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Archive for the ‘State Theatre’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 26, 2019] MST3K Live

I didn’t realize it was exactly one year ago that I went to the previous MST3K Live experience.  How funny.

I have enjoyed both of the two previous MST3K Live shows quite a bit.  So when it was announced that they were going to do it again and this time it was going to be in New Brunswick instead of Glenside, PA, I got tickets right away (and wound up in the third row).  I only wish I had picked the other side of the stage, because Joel and the bots did their movie watching from over there.

I have been very lucky to have gotten two movies each time I’ve seen the performance.  It seem like a lot of locations get only one movie.  I’m not sure why I’ve been so fortunate.  (And State Theatre offered a discount if you bought seats for both movies!).

Last time the riffing was done by Joel Hodgson and Jonah Ray as well as many of the actors from the show.

This time things were very different.

Jonah Ray was not there.  Nor was Rebecca Hanson as Synthia Forrester.  And of course, no Felicia Day nor Patton Oswalt (not even on video).

But the big announcement was that this was going to be Joel Hodgson’s last MST3K Live tour.  I don’t know if that means there will be more, or if this is the end of them entirely. (more…)

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[ATTENDED:November 13, 2017] Regina Spektor

I have really enjoyed a lot of Regina Spektor’s music.  I have never seen her play, so this show at the nearby State Theatre seemed like a great opportunity.  I don’t know what she normally tours like, but this show was advertised as just her, playing solo.  And that was fine with me.

She came out on stage to thunderous applause and whispered “thanks” into the microphone.  She then proceeded to sings songs and drink water (a lot of) water.  Turns out that she had bronchitis.  And amazingly, she sounded freaking terrific.  Her voice was outstanding (and her piano playing was pretty fab as well).

The show was listed as being an hour and forty-five minutes and in that time she told stories, played different instruments and sang twenty-five songs.

It turns out that I really love the middle stuff (her fifth and sixth albums).  I don’t know her really early stuff and I somehow missed the new album.  So when I heard that this tour was going to be a lot of old stuff and rarities, I figured that I wasn’t going to know much, but I’d still enjoy it.  Sarah said she actually didn’t know any of the songs (but she loved her voice).  I knew about six songs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2017] Shaolin Warriors

When I first saw this listing in the State Theatre calendar, I knew I had to get tickets for the four of us.   I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that it would be different from the acrobats, and yet have that same inspiration behind it.  I sort of imagined simple displays of strength, focus and cool Shaolin spirituality.

I did not expect that there would be a “story.”  And indeed there was one.  We follow two children as they make their way into the Shaolin temple and grow and develop into Shaolin adults.

The only compliant I have is that the program notes state this: “Shaolin Warriors, highly acclaimed as “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” live on stage, is definitely a must-see for family audiences and martial arts lovers alike.”  By invoking Crouching Tiger, it suddenly set my expectations way too high. That film is mind-blowing, a visually stunning production.  And this production is nothing like that.  Rather, they could have described it as a Jackie Chan film come to life, and that would be more accurate (and still impressive). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 24, 2017] Pippin

Pippin has been Sarah’s favorite musical for years.  And as a special treat, she is guest co-authoring this post with me.  I have highlighted her part in a Pippin-inspired purple.

She has seen it once before in a decent sized production.  And we saw it together at a community theater version.  Strangely, I don’t remember much about that production (I was more fascinated by the building).  Anyhow, this touring production of Pippin is the newly redesigned version.

As I said I don’t remember all that much about the previous version, but I can tell you it was nothing like this one.  This new version was utterly spectacular, with an emphasis on spectacle!

SD: You know how the books from your childhood or the movies you watched over and over as a teenager are the ones you know by heart? Pippin is like that for me. My mom loved this musical and I grew up listening to the soundtrack (Original Broadway cast recording) over and over again. I know every bit of the album (and when I grew up and got a dog, I named him Pippin.) The thing about knowing a show by the soundtrack and not the performance is that you might make up what some of the plot is. I remember being surprised at the previous performances I’ve been to (one very good, one, as Paul said, not so great community theater) to find out what the songs really meant in context!  Anyway, the songs and the show are special to me and I couldn’t wait to see this. 

The story of the musical is fairly simple.

Pippin is the son of King Charlemagne (that much is true, but the rest is totally made up).  Pippin has just come back from college, but he is full of ennui.  He knows that he is an extraordinary person (he even sings about it), and is certain that there has to be something that will fulfill him.   Pippin wants to impress his father so he insists that he join his father and step son in fighting the Visigoths.  Charles reluctantly agrees but Pippin finds it less than satisfying.  From there he runs to his grandmother who tells him to enjoy the physical pleasures in life–which he does!  But that proves empty as well.  Finally seeing how much of  tyrant his father is he decides to fight tyranny and take over as King. But he finds that he has to resort to tyranny as well and asks for a do-over.

What’s left?  Art?  No.  Religion?  No.  No No No.  All that is left is despair.  While lying in the road, Catherine finds him.  She is a widow with a son and she tends to him.  He is reluctant, but eventually comes around to her care.  He spends a year with her, fixing the house, tending the farm, doing very ordinary things.  But he is extraordinary!  He can’t live a life like that.  How can he make his life (or death) special?

Fairly straightforward, right?  Well, this production takes this story and tweaks it in an amazing way. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 11, 2017] Cirque Éloize: Saloon

salooonI was pretty excited to see that Cirque Éloize was coming back with an all new show.  Their previous show Cirkopolis was phenomenal–wonderfully constructed and very cool to look at.  This show was very different, both in theme and production, but it was still amazing.

Indeed, I had mistakenly believed that this production was by Cirque Alphonse (another troupe from Montreal), who did a lumberjack-themed show last year.  But no, it was from the folks who did CirkopolisCirkopolis proved to be so different from Saloon, that it’s even more impressive that the same company created both shows.

This show was designed to be set in an old timey-salooon.  And while most Cirques perform the same basic routines, it was really fun to see how they were able to modify them for this new setting and “story.”  I also loved that they were all dressed like the old west–with chaps, and suspenders and hats–the kind of clothes that you really never see people performing this kind of material in (although I’m sure there must have been leotards underneath, right?). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 8, 2016] Blue Öyster Cult

2016-12-08-21-26-13I saw a whole bunch of concerts this year. I didn’t expect to end my concert year with Blue Öyster Cult.  But, I enjoyed them when I saw them last, and when I saw they were playing at the State Theater in New Brunswick (and I was able to score a 4th row seat) I decided to see them again.

I didn’t realize that Blue Öyster Cult was also the first band I saw this year (back in January).  So, it was a year bookended with BÖC.

While I enjoyed the previous show, I thought it seemed like the guys were getting a little creaky (understandable since they are in their late 60s).  But they seemed much more “on” during this show.  Eric Bloom was chatty and fun, his voice sounded great and he seemed a lot more energetic than last time.  And that made the show much more fun.  As did sitting really close–I was able to actually see the BÖC on his guitar. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 8, 2016] Jefferson Starship

2016-12-08-20-07-51I had no interest in seeing Jefferson Starship, but they were opening for Blue Oyster Cult and, heck I love White Rabbit, so why not check them out.

This incarnation of Jefferson Starship is pretty hilarious because the only person in the band who was in the band when they were Jefferson Starship is guitarist David Freiberg (vocals, guitar) (almost–the drummer has a tenure there too, see below).  It’s particularly amusing because Freiberg was in Jefferson Airplane for their final tour, and then they broke up.  When Jefferson Starship began a couple years later, he was a part of the band until they went on hiatus in 1985.  But when Paul Kantner reunited the band in 1993, Freiberg wasn’t included (apparently because Freiberg didn’t leave immediately when Starship formed, like Kantner did).  They made up in 2006 and Freiberg and Kantner had been touring as Jefferson Starship.  Kantner died earlier this year, so Freiberg is the only person connected with the original band left.

Interestingly, he left when Jefferson Starship became Starship, (but not as quickly as Kantner) because he didn’t like the direction the band was going (and Grace Slick considered him “dead weight”).  So he didn’t do “We Built This City.”  However, Donny Baldwin, the drummer at our show played with Jefferson Starship for two years (when Freiberg was there, too) in the 1980s and moved on to Starship and DID play on “We Built This City.”  When they reunited, they had a different drummer, but Baldwin came back in 2008.  So, when they play “We Built This City,” and they do, the drummer is the only one who was responsible for it in the first place.  Crazy.

Incidentally, Freiberg more or less left because of “We Built This City.”  According to Wikipedia: He became frustrated with the sessions because all the keyboard work in the studio was being done by Peter Wolf (lead singer of the J. Giels Band who had played on the sessions for Nuclear Furniture and briefly joined the band on the road for the follow-up tour) and keyboards were the instrument Freiberg was supposed to be playing.  He left the band and the album (with “We Built This City” which was written by written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert, and Peter Wolf) was finished with the five remaining members.

2016-12-08-20-23-29How’s that for a convoluted history. (more…)

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