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A Moment In My Life

broadwayguy2
Broadway Legend
joined:5/18/03
Broadway Legend
joined:
5/18/03
A Moment In My Life#0
Posted: 12/3/05 at 9:19pm
Last night I attended a performance of In My Life, and, given the circumstances, it was too much of an experience to NOT post a review about.

First of all, I MUST comment on the state of the Music Box Theatre and it's employees. Your first encounter with a house staff member there is the ticket scanner, who spoke very dryly, sarcasticaly, and rather rudely to just about everyone, greeting patrons with snide remarks about how he would have to turn their tickets over to scan them and they should have turned them over for him, etc. The theatre itself, while a great, intimate venue, needs to be renovated immediately. The paint and draperies feel faded and worn and the seats are rather cramped and uncomfortable. The most pleasant thing was my very friendly and very helpful usher and Jonathan Groff, the sole swing in In My Life who was very pleasant when collecting BC/EFA donations.

I was astounded at the percentage of the audience that wandered in late throughout the first ten minutes. Among them, a drak haired man seated directly in front me who I dicovered, after the show as he quickly hustled out of the house, to be none other than David Hasselhoff! hasselhoff and In My Life in one room, at the same time. Surely the likes of Fosse, Robbins, Verdon, Merman, Hammerstein, and dare I say it, Broadway itself were spinning in their graves like turkeys on a rotissary on Thanksgiving. Borrowing a bit of the show's "humor" (term used loosely here), I made a joke about Turkeys and In My Life.. how clever.

Now, onto the show.......

Let me say that there are two distinct ways to view this production. The first is as a waste of 100 minutes that you will never again have, and the second is as a joyous occasion giving you one hell of a story to share with friends, collegues, and future generations on the scale of Carrie and Dance of the Vampires. I spent the show alternating between fits of hysterical laughter and moments of dumbfounded gawking interspersed by the occasional applause for a shining cast member of sheer glee at the absurdity paraded before me.

Let's first discuss the plot. Once again, this term is used loosely.

J.T. a blonde haired, blue eyed song writer in New York suffering from Tourette's meets and flls in love with Jenny, an obsessive compulsive and personal ad editor who's best friend is the girlfriend if the new dead drummer who was the driver of the car that killed J.T.'s spanish kid sister in a tu-tu and on a razor scooter and black colouratura soprano opera singing mother years ago. Within two weeks, the two move intogether and are engaged. Up in heaven, here depicted as a sea of filing cabinets populated by file clerks with platinum blonde flatironed hair, slutty nurse costumes, and go-go boots, God, a middle aged man with the fashion sense of a preteen boy named Al decided to take a vacation and pull out a repertoire of commercial jingles to audition for a new opera composed by the flamboyant, so flaming that he is a fire hazard, gay angel named Winston who spends his hours attempting to pick up every male in Heaven that he can find. The inspiration for said opera is J.T. and Jenny, beacause, as he deems, they are flawed and interesting. Since "all great operas are tragedies", Winston stirs up inspiration by giving J.T. a brain tumor and compelling him to refuse treatement and kep it secret, threatening his eyesight, causing him to break up with jenny, and giving the him the ability to see and interact with said black opera singing other and spanish kid sister, who, in turn, tries to convince God to return from vacation, put a stop to the opera, and save her brother, who, back on earth, is losing his sight and is rushed to the hospital where he undergoes emergency surgery as his girlfriend, dead mother, and dead sister lament the tragedy of his situation and God laments having to be the one to make life and death decisions.

Now, the cast. I will just highlight the high and low points, and not try to comment on the full 12 member onstage ensemble company.

Jessica Boevers is a serviceable actress, but is VERY vocally miscast as Jenny. Her voice, singing this score, comes across as nails on a chalkboard and very pierceing throughout.

As Liz, J.T.'s mother, Roberta Gumbel has nothing to do, but manages to show off a beautiful colouratura. If only it were in a better show, better suited, and she had more to do...

Chiara Navarra, as the dead girl in a tut-tu, has a voice you must hear to believe. She has a belt that anyone would envy and she will have a MAJOR career as a singer. Her shining moment comes during a "diva showdown" of belting and riff between her and Winston. She earned a MUCH deserved cheer for that one. As an actress however, she couldn't act her way out a wet tissue paper bag in a hurricane. Every line reading was the same, with the inflection of a question and the sound of a forced, pained whine.

David Turner, as Winston, played an over the top sterotype, not a character, but the gifted comedian managed to earn genuine laughter out of moments ranged from a joke about a fruit follwed by the quip "I made a joke about fruit! How clever and ironic!" to a final monolouge where he doesn't fly off, compelling the audience to clap if the believe in fairies as to help him out and then taking off as he yells "Thank you for believeing in me!". The truely impressive part of his performance was managing to make it through the show with a straight, as the case may be, face.

Chrsitopher J. Hanke, as J.T. fares the best out of everyone. I was genuinely impressed by his perormance, He has a wonderful tenor and somehow managed to find a real character. He also deserves applause just for being able to get out the tongue twisting dialogue (termed used loosely.. again) that he was given.


The sets for this show were not only ugly but lacked any throughline or concept. "Earth" looked like it was badly ripped off from the last revival of Gypsy -- exposed brick walls that looked like a bare stage and, for opera sequences, a proscenium that flew on to create a stage within a stage. Indiviudal locations were created with small insert set pieces -- a street lamp with "walk/don't walk" sign, newpaper boxes, a bar in a diner, etc etc in front of still and video projections of part of walls, New York street scenes, and other things projected onto a small flown in screen or the brick back wall. "Heaven" is an array of filing cabinet drawers, flown in and covering the brick, with placards that light up in a variety of colors. Inconsistant with these is Jenny's apartment, that J.T. moves into, which is a hyper realistic recreation of a New York City apartment.

Now, let's start to wrap this up by address the score, book, and direction (terms used loose... oh screw it) by Joseph Brooks.

The score has a few gems. Several songs are great to hear, such as "I Am My Mother's Son" and "Ride On The Wheel" to name a few, but there is a high percentage of clunkers in the score.

The book and direction can't really be discussed without the other here. Muddled, muddy, sloppy, and non existant describe both. Staging is unimaginative and there are moments, okay, moments aboe the rest of the show, where you want to b*tchslap Brooks for the show. J.T.'s "happy word" is "lemmon". He says this anytime he is happy, so, when Jenny returns from grocery shopping, what does she dump into a bowl on the table? A bunch of lemons! This show is a walking commercial ranging from a full staged softshoe number repleat with top hats and canes taken from a Dr. Pepper jingle to Jenny folding clothes with store logos on them facing the audience to cast members holding food products in awkward ways just to keep the label facing front at all costs. While the dead girl and the dangerously flamey angel are quickly established as the sole narrators for the show, the two leads are forced to step out of the scene for 30 seconds and narrate their first sexual encounter in the third person while minimally miming, then step back into the scene, talking about how, while fully dressed, they had to get dressed.

There is one week of performances left, and though I went for free, I HIGHLY suggest spending a few bucks on this clunker.

When the giant lemon descends from the flies, it pretty much sums it up.. So, to sum THIS up with the closing line of the show.......

ONLY IN NEW YORK, FOLKS. ONLY IN NEW YORK.

Updated On: 12/3/05 at 09:19 PM
sweeneyfan
Stand-by
joined:11/29/05
Stand-by
joined:
11/29/05
re: A Moment In My Life#1
Posted: 12/3/05 at 9:40pm
How did you read my mind?

A good friend "in the Biz" once told me BAD THEATER is theatre where you have no reaction or feeling at all from what you have seen. I agree. A mess of a show, and not good in so many ways, but isn't something that such a lemon (pun intended) can stir up so much debate and discussion.

The real shame here is that Christopher Hanke will get no recognition for a truly exceptional performance...and its not just that he was so good against something so bad... he was DEAD ON as a tourette's syndrome sufferer...I work with a guy JUST like him... (His happy word as we call it is APPLE) I saw Hanke in the Full Monty Tour, and his performance there was the real reason I went to see In My Life... and I wasn't disappointed. Here's hoping he makes it big!
"Cor! me bones is weary!" -Mrs. Lovett
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Rathnait62
Broadway Legend
joined:6/3/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
6/3/04
re: A Moment In My Life#2
Posted: 12/3/05 at 9:48pm
A lot of complaining and negativity for someone who was given a free ticket.

Basic theater etiquette dictates that - at the very least - you behave with decorum when you are comped into a show - no matter what is going on onstage.

"I spent the show alternating between fits of hysterical laughter and moments of dumbfounded gawking interspersed by the occasional applause for a shining cast member of sheer glee at the absurdity paraded before me."

Had you paid for your ticket, that childish behavior would almost have been acceptable.
Have I ever shown you my Shattered Dreams box? It's in my Disappointment Closet. - Marge Simpson
Updated On: 12/3/05 at 09:48 PM
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Roninjoey
Broadway Legend
joined:9/27/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
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re: A Moment In My Life#3
Posted: 12/4/05 at 3:12am
I don't know, he gave a well thought out review that gave kudos where kudos was due. And I imagine that quote is a bit of an exaggeration. I found myself laughing at times too just at how bad the show was. It's hard not to. I wasn't screaming in the aisles or anything, but I was laughing to myself in my seat. Although at least I looked like I was enjoying myself.
yr ronin,
joey
bsjdh
Swing
joined:12/3/05
Swing
joined:
12/3/05
re: A Moment In My Life#4
Posted: 12/4/05 at 9:41am
Was it necessary to bring up the mother and dead sister's ethnicity? Kudos to Joe Brooks for having the guts and open mind to cast interacially, and shame on you for your prejudice remarks. The mother had one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. Who cares that her ethnicity didn't match JT's? You obviously didn't have any problem recognizing the fact that they were supposed to be related in the show, so why is it even an issue? All shows should cast based on talent and not ethnicity. Instead, casts are usually all white with exactly 1 token black person, and 1 token Asian person tossed in to be politically correct. I know of many black women that could belt out Defying Gravity with ease...but I doubt they would ever consider casting the role Elphaba other than white, and she's GREEN! Or in Annie, the child has no parents and lives in an orphanage, but I am willing to bet that Martin wouldn't even consider casting the role other than white. Look at all the shows on broadway...the casts are always almost all white with the exceptions being The Lion King and The Color Purple. It's such a shame and it's people like you that keep things that way.
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paradox_error
Broadway Legend
joined:8/25/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
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re: A Moment In My Life#5
Posted: 12/4/05 at 10:48am
Oh no!

The race card has been pulled!

I'm all for interracial casting, but by god, bsjdh, that was the biggest load of nonsense I've read in a while.

There IS a black woman singing Defying Gravity. Her name's Brandy. Sure, Annie could be black, but it sure would complicate things. That would mean Miss Hannigan and Rooster would have to be black too, OR they'd have to go blackface to fool Warbucks...

And I think it IS a problem to have such confusing families. Black mother, hispanic sister, white son? Please, choose a race, any race, but make it at least believable...

And by the way, BG2 didn't once make a racest comment. Those are in your head...
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paradox_error
Broadway Legend
joined:8/25/04
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re: A Moment In My Life#6
Posted: 12/4/05 at 12:50pm
I wonder if bsjdh is really just RodneyK? Or Mary_Ethel...
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SirLiir
Broadway Legend
joined:9/2/05
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joined:
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re: A Moment In My Life#7
Posted: 12/4/05 at 12:58pm
"A good friend "in the Biz" once told me BAD THEATER is theatre where you have no reaction or feeling at all from what you have seen."

I think this somes up why In My Life is so memorable. I certainly have had a positive reaction from it and many people have as well. Sometimes absurdity just works.
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Roninjoey
Broadway Legend
joined:9/27/05
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re: A Moment In My Life#8
Posted: 12/4/05 at 4:25pm
I don't know, I found the show dreadfully boring, and if people hadn't made such a huge deal about it I'd already have forgotten about it. I saw it yesterday.

PS actually, the interracial casting didn't really bother me, but my mom's white and my dad (and brother)'s black. Maybe I'm a bit color blind. I thought the little girl reminded me of my sister and it made me sad to think my little sister could get killed in a car accident by my future fiancee's best friend's boyfriend.
yr ronin,
joey
Dollypop
Broadway Legend
joined:5/15/03
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re: A Moment In My Life#9
Posted: 12/4/05 at 4:42pm
Yes, but to be killed in a car accident because your best friend was getting a Slurpee makes this whole thing hilarious.
"Long live God!" (GODSPELL)
bsjdh
Swing
joined:12/3/05
Swing
joined:
12/3/05
re: A Moment In My Life#10
Posted: 12/4/05 at 4:53pm
Paradox_Error, Why should the ethnicities match? We dont know the family history nor do we ever see the father. JT could have been adopted...it was insignificant. Besides that, Chiara Navarra isn't even "Spanish" as it was so eloquently written, she is Italian so it was silly to incorrectly state her ethnicity anyway. And, to further comment on your "pick a race, but make it believable" comment...it's all make believe, dear. It's fun to pretend that what we are seeing on the stage is real but if the ethnicities don't match it's ok to use your imagination.
Updated On: 12/4/05 at 04:53 PM
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Roninjoey
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joined:9/27/05
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re: A Moment In My Life#11
Posted: 12/4/05 at 5:25pm
Were they italian? I thought she just liked to sing opera.
yr ronin,
joey
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Phantom2
Broadway Legend
joined:11/27/03
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re: A Moment In My Life#12
Posted: 12/4/05 at 11:24pm
broadwayguy2 is back? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
"I'm learning to dig deep down inside and find the truth within myself and put that out. I think what we identify with in popular music more than anything else is when someone just shares a truth that we can relate to. That's what I'm searching for in my music." - Ron Bohmer

"I broke the boundaries. It wasn't cool to be in plays- especially if you were in sports & I was in both." - Ashton Kutcher