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The curious incident of theater with a side of shopping in NYC

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

 

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I spent four days in New York last week seeing four shows during arguable one of the biggest weeks in Pittsburgh theater, so I have a ton of catching up to do, including "Smart Blonde" at City Theatre tonight, with the Public's "L'Hotel" and barebones' "Streetcar" still to come.

My colleague Maria Sciullo and my son Josh Axelrod spread out our viewing a bit, so here are just a few of the impressions of the week before Thanksgiving in New York.

DAY 1

2014SideShowMarqueeMaria and I opened with with the hauntingly beautiful revival of "Side Show," a retooled version of the original that had a relatively short first run in 1997-98. Reviews have been justifiably positive for this story of the real-life conjoined twins and vaudeville stars Daisy and Violet Hilton, but ticket sales slipped this past week, possibly as holiday tourism ratcheted up the family-friendly shows.

While we were at "Side Show" on Nov. 20, Josh and a friend took in "Cabaret" with Emma Stone making her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles. Here's what he had to say about the movie star onstage with Alan Cumming in his reprise of his career-defining role as the emcee.

On a New York trip that was to include four plays and a Jimmy Fallon taping, I knew going in that the highlight would be seeing "Cabaret" at Studio 54.

It wasn't because of the musical itself or the glowing reviews surrounding this revival. It was because Emma Stone was playing the promiscuous role of Sally Bowles. The prospect of seeing Stone clad in Kit Kat Klub-appropriate attire was exciting enough, but I also wanted to see if she could sing as well as she can act. My verdict: There seems to be nothing she can't do.

Anyone who has seen "Birdman" knows that Ms. Stone is more than just a comedienne now. She's a versatile actress who may be nominated for an Oscar this year for her supporting role as Michael Keaton's addict daughter. We all know she can be bring the comedy in broad fare like "Easy A" and "Superbad" or the emotional chemistry as Gwen Stacy in the "Spider-Man" movies. But the lady also happens to have a serious set of pipes.

She doesn't bring the roof down like I'm sure Liza Minnelli did in her time as Sally Bowles, but she destroyed "Cabaret," which required her to show her emotional range while also belting out the musical's showstopper. When she wasn't singing, she was as sultry as Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge." It's no wonder Clifford Bradshaw (Bill Heck) fell in love with her so easily.

Okay, enough gushing about Emma Stone. She lived up to expectations beautifully, but the rest of the show was just as riveting. I didn't know that much about the music or story of "Cabaret," but it's a fascinating show. It reminded me of "Pippin" in its structure, with an Emcee (Alan Cumming) holding the show together while the characters struggle to maintain normalcy during the rise of the Nazis in Berlin. It's funny, sexy and incredibly dark at times.

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"The Voice" puts live spotlight on Pittsburgh's Chris Jamison

Written by Maria Sciullo on .

 

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Chris Jamison was performing live on NBC's "The Voice" Monday night, in front of a national audience of 11.36 million. And he was singing a song ("Don't," by Ed Sheeran) that was both up-tempo and wordy.
"But when I walked on stage at the beginning, it kind of pumped me up. I was just so excited, and I will never forget the feeling," said Jamison, a college junior from Ross Township.
"I was actually more nervous for the other [taped] part of the competition. I felt like I had to unleash something I had been holding in for awhile."
It left him literally breathless, at one point hustling to catch up on the words but covering nicely with a little whoop.
"I wanted people to know I was enjoying the song."
He and his Team Adam Levine mates get to watch two other teams sing tonight, then it's the big reveal program at 8 p.m. Wednesday. This week's shows were the first to involve audience voting, and the roster of 20 singers will be pared to 12 (eight chosen by viewers, four by coaches).
"Now that I've had the experience of feeling [the rush of live TV], I want to make that top 12," Jamison said.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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'Walking Dead' actor sets sights on Halloween as Steelers' Mike Tomlin

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

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Chad Coleman has played Cutty on HBO's "The Wire" and now has his hands full as survivor Tyreese on "The Walking Dead." But this Halloween, he's opting for an outwardly easy transition: Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, he told EW's Popwatch. Check out the EW video at the 2:30 mark and hear who the actor would like to see Tomlin dress up as for trick-or-treat day.

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Marvel's Phase 3 plan includes Black Panther, Captain Marvel, 2-part Avengers Infinity War

Written by Sharon Eberson on .

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So much news out of Marvel today, Twitter could barely contain it. Marvel Entertainment chief Kevin Feige announced the brand's next-phase movie plans and introduced Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. And "Guardians of the Galaxy" is a long way away ...

Here's the slate of films and dates announced today, with some tidbits from the Twitter-verse:

May 1, 2015: "Avengers: Age of Ultron"

July 17, 2015: "Ant-Man"

May 6, 2016: "Captain America: Civil War" (originally announced with the subtitle "Serpent Society"; we will meet Black Panther here)

Nov. 4, 2016: "Doctor Strange" (no announcement of who will play the title character; Benedict Cumberbatch was handed the role by the rumor mill yesterday)

May 5, 2017: "Guardians of the Galaxy 2"

July 28, 2017: "Thor: Ragnarok" (Loki will be back!)

Nov. 3, 2017: "Black Panther"

May 4, 2018 and May 3, 2019: "Avengers: Infinity War Parts I and II"

July 6, 2018: "Captain Marvel" (no word on who will play Carol Danvers)

Nov. 2, 2018: "Inhumans"

Marvel's not-so-secret Marvel Event -- if you were anywhere near Twitter at 2 p.m. today, you couldn't miss the trending #marvelevent hashtag (or as one tweeter called it, marv elephant) -- was swelling with Spider-Man crossover speculation and "Why no Black Widow standalone film?", but neither is happening as of now. Feige also said a script for "The Runaways" exists, "but we can't make 'em all."

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OK Go ups the music video ante with 'I Won't Let You Down'

Written by Maria Sciullo on .

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When OK Go played Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago, front man Damian Kulash mentioned the group had been in Japan, filming a music video.

Heavens to Busby Berkeley, this is no ordinary film. Even by OK Go's insanely creative standards (the Rube Goldberg 'This Too Shall Pass,' puppy dogs in 'White Knuckles,' 'optical illusions for 'The Writing's On the Wall'), the debut of 'I Won't Let You Down' defies belief.

In what appears to be one seamless shot (camera drone?), the guys start out riding motorized unicycles inside of a building. They zip outside, where they're suddenly part of an elaborate choreography involving schoolgirls with umbrellas.

The end is a showstopper: what appears to be hundreds of people -- including OK Go, still on their cycles -- forming a human LED ticker. It's all shot from high above, flashing "lights" of red and green. 

OKGO2The song is from OK Go's new album, "Hungry Ghosts," which dropped mere hours after the band's Mr. Small's concert. Creative director is Morihiro Harano, although given their past inventions, one can imagine Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka and Andy Ross must have spent some happy hours storyboarding the whole thing out on the floor with Legos.

Left: Damian Kulash amid streaming confetti at Mr. Smalls in Millvale.

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