it.  Gentlemen who are dreading being forced to go see this with their girlfriends, don’t fret.  ”50 Shades! The Musical” is a story entertaining for both sexes.

The show will be running at the Dallas City Performance Hall until January 11th.

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Movie Review: “Black Nativity” is Passable for a Holiday Movie

Let me just say that this movie is lucky they had such a talented all star cast, otherwise it might have been unbearable to watch.

This is a simple and standard script.  The originality lies in its musical numbers and the interesting way they parallel the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with another pregnant couple who has nothing, but never seems to loose faith.  To be fair, the film is based on the 1961 Off-Broadway play.   I have a feeling this story works better on stage then on screen.

When his mom (Jennifer Hudson) is forced to foreclose their home, Langston (Jacob Latimore) must spend Christmas break with the grandparents he never knew.  Played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, the two welcome their grandson with open arms.  Since it is clearly obvious his grandparents have been living a life of luxury, Langston becomes suspicious and angry as to why they haven’t helped him and his mom financially.  Langston begins to ask more and more questions.  Leading up to what some might call a “shocking” reveal, the family secret starts to unfold.

Now I did enjoy all the moments with Whitaker and Bassett.  The two are just such great actors.  Even in a mediocre film like this, they some how make it pleasurable with their performances.  The music is great, and once again Jennifer Hudson shows off her strength in her power ballads.  Everyone else sings well, but there is a clear “Idol” out of the bunch.

It’s not even so much the cheesiness of this film that bothers me.  I like musicals, so that was not a problem for me either.  Although, some of the songs ran longer than they should have.   It was more the fact that so many problems that occurred would get resolved so unrealistically quick.  Because this film is a family holiday movie, minor details like that can be overlooked.  Had it premiered during the Lifetime channel’s Christmas movie marathon, Black Nativity would have fit right in.  In fact, the film would have been a stand out TV movie.  Unfortunately, big screen holiday competitors like The Best Man Holiday and Frozen are likely to leave more lasting impressions this season.

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.

Black Nativity hits theaters November 27th.

Black Nativity Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com