GYNX the Play the Review

GYNXTheTeam

Last week, Metamaiden and I traveled to Denver to see the new Disney musical adaptation of the animated movie Frozen. It was, shall we say, a less than completely positive experience. But, I’ve written thousands of words about that already. In my last post about it, I wrote that I was going to support a feminist off-Broadway play to offset my inadvertent support of what Disney had done to Frozen. GYNX is that play.

Alicen Grey, playwright and producer of GYNX, saw my post, and offered us a recording of their opening night performance. So, Metamaiden and I sat down in Albuquerque on the afternoon of Sunday, 8/27/17, and watched this radical feminist theatre revelation while the final performance of its current run was happening in NYC. It was playing at the Hudson Guild Theater as part of the 2017 NY Summerfest. GYNX is also a Semi-Finalist in the MultiStages 2017 New Works Contest, and it’s not hard to see why.

GYNX was everything I hoped it would be, and more. I felt like Alicen had lived my life, and was seeking my revenge. The play is powerful, haunting and cathartic all at once. It’s impossible to be unaffected by it. It ends with a question that you’ll think about for a long time, if you aren’t already thinking about it.

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Frozen the Musical vs Radical Feminist Theatre

I thought I was done writing about the Frozen live musical adaptation, but I guess I’m not. The thing is, both Metamaiden and I aren’t done thinking about it. The new song Monster, written by Oscar, h*ell, EGOT-winning songwriters, is stuck in our heads, telling us over and over that being a powerful woman is dangerous, that we should either leave and go live in solitude or, even better, kill ourselves, so that we don’t destroy our country and everything we hold dear.

And that’s only the beginning. I, personally, like most adult women, am a sexual assault survivor, which I have rarely, if ever, talked about. (Probably also like most women.) The scene where Kristoff rips Anna’s dress off and forcefully throws it off stage, while telling her how stupid she is, was very triggering for me, especially after seeing it twice.*

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Frozen the Musical in Denver 8/19/17: Analysis and Comparison to 8/17/17

FrozenPgm&Stage8:19:17

 

It was great to see Frozen a second time time on Saturday night, the production’s third performance. The show had already made changes since Thursday night. Most noticeably, the lighting has been upgraded, which makes everything look more polished, and helps the ice effects. I still feel like they come up short in several places, but the stronger lighting added depth and sparkle that wasn’t there on Thursday. The improved lighting makes the whole production feel much more like it’s ready for Broadway instead of  community theatre.

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Frozen the Musical in Denver: Full Review and Analysis of 8/17/17

FrozenCastCuteFaces

This review is based on the world premiere opening night performance, 8/17/17. There are MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD. I go into detail about many aspects of the show. I also, as usual, share my opinions and theories. Also, as usual, I call it as I see it. If you can’t handle honest opinions, this isn’t the site for you.


There’s a lot to love about the live version of Frozen, most especially the cast. But my conclusion is that they needed Julie Taymor, the uber talented director who brought The Lion King to the stage, to midwife this show, as well. This show needed to be a spectacle show that focussed on the two sisters’ relationship and journeys to full adulthood, and on Elsa’s ice creations, much as The Lion King manages to both focus on Simba’s relationships and coming of age story, and the pageantry of the costumes and props, without the spectacle overwhelming the characters or story.

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Frozen the Musical in Denver: More Youtube Videos

FrozenCostume1stLook

Here is the first look at the costumes for the four main characters in Frozen the Musical, reports about the show from the local Denver CBS news station, and the fourth video in DCPA’s video series, an interview with choreographer Rob Ashford.

We walked between Greg Moody, the Denver CBS TV critic, and the merch stand, as he was filming the report, when we left the theatre. We’re not in the video, though, the camera was pointed at Greg and the Frozen media backdrop. I’m surprised he didn’t show or mention the many, many adorable little girls who were dressed up, either in their Elsa dresses or their own best dresses. There were some great fashion statements going on.

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Frozen the Musical Denver Opening Night: First Impressions

FrozenStageSnow
Waiting for the snow show to start.

This should be obvious, but just in case, there are spoilers for the Broadway-bound Frozen stage musical ahead.

Just a few quick thoughts tonight, and some photos. Not of the show itself, of course. Disney would take this site down faster than I can type this sentence. Same for audio, only they’d threaten me even more. There should be professional photos available now that the previews have started, so I’ll post those when I find them.

The show was, as advertised, longer than the movie, with new songs and more depth added to some of the characters. Things were changed from the movie, such as the order of some events and details of how some things happen, but the story is still largely the same. The changes had mixed success, in my opinion.

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Frozen the Broadway Musical in Denver: New Youtube Interviews Plus the Official Trailer

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It’s finally here! The Frozen Broadway Musical makes its preBroadway debut in Denver on 8/17 at the Buell Theatre in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. To celebrate, the theatre is releasing a series of interviews with the cast and creatives. I’ve posted the first three, and will add more as they post them.

It’s not the dream cast that I came up with, but it looks like it’ll be amazing! We’ll be there this weekend, and will post more from Denver. Time to go pack!

 

 

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Dear Evan Hansen Rants: Why Does Evan Lie? (part 1)

Evan and the Murphys - For Forever

In the musical Dear Evan Hansen, the title character, a depressed, anxious, socially awkward teenage boy named Evan, spends much of the show living a lie. Evan convinces the family of a classmate who took his own life that Evan and the other boy, Connor, were friends, even though they barely knew each other when Connor was alive.

Many viewers seem to think that Evan is selfish and manipulative, and that he purposefully lies to Connor’s family, the Murphys, and others in order to take advantage of everyone else and use them for his own purposes. I completely disagree with that interpretation. I think that the show makes it clear to us that Evan is not the user in the show – the users are the people who push him into going with the falsehood that the Murphys assumed to be true. Evan’s fellow students Jared and Alana, and Conner’s parents Larry and Cynthia, whether intentionally or unintentionally, guilted, pressured, and scared Evan into continuing the lie.

At a certain point, Evan did fall into perpetuating the lie himself, and become a more confident participant, but he never initiated any of it. And – most importantly – when going along with the lie will help the Murphys find comfort, Evan does. When it will only harm them further, he tells them the truth. That’s how we really know what his true motivations were, even regardless of how active a participant he was in the lie: he lies to help the Murphys; then he tells the truth to help the Murphys.

Before we go any further, let’s establish some facts about the show, and some of my opinions that have bearing on the conclusions I’ll be drawing here.

  • Alana is a flat-out narcissist (Post going deeper into my thoughts on her coming soon), while Jared is an everyday bully. Neither value the truth, only furthering their own interests. The difference between them is that Alana is ambitious about it and takes control of situations while Jared just takes whatever opportunity is in front of him in the moment.
  • Larry and Cynthia are grieving parents who don’t want to believe that the note that they think is all they have left of their son is really some stranger’s creation, and don’t let Evan tell them otherwise. They dismiss him as being in shock. Evan does tell the truth in the beginning. They don’t want to hear it.
  • Zoe, on the other hand, is very doubtful of the lies Evan tells and, rather than insisting to him that the truth is false, she points out all the flaws in his accounts, like she’s searching for falsehoods in it. Or has an analytical mind that sees straight to the truth, which is my belief.
  • Evan has a natural tendency to try to make people feel better. He does this both because he’s a genuinely good person and because he’s so uncomfortable with social situations that he tries to keep everyone around him from getting upset and putting more pressure on him than he already feels.

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Dear Evan Hansen Rants: Evan and His Mom

Evan and Heidi

Ooohkay, I have a lot of thoughts on this show, which is funny because I have a lot of issues with it but I also have a lot of meta about it. Who knows how many parts to this there will be. Whichever part comes first will have a hint of some other parts of my analysis, because no piece is complete without the rest, but I’d have to publish a novel to do it all at once. To start, here’s my analysis of one of the most crucial relationships in the show – Evan and his mom, Heidi.

When the world sees Evan’s “Dear Evan Hansen” note*, thinking it was Connor’s suicide note, they’re horrified by how badly it implies Connor’s parents treated him. But those were Evan’s words. What does that say about Heidi? Heidi is the only one, besides the Murphys, who knows it was Evan. And it makes her realize how distant she’s been. She has the same reaction that the rest of the world had towards Connor’s family, but towards herself. As the “you are not alone” line from You Will Be Found plays after Alana shares the note, images of the letter and people’s reactions to it swirl around, and Heidi is briefly in the center of it, looking up at the images. We’re seeing her react to it, really seeing her son for the first time since his father left. She’s being confronted with how far she’s wandered from being the parent she’d intended to be, and how much that’s hurt Evan.

A person’s childhood and parenting shape who they are. Examining Evan’s mother and father, it’s clear how he ended up with the issues he has. Heidi is so exhausted and overextended from working hard just to keep herself and her son afloat and trying to get them a better life by going to school that she doesn’t have anything left for Evan emotionally. Understandably, she needs him to be okay so that she can focus on work and school. In many ways, he is her whole world. Everything she does, from spending so much time at work, to going to school, to looking for ways to get Evan into college, is for him. She is trying. When she hears about Connor’s suicide, she’s concerned about Evan’s reaction to it and tries to reach out to him. She asks him regularly if he still has enough pills and reminds him and encourages him to do the assignments his therapist gives him. She loves him dearly and is doing the best she can, and it’s not her fault that she’s only human and can’t be everything Evan needs.

That said, she also isn’t doing as well as she could. She hasn’t set aside a regular night, perhaps every Saturday or Sunday night, for them to have dinner together. Instead, as Evan points out, she randomly takes nights off without asking him or letting him know about it beforehand and expects him to drop everything and spend time with her.

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Amelie Comes to Broadway: New Videos

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Amélie begins previews on Broadway in a few weeks, on March 9, at the Walter Kerr Theater. Opening night is April 3rd. The cast, including Phillipa Soo as Amélie and Adam Chanler-Berat as Nino, has begun doing promo in anticipation of the premiere. On February 10th they presented a concert preview at the Cutting Room in NYC. Members of the cast performed songs from the show and talked to the press. We’ve collected a few videos to share with you.

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