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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!

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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

A Librarian Takes on the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: Read an All-Ages Comic 1

18 Jan

This year I decided to follow the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. I said the same thing about the 2015 and 2016 challenges but didn’t succeed. But this year I’d like to complete the challenge! Sharlene has inspired me with her Dewey Decimal Challenge, so like her, I will write about the books I read here for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge to hold myself accountable.

I set the barrier for entry low by choosing to complete the “Read an all-ages comic” challenge first. I recently became aware that Jem and the Holograms have been revived in comic book form, and immediately borrowed the first two volumes. As a kid I loved watching the Jem and the Holograms cartoons, which aired from 1985-1988 (seasons one, two, and three on DVD are available to borrow). What I remember most about Jem was her pink hair. I thought it was so pretty and believed that I would have pink hair when I grew up. While I lived through the era of using Manic Panic and even Kool Aid to dye hair wild colors, I never experimented with those means. But now I have something to talk about with my hair stylist…

Back to the comics!

Jem and the Holograms, by Kelly Thompson

jem-holograms

Jem and the Holograms, the first volume that collects books 1 through 5, establishes the Holograms’ origin story. Jerrica Benton is the manager and lead singer of the band, with her sisters Kimber the keytar player, Shana the drummer, and Aja the guitarist. The story opens with the band trying to record a music video to submit to a contest sponsored by the Misfits, but Jerrica’s stage fright impedes filming. After once again failing to perform and overhearing her bandmates’ frustrations with her, Jerrica goes home where she discovers Synergy, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) computer designed by her late father that allows Jerrica to transform into the fearless pink-haired Jem. As Jem, Jerrica is able to record the video, which takes off and threatens the Misfits, led by the volatile Pizazz, and breeds a rivalry.

I loved the art in this edition. Each woman has her own distinct style, and diverse body types are depicted. Truth be told, I prefered the Misfits’ edgier color palettes over the Holograms’.

The story was fun to read, too. A forbidden romance develops between the Holograms’ Kimber and the Misfits’ Stormer. Jerrica dates Rio, a reporter who is writing a story about the Misfits but becomes intrigued by the Holograms, in particular the mysterious Jem who is never in the same place as Jerrica.

Jem and the Holograms Vol. 2 Viral, by Kelly Thompson

jem-holograms-viral

What makes Viral, the second volume that collects books 6 through 10, different from the first volume is the pop culture references. In the opening story, the exhausted Holograms argue over what movie to watch and we see their dreams where they are characters in their favorite movies that you will recognize, with Synergy playing a key role in each dream. I personally liked the story that imagined the Holograms and the Misfits as babies, a la The Muppet Babies cartoon (another childhood favorite!) with Synergy as Nanny, who we see only from the knees down. Viral ends with several cliffhangers and I am anxious to read the next volume to see where the story goes.

If reading these doesn’t give you enough Jem, you can borrow the recent live action movie of the same name on DVD or Blu-Ray. While I didn’t love the movie, I enjoyed Juliette Lewis as the band’s villainous manager Erica and Kesha’s cameo as Pizazz. What can I say, I think Pizazz is more interesting than Jerrica/Jem. Although regarding hair color inspiration, I am not sure green hair would be as flattering as pink.

So, this is my first completed Read Harder Challenge. Stay tuned for the next one!

Do you have any special reading goals for this year? Let me know in the comments.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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