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Broadway at the Hoboken Public Library, Part 2: Waitress, The Great Comet, and Hello, Dolly!

11 Feb

It’s been awhile since I wrote about my adventures on the Great White Way! (Click here, here, and here for my past posts about Broadway.) I haven’t been to the theater as much as I would like lately (life has been busy, and the Hamilton tickets I bought last year cost beaucoup bucks and wiped out my theater budget) but these are the shows I have seen recently.

Waitress

waitress

“Sugar, butter, flour” are the simple opening lines of this show as well as the basis of many pie recipes. This musical is based on the movie of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly, about a waitress named Jenna with a talent for baking pies who finds herself pregnant by her deadbeat husband and longs to escape. The musical stays pretty true to the movie, but definitely stands on its own.

The show was created by a team of women, including Sara Bareilles, who wrote the music and lyrics for this show. She released an album (CD and Freegal) performing some of the show’s tunes herself. My favorite tracks from the Original Broadway Cast Recording (on CD and Hoopla) include “Bad Idea,” “I Didn’t Plan It,” and “You Matter to Me.” Ogie has to be the most memorable romantic hero on all of Broadway, who declares his love via a song called “I Love You Like a Table.”

The scent of fresh baked pie wafts through the theater, which will make you hungry. (Don’t worry, the concessions stands sell warm slices of pie for an intermission snack!) What will stick with you long after the show is over is the strong bond between the three female leads, Jenna, Becky, and Dawn. You may also remember a romantic scene that includes some epic Revolutionary War era cosplay.

The Great Comet

great-comet

The complete title of this show is Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Certainly a mouthful to say, and a lot to type. I had no idea what this show was about going in, except that Josh Groban stars as Pierre, and I was pleasantly surprised by The Great Comet.

This is the sort of show that winks at the audience–the fourth wall is gone. The action takes place all around the theater, with the actors making use of the all the space and engaging with the audience. It was fun to anticipate where the actors will appear next, perhaps near you. If you’re lucky, the actors, along their travels, will give you a little box that contains a pierogi for a mid-show nosh. I didn’t get one, but that lady sitting next to me did.

You can hear the soundtrack on Hoopla, and borrow the CD. “Letters”, a song about email’s predecessor, includes the knowing lyric “In nineteenth century Russia, we write letters / we put down on paper what is happening in our minds.” Another standout track is “Charming.” I also recommend any track featuring Brittain Ashford, who plays Sonya. Her voice is delicate but full of emotion, particularly on “Sonya Alone.”

Hello, Dolly!

hello-dolly-cc

Ok, I haven’t seen this show yet. It isn’t due to officially open on Broadway until Thursday April 20, 2017. But I am planning to see this revival, which will feature Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi and David Hyde Pierce as Horace Vandergelder. I can’t wait to see this show and these talented actors in the iconic roles.

To me, Hello, Dolly! Is one of the most classic Broadway musicals. Barbra Streisand starred in the 1969 film adaptation, but Carol Channing who originated the role on Broadway in 1964 is the best known Dolly. I love so many songs from this show. “Dancing” makes you feel as though you’re spinning with the actors. “Before the Parade Passes By” is wistful. “Elegance” is fun and upbeat. Of course, “Hello, Dolly!” is a showstopper. But my favorite has always been “It Only Takes a Moment,” which is sung in a courthouse of all places. What can I say, I’m a romantic.

Hoopla has several versions of the Hello, Dolly! soundtrack to stream. Borrow the Original Broadway Cast Recording on CD to hear “So Long Dearie”, which features one of the sickest burns to come from Broadway, when Channing as Dolly sneers to Horace Vandergelder, “snuggle up to your cash register”. Shall we adapt that one to the twenty first century, changing “cash register” to “iPhone”? Thoughts?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

How to Stream Rolling Stone’s 20 Rock Albums Turning 20 in 2016 with Your Hoboken Public Library Card

27 Jul

Rolling Stone recently published an article about rock albums that are turning 20 this year. After reading it, I remembered owning and loving several of those albums back in 1996. Reading the article made me feel old, a feeling I’ve been struggling with as my eldest niece prepares for her bat mitzvah later this summer. 😦

I decided to write about some albums from the list that are memorable to me. Many of these albums (there are some exceptions) can be streamed via Hoopla Digital or Freegal, which you can access with your Hoboken Resident library card. Did you imagine, back in 1996, that streaming music online would be possible in the future? For those that prefer CDs, those are available as well.

metallica-load

Metallica / Load

When Napster reigned, circa 2000, Metallica was their biggest foe. Napster was popular when I was in college as my dorm’s Ethernet offered my first, life-changing taste of high-speed internet. I mention Metallica first here because their strong stance against illegal music downloading is now part of their legacy.

Metallica isn’t available on either Hoopla or Freegal, but the CD can be borrowed. Hoopla has Metallica-inspired albums for lullabies and yoga, and Freegal has this album featuring covers of Metallica songs.

apple-tidal

Fiona Apple / Tidal

What I remember most about this album (available on Freegal and on CD) was how in-your-face it was and how I hadn’t experienced music like that before. Apple’s defiant tone in the opening track “Sleep to Dream” is like a punch in the face. This album still sounds good after 20 years, and “Criminal” is still my favorite track.

wallflowers

Wallflowers / Bringing Down the Horse

Time to be honest: I strongly dislike this album (available on Hoopla and CD). My brother listened to it NONSTOP in 1996 and I hated hearing it through the wall between our bedrooms. In hindsight, my brother probably hated hearing me play the Les Miserables soundtrack (I’ve written here, here, and here about being a musical theater geek) on repeat while I sang along, poorly. So I guess it’s all relative.

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Rage Against the Machine / Evil Empire

Who here tried to play “Bulls on Parade” in Guitar Hero 3 and realized that you will never do it quite as well as Tom Morello? I certainly did. You can revisit this album on Freegal and on CD.

sublime

Sublime / Sublime

What’s bittersweet about this particular album turning 20 is that it also marks 20 years since lead singer Bradley Nowell passed away. Nowell died two months before the self-titled record (on Hoopla and on CD) was released, which became a breakthrough hit. Sublime broke up after this record, but “Santeria” and “What I Got” remain on rock radio playlists today.

pinkerton

Weezer / Pinkerton

I didn’t appreciate this album (on Hoopla and on CD) until college. Weezer had a huge hit with the Blue Album (on Hoopla and on CD) in 1994. Pinkerton, their sophomore record, had a darker, at times creepy (see: “Across the Sea”), more autobiographical tone that was so different than the Blue Album and wasn’t well received. Time has been kinder to Pinkerton. “El Scorcho” is my favorite track.

Here is a list of the rest of the rock albums turning 20, with links to either Freegal or Hoopla or the BCCLS catalog (where applicable):

Beck / OdelayHoopla, CD

Sheryl Crow / Sheryl Crow: Hoopla, CD

Failure / Fantastic PlanetHoopla

Fountains of Wayne / Fountains of WayneHoopla, CD

Korn / Life Is PeachyFreegal

Dave Matthews Band / CrashFreegal, CD

Pearl Jam / No CodeFreegal, CD

R.E.M. / New Adventures in Hi-FiHoopla, CD

Sleater-Kinney / Call the DoctorHoopla, CD

Soundgarden / Down on the Upside: Hoopla, CD

Swans / Soundtracks for the Blind: n/a

Tortoise / Millions Now Living Will Never Die: n/a

Tool / Aenima: CD

Wilco / Being ThereHoopla

Were any of these albums your favorites back in 1996? Do you now feel old after learning that these records are now 20 years old? Do you know any other albums turning 20 this year?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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