Page: 1

My 3rd Visit to The Break Up Notebook=THE BEST MUSICAL IN L.A.!

eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
My 3rd Visit to The Break Up Notebook=THE BEST MUSICAL IN L.A.!

ABOVE: Steven with (clockwise from top left: Whitney Allen, Heidi Godt, Melody Butiu, Patrick Bristow, and Jacqueline Maloney.)

Seeing The Break Up Notebook tonight for the third time only confirmed what I wrote several weeks ago: It’s the best show in L.A., and a musical likely to have a long life at the Hudson, and beyond!

Tonight I got to see Melody Butiu as Monica, after seeing her understudy Laura Coyle the first two times. As excellent as Laura was (see my review below), I can see why Melody “got the part.” Besides her rich and evocative voice, Melody manages to make butch Monica both tough and adorably tender at the same time. An absolutely winning performance.

In my previous review, I wrote about the ensemble: “Each understudies one of the leads, and should any of them go on when you see the show, you won’t be disappointed.” Absolutely true. Tonight Deb Snyder and Amy Reiss divided Christine Lakin’s two roles between them, Deb as uptight lawyer Sheila and Amy as leather chick Casey. Both went on for the first time, and each nailed her role. Deb was delightfully neurotic and did a bang-up hula, and Amy was a dynamic Gidget gone bad. And swing Lauren Stone was right at home as part of tonight's talented ensemble.

The show is running till February 12, and if tonight’s full house is any indication of its continuing success, I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes on and on. But don’t wait till it’s too late. See it now!

A REVIEW BY STEVEN STANLEY:
New Year’s advice to anyone in the L.A. metropolitan area who loves musicals: Run, don’t walk, to the Hudson Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd.’s Theatre Row and catch The Break Up Notebook: The Lesbian Musical. It’s hand down the best and brightest and funniest and most adorable musical in town.

I’ll admit it. I was skeptical about a “lesbian” musical. Would I feel left out? Would I be the only man, gay or straight, in the audience? Would I “get” it?

Silly of me to have had those fears, because The Break Up Notebook is a musical for everyone, male, female, gay, straight, or BTQ… Just be a human with the capacity to fall in love and to have your heart smashed to bits.

Very briefly, TBUN is the story of our leading lady Helen Hill’s post-break-up trauma (her girlfriend left her for a “ho” with a bad perm) and her rebound romance with hottie Frances, coupled with the upcoming wedding of her closest lesbian friends Monica and Joanie. A simple plot, and one that’s been done before, but never as a “lesbian musical.”

I don’t know if I would have felt so strongly about Patricia Cotter’s straight play (no pun intended) version of TBUN, which had a long run at the Gay/Lesbian Center a few years ago. But the addition of Lori Scarlett’s eminently hummable songs (with a couple more great songs by Musical Director David Manning) and Gail Conrad’s delightful and inventive choreography (with a couple more equally good dances staged by Christine Lakin) turns what may quite possibly have been a niche vehicle into an honest to goodness MUSICAL COMEDY (for all of us whose CD collections are filled with nothing but OCRs--not soundtracks, thank you). Scarlett’s lyrics are at the same level as her melodies: funny and perceptive and original. And though Cotter’s original script has obviously been streamlined to make room for the songs and dance numbers, its wit and wisdom remain intact.

But as good as all of this might have seen on paper, it couldn’t have worked as perfectly as it does without Sue Hamilton's superb direction and the show's amazing cast. Not a weak link among them.

First of all, the star, and I do mean star of the show. Heidi Godt as Helen, our recently broken up heroine. From moment she sings the first notes of the Act 1 opener (Another Break-up Song), you know you’re about to witness a truly stellar performance/performer. Godt exudes likeability, a quality money (or acting lessons) can’t buy. Think Bonnie Hunt, think Sandra Bullock (with a voice). Or better yet, think Mary Martin in South Pacific or any other role in her career. Godt is the kind of performer you just want to hug (and then wrap her up and take her home to meet your parents, regardless of your orientation), and boy can she sing. An absolutely pure and lovely voice, to match her touching and totally authentic performance.

She’s matched every step of the way by Patrick Bristow as Bob, her gay best friend. Their “The Chicks and Dicks Bossa Nova” is an unforgettable laugh-riot send-up of gay/lesbian stereotypes, with Bristow turning lesbian (with a U-Haul) and Godt becoming a gay Judy/Barbra-loving circuit boy. Bristow, as you may know from the first Ellen show, is one of the funniest men around (and openly gay to boot). The role of Bob allows Bristow to do what he does best: play a gay guy who might be called stereotypical till you look beneath the surface and find a living breathing three dimensional man there. Plus he also nails Helen’s very straight blue-collar father in a scene in which you want to cry out, “Put on a shirt, Dad!” (You’ll see what I mean.)

Jacqueline Maloney is a blonde Barbiesque delight as the “femme” half of the soon to be “committed” couple and understudy Laura Coyle is yet another star-in-the-making as Mooney’s adorably butch fiancée. Both are fantastic singers who’ve recorded solo CDs. And the always excellent Whitney Allen is the statuesque blonde biker chick who steals Helen’s broken heart.

The amazing Christine Lakin is everywhere, as oh so uptight bisexual (if you have to label her) lawyer Sheila and as hard rock leather girl Casey (each has her own moment in the spotlight song), as well as essaying numerous ensemble bits.

The rest of the ensemble (composer Scarlett, Kara Maquire, Jodi Dominick, Deb Snyder, and Amy Reiss) each has her own “moment” and all of them shine. Each understudies one of the leads, and should any of them go on when you see the show, you won’t be disappointed.

David Manning leads a pitch perfect four-piece band, Cynthia Herteg has provided “just right” costumes and Adam Howarth’s excellent sound design allows for non-amped speaking to blend seamlessly into just amped enough songs. If there is a weakish link, it would have to be Alan E. Muraoka’s budget constrained set design which works well but doesn’t dazzle. (Not Muraoka’s fault, I would guess.)

How much did I love TBUN? I saw it on Friday night (my 208th and final show for 2005) and went back on Sunday (my 1st show for 2006) to see it again, and chat with some of the cast in the very welcoming Hudson café/lobby.

If you’re within commuting distance of the Hudson, don’t miss your chance to see The Break Up Notebook. I predict a long run, and a bright future in regional theater. And Heidi told me that hopefully an OCR CD is in the offing (I can hardly wait!)… But the show won’t be here in L.A. forever, so don’t wait till it’s about to close because there won’t be an empty seat in the house and you’ll miss out!

There are 1/2 price tickets for a couple of the performances at goldstarevents.com
http://www.goldstarevents.com/events/browse/90013/cat9/event/6089.html

For your reading perusal, here are links to deservedly great reviews in the local media:

Variety:
http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117929098?categoryid=33&cs=1

Backstage West:
http://www.backstage.com/bso/news_reviews/la/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001699567

LA Weekly:
http://www.laweekly.com/theater/theater_results.php?showid=3547&Sumbit.x=58&Sumbit.y=7

Showmag.com:
http://www.showmag.com/theater/theater853.html

InmagLA:
http://www.inlamag.com/822/columnists/822_centerstage.html







THE BREAK UP NOTEBOOK WEBSITE

Updated On: 1/21/06 at 01:28 PM
QMAN03 Profile PhotoQMAN03 Profile Photo
QMAN03
Broadway Star
joined:9/20/05
Broadway Star
joined:
9/20/05
Oh, now I guess I have to see this. Do you know when the show closes?
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
The show was set to close on the 15th but director Sue Hamilton told me that it's been extended. I'll try to find out the new closing date for you.
Popular Profile PhotoPopular Profile Photo
Popular
Broadway Legend
joined:1/8/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/8/05
Thanks for the heads up!
YouWantitWhen???? Profile PhotoYouWantitWhen???? Profile Photo
YouWantitWhen????
Broadway Legend
joined:7/16/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/16/05
Pop, let me know if you want to try and arrange an outing.

This sounds interesting.

Now, if only the rain would stop. It is pouring here in CC.
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
The Hudson is where BARE got its start. I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be the "lesbian" cult equivalent. But honestly, you don't have to be lesbian, or gay, or female, to love this show!
Popular Profile PhotoPopular Profile Photo
Popular
Broadway Legend
joined:1/8/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/8/05
YWIW - I would've answered you sooner but the darn power outage left me without electricity. I think by the end of this week I'll be a lot clearer on how many shows my budget will allow me to see so I'll try and let you know as soon as I find out.
Updated On: 1/3/06 at 02:01 AM
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
I have it on good authority that the show will be running at least four additional weeks, which would by my calculation place the closing weekend somewhere mid-February. The official announcement should come in a few days.
ruprecht Profile Photoruprecht Profile Photo
ruprecht
Broadway Legend
joined:3/16/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
3/16/05
You lost me when you said the main character's girlfriend left her for a "ho with a bad perm." I hope that's not the level of the humor. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though!
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
The script and lyrics are very witty and laugh out loud funny and quite sophisticated. (But you confuse me. The Ruprect I recall from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels should be quite the fan of "low" humor, n'est-ce pas?)
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
Director Sue Hamilton has confirmed that The Break Up Notebook has been extended through February 12! (That's an additional four weeks!) Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00. Sundays at 3:00.
THE BREAKUP NOTEBOOK WEBSITE
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
A
Updated On: 1/21/06 at 02:02 PM
eslgr8 Profile Photoeslgr8 Profile Photo
eslgr8
Broadway Legend
joined:9/20/04
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/20/04
1/2 Price tickets are gone (not surprising) but it's worth paying full price to see this show!
emo_geek Profile Photoemo_geek Profile Photo
emo_geek
Broadway Legend
joined:1/19/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
1/19/05
SO MANY SHOWS I HAVE TO SEE!
I have tickets to Jason Robert Brown
I want to get tickets to happy days the musical (don;t ask me why)
I am going to get ticket to berneddets tour
and I want to get tickets to SVU
"I never had theatre producers run after me. Some people want to make more Broadway shows out of movies. But Elliot and I aren't going to do Batman: The Musical." - Julie Taymor 1999