If you are a pet owner, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen, and loved, “The Secret Life of Pets.” It was uncanny how the creators captured the little idiosyncrasies that had many in the audience, myself including, thinking “that’s exactly what my dog/cat/bird/ferret, etc does. And that insight carries over into the second chapter in the adventures of Max (Oswalt) and his furry and feathered friends.
Things are going well for Max. His owner attends to his every need and all is right with the world. Until the day she meets a gentleman. Nothing wrong with that. But as things progress, as they do in life, Max soon finds himself having to deal with a new person in his life…a baby. At first he is wary of the new arrival, but as the boy grows, they form a bond that, anyone who had a dog as a child will know, can’t be broken. Which makes Max frantic. Where he used to enjoy going for walks, he now feels the streets, and the things encountered (steam grates, flocks of pigeons) are hazards for the boy. This causes him to develop a nervous tic which sadly leads him to be encased in, what both my wife and I (and the film) call the cone of shame.
Meanwhile, in another part of town, Snowball the bunny (Hart) is also enjoying life. His owner likes to dress him up as a superhero and he takes to the idea, proclaiming his prowess to his pet friends. He is quick to jump – do you see what I did there – into action when he is asked by his Shih Tzu friend Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to help save a tiger being held by a cruel circus worker. What’s a bunny to do?
Cleverly written and fast paced, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is the ideal early summer film. The characters and their traits are spot on and the voice actors do their best to inflect some of their own personalities into the characters. Oswalt, replacing original Max voicer Louis C.K., is well cast. Of course, he was outstanding as the voice of Renny in “Ratatouille,” so this should come as no surprise. Hart once again is the frantic Snowball and I’m happy to see he is no longer homicidal (my one big problem with the first film). Other actors lending their voice include Eric Stonestreet, Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll, Ellie Kemper and Pete Holmes. Even Harrison Ford shows up, marking his animated film debut. But as great as they all are, the vocal star here is Lake Bell, who seems to inhabit the character of Chloe, a cat like no other and yet like every cat we’ve ever encountered!
My only fault with the film is the same one I had with the first. Though obviously geared for kids (and the parents that accompany them), there are some scary moments here, including one (thankfully off camera) of the tiger being disciplined with a whip. There is also a pretty intense pack of wolves that made at least one child near me at the screening hide her face in her mother’s side. So parents with very young children, be warned.
All in all, though, “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is a welcome treat to begin the early days of summer.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Amazon Studios to give (25) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new film “Late Night.”
The film, starring Emma Thompson and Mandy Kalling, will be screened on Wednesday, June 5th at the AMC Studio 28 in Olathe, Kansas and will begin at 7:30 pm.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (25) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway is over. Good Luck!
“Late Night” opens nationally on Friday, June 7th!
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at New Line Cinemas to give (15) readers and a guest the opportunity to be among the first to see the new film, “Shaft.”
The screening will be held on Monday, June 10th, at the Screenland Armour Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall and Richard Roundtree and starts at 7:00 pm.
All you have to do is click HERE! (15) random entries will be selected and they will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Winners will be notified by email on June 9th. Good luck.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at 20th Century Fox to give (35) fans in Kansas City the chance to be among the first to see the latest X-men adventure, “Dark Phoenix.”
The film will be shown on Tuesday, June 5th at the AMC Barrywoods Theatre in Kansas City. It will begin at 7:00 pm
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (35) readers to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once all passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. GOOD LUCK!
ROCKETMAN Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Richard Madden Directed by: Dexter Fletcher Rated: R Running time: 2 hrs 1 min Paramount
Not sure if it’s a coincidence or not, but Paramount has chosen to release the new Elton John bio-pic, “Rocketman” the same week that, 47 years ago, the song “Rocket Man” made it’s debut in America on the Billboard Top 40 Chart. That song was so popular that I can remember my 7th grade teacher bringing in the lyrics for everyone in class to read and discuss their meaning. Heady stuff. As is the film.
We first meet Elton John (played in an award-worthy performance by Egerton) as he walks into a group therapy session. He obviously sticks out. But not because he’s Elton John. It’s because he is wearing one of the flamboyant outfits – complete with oversize glasses – he has become famous for. After he introduces himself and rattles off his many issues – alcoholic, drug user, sex addict – he begins to reflect on his life and the journey that took him from a shy English boy named Reginald Dwight (something to remember if you play trivia) to the gregarious superstar named Elton.
Full of great music and fantastical spectacle, “Rocketman” appears to be what everyone who found “Bohemian Rhapsody” lacking (I didn’t – I thought it was one of the best films of the year) – wanted it to be. Rather than a straight – no pun intended – bio-pic, “Rocketman” is more of a look at the life of a superstar through his increasingly large and rose colored glasses (the film’s director – Dexter Fletcher – took over “Bohemian Rhapsody” after original director Bryan Singer was let go). We learn that Elton’s father (Steven Mackintosh), who was a music lover, had no time or even interest in the young man, usually only speaking to him when scolding him. His mother, played by an almost unrecognizable Bryce Dallas Howard, obviously loves her son but has other interests. It’s left up to his grandmother (Gemma Jones) to recognize his brilliance – he can hear a piece of music once and then play it flawlessly on the piano. She’s the one who takes him to the Royal Academy each Saturday (he studied there for four years).
Reg is recruited to play in a backing band for visiting American groups and, when answering an ad looking for musicians, is handed a random envelope of lyrics and told to “do something with this.” The lyrics were written by Bernie Taupin (Bell) and, after the two are introduced, they would go on to be perhaps the greatest songwriting duo after John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Egerton does a great job inhabiting the role. Besides physically resembling the singer, Egerton also sings the songs here. And while he doesn’t sound a lot like Elton John, he does a fine job in his phrasing and in capturing the emotional moments of the music. Bell is equally good as Taupin while Richard Madden is both smoothly suave and cruelly businesslike as John’s manager (and lover) John Reid.
Don’t go into the film looking for facts. There are many “errors” (including John playing a song in the late 60s that he and Taupin actually wrote in the early 80s) in the story that are used to keep the story moving, which didn’t really bother me. My problem with the film was the occasional “over the top” production numbers that took away from the drama and emotion of the scenes. And there are some emotional moments. Most heartbreaking is when John gets up the courage to tell his mother he is gay. She tells him she has known this, but also tells him that, because he is gay, he will never be loved properly.
If you are even a slight fan of Elton John, you will find the film, and it’s music, enjoyable. And if you’re lucky enough to catch Elton John on his farewell tour, I urge you to go. That experience is even more enjoyable
ROCK OF AGES Starlight Theater - Kansas City, Missouri May 31, 2019
My first Broadway show was “42nd Street” in 1981. Yes, I’m old. But I’m also able to tell people that I saw Jerry Orbach on Broadway. And Julie Andrews. And Chita Rivera. But enough about me. I’ve seen plenty of shows in the past three-plus decades but I have never seen anything as fun and exciting as “Rock of Ages.”
Our story begins in the small town of Paola, Kansas. Yes, it’s a real town and, yes, it’s really small. My son’s baseball team used to play there every year and I remember the big hoopla when Walmart showed up! We meet Sherrie (Katie LaMark). She’s a small town girl…living in a lonely world. And her dream is to make it to Hollywood to pursue an acting career. Despite her parent’s disapproval she heads west and ends up on the Sunset Strip. She is soon mugged and is rescued by Drew (Anthony Nuccio). Drew works at the Bourbon Club, famous for helping launch the careers of many a band. Drew gets Sherrie a job and soon….well, you’ll have to see the show.
I’ve been seeing shows at Starlight for years, and this was, by far, the BEST one I’ve ever seen there. I had only seen the film so I wasn’t prepared for my evening at the Bourbon Club. The music is all classic 80s rock and metal hits. Pretty much every band you can remember is represented. Except, ironically, Def Leppard, whose hit song gives the show it’s name. We are told by the Narrator (an amazing John-Michael Breen) that there is no Leppard in the show because the band wouldn’t license their music. Ironic, isn’t it?
The performances were also outstanding. As Sherrie and Drew, LaMark and Nuccio have a strong chemistry and an underlying sweetness that has you rooting for them. Both also have great voices. During “Oh, Sherrie” Mr. Nuccio held one note for an amazing 33 seconds, which brought the already enthusiastic audience to near euphoria. I would love to see him tackle the lead in “Jekyll and Hyde.” And extra credit to Ms. LaMark for dealing with a major technical glitch (her face mic was not working at the beginning of Act II and, with her character having to remain on stage for some time, delivered a strong performance using a hand-held microphone. Also credit to the tech crew because, in the few seconds she was able to go off-stage, the problem was corrected. Fine performances were also delivered by the supporting cast, with many in the audience falling under the spell of Sam Harvey, who plays quintessential (and problem child) front man Stacee Jaxx – which is possibly the coolest rock star name ever. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to the kick-ass band that provides the music.
I’m saving this paragraph for the highlight of the show – John-Michael Breen. He not only narrates the show but appears as the Bourbon Club’s sound guy, Lonny. Lonny loves three things. Rock and Roll and his Fogmaster 5000 fog machine are two of them. Mr. Breen gives the show the majority of it’s laughs and both the cast and the audience feed off of his enthusiasm. I will definitely keep an eye on his career and hope to catch him on stage in the future.
As I said in the beginning, I’ve seen some great Broadway shows, from “Phantom” to “Les Miz” – from “Cats” to “Spamalot – and “Rock of Ages” has definitely jumped onto my all-time favorites list.
“Rock of Ages” is only in Kansas City through Sunday, June 2nd. For information on upcoming tour dates, click HERE.
As Memorial Day has come and gone, it’s time once again to take a look at some of the films being offered to us for our air conditioned enjoyment. As always, special thanks to our friends at the Internet Movie Database for some synopsis information. Opening dates shown are subject to change at the whim of the studios. (*) denotes a film that one of Media Mikes’ critics are especially looking forward to.
*ROCKETMAN Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Bryce Dallas Howard Directed by: Dexter Fletcher
At first I was shocked when I heard about this film. Harlan Williams playing Elton John??? Then I realized it was a different Rocketman. Following in the footsteps of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” this bio-pic tells the story of one Reginald Dwight, who the world knows as Sir Elton John. Director Fletcher took over for Bryan Singer on “Bohemian Rhapsody” and early reviews say this film is equally good.
GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS Starring: Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra Directed by: Michael Dougherty
The big guy is back and he’s bringing his pals with him.
MA Starring: Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis Directed by: Tate Taylor
The Podcast gang spent a lot of time trying to come up with the plot to this one. Give it a listen and let us know if we got it right.
DARK PHOENIX Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender Directed by: Simon Kinberg
Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world. Though it’s being released by Disney, this was originally a 20th Century Fox property. Now that the MCU is ALMOST one big happy family, I’m curious if the X-men will show up in a future Avengers film.
*LATE NIGHT Starring: Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow and Emma Thompson Directed by: Nisha Ganatra
A late night talk show host suspects that she may soon be losing her long-running show. Kaling is always fun to watch and I’ve been in love with Emma Thompson since “The Tall Guy!”
*THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 Starring the voices of: Kevin Hart and Patton Oswalt Directed by: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
Continuing the story of Max and his pet friends, following their secret lives after their owners leave them for work or school each day. Hopefully in this one, Hart’s Snowball isn’t homicidal.
AMERICAN WOMAN Starring: Sienna Miller, Aaron Paul Directed by: Jake Scott
A woman raises her young grandson after her daughter goes missing.
*MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL Starring: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson Directed by: F. Gary Gray
The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization. Sadly, the newbies won’t be trained by agents J or K.
CHILD’S PLAY Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Tim Matheson Directed by: Lars Klevberg
Hollywood again picks the bones of a dead franchise and tries to breathe new life into it. The bad news: Brad Dourif is not the voice of Chucky. The good news: Mark Hamill is.
TOY STORY 4 Starring the voices of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen Directed by: Josh Cooley
When a new toy called “Forky” joins Woody and the gang, a road trip alongside old and new friends reveals how big the world can be for a toy. Disney’s movie about toys dolls is going to kick the crap out the Universal’s movie about a toy doll at the box office.
ANNABELLE COMES HOME
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson Directed by: Gary Dauberman
Determined to keep Annabelle from wreaking more havoc, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren bring the possessed doll to the locked artifacts room in their home, placing her “safely” behind sacred glass and enlisting a priest’s holy blessing. But an unholy night of horror awaits as Annabelle awakens the evil spirits in the room, who all set their sights on a new target-the Warrens’ ten-year-old daughter, Judy, and her friends. The real Lorraine Warren recently passed away, for those of you keeping score at home.
Starring: Himesh Patel, Lily James Directed by: Danny Boyle
A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed. Written by the great Richard Curtis – who also wrote “The Tall Guy,” the movie I first fell in love with Emma Thompson with.
*SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME Starring: Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei Directed by: Jon Watts
Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever. I’m guessing the start of Phase 3 of the MCU? Love Holland as Spidey and Batalon’s Ned is one of my favorite movie side-kicks ever.
*STUBER Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista Directed by: Michael Dowse
A detective recruits his Uber driver into an unexpected night of adventure. As someone that has driven for Uber I will admit I’m intrigued. The most exciting thing that ever happened to me was a woman breaking up with her boyfriend in the back of my car!
THE LION KING Starring the voices of: Seth Rogen, Donald Glover and Beyonce’ Directed by: Jon Favreau
For those of you who have been on Mars for the last 25 years: After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery. Favreau worked miracles with his version of “The Jungle Book” and Disney is hoping this is another “Aladdin,” not “Dumbo.”
*ONCE UPON A TIME IN… HOLLYWOOD Starring: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margo Robbie Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
It’s the summer of 1969 and a lot of things are happening in Hollywood. Sex. Drugs. And Charles Manson. As advertised, this is the 9th film directed by Tarantino, who has always said he plans on making 10 and retiring. I challenge you to find a filmmaker that has made as many films as he has without making a dud. Even my favorite director, Steven Spielberg, has made a misstep (I’m looking at YOU, “Hook”).
FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS and SHAW Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham and lots of cars Directed by: David Leitch
When the eighth film in this franchise came out I joked on our Podcast that the next one would be called “Fine and Furious,” because “fine” rhymes with “nine.” However, to avoid paying me money, Universal has chosen this title. Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity. I’ve only seen the original and part 5. However, the addition of Idris Elba as the villain might pull me into the theatre for this one.
*SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK Starring: Michael Garza and Austin Zajur Directed by: André Øvredal
A group of teens face their fears in order to save their lives. Podcast co-host Loey Lockerby says that these books scared the hell out of her when she was a kid.
47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED Starring: John Corbett, Nia Long Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves. Why isn’t this being called “48 Meters Down?”
*WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE Starring: Cate Blanchett, Kristin Wiig and Laurence Fishburne Directed by: Richard Linklater
A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.
PLAYMOBIL THE MOVIE Starring the voices of: Daniel Radcliffe and Kenan Thompson Directed by: Lino DiSalvo
Animated feature film inspired by the Playmobil brand toys. Are you ****ing kidding me??? PLAYMOBIL THE MOVIE???? A movie about the little toys my grandchildren play with?? Quick, get me Hollywood…I want to make a movie about the game of Jacks! Believe it or not, Daniel Radcliffe was not only Harry Potter but did “Equus” on Broadway. How the mighty have fallen. Look for him to reprise the role of Harry Potter when he leads tours around Universal Orlando.
ALADDIN Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott Directed by: Guy Ritchie Rated: PG 13 Running time: 2 hrs 8 mins Walt Disney Pictures
Will Smith has fought many a cinematic battle. He’s taken on drug dealers, aliens (many times), a mechanical spider and George Foreman and beaten them all. This week he takes on his biggest challenge, the memory of Robin Williams. And I’m happy to report he succeeds.
We open with a family at sea. The children remark at the opulence of the boats around them, causing their father to remind them that bigger isn’t always better. He then begins to tell them the story of Aladdin and his Magic Lamp. We meet Aladdin (Massoud) as he and his monkey companion, Abu, work their trade through the marketplace. Their trade is theft, and they are very good at what they do. However, when Aladdin sees a beautiful young woman (Scott) ahead of him, his thoughts go from larceny to love. He introduces himself and offers to show her the town. However, she suddenly rushes off, explaining that she is a handmaiden to the daughter of the Sultan. Like Cinderella, she is off with Aladdin seeking to find her. However, unlike Cinderella, SHE is the Sultan’s daughter, which puts her a little out of Aladdin’s league. If only he had a way of becoming a prince.
The least “Guy Ritchiest” of any Guy Ritchie film, “Aladdin” is actually an entertaining bit of filmmaking. All of the characters from the beloved 1992 animated film are here. Aladdin. Princess Jasmine. Jafar (a very evil Marwan Kenzari). His parrot, Iago. Abu. Rajah the tiger. And, of course, the Genie. Robin William’s performance as the Genie in the animated feature was so amazing that the Golden Globes created a special award for him. It was really the first time I thought that an actor would get an Oscar nomination for voicing an animated character. I give Will Smith a lot of credit for even accepting the role. And he does well. He isn’t Robin Williams, but he isn’t trying to be. This is vintage early Will Smith. Think the Fresh Prince or Mike Lowery from “Bad Boys.” A lot of fun and a lot of attitude.
The musical numbers are immaculately staged, like you just wandered into a “Bollywood” production. And while this film is about 40-minutes longer than it’s animated predecessor, it doesn’t suffer under the crush of added time like the recent “Dumbo,” which was almost twice as long as the 64-minute animated original. The cast is excellent, and I’ve read where Disney made sure to cast actors whose heritage is from the actual parts in the world the film depicts.
My one disappointment, and this was echoed by many of the people around me in the screening that sat through the entire closing credits, was that there was no dedication to the memory of Robin Williams. For generations to come, whenever the animated “Aladdin” is mentioned, his name will be the first thing brought up. A very simple “FOR ROBIN” would have been a fine and quiet tribute.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Sony Pictures to give (25) random readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see one of the summer’s most anticipated films, “Men In Black: International.”
The film starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson, will screen on Tuesday, June 11th at the Alamo Drafthouse Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m.
All you have to do is click HERE. (25) random entries will be selected and each will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. Good luck!
“Men In Black: International” opens nationwide on Friday, June 14th!
*Disclaimer: Limit one entry per person. Void where prohibited. Screening is overbooked to ensure a full house. Seating is limited to theatre capacity and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Receiving a screening pass does not guarantee seating. Theatre is not responsible for overbooking.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at Lionsgate to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new Keanu Reeve's action film "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum."
The film will be screened on Tuesday, May 14th at the Screenland Armor Theatre in North Kansas City and will begin at 7:00 pm
To attend, all you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the screening. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. Once the (50) allotted passes have been claimed, the giveaway has ended. Good luck!
John Wick 3: Parabellum opens nationwide on Friday, May 17th.
John Wick 3: Parabellum Screenland Armor Theatre, North Kansas City, MO Tuesday, May 14th - 7:00 pm
LITTLE RIVER BAND Ameristar Casino - Kansas City, MO May 3, 2019
Maybe it’s my age but to me
the best music ever created was done so in the 20th Century. Great music.
Great lyrics. Amazing
voices. Today the majority of what I
hear I can’t understand, even when it’s Autotuned! Which made my first time listening to the Little
River Band live so amazing.
If you grew up in the
1970s/80s (I graduated high school in 1978), then LRB was surely part of the
soundtrack of your life. Their musical
gifts, and incredible harmonies, made songs like “Reminiscing,” “Lonesome
Loser,” “Cool Change” and “The Night Owl” so memorable.
Now led by bassist/singer (and Kansas City native) Wayne Nelson, who joined the Australian band in 1979, the show was an amazing retrospective of both their greatest hits and some newer material. Their song “The Lost and the Lonely,” from the band’s 2014 album “Cuts Like a Diamond,” a tribute to the troops, was well received, as was an extensive piano intro by keyboard maestro Chris Marion before the band played “Cool Change.”
An enjoyable evening was
capped off by the band coming out front and greeting the fans, which I found to
be a pretty incredible thing, especially after playing a 90 minute gig! If you’re a fan of “classic” rock and pop,
then LRB is a band you’ll want to catch.
For more information on their current tour, click HERE.
Media Mikes has teamed up with their friends at STX Entertainment to give (50) readers and a guest the chance to be among the first to see the new comedy, “Poms,” in Kansas City.
The screening will be held on Wednesday, May 8th at the AMC Studio 28 Theatre in Olathe, Kansas and will start at 7:00 p.m.
All you have to do is click HERE. The first (50) people to do so will receive a pass for (2) to attend the film. This is a first come/first serve giveaway. When the (50) passes have been claimed, the giveaway is over. See you at the movies!
The month of May is known for many things. Flowers. The first beginnings of summer. And, here in the Midwest, another great Classic Film Screening presented by Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford.
Over the years, Bruce has put together some amazing screenings, including “Jaws,” “The Godfather,” “Young Frankenstein” and many more. On May 24th Crawford will present a special screening of James Cameron’s sci-fi classic “Aliens,” with the film’s co-star, actor Michael Biehn, in attendance.
The screening will be held on Friday, May 24, 2019 at the beautiful Joslyn Art Museum, 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha. Mr. Biehn will address the audience prior to the film and will have a meet and greet autograph session with fans after the show.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, May 2nd for $24 each and can be purchased at the customer service counters of all Omaha-area Hy Vee food stores. Proceeds will benefit the Nebraska Kidney Association. Tickets are not sold by the Joslyn Art Museum. For more information call (402) 932-7200 or (308) 830-2121 or click HERE.
The Broadway (and off-Broadway)
stage has often been the place where a generation can speak without
rebuke. The 1990’s saw the production of
two very important shows that shed light on the, at the time, the little
discussed subject of AIDS. The first
show was Tony Kushner’s epic “Angels in America.” The other?
Jonathan Larson’s “RENT.”
Opening off-Broadway on
January 25, 1996, “RENT” tells the story of a group of struggling artists
(filmmaker, musician, performance art) living in the SoHo area of New York
City. Their goal is to present their art
to the world without compromising – to not “give into” the man. This week, the 20th Anniversary
Tour is in Kansas City, with moderate success.
To me, the evening, like the
show, was in two acts. The first act, in
this writer’s opinion, was slow, which is a word I normally would not apply to
a musical where the cast moves non-stop while performing dozens of songs. I’m not sure if it was opening night jitters,
or bus-lag, but several of the characters just didn’t seem to be “into it”
during the first act. The performances
were fine…it’s just that many seemed to be a beat behind.
Musically, the show is
magnificent. I’m sure everyone has heard
“Seasons of Love” at least once in their life, and this song, which opens Act
II, is performed with heart to spare.
Other favorites were “Santa Fe,” “Take Me or Leave Me,” and “La Vie
Boheme.” Highlights in the cast were
Lyndie Moe as Maureen and Devinre Adams as Collins, who is my favorite
character in the show.
Sadly, Jonathan Larson never saw “RENT”
performed before a live audience. On the
morning of January 25, 1996, Larson died after two different hospitals
mis-diagnosed a heart condition. With
his parent’s consent, the show went on that night. For his work, Larson posthumously won 3 Tony
Awards and the Pulitzer Prize.
“RENT’ continues it’s run in
Kansas City through Sunday, May 5th.