Even I can’t explain this one. What the hell do the cover, the title and that groovy tagline have to with one another?
We’ve kept an eye on Lucky Guy since we’d first heard about it. The show sounded fun and it had actors in it that we liked. When the show announced a pre-mature closing last Thursday (after only being officially open for a week), we went to tkts on Friday to pickup tickets for today’s matinee. I’m so glad we did because this show was a great time. It’s also a text book example of a good show just not catching an audience.
The show’s premise is simple. Billy Ray is a simple boy comes whose come to the big city (Nashville) because he won a song writing contest. The record company he’s supposed to record with might get foreclosed on because G.C., the company’s owner, is on the verge of not being able to pay his last mortgage payment to his cousin, Big Al. That’s just fine with Big Al because he wants to put his sixth use car lot where the recording studio is. Once Big Al finds out that Billy Ray’s song could save the studio, he get his partner in crime, the queen of country music, Miss Jeannie Jeannine to steal the song. In the middle of all this, Billy Ray also falls in love with Wanda, the secretary at the recording studio.
The plot moves at a madcap pace, punctuated with fun, toe-tapping songs. The flavor of the show is set up front by the Buckaroos who serve as backup singers, dancers and occasional narrators. These four cowboys, knock out some great choreography from A.C. Ciulla (Broadway’s Footloose and TV’s So You Think You Can Dance). As for the villinas, portaryed by Lelise Jordan (best known for his Emmy-winning role on Will & Grace) and Varla Jean Merman, Jordan accurately summed up their characters in an interview calling them “Boris and Natasha.” These two are awesome playing off of each other.
Kyle Dean Massey as Billy Ray is the heart and soul of the show. We first saw Massey in Next to Normal and became fans. He’s terrific in here. He croons the country-tinged songs great. He gets to bust out some great dances and as the romantic lead he is completely charming. He wins the audience over within seconds of walking on stage. His leading lady, Savannah Wise, is also delightful as she struggles to stand by her man while he’s being potentially lured over to the dark side of show business.
It’s unfortunate this show didn’t catch on. It seemed to have a perfect mix of elements–a fun story, great music and dancing, wonderful cast and in a small, but well-located off-Broadway theatre. But it just didn’t catch on. The theatre was only about one-quarter full, despite this show’s marketing campaign that had TV commercials and taxi-cab toppers.
Word is there will be a cast album, which is good news. Here’s a few looks at some of Lucky Guy‘s numbers along with its very cute TV commercial.
Gay Days Orlando is having their first ever Literary Festival! If you’re in the area next weekend, be sure to check them out!
Yesterday the world said goodbye to The Oprah Winfrey Show. I didn’t watch the celebrity-filled shows from Monday and Tuesday but I knew I needed to see the final one. I remember the first show back in September 1986. I had just started college and the late afternoon timeslot made it the perfect thing to watch after class as I got started with homework. I didn’t watch everyday since the topics weren’t always of interest, but I kept up with what she was doing. And even though some of those early shows were among the birthplaces of reality TV, you knew there was something different about Oprah.
She noted in Wedenday’s final show that she was “glad we grew out of that.”
The next time I consistently watched Oprah was in the fall of 1998. I was laid off from work in September, just as Oprah’s season was starting. That was the year Oprah began spreading the message about leading your best life. I learned a lot that fall while I went about the business of the job hunt. It was about finding peace, figuring out what your true calling was, being graceful, the power of listening and remembering your spirit. Iyanla Vanzant was on the show frequently during this time and I learned a lot from her and her book One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth.
I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in those shows. They taught me how to be calmer, to sharpen my focus and to work towards creating the best life I could possibly have rather than just settling for what was. It was (and still is) powerful stuff.
Oprah talked of these lessons often in the final episode:
I’m certainly not perfect in practicing these things I learned from Oprah and her guests over the years, but I know I’m more aware of what makes me tick, what makes me happy, what I truly value, and how I want to be in this life.
I’m looking forward to what Oprah does with OWN. Now that she gets to devote all of her time to it, I expect it will become a great platform for helping people find their ah-ha moments and to find the path towards their true calling and best life.
Full disclosure upfront: I am friends with the author of With or Without You.
I stumbled upon Brian’s blog, which, at the time, was chronicling his life as an MFA candidate, a few years ago. It was an interesting blog and I kept coming back. One of the things he wrote about was his thesis project, which was the earliest form of this novel. Over the years we’ve become friends and I was excited when he announced to the world that what was his thesis was going to be published. The book was officially released today but for some reason Amazon had mine in my mailbox on Saturday.
I’ve already devoured it. It was an incredible read–a great mix of powerful, funny, disturbing and inspiring.
The book centers on Evan, an 18-year-old who graduates high school in the opening chapters. He and his best friend, Davis, have been bullied relentlessly during their school years. Evan’s parents mostly ignore him and he’s got a sister who he gets along well with. He’s also got a secret boyfriend who happens to be four years older. He’s a painter. More than anything he’s trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in the grand scheme of things.
For Evan, the summer between high school and college is epic. The breadth of things Farrey covers is long and he juggles all the pieces superbly. Given how many things today’s teens have to deal with, it’s not all that surprising really to find so much going on here. Some of the goings on are pretty basic–where to go to college or how do I reveal my boyfriend to my parents. There is a lot of deep stuff too–what does it mean to be gay, how does gay history play into my life, how do I integrate the secret boyfriend into the rest of my life. There’s some very dark and troubling things that happen, which I’m not going into because I refuse to spoil the ride for others. I will say that there were times it was uncomfortable to read while at the same time I was completely riveted and couldn’t put the book down. I had to know how Evan was going to handle what was being thrown at him.
Among the elements I loved in the book is how Evan’s art is described. Ever few chapters, there’s a description of one of his works and why he painted it. It’s an interesting look at his artistic side, while filling in some crucial background. It’s rare to see flashback material not yank you out of the “present” story in progress. Here it’s presented in a way that makes it part of the natural story flow.
In terms of YA that I’ve read, With or Without You feels like it pushes boundaries with it’s vivid descriptions of bullying as well as the things that go down when Evan and Davis get involved with a club called, The Chasers. On the other hand, it’s the unfortuante reality of today that nothing in the story seems as though it couldn’t happen to a teen. Hopefully the teens that read it can avoid some of the pitfalls.
Congratulations, Brian on a great debut novel. I look forward to your next book.
You can keep up with Brain at brianfarreybooks.com
After enjoying our trip to The Met to see the American Ballet Theatre last summer, we decided to see more ABT this year. We bought a package of tickets to the spring season at The Met. Last night was the first of our four shows–Don Quixote.
The story played out over three acts. First we met Kitri and Basilio, who are very much in love. Unfortunately, Kirti’s father wants her to mary Gamache, a nobleman. As Don Quixote and Sancho Panza arrive in the village, Don Quixote wonders if he has found his lost love in Kitri. Eventually Kitri and Basilio are aided by their friends, Espada and Mercades, to get out of town. Everyone else, of course, follows.
The second act takes places in a gypsy village where the lovers take refuge. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza find the lovers. Don Quixtoe realizes that Kitri isn’t his lost love and that she belongs with Basilio. He also has a vision of his Dulcinea under attack and ends up making his famous stand against the windmill. Later, as he sleeps, he had Don Quixote has a dream in which he dances with Dulcinea and maidens. Eventually, Kitri’s father and nobel suitor show up and Basilio commits a fake suicide to show his love. Kitri begs Don Quixote to let her wed the corpse and when Basilio springs back to life, Kitri’s father and Gamache realize where her heart lies.
The third act returns to Sevilla for the wedding of Kitri and Basilio and also has Don Quixote and Sancho Panza bidding the villagers farewell as they continue on their quest.
This was a delightful second ABT experience. It was incredible to see the elaborate choreography play against the impressive scenic design. We got to see ABT principal dancer Gillian Murphy in the role of Kitri and she was sublime and she showed both a playful and romantic side. Basilio was ABT principal Cory Stearns, who was extremely powerful while also being amazingly graceful. The two were beautiful to watch together.
I also loved the second act in the gypsy village. The gypsy choreography was more gritty than the dancing in Sevilla. Watching the gypsies dance their style as Kitri and Basilio dance with them was a nice contrast.
We return to ABT on June 4 for Lady of the Camellias.