So it has indeed been a while since my last posting…  Why?  Because last semester was the semester literally from hell.  9 days after the spring ’09 semester and my DreamWorks Theatricals internship ended, I started interning with the Nederlander Organization.  I was there from May-December working two full days a week and two half days.  I had my Disney job as well and from November-January I also worked merch for White Christmas.  3 jobs + full-time student = pneumonia and the flu… twice.  I was taking awful classes and spent more time commuting between campuses then I spent actually in class.  I needed to find a way to destress myself soooo I remembered back to the 3rd grade when we made candles for some service and began making candles for fun.  Then people started offering to pay me to make them candles and that is when Wic’ed Candles was born.

Now between my really good classes and just one job and no internship, I can relax and make candles at my leisure (or when people order them) and sing and dance and act and write without worrying about where I have to be and where.  From every negative experience comes a positive one I say and since last semester was so bad, it makes sense that this semester would be good.

Ahem… Anywho!  I’m excited to get back to blogging/tweeting/new media’ing as much as I can.  Writing reviews for shows and movies that I see as I can as well as keeping this blog up to date.  Others can do it, why can’t I, right?  Also, now that I have the time I’m trying to get back to performing and training so that come May when school is finally over, I can jump right into getting myself out there.  I’m excited for what this year may/can/will bring to my life.  It may be February but it’s never too late to start bettering yourself and reaching for your goals.  The sky is the limit!  No, the moon is the limit!  Anything can happen if you let it… (teehee)…  It’s time for a new year, a new me, a new time.  (insert Ragtime joke here).  Curtain up!

The Official West Side Story 2009 Revival Title Card

The Official West Side Story 2009 Revival Title Card

“Could it be? Yes it could. Something’s comin’, something good!”

Fervent Cheer/Standing Ovation

So although it took me two weeks to finally find the time to write this rather long review of West Side Story, currently playing at the Palace Theater on 47th and Broadway, I must say that I’m glad it took me so long to get to it. As time went on there was more and more about this show that I found that I remembered and liked – something that usually does not happen. I saw it the day after it opened and the house was packed full; sold out with standing room on the Orchestra, Mezzanine AND Balcony! Phew! Also, I must premise this review with the following: this current Broadway revival is the only production of West Side Story I have ever seen. I have never seen the movie or any regional production of the show. I have seen clips of Debbie Allan in 1980 performing “America” so I went into this production with her dance ability on my mind. Now on to the review…

The “Prologue” and the “Jet Song” started off the show with some very intricate steps and great formations. There was no real Overture so we were thrown right into the show. I was really excited once the curtain rose and seeing Cody Green (Movin’ Out & Grease) as Riff lead the Jets in their dance was very intriguing to me. Though there was one ensemble guy who was a split second behind everyone else but it wasn’t too distracting. By the end of the “Jet Song” though I felt there was some spark that was missing; perhaps some innate feeling of raw passion. Yes, you call can dance… Very well… Now give me a little something more. Enter Matt Cavenaugh (Grey Gardens) as Tony singing “Something’s Coming.” Great voice. Crazy vibrato! His vibrato was out of this world and a touch distracting at first. It wasn’t that he couldn’t control his voice; that’s just how his voice is. It worked perfectly though once joined by his Maria (getting to that in a bit). Matt hit a note at the end of the song though that was just incredibly high and incredible period!

Next we meet newcomer from Argentina Josefina Scaglione as Maria and Karen Olivo (In The Heights) as Anita. Josefina seemed to understand the earnestness and innocence of Maria that I found very charming. Karen, who I LOVED in In The Heights, was very funny and found a very good balance between the humor and maturity of the character, especially since she becomes a maternal figure to Maria as the show progresses. The “Dance at the Gym” came next, probably the most recognizable scene/song aside from “America.” The Adult Male is what the character is called I suppose was a little too cheesy to my liking but luckily he wasn’t on stage for very long before the phenomenal dancing began. Joey McKneely really recreated the incredible Jerome Robbins choreography very well. The Dream Ballet, while simple was very charming and beautiful to watch.

The ever famous, and often auditioned, “Maria,” followed by “Tonight,” was very pleasant to listen to. Both Matt and Josefina have great voices, both chock full of vibrato, which apart sounds a little overkill but together is gorgeous to hear; very operatic.

NOW!!!! “America!” George Akram as Bernardo was good but it seemed to be kind of a thankless role. I didn’t really remember the character much after the show but I suppose it isn’t the largest role. Regardless, he and the other Shark males were funny in their bantering with the girls and though they delivered a lot of their lines in Spanish, the general idea wasn’t lost. Once the song started and Karen Olivo opened her mouth it was almost as if the Gods themselves descended upon the stage and were performing (overkill?). She has such an incredible voice that she really gets to showcase in this scene and coupled with her acting ability, if she doesn’t get at least the Tony nomination, I will relinquish any dream of making it on Broadway or in Hollywood! Her dancing isn’t amazing and wouldn’t be even if I didn’t have Debbie Allan on my mind, her other skills more than make up for it. That and although she is not the strongest dancer she never looks like she’s trying and never breaks character. The tempo of the song is slowed down a bit and while I wanted it to be a bit faster, I’m assuming they slowed it down for Karen’s benefit and if that was beneficial for her, than I’m all for it. It brought down the house anyway, so it achieved its purpose.

The dancing in “Cool” was nice to look at (again). The Jets can definitely dance but I found myself somewhat disinterested when the Jets were onstage and weren’t singing or dancing. Cody Green is definitely a dancer and an okay singer but not the strongest of actor. I kind of felt at some points that he had cotton in his mouth when he spoke. “One Hand, One Heart” was okay but a bit forgettable. “Tonight” (Quintet) was amazing. I love hearing the entire cast singing together like that and again Karen blew her part out of the water as did Josefina with her final note. “The Rumble” was interesting because a chain-link gate was lowered in front of the stage which I thought would create a bit of disconnect between the audience and the cast but didn’t. It actually drew me in more. By the time the curtain came down I was indeed ready for a break.

Act II opens with “Siento Hermosa” which is “I Feel Pretty” but is now entirely in Spanish, translated by the genius Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator and star of In The Heights). The feeling was there but since I didn’t understand word-for-word what was being said I felt my attention waxing and waning. I didn’t notice until after the show that the English lyrics are in the Playbill. Very smart to do this! “Somewhere” came after this but to be honest, I do not remember it at all! Sorry! Next was “Gee, Officer Krupke,” the different-sounding chipper fun song sung by the Jet guys. It’s the “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” Sondheim number from Gypsy (which I really did not like, but that’s another story) which was funny but seemed a little ill-placed. After I thought about it though, it made sense. They’re trying to deal with having witnessed death.

Now for my favorite song in the show, now also entirely in Spanish (translation in the Playbill), “Un Hombre Asi” or “A Boy Like That” and “I Have a Love.” Karen and Josefina OWN this song. Karen’s voice once again is awesome and she truly delivers the passion and anger, even fire behind Anita’s berating of Maria. The following scene, which is called the Taunt I believe, but I’ll just call it the Rape scene, brought me as close to tears as possible without actually shedding one. Karen’s ear-piercing screams as she’s being attacked by the Jet guys had the entire audience on the edge of their seats. It was so powerful that it made me want to run down the aisle to save her. Once the scene was over I felt though, God forgive me, that the scene would have been 100% instead of 95% had they tossed Anita around a bit more. Just my opinion.

The final scene: Josefina adequately shows her breakdown as she points the gun at the Jet guys as Tony dies. Her cries over his corpse were somewhat effective but not as heart-wrenching as it could have been. Curtain down on a very good revival.

Now I have spent all this time in this hella long review talking mostly about what I really enjoyed. There were some flaws, in my eyes anyway. First, the Jets were not intimidating at all. These are all supposed to be gang members but I didn’t feel they were street thugs. More lunchroom bullies but oh well. They had fast feet and suave snaps but murderers they ain’t. I didn’t feel any of them were very strong actors either, save for Curtis Holbrook who shined during “Gee, Officer Krupke.” The choreography, which is Jerome Robbins’ original choreography recreated, was executed exceptionally well by the Jets, the guys especially, and pretty well by the Shark girls. The Shark guys were good dancers but don’t have much dancing to do outside the “Dance at the Gym.” Arthur Laurents’ direction was a bit patchy but at 91 years old he did a hell of a job. Lastly, I know the quality of the production is in the show itself and not the sets or staging but the sets, the bedroom and bridal shop in particular, were so spare. The stage was bare, except for moving bodies and a bed or table and a sheet that was lowered from the flies, for most of the show. I would have liked to have seen an updated vision of the set, perhaps like In The Heights, instead, but I got over that rather quickly.

All in all I really enjoyed this production of West Side Story. I have been told that it is a very good introduction to the phenomenon that is WSS and was good enough for me to spend $90 in merchandise (the most I have spent so far at a show). I definitely recommend this show to anyone who enjoys theater. It truly is a good show and even if you see it just so that you can say you’ve seen Karen Olivo, that’s a good enough reason. While it may not be cute like Shrek, magical like Mary Poppins or funny and charming like 9 to 5, it is a classic piece revived for an audience that can and really should appreciate it what it is. Even though the material is over 40 years old, many of its themes still hold true today in so many ways. Whether you spend $26.50 for front row lottery (the stage at the Palace Theater is high so beware of these seats if you want to really appreciate the dance formations), $36.50 for standing room or $120 for center Orchestra seats, spend something, if you can, to see this show!

Watchmen Movie Signature Smiley

Watchmen Movie Signature Smiley

“The world will look up and shout ‘save us’ and I’ll whisper ‘no'”

Enthusiastic Applause/Fervent Cheer

Ahh Watchmen…  Yes it is only March but out of every film to be slated for release between January and May, I was looking forward most to this film.  I am very excited about the Wolverine movie and VERY psyched about Transformers 2 but to be completely honest since 2003 there has not really been a year chock full of exciting action flicks, maybe with the exception of 2007 which had Spiderman 3 (booo), Pirates 3 (liked, but could have been better), and one or two others.

ANYWHOOOO!!  One thing you must know about me is that I love film and LOVE seeing movies opening day.  The feeling of being in a sold-out theater for a movie I’ve been waiting eagerly to see is GREAT!!!  Watchmen, however, has taught me to be more thorough in deciding which theater to go to.  I work in Times Square and liked the AMC 25 until last Friday when I discovered that this theater is often frequented by a less than desirable crowd.  Enough said… ON TO THE SHOW!!!

I am not familiar with the graphic novel which is the source material for the movie Watchmen.  I’m sure a lot of people like me who went to the movie did so because the trailer featured some pretty awesome visual effects.  I also am very particular about the music used in a film’s promotional material as well as in the film itself and the music in the Watchmen trailer was very intriguing to me.  Now, the first ten to fifteen minutes of the movie I thought were awesome.  Pretty flawless, especially the brutal opening murder scene scene.  Very Zack Snyder in terms of direction – reminiscent of 300.  The opening scene (a fight between a then unknown attacker and the coarse gruff washed up vigilante hero “The Comedian”) was amazingly choreographed and though intense, was topped by Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” which was pure perfection.  This scene transitioned into the multi-purpose five-minute opening credit scene which provides the viewer with very necessary information.  First scene + opening credits = best I’ve seen in years, if not ever.

After the first fifteen minutes however the story seemed to branch out in way too many different directions.  In Sin City there were several different story lines that intersected in the end but were each told as one clearly defined chapter, per se.  In Watchmen, each story was told in a somewhat confusing overlapping manner.  The love triangle between Night Owl II, Silk Spectre II and Dr. Manhattan started off as a strong story line but soon began to fizzle with the introduction of the other story lines.  I wanted to know more about the histories of both Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach (the fedora wearing baddie with the ink-blot gauze over his face) but what information they provided was somewhat lost among everything else going on, and there was a lot!  By the nearing of the film’s end I (and many others it seemed) found myself not really caring who wound up with who and just wanted the credits to come.  2 hours and 43 minutes of any film of this nature is a bit too long, especially at 1AM.

I didn’t dislike this movie though.  I may have been confused through large portions of it and was continuously reminding myself to suspend disbelief, the visuals were truly stunning.  Though I expected a bit more action the magnificently crafted and directed action and fight sequences that were present were great.  Finally, a movie with fight scenes that are not edited within an inch of their lives.  You could see the technique that oozed from each action scene due simply to the fact that they were comprised of longer shots (both camera angle and time wise) instead of closer quick cuts.  The opening Comedian fight and Rorschach’s arrest scenes stand out in my mind as being particularly memorable.

The CGI of Dr. Manhattan never got old and while I must admit, seeing him fully nude in all but three or four of his scenes was a bit distracting, Billy Crudup’s portrayal of the jolly, erm, blue giant, though monotone, was still personable and filled with emotion.  I also really liked the effect of Rorshach’s “face” of the continuously movie ink-blot but I would have liked to have been told how it occured in the universe of the film and why it was to begin with.  C’est la vie.  Jackie Earle Haley played the hell out of Rorschach and was the highlight character wise for me.  Having seen him in the intense but great Little Children seeing him in this was a very pleasant surprise and very different for him, to me.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian I thougth was great.  You despised his character for most of the film and then felt sorry for him by the end.  I truly felt for him and while I wasn’t meant to condone his early behaviors by ANY means, his expressed remorse was touching and asked for forgiveness, which I was willing to give.

I thought Patrick Wilson as Night Owl II was great alongside Malin Åkerman as Silk Spectre II whom I did not like.  I didn’t recognize her as the wicked crazy wife of Ben Stiller in The Hearbreak Kid, which is the point, but her performance wasn’t memorable and bit too comic-bookey for me.  She was great and committed to the action sequences but seemed not to fully understand the character nor the world in which the character existed.  As the only female lead I was a little disappointed though she did play off Patrick Wilson pretty well.  The character of Ozymandias, played by Matthew Goode, was initially interesting but became more of a caricature as the film progressed.

Speaking of the two of them, there was an obligatory Zack Snyder stylized sex scene.  In 300 it was a bit awkward but worked.  Here it seemed to be filmed specifically for comic relief.  It was EXTREMELY long and verged on porn.  The audience burst into laughter because not only were both characters fully nude, they were shown climaxing while Leonard Cohen’s cover of “Halleluah” played in the background.  AWKWARD!!!!!

All in all I wanted to LOVE this movie but in the end only really liked it.  The audience was very vocal (which I HATE) about their distaste and confusion with the film and yes I was confused throughout several parts of the film but the visual aspects of the film coupled with it’s great soundtrack and very fitting score by Tyler Bates were enough to make me happy.  If you’re not familiar with the source material you will probably find the intersection of stories hard to follow and by the end will probably be somewhat excited to see the credits roll.  With the exception of the final “twist” the film follows the graphic novel pretty closely, a fact which fans will GREATLY appreciate.  The music (both the score and soundtrack) were great and like I mentioned before the visuals were astounding.

I would see this film again with a different audience so I could focus more on the story and understand better what was happening.  This definitely is a film I’d buy on DVD because the bonus disk would be worth it alone.  Some people have no desire to see the film but for those that have even an inkling, I say go see it because it is entertaining, but go in with an open mind thinking that anything is possible in the universe of the film.  Zack Snyder delivered another visually stunning film that is worthy of your $12.50 and three hours of your time.

Gypsy reference notwithstanding, Curtain Up on my first blog.

The name:  L. Brandon Gloster.  The game… Um, a lot.  I have a wide variety of interests and I like teaching myself how to do new things all the time.  Brevity is not my strongest suit so I will try to make this as short as possible.

First and foremost, I am a performer; actor, singer, dancer.  Stage and film is my life and is what I will be doing with my life, no questions asked.  I love the feeling of being on a stage and doing something that makes someone else smile.  Film, wise, I just love acting.  I only buy 2-disc editions of DVDs because I love watching the pre and post-production processes of putting together a film, especially the editing and scoring processes.

Education wise, however, I am studying marketing and advertising because I enjoy knowing what goes into marketing anything; a new musical, a tv show, or even a person.  I also like graphic design and writing screenplays and musicals.  These are a few of my favorite things…

My main focus right now, regarding my career, is getting out of my own way.  I have a headshot and a résumé but my nerves sometimes tend to get the better of me.  It’s just a matter of time before I can confidently kick down that door called “me.”
I suppose I have a lot of opinions, some of which I enjoy sharing openly.  That, coupled with my growing desire to get myself out there on the web, is what birthed this blog.  Oh, I should mention, Brandon is my name but many do call me Brando…

So, curtain up on the world of Broadway and Hollywood through the experience, research and ultimately the eyes of me.

Consider this my overture.  Welcome to Act I.