Theatre Review “Once: The Musical” Tour – Kansas City, MO

Once: The Musical
June 17th, 2015
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Kansas City, Mo.

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

A few years ago I was given the chance to watch the movie “Once”. I had never heard of it and I didn’t know a single thing about it. From the first song of the movie, I was hooked and within its 85 minutes, I fell in love. Now, fast forward to the present and I, once again, had no idea that there was a stage adaptation of this movie and that it was wildly popular ever since the first curtain call on Broadway. I know that a transition from film to stage is difficult, so I quelled my expectations. Luckily they were exceeded.

Just like the movie, “Once” follows a scruffy faced street musician, who works at his dad’s shop repairing household items. The repair business is a simple side project to his passion. He performs soothing toe tapping songs and soulful songs about love loss. His name? Not necessarily given. He’s simply known as Guy, but he represents so many disenfranchised musicians hoping to make it big, his story is fairly common, so his name isn’t required.

Whilst performing, he’s approached by Girl, who, for lack of a better word, is a girl. She eagerly plays piano alongside him and they quickly connect through their tune, “Falling Slowly.” He’s obviously smitten, but she isn’t as interested. She has a kid, lives with her family, and has a husband. She also notices that all his music, which comes from the heart, is linked to a girl in his past. Girl knows that Guy can still go back to that long lost love, and she doesn’t believe he should go chasing after her.

So it comes down to if they hook up or not. And obviously I’m not going to tell you because that’s part of the charm of this production. The story mainly stays intact and hovers closely to its source material. Certain aspects are changed because you don’t have the luxury of having multiple, expansive scenes. The only problem is the characters. The characters have been tweaked a bit to be more humorous and more relatable.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a nagging aspect in the back of my mind because these are two characters that I remember fondly for the story that they tell. When some jokes are thrown in to help break up the tension between the two, it feels out of place. The other characters that provide comedic relief also provide some cheap laughs that don’t fit in with the musical as a whole.

But what makes “Once” truly outstanding is the cast and crew. This is a musical that requires our singers to play instruments, interact, and constantly be moving. The choreography to change sets within the confines of a stage while swinging instruments to and fro is perfect. So every bit of praise that I have goes to the people who helped bring “Once” to life. And despite my disappointment with their characters, I’m very pleased with how well they handled the material.

Complimentary Passes to Orlando, FL Screening for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.

If you would like to enter for passes to the following advance screening:

Log on to www.GOFOBO.com/RSVP

Enter RSVP Code: MEDIAMA22S

Passes are VERY limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Screening Information:
Date: Monday, November 18th
Time: 9:30 PM (View the Live Stream from the LA Red Carpet Premiere); 10:30pm (Film Starts)
Place: Regal Waterford Lakes

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is directed by Francis Lawrence, from a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy and Michael DeBruyn, based upon the novel “Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins and produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik. The novel is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE opens on November 22, 2013. Lionsgate presents a Color Force/Lionsgate production.

Complimentary Passes to the Kansas City, MO Screening for “The Wizard of Oz” in IMAX 3D [ENDED]

With the 75th Anniversary of the release of the classic film “The Wizard of Oz” approaching, Media Mikes is teaming up with Warner Brothers to send you to see the film as it’s never been seen before.

On Friday, September 20, 2013, Dorothy and her friends return to the big screen in a specially remastered 3D/IMAX presentation of “The Wizard of Oz.” We are giving you and three friends the chance to see it before anyone else.

We are giving away (25) family packs of four passes and if you would like to enter for a chance to win passes to the following advance screening:

Log on to www.GOFOBO.com/RSVP

Enter RSVP Code: MMQJD8

Passes are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

This is an exclusive one week engagement so be among the first to see it.

Screening Information:
Date: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Time: 10:30 AM
Place: AMC Barrywoods 24
8101 NW Roanridge Rd
Kansas City, MO 64151

Theatre Review “The Little Mermaid: The Musical” Starlight Theater – Kansas City, MO

The Little Mermaid The Musical
Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
July 23, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Any time you’re hoping to replicate the success of a Disney production, you’re going to be automatically met with how well you stack up against the original. Even with a hazy memory of how the story to “The Little Mermaid” went, I still had a fairly good idea what to expect and I’m glad to report that not only does this Broadway-style production stays true to the 1989 classic, it is a delight to watch.

For those readers whose memory may be equally fuzzy, let me catch you up to speed. Ariel (Jessica Grove) is a mermaid and also the youngest daughter of King Triton (Edward Watts). Much to his dismay, she constantly visits the ocean’s surface and dreams of not only walking on the shore but living on dry land with the other humans. It doesn’t help when she rescues and falls in love with a Prince Eric (Nick Adams). Anymore information and I will have ruined the first half for those of you who haven’t seen the 1989 film or read the children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen.

The show gets off to a slow start with a song written for the production, but kicks into gear with the song everyone should know, “Part of Your World”. Grove is definitely talented and easily hits the high notes in the song. In fact everyone in the show is well cast in their roles. Still there are some low moments. The film’s most popular song, “Under the Sea”, doesn’t feel as epic or magical as it should in my opinion. My memory may have been blurry but I distinctly remember that song. I will add, in the show’s defense, that I’m sure it’s hard to create a sea alive with song and dance on stage. You could say it’s a tad villainous, but Ursula (Liz McCartney) almost steals the show. Any time she’s on stage, her presence is definitely felt and McCartney really belts out the lyrics in grand style, especially during the songs “Daddy’s Little Angel” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.

Major props to the men and women behind the scenes of this production. To add to the effect that they’re underwater and swimming the cast is literally whisked into the air and across the stage. One man who certainly deserves a lot of credit is John MacInnis, who choreographed the show. One of the best instances of perfectly matched movements is during “Sweet Child” when the eels, Flotsam and Jetsam (Scott Leiendecker and Sean Patrick Doyle), move as one entity. Though “The Little Mermaid” lacks a lot of big dance numbers, one thing that really impressed me was watching the the actors constantly “swimming” in place, even when they don’t speak a single word during the scene. On the negative side, someone should send a note to the sound guy. Often times the music was much louder than the singing and I often saw parents covering their children’s ears because of how loud the volume was. I even found myself wincing at the volume a couple of times.

I haven’t seen the animated film in almost 20 years but I may have to after seeing this show. There may be a few things from the film that the production didn’t do justice, but I can guarantee there are plenty they triumphed on. The cast of “The Little Mermaid” should be proud they did the original justice while creating new memories for children of all ages.

This production runs at Starlight Theater until July 28th. For tickets visit www.kcstarlight.com

Theater Review “Catch Me If You Can” Starlight Theatre – Kansas City, MO

Catch Me If You Can
Starlight Theatre
Kansas City, MO

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

“Catch Me If You Can” is a true story based on Frank Abagnale Jr (Stephen Anthony), a quick talking fast learning teenager who, in the 1960’s, was an airline pilot, doctor, and a lawyer, all before the age of 21! Frank spends the majority of the story being tailed by FBI Agent Carl Hanratty (Merritt David Janes), a devoted and stubborn man who has made catching Abegnale his number one priority.

Following the divorce of his parents and the loss of his father, Frank Sr. (Dominic Fortuna), Frank Jr, decided being on his own is better than living in a broken home. He starts out by faking a Pan Am Pilots badge. He flies to over 26 different countries and helps copilot over 250 flights. He cashes his fake Pan Am checks all over the world under different aliases to stay a step ahead of the feds. This catches the attention of Agent Hanratty who is the only agent in his department who really feels this “shadow” pilot is trouble. He doesn’t realize that his cat and mouse game will one day land one of the most notable imposters of the 20th Century. While on the run from Hanratty, Frank decides to drop the pilot job and starts practicing medicine as an overnight ER physician. Here he meets Brenda Strong (Aubrey Mae Davis) who not only steals his heart but makes him think about dropping the whole charade he has been living and be an honest husband. Well that doesn’t go just as planned when, while meeting Brenda’s parents, he decides to announce that he will be practicing law thus starting another career as lawyer.

Frank will eventually be caught but the relationship that Abagnale and Hanratty have developed over the years does not let the story end with Frank’s capture. Abagnale was arguably the greatest ever at forgery and impersonation so, after a short stint in prison, he ishired on by the FBI and today is still very good friends with Agent Hanratty.

If you have read the book or seen the movie you know that “Catch Me If You Can” is nothing short of a brilliant story. Unfortunately the stage performance I witnessed was far from brilliant. I felt that Frank’s cracking voice was just unnecessary. I understand that he was a teen but short of a having a deep baritone voice the performance would have been much more believable if he (Anthony) would have just used his real voice. The jokes were corny, the songs sub par, and only a couple actors were not guilty over completely over acting.

That being said Hanratty (Janes) and Frank Sr. (Fortuna) kept me in my seat while watching this play. They give great performances and are really the only good performers I saw on stage. Both actors have experience on Broadway and it showed. Their actions matched their characters and emotions and their performances were effortless in a good way.

“Catch Me if You Can” is truly is great story and Starlight is a great venue to experience musical theater but if you would like to know the story of Frank Abagnale Jr. I would advise you rent the movie or read his book.