Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour (B).  The principal creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000, Joel Hodgson, is on the road doing live shows in venues around the country.  I think I heard this is supposedly going to be Hodgson’s last road show.  Anyhoo, my sister and I caught the show last weekend in Dallas’s fancy opera house.  The show is basically a live recreation of an episode of the MST3K TV show, with Joel and his two robot sidekicks (Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo) riffing on a terrible movie and occasionally taking little breaks to do (allegedly) comical skits.  The terrible movie for our show was a cheesy 1986 Karate Kid rip-off called No Retreat, No Surrender (featuring a young and villainous Jean-Claude Van Damme, Timecop), and the riffing was very amusing.  I’d probably give the show a B+ or an A- based on the riffing, but the skits were unfortunately unentertaining (just like they usually were during MST3K’s TV run).  Note that Joel is the only person from the original show involved in this production; the robots are voiced by two new guys, and two new actresses participated in the skits.  I think it was a pretty clean show, too, if you’re thinking about taking the kids.  Definitely worth catching if they come to a town near you.  Looks like they’re about to do a bunch of shows in Florida if you’re down that way!

Rifftrax Live: The Giant Spider Invasion

The Movie Snob takes in another Fathomevents event.

Rifftrax Live: The Giant Spider Invasion  (A-).  This is the last Rifftrax Live event of the year, and it’s a good one.  The opening short clip is fairly meh; it’s a bizarre explanation of how the nation’s telephone system worked back in the days of party lines and rotary phones.  Did I mention it involves lots and lots of creepy marionettes?  But the main event more than makes up for the lackluster appetizer.  The Giant Spider Invasion is a uniquely terrible 1975 monster movie starring Alan Hale (Skipper on TV’s Gilligan’s Island) as the sheriff of a small town that’s getting invaded by some extraterrestrial tarantulas and one truly giant spider that will eat you if you cooperate by climbing up into its mouth.  They riffed this movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and it was one of the all-time great MST3K episodes.  This all-new riffing experience from the Rifftrax guys was just as funny.  If you can’t catch it at the theater (there’s an encore performance tomorrow night), it’ll be worth downloading from the Rifftrax website.  Warmly recommended . . . unless you have arachnophobia.

Rifftrax Live: Star Raiders

A new review from the Movie Snob.

Rifftrax Live: Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine  (B).  The movie riffers were at it again recently, and, although you can’t see it in the theater like I did, you can download this treasure directly from the Rifftrax website if you so choose.  The show opens with a short about telling the truth (although the real lesson seems to be “don’t throw rocks at a towel hanging on a clothesline right in front of a window”).  It’s fine.  The feature is a low-budget sci-fi movie that I have to assume went straight to video.  Casper Van Dien of Starship Troopers fame stars as Han Solo Saber Raine, a roguish mercenary/spaceship pilot who gets hired to help rescue a prince and princess who have been captured by some bad guy in a mask.  Yes, it is a cheesy Star Wars rip-off in the vein of Krull or Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, but somehow it got made in 2017.  The riffing was average, but the fact that it was ripping off a beloved 40-year-old movie from my childhood made the movie strangely endearing to me.  And Casper’s blond sidekick was kind of cute.

Rifftrax: Octaman

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax: Octaman (B-).  I caught the latest Rifftrax live show last night, and if you are so inclined you can catch a rebroadcast at your local theater on April 24.  As you call tell from my grade, I’m not going to insist that you go.  It’s OK, but it’s not one of the gang’s greatest hits.  The appetizer is a short featuring McGruff the Crime Dog in an anti-drug screed.  It’s fine.  The main event is a monster movie that resembles a lamer version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon.  (No surprise, since writer-director Harry Essex also wrote the screenplay for . . . Creature from the Black Lagoon.)  The riffing was fine, but it never reaches giddy heights.  Octaman is only 80 minutes long, so the whole show was only about an hour and thirty-five minutes long.  One of the funniest bits was the song the guys sang at the very end of the show recapitulating the whole movie in three short verses.  Let’s see if the next Rifftrax live show, Star Raiders on June 6, is better.

Alan Parsons Live Project (concert review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Alan Parsons Live Project.  As I get on in years, it surprises me when I find myself going to a rock and roll music concert.  Until recently, the last concert I saw was The Zombies, which was right about three years ago.  But a couple of weeks ago I ended that drought by seeing an old favorite of mine, British rocker Alan Parsons.  If you’re not familiar with him, he started out as a technical guy on some Beatles albums and, most famously, on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album.  Then he formed his own studio band called The Alan Parsons Project, and they scored several top-forty hits back in the 1970s and early 1980s.  Their biggest hit was “Eye in the Sky,” but they had decent chart success with other songs like “Time,” “Games People Play,” and “Don’t Answer Me.”  Their instrumental “Sirius” has become famous as the music that gets played before the game at Chicago Bulls home games.  Anyway, I was a fan of the Project’s light, radio-friendly psychedelia, and I bought like ten of their albums back in the day.

Anyway, Parsons eventually decided to do some touring, and back in the 90s I actually caught his live show at Dallas’s since-demolished Bronco Bowl.  Now he’s touring again, and some buddies and I saw him at the Theatre in Grand Prairie.  Although Eric Woolfson, who sang lead vocals on songs like “Eye in the Sky,” died several years ago and had a remarkable voice that no one else can really evoke successfully, it was still quite a good show.  The band played for about an hour (including almost all their top-forty hits), took an intermission, and then played the entirety of the Project’s 1977 album I, Robot.  Unfortunately I had to leave before the encore, but the internet indicates that the band probably came back and played “Games People Play” and “(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” to wrap up the night.

In sum, it was a solid show.  Any Parsons fans out there should check out the show if it comes to a town near you.

 

Rifftrax: Space Mutiny

The Movie Snob is back.

Rifftrax: Space Mutiny  (B+).  Ahoy, gentle readers!  I have not blogged in a while, owing to various family-related issues that have kept me out of the theaters.  But my sister was in town last week, and we managed to hit the multiplex for the latest Rifftrax live show.  You can catch a re-broadcast of it this coming Tuesday, June 19, and I give this one a hearty thumbs-up.  The opening short was pretty lackluster, something about a boy and his dad visiting a mysterious magic shop that may actually be magical!  But the main event is Space Mutiny, a 1988 sci-fi cheesefest that was actually riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 back in 1997.  The riffers did a fine job, but the movie alone would have provided plenty of laughs.  The plot is largely incomprehensible, but it’s something about a mutiny aboard a giant spaceship that happens to look exactly like the 1978-79 era Battlestar Galactica.  Don’t miss it!

Rifftrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party  (B).  Last night Fathom Events delivered another live show by the Rifftrax usuals (Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett) and a slew of guest stars (Mary Jo Pehl, Bridget Nelson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, and a fellow who was new to me named Paul F. Tompkins).  I assume that by now you know what these shows are–comedians who specialize in riffing on bad movies and other video material.  This time around they aren’t riffing a full-length movie, but rather a bunch of “educational” shorts from I don’t know when–roughly the 50s through the 70s.  Although this wasn’t one of the riffers’ greatest performances ever, I did think it was a solid outing with plenty of decent laughs.  I would say the funniest shorts were (i) an old black-and-white number about a woman who graduates from secretarial school and works her way up in some bland office job, (ii) another black-and-white film about a surly high-school boy whose conscience is trying to get him to stop griping about everything, and (iii) a p.e. film featuring a bunch of dejected elementary-school kids being forced to roll and bounce big rubber balls around for no apparent reason.  I know they sound terrible, but they’re pretty funny when the riffers make wisecracks about them throughout!  The show will be rebroadcast on June 20, so head on over to fathomevents.com if you want more information.

Rifftrax Live – Samurai Cop

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax Live: Samurai Cop.  (B+)  This is a solid effort by the riffers at Rifftrax.  (I saw the live show last night, but you can catch a rebroadcast next Tuesday night if you like!)  They started with an amusing short, an old black-and-white educational film in which a surly student learns about good manners from a preachy chalk drawing come to life.  Samurai Cop itself is a terrible 1991 knock-off of Lethal Weapon and other buddy-cop movies.  A Japanese gang with almost no Japanese members is getting into the L.A. drug scene, and a muscle-bound samurai cop with long, flowing hair and no discernible martial-arts skills comes up from San Diego to help out.  He and his African-American sidekick mostly drive around shooting people, but the samurai cop occasionally takes a time out to awkwardly hit on or make out with various women who are unfortunate enough to cross his path.  The riffing was very funny, and the movie was amusingly inept in its own right, so I give it a solid thumbs-up.

Be aware, however, that the Rifftrax show is rated R.  I was surprised to see that on my ticket, and it turned out to be because the movie has a lot of profanity in it–also some clumsy sexual banter, and some scenes in which the hero and heroine make out while wearing very small swimsuits.  (According to IMDB there is nudity in the original movie, but the Rifftrax folks deleted that out.)

To my surprise, the red-headed gal who runs with the bad guys in this movie was Gates McFadden’s stand-in on Star Trek: The Next Generation and actually had small parts herself in no fewer than 43 STTNG episodes!  How about that?

Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax Live: Time Chasers  (B-).  Well, I didn’t actually see this 2016 show live; I just recently saw it on DVD.  But I was really, really looking forward to it because the guys riffed Time Chasers back in their Mystery Science Theater glory days, and in my mind it was one of the funniest MST episodes of all time.  Time Chasers itself is a hilariously low-budget 1994 time-travel movie about Nick Miller, a nerdy physics professor in Vermont who turns his little single-propeller airplane into a time machine with what looks like a Commodore 64.  Unfortunately Nick’s physics prowess far exceeds his common sense, and he rashly sells his invention to an evil corporation called GenCorp, embodied by its tangibly evil CEO J.K. Robertson.  The scene in which Nick visits the CEO in his “office” – a stairway landing in what I’ve read is the opera house in Rutland, Vermont – is one of the all-time greats.  So, Nick has to do more time traveling to try to stop himself from selling the time machine to GenCorp in the first place.

Unfortunately, the riffers just don’t do as good a job shredding Time Chasers as they did on Mystery Science Theater so many years ago.  While watching the movie, I often remembered the wisecracks from the MST version, and the new jokes just weren’t as good.  Don’t get me wrong—it was still an entertaining experience, if only because the movie itself is such a target-rich environment.  I just thought the Rifftrax version didn’t live up to the MST original.  There’s also a short about a chimpanzee that becomes a fireman, but it was nothing in particular to write home about either.

Rifftrax Live: Mothra

The Movie Snob riffs on the riffers.

Rifftrax Live: Mothra  (C).  I thought this was a mediocre effort by the fellows at Rifftrax.  They started with an okay short in which a little boy learns lessons about personal hygiene from a bizarre nighttime apparition called “Mr. Soapy.”  The main feature was the Japanese monster movie Mothra, about a giant moth who destroys a bunch of Hot Wheels cars and styrofoam buildings after two tiny (like Barbie-doll sized) women get kidnapped from Mothra’s tropical island.  The movie was, of course, quite ridiculous, but I didn’t think the riffing was particularly great.  Part of the problem was that the movie was so incessantly loud it was occasionally hard to hear the jokes.  Also, I thought the riffers used a little more off-color humor than they usually do, and I didn’t think it was very funny.  So it was a bit of a let down, on the whole.

She Loves Me (stage review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

She Loves Me, by the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre.  I saw this musical three years ago over in Fort Worth and liked it quite well.  (Click here for that review.)  If you like old-fashioned romantic musical comedy, this is one you should see if you get the chance.  The main plot is that two lonely people have fallen in love by writing to each other through a lonely-hearts club, but unbeknownst to them they have also started working together at the same perfume shop—and they can’t stand each other in real life.  (The movie You’ve Got Mail is loosely based on the same premise.)  Anyhoo, this production’s run ends tomorrow, so my main point is to say a few words about GLCT, which I had never experienced before.  In a nutshell, I liked it fine and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.  The facility is old and a little time-worn, and the sound system was a little spotty at times.  But the theater itself was fine (and cozy, seating maybe 100-120 people I would guess).  The performances were mostly good, and a couple of the guys could really sing.  And at $22 for a full-price ticket, it won’t break the bank.  I’ll be back next time they do a show that catches my eye.

The Zombies (concert review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

The Zombies were a 1960s rock band and part of the so-called British Invasion.  A minor part, to be sure:  they charted only three singles in America, all of which made the Top Ten.  They broke up in late 1967, and their last hit (“Time of the Season”) peaked in 1969.  But like their undead namesakes, the Zombies proved tough to kill.  Keyboardist Rod Argent formed a band called Argent that had a Top Ten hit in 1972 (“Hold Your Head Up”).  Vocalist Colin Blunstone occasionally contributed vocals to The Alan Parsons Project, which was a favorite band of mine back in the day.  And Wikipedia says that various reincarnations of the Zombies have been kicking around for a while.  Now they are kicking off a new American tour, and their first show was two nights ago in Dallas’s historic Majestic Theatre.  They are promoting a new album, but they are also performing their last 1960s album, Odessey and Oracle, in its entirety.  It’s a good album–trippy, tuneful, and said by the cognoscenti to be very influential on other musicians.  Anyhow, the show was good (if a little too loud).  The first half featured several new songs, a cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” and the Zombies’ other two Top Ten hits, “Tell Her No” and “She’s Not There.”  After a short intermission, they came back and played Odessey and Oracle straight through, ending with “Time of the Season,” and then doing a reprise of “She’s Not There” for the encore.  For a bunch of old British guys in a band that broke up 48 years ago, they played quite well.  Blunstone’s distinctive voice, high and breathy, is pretty much the same as it ever was.  If you like the Zombies, or at least their three hit songs, I encourage you to give a listen to “Old and Wise,” a Blunstone track on the Alan Parsons Project album Eye in the Sky.

The Glass Menagerie (stage review)

The Movie Snob takes in a play.

The Glass Menagerie, Theatre Three.  This was my first time to see this Tennessee Williams play, which I gather was his first big success.  It was also my first trip to Dallas’s Theatre Three, a little theater in the Quadrangle area of Uptown.  I enjoyed it.  The play is a snapshot of just a few events in the life of the Wingfield family, as remembered years later by Tom Wingfield.  During the Depression, Tom and his sister Laura are young adults living with their mother Amanda in a shabby apartment in St. Louis.  Amanda’s husband fled the family long ago, and now Amanda reminisces continuously about her youth in the genteel South, when she had so many “gentleman callers” she could hardly keep track of them all.  Laura is a basket case, so pathologically shy that she does nothing but take long walks, listen to her father’s old records, and gaze adoringly on her collection of tiny glass animals.  Tom keeps the family afloat with a warehouse job that he hates, and he yearns to run away and be a poet.  The performances were good, but I got the feeling that Amanda was supposed to be a bit of a monster, and instead she got more than a couple of laughs with her histrionic carrying-on.  Allison Pistorius, whom I have seen in a couple of other local productions, was quite good as the fragile Laura.  It runs through August 23, so check it out if you’ve never seen it before.

Rifftrax: Sharknado 2

From The Movie Snob.

Rifftrax: Sharknado 2  (C).  The guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 are at it again.  This past Thursday, they did a live riffing show on Sharknado 2: The Second One, and it will be repeated this coming Thursday.  This time, sharknados (that is, tornadoes stuffed with sharks) are bearing down on New York City, and once again it is up to Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering, Sharknado) to save the day.  And it is up to Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett to make fun of the movie the whole way.  As I recall, their commentary on the original Sharknado was very funny, but something just seemed a little off this time around.  There were moments of hilarity here and there–many of which involved co-star Tara Reid (The Big Lebowski) and her fondness for plastic surgery–but overall, it was a pretty mediocre outing for the Rifftrax trio.  I hate to say it, but I recommend skipping this one and waiting for the next installment of Rifftrax live in October — some sort of rock and roll and kung fu movie called Miami Connection.

Sense and Sensibility (stage review)

A stage review from The Movie Snob.

Sense and Sensibility.  This is a new stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel by Kate Hamill, and it was my first experience with a Dallas Theater Center production.  It was excellent, so I urge you to see it before it closes next weekend.  It is the story of loving sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  They find themselves in reduced circumstances after their father dies unexpectedly, and since this is Austen, the plot naturally turns on whether they will find happy marriages despite their precarious position in society.  Sensible Elinor loves shy, stammering Edward Ferris, while passionate Marianne falls head over heels for the dashing but perhaps not entirely trustworthy Willoughby.  Fine performances all around.  I was surprised that the actors were not miked, but I was sitting in the fifth row and could hear everything fine.  I do wonder if the folks in the back could hear as well.  It makes me want to go back and rewatch Emma Thompson’s 1995 film version, and maybe even the cheesy remake From Prada to Nada (2011).

The Golden Apple (stage review)

New from The Movie Snob.

The Golden Apple  (B).  Blink and you’ll miss it.  This is the final weekend for Irving’s Lyric Stage’s production of The Golden Apple, a 1954 musical that received much critical acclaim at the time but has never been revived on Broadway.  I was attracted to it when I read that it was loosely based on The Iliad and The Odyssey.  I thought it was quite enjoyable, although perhaps not as good as I was hoping it would be.  In the early 1900s, Ulysses and his merry band of veterans return to the small Washington town of Angel’s Roost from fighting in the Spanish-American War.  But Ulysses’s reunion with his wife Penelope is short-lived when a traveling salesman named Paris absconds with Helen, wife of Sheriff Menelaus.  Ulysses rallies his comrades to bring Helen back from the big, wicked city of Rhododendron, and although they succeed in their quest, they are quickly seduced by the vices of the big city.  Will Ulysses ever return to faithful Penelope?  Good performances all around, but Penelope blows everyone else off the stage with her operatic power.  (Actress Kristen Lassiter is a two-time regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.)  It’s a little racy in spots, so I’d guess it would be about a PG-13 under the movie rating system.

The Baker’s Wife (stage review)

New from The Movie Snob.

The Baker’s Wife  (B-).  This was my first experience with Pfamily Arts in Plano–in fact, I had never heard of this venue up in Plano until a week or so ago.  Then I saw a notice in The Dallas Morning News that this 1976 musical “may be one of the best musicals that never played on Broadway,” and that music and lyrics were by Stephen Schwartz, the composer behind Wicked.  So I made plans to go.  But then shortly before showtime I saw a review at TheaterJones.com that praised the production and performances but blasted the musical itself.  But lowered expectations can be a good thing, and I enjoyed it well enough.  A middle-aged baker moves into a small French village with his beautiful and much younger wife Genevieve, which sets the whole village talking.  Genevieve doesn’t seem too much in love with her husband, and a handsome young buck sets his sights on stealing her away.  And then he succeeds!  Scandal!  The baker quits baking, and the villagers try to find Genevieve and persuade her to go back to her husband.  The story is a little weak; I don’t think it was made clear why Genevieve married the baker in the first place, nor does her big number is which she explains why she decides to leave the younger guy really do much explainin’.  And, as TheaterJones points out, the village men are generally irritating or downright nasty.  But hey, not every musical can be Man of La Mancha, right?  The performances and set design were good, and the gal who played Genevieve kind of looked like Kate Beckinsale (Total Recall).  I didn’t regret seeing it.

Venus in Fur (stage review)

A stage review from The Movie Snob.

Venus in Fur.  This was my first trip out to Circle Theatre in downtown Fort Worth, just a couple of blocks from Sundance Square.  The Dallas Morning News gave this 2010 play by David Ives a thumbs up a few weeks ago, mentioning that the actor and actress involved won last year’s local critics’ best-acting awards for their performances in The Taming of the Shrew.  Well, this play isn’t exactly Shakespeare.  Chris Hury plays Thomas, a playwright who is at his wits’ end because a full day of auditions has yielded no actress worthy to play the lead in his new play, Venus in Fur.  He’s about to go home when in bustles an actress named Vanda (Allison Pistorius), hugely late and tossing off excuses and profanities in a way that doesn’t suggest huge reservoirs of intelligence.  She begs him to give her a chance and read some lines with her, and he relents.  Suddenly, Vanda is a different person—commanding, barely needing the script, and easily slipping into and out of the European accent the play calls for.  The rest of the show is I guess what you would call a “psychosexual drama” (with some humorous moments) as the parties act out various scenes in Thomas’s play and Vanda messes with Thomas’s head in between those scenes.  It’s much racier than I was expecting.  Vanda spends most of the 95-minute run time in a small, black-leather outfit, and the play-within-a-play is apparently based on the 19th century novella Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch—whose name and works give us the word masochism.  The play-within-a-play is pretty tedious stuff—pretentious pseudo-philosophical pornography, I would call it—but the scenes in which Thomas and Vanda interact directly are sort of interesting.  And I will say that the actors are quite good and really give it their all.  On the whole, I can’t recommend this one, but I will keep my eye on Circle Theatre for future productions (especially one coming this fall: Fellowship! The Musical Parody of The Fellowship of the Ring).

Nine (stage review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

Nine, presented by Lyric Stage.  This musical’s short three-performance run is already over, so this review is more of a plug for Irving’s Lyric Stage, which bills itself as “Dallas County’s Locally Produced, Professional Music Theatre.”  It really is a fabulous resource if you like live musicals.  Here are several reasons to check them out:

1.  The performances are always good, both the singing and the acting.

2.  The theaters at the Irving Art Center are very nice, although I don’t recommend the side-balcony seats in the large theater.

3.  They do rarely produced musicals that you may have never heard of before, and they occasionally do world premiers of brand new musicals.

4.  Their big focus of late is producing some of the better-known musicals with their original full orchestrations, which are apparently seldom used.

For Nine, the Lyric Stage made use of a new performing-arts venue, the Dallas City Performance Hall in downtown Dallas.  It is a very nice facility, with a theater probably roughly the same size as the larger theater at the Irving Art Center.  The singing and costumes were excellent, even better than usual.  The musical itself is not particularly a favorite of mine; I saw the 2009 movie version and thought it only fair despite the presence of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Day-Lewis.  But I enjoyed the performances and the theater, and I look forward to seeing many more Lyric Stage productions.

John Fogerty (concert review)

A concert review from The Movie Snob.

John Fogerty (Oct. 18, 2013, at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie, Texas).  How often do you get to see a rock and roll legend, much less one who performed at Woodstock?  I heard that Fogerty was coming to Dallas only last weekend, and I did not hesitate long before shelling out my $65 for a ticket.  (For a seat with a slightly obstructed view, as it turned out.  But three giant screens over the stage made that a minor annoyance.)  I was only four when Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up, but like every American over a certain age I’m reasonably familiar with CCR’s hits and a few of Fogerty’s solo efforts.  Fogerty, who is 68, put on a good show (with no opening act).  He played quite a few songs I wasn’t familiar with, but even they were reasonably enjoyable.  And he played plenty of songs I did know.  Off the top of my head, he played:

Hey Tonight
Born on the Bayou
Good Golly Miss Molly
Who’ll Stop the Rain
Green River
Lodi
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Fortunate Son
Down on the Corner
Looking out My Back Door
Long As I Can See the Light
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Pretty Woman
Midnight Special
Centerfield
The Old Man Down the Road
Bad Moon Rising
Proud Mary

I don’t remember much about the songs I didn’t recognize, although one called Mystic Highway was pretty nice.  Fogerty played a solid two-hour set, and his voice is still good.  He told a few interesting anecdotes, including a story about CCR’s performance at Woodstock.  CCR got the 9:30pm slot on Saturday night, right after the Grateful Dead, but the lack of organization, technical problems, and, well, the Grateful Dead kept CCR from taking the stage until about 2:30 in the morning, when most attendees were asleep.

The show was much louder than I had hoped it would be, but I went prepared with earplugs.  I noticed the middle-aged fellow in front of me put his fingers in his ears for the first few songs, and then an usher came by with a big cup full of earplugs and gave him a couple.  In sum, it was good show, and I was glad I went.  Go see him if you get the chance — but take some ear protection!

Xanadu (stage review)

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Xanadu.  Your time is almost up if you want to catch this show at Addison’s Watertower Theatre.  I believe the last performance is tomorrow afternoon.  Anyway, I saw it last night and thought it was a lot of fun.  Apparently it is based on a fairly ridiculous Olivia Newton-John movie that I have never seen.  The stage version plays it strictly for laughs.  The Greek muses descend on Venice Beach, California in 1980, and head muse Clio decides to lavish inspiration on a brain-dead mural artist named Sonny Malone.  Meanwhile, two of Clio’s sister muses become envious of Clio’s status as favored daughter of Zeus and plot to make her fall in love with Sonny–a big no-no under Zeus’s decree.  It’s pretty silly–Clio spends much of the show in roller skates and leg warmers–but quite entertaining.  The songs are enjoyable and include at least a couple of ELO’s hits, “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic.”  Check it out–if tickets are still available!

Hate Mail (stage review)

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Hate Mail, a play by Bill Corbett and Kira Obolensky.  (Playing August 2 – 17 at Dallas’s Bath House Cultural Center.)  I like going to musicals, but I almost never go to regular old plays.  But the Dallas Morning News gave this one a favorable write-up, and the price was not too high, so I gave it a try.  It’s a two-person romantic comedy in which we never see the two characters converse–the entire story is conveyed through their reading their written communications aloud to the audience.  (It’s a little anachronistic in that most of their communications are actual letters, and I don’t think any of them were text messages.)  The guy is a stuffy rich jerk from the Midwest, and the gal is a pretentious would-be artist in NYC, and at first their correspondence is all about his demanding a refund for a broken snow globe he bought from a cheap tourist trap, but things turn zany pretty fast.  It’s a little vulgar in places, and pretentious artist-types make a pretty easy target, but I still thought it was pretty funny.  I was probably predisposed to like it because co-author Bill Corbett is a veteran of my beloved Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I think I would have liked it regardless.  If you’re in Dallas, check it out and support the local art scene.

She Loves Me (stage review)

From the desk of The Movie Snob.

She Loves Me.  This was my first trip to Stage West, a theater over in a rough, industrial neighborhood on the south side of I-30 in Fort Worth.  It reminded me of the little productions that Irving’s Lyric Stage used to do—a little bitty theater with just six rows of seats.  I caught today’s matinee of this old-fashioned 1963 musical, which is based on the same original source material as the movie You’ve Got Mail.  In this version, which is apparently set in Hungary, Georg Nowak and Amalia Balash are working in a perfume shop, where they intensely get on each other’s nerves.  But unbeknownst to each other, they have been writing anonymous love letters to each other through a lonely hearts club, and the date for them to meet “for the first time” is approaching.  Both the leads do a good job and are decent singers; Alison Hodgson, who plays Amalia, looks like a young Naomi Watts.  The show runs through December 9, and I recommend it if you like musical comedy.  But it’s definitely not rated G; I’d probably say it’s really more like PG-13, based especially on a pivotal scene in a café where a lot of odd and sexually charged behavior goes on in the background.  Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of musicals.

The Most Happy Fella (stage review)

New from The Movie Snob.

The Most Happy Fella, by Irving Lyric Stage.  Well, you have missed the two-week run of this musical, and personally I don’t think you have suffered a great loss.  To be sure, the Lyric Stage did its usual phenomenal job of staging the show.  The actors were splendid, and the leads had great singing voices.  The sets and orchestra were better than good.  But the show itself, a 1956 piece by Frank Loesser, just didn’t work for my companion or me.  The plot is weak.  Antonio Esposito is a successful vineyard owner in Napa Valley.  No longer young, Tony is smitten with a waitress that he sees while in San Francisco, and he leaves her a love note with an expensive tie pin as a tip.  He and “Rosabella” (as he dubs her, not knowing her real name) correspond for a while, then agree to exchange photographs.  But Tony chickens out and instead sends Rosabella a photo of Joe, Tony’s handsome foreman.  Rosabella agrees to be Tony’s mail-order bride.  At the end of Act One, Rosabella finally travels to the vineyard for her wedding and discovers Tony’s deception, while simultaneously Tony is gravely injured in an auto accident.  Justifiably furious, Rosabella considers leaving, but then decides to go ahead and marry the real Tony while he is at death’s door—and then falls into Joe’s arms when no one else is around!  In Acts Two and Three (it’s a three-hour show), Rosabella falls in love with Tony, but a certain burgeoning consequence of her indiscretion with Joe threatens her future with Tony.  And there’s a subplot involving a more straightforward romance between Rosabella’s friend Clio and a farmhand named Herman.  Anyhoo, the main plot just doesn’t work.  Joe virtually disappears after Act One, and Rosabella takes way too much grief for her indiscretion as compared to Tony, who gets virtually no grief for the fraud he perpetrated on Rosabella.  Given the plot flaws, I am not surprised this is a little-seen musical.  But again, the Lyric Stage did its usual excellent, professional job putting it on.

Dracula (stage review)

The Borg Queen sends us this ballet review.

Dracula – A
 
I have always wanted to see a professional ballet (other than The Nutcracker) and was thrilled to see this production of “Dracula” by the Texas Ballet Theater at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, Texas.  I was not disappointed.  The dancing was exquisite, with step choreographed and danced beautifully.  The costumes were beautiful, and I especially enjoyed the costuming of Dracula’s numerous wives, who seemed to float across the stage like ghosts.  The set was also wonderful and detailed.  The music was appropriately ominous and fit the piece really well.  Of course, Bass Hall is a beautiful theater and just being there feels like a treat in itself.  My only complaint would be that the music seemed a bit low, as they used a recording rather than a live orchestra to save costs.  Having a live orchestra would have added to the power of the music.  Otherwise, this was a wonderful production and I hope I get to see another Texas Ballet Theater production soon!