Remember Their Names (FAME): Pasek & Paul

Pop Quiz: Who are these guys?

 

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If you answered Pasek and Paul, congratulations, you know how to read a blog post title! If you answered ‘I have no freaking clue’, may I introduce to you Benj Pasek (left) & Justin Paul, the musical duo who are about to have the best year of their lives. I’m 99.2% sure of it. Why? They’ve created enough buzz with two big projects that they could potentially be nominated for both Oscars and Tonys in the same year. NBD.

First off, these two are the lyricists behind the songs in La La Land, the movie that everyone is raving about, including me, who lit’rally cannot stop thinking about how great it was since seeing it last week. Second, they’re the creators behind Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway musical that everyone is raving about, including me, who has not seen it but lit’rally cannot stop playing the only two songs released from the soundtrack on loop.

So before these dudes blow up in 2017, here’s a timeline of their work so far, because with the way their careers are going, I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon.

2005 – Edges

Benj & Justin, both 31, met when they were freshmen at the University of Michigan, and their creative partnership began. Their sophomore year, they created a coming-of-age musical called Edges, which in the beginning era of Facebook (colleges ONLY!) and Mp3 file sharing, became a viral sensation amongst musical theater nerds everywhere. Here’s our boyfriend Aaron Tveit performing Along the Way from Edges a few years after the duo first composed the song cycle in college. Dreamy as he’s ever been.

2007 – Jonathan Larson Glory

Just one year after they graduated from UofM, they were the recipients of the Jonathan Larson grant, which is named after the late Rent composer and honors  musical theatre composers, lyricists and book writers. Given by the Jonathan Larson Foundation in conjunction with the American Theatre Wing (aka the org that’s responsible for the Tonys), Benj & Justin became the youngest people ever to receive the grant. And so far, the grant has paid off.

2010 – A Christmas Story

The musical adaptation of the beloved movie was Benj & Justin’s big musical break and landed them a number of firsts. After their were recruited to write the music and lyrics for the show after the original composer left, A Christmas Story became the first large-scale musical they’d ever written. When it premiered at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 2013, it became their first Broadway show. It marked their first nominations for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. It also marked their first Tony nominations, for Best Book and Best Musical. Who knew Ralphie could give this duo so much acclaim?

2012 – Dogfight

Every year, there are a couple shows Off-Broadway that folks in the theater community can’t stop raving about. In 2012, that show was Dogfight, a musical adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. It centered on a Marine who takes part in a “dogfight”, in which each dude adorably attempts to find the ugliest woman to take out on a date. The show won two Lucille Lortel Awards, the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, and earned a Drama League nomination. The show also started a collaboration between Benj & Justin and Stacey Mindich, who comissioned the two to write and compose the show, but she later became the lead producer of Dear Evan Hansen.

2013 – Smash

Go back into the part of your brain that forgot about season two of Smash, because Benj & Justin were recruited to use their fresh talents to write songs for the fake musical The Hit List, which had more of a contemporary musical feel to it, as opposed to the Marilyn Monroe/traditional musical Bombshell. Katharine McPhee first sang this song on the show (and her version is the only one available on the soundtrack), but Jeremy Jordan sang a bit of it in a later episode, and while both versions are fantastic, I hardly ever find fault when it comes to Jeremy and his singing capabilities. It’s one of the more memorable tracks from Smash, and that’s all in part to Benj & Justin’s genius. Later, NBC head honcho (and man responsible for all those live musicals) Bob Greenblatt was so impressed with the duo that he went on to become a co-producer of Dear Evan Hansen. Speaking of which…

2015 – Dear Evan Hansen

Like Dogfight before it, Dear Even Hansen got a shitload of acclaim during its Off-Broadway run earlier this year. Unlike Dogfight, DEH has gotten its shot on Broadway, and recently opened to even more acclaim. Starring Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt, he plays a high school student with social anxiety and his life turns upside down when his relationship to a classmate who commits suicide is misconstrued. Based on the reviews, it’s both heart-wrenching, funny, heartfelt and extremely relevant right down to its use of social media within the show. Benj & Justin collaborated with Hamilton orchestrator/arranger/musical director extraordinaire Alex Lacamoire, and in a full circle moment, the show is directed by Michael Greif, who directed the OG production of Rent. DEH has already won the dream duo an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Obie Award, and as previously mentioned, could be the one to watch come Tony Awards.

2016 – La La Land

Director Damien Chazelle and his college friend Justin Hurwitz had been working on La La Land for years – it was even in the works before Damien won acclaim for Whiplash – and Justin had composed the music for La La Land, but needed the perfect lyricists to fill in the gaps. Enter a similar duo, Benj & Justin who penned the words to the exquisite tracks in the movie. La La Land is a movie that is about music and artistry at its core, so the hiring of Benj & Justin wasn’t just a random hiring choice. Their work *becomes a character in its own right* in the film, and critics have noticed. It’s already been a big hit in the festival circuit, and the success continues to forge on with its recent Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globe noms. It probably won’t stop when it comes Oscars time, either. While I recommend watching the movie first then listening to the soundtrack (BECAUSE IT’S SO FREAKING GOOD), you can listen to the entire soundtrack here!

2017 and Beyond

So what’s next for these two? They’ll have to navigate through awards season past June’s Tony Awards, but they already have a couple high-profile projects in the works – they’ve written all the songs for Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum biopic, The Greatest Showman, and Disney also hired them to write new songs for the live-action remake of Snow White. Fun fact: Ben Platt’s dad is the producer of both La La Land and Snow White. #Fam. Something tells me Pasek & Paul are just at the very beginning and gearing up to join the ranks of Rodgers & Hammerstein – which is a very good place to start.

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She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Last week, history was made when the musical revival of She Loves Me became the first ever Broadway show to be live streamed on the Internet. Through BroadwayHD, fans from all over the world could tune in to watch Laura Benanti hit those high notes and Chuck from Chuck sing. Period. And if you missed it, you still have a couple more days to catch it on demand before it goes away on Thursday, July 7th, which is a few days before it closes in New York.

For $9.99 you can watch She Loves Me in the comfort of your own home, which is what I did the other day and let me tell you it was worth every PayPal penny. Sometimes classic musicals like this show aren’t as enjoyable to me (I just saw 42nd Street for the first time and it’s unsurprisingly (?) anti-feminist?). However, I am pleased to report that She Loves Me is a delightful musical that deserves all the acclaim it’s receiving. Is it the same as being in The Room Where It Happens™ and seeing Jane Krakowski to the splits IRL? Obviously not. Nothing can ever compare to live theatre, but this is the best alternative for folks like me who will never get the chance to see the show in its current production live.

So if you’re reading this before July 7th, I recommend taking a peak of what you’re in for then enjoy the show on BroadwayHD – this sounds like a sponsored post but *bible*, it’s not. If you’re reading this after the 7th, here’s some highlights of what you missed.

On The Verge of Being Catfished

She Loves Me is a 1963 musical based on the play Parfumerie by Hungarian playwright Miklós László – which is why the show takes place in Budapest. Surprisingly enough, it takes place in a Parfumerie where employees Georg and Amalia are constantly at odds. Separately, they are secretly part of a Lonely Hearts Club letter exchange, and they’ve each found love with an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknowst to them, they are in love with each other!

Does this seem like a Catfish waiting for to happen? Absolutely. Amalia doesn’t even know her romantic pen pal’s name. She lit’rally says, “I couldn’t love him better if I knew his name.” Come on. NEV?? WHERE YOU AT? If this wasn’t a musical made in 1963, I definitely would’ve thought Georg was going to be a 16-year-old insecure Reddit user whose Friday night prank turned spiraled out of control.

Also, if this plot sounds familiar it’s because You’ve Got Mail and the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner are both based on Parfumerie.

Let Me Borrow That Top

Every single item of clothing worn on stage was to die for. I love the classy era of 1930s fashion, and costume designer Jeff Mahshie did an outstanding job lit’rally from head to toe. The menswear was exquisite but it was all the women’s fashions that had me gagging.

Let Me Be Your Star

17-year-old Nicholas Barasch plays 17-year-old Arpad Laszlo, so it’s really a stretch for him. Arpad is a delivery boy who aims to be a clerk at the Parfumerie and Nick does a great job selling it. This kid is goin’ places, I tell ya.

The Set Design That Beat Hamilton

I am such a sucker for Art Deco, and this set design is so freaking dreamy. The show begins with the outside of the store, and it literally opens up to the inside of the Parfumerie, and that’s pretty much it. There are some other small set pieces that roll in, but the store is the main event. The inside of the shop is so intricate and somehow cozy – it brings you back to the time where you would have to go to a specialty store like this just to buy perfume. For you kids out there, it’s like if the perfume counter at Macy’s had its own store front. These days, the only stand-alone perfume stores are at the mall with a really bored guy trying to pedal gift sets of Britney Spears’ Curious.

Customers Are The Worst

“I’m an idiot. At least I’m an idiot with a job!” 

Amalia and Georg work with a fella named Ladislav Sipos, who is easily my favorite character. His big number is called Perspective, which is basically a lesson in customer service. The lesson being ‘The customer is always right, so shut up and be grateful you have a job’. It is amazing. He serves as Georg’s confidant and provides comic relief throughout the show and Michael McGrath is great in the role. The version of Perspective above is from the 1993 revival by Lee Wilkof, but you’ll get the picture.

Girl Power

Meanwhile, Jane Krakowski is also an employee of the shop, and besides the fact her main motivation is finding love with a man, her character of Ilona is a great representative of Girl Power. She has a thing with her charming co-worker Steven Kodaly, played by the equally charming and talented Gavin Creel. There’s an entire scene where he hits on her and gets her to go out with him and she goes into the splits, and when she finally agrees, he cancels their date in favor of a different date. Ilona is not having it and her song I Resolve is all about not letting a man do that to her ever again. In 1963, this number was probably more powerful than it is now, but it’s still a great example of trusting your “feminine intuition” and not letting a man take advantage of you and bring you down. Ilona eventually finds love and it turns into that Date Auction episode of Saved by the Bell where Lisa Turtle pretends to be a snobby intellectual to go out with the cute smart guy.

Plot Twist!

I don’t want to ruin the entire show for you if you plan on watching it, but just know that as predictable as some of these older musicals can be, I did NOT see one storyline coming, which involves the shop owner, Mr. Maraczek. It may involve another lesson on gun safety.

Zachary Levi y’all

Zachary Levi is the best! For real! Fun fact: this role was originally going to be played by Ted Mosby aka Josh Radnor, who played Georg in the 2011 concert verison of She Loves Me. He had to pull out, and Zach took his place, but turned out for the best because Zach does such an exceptional job at playing this charming, lovesick guy.

Laura Benanti y’all

She Loves Me is the perfect fit for Laura Benanti (who we previously professed our love for), since she is the ultimate soprano. Her voice suits Amalia’s to a tee, and she is so good she makes it look effortless.

Zachary Levi and Laura Benanti y’all

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, or basically any romantic comedy ever made, you can guess who She Loves Me ends. I lit’rally said outloud, ‘I’m into this” re: Amalia and Georg’s blossoming relationship, and I stand by that. These two need to do another musical ASAP.

Hamilton Explained: Cabinet Battle #1 (As Kanye Rant Tweets)

Welcome back to Hamilton Explained! It’s been a minute. When the Hamilton soundtrack was released all of these historical and musical references were jumping out at me and I wanted to start unpacking some of them here. I wasn’t counting on a whole community of people doing this very thing over at Genius. Instead of duplicating the efforts from Genius (check out their annotations if you haven’t!) here’s Cabinet Battle #1, explained through tweets from Kanye West’s epic January 27, 2016 rant against Wiz Khalifa.

WASHINGTON:
Ladies and gentlemen, you coulda been anywhere in the world tonight,
but you’re here with us in New York City.
Are you ready for a cabinet meeting???

The issue on the table: Secretary Hamilton’s plan to assume state debt
and establish a national bank.
Secretary Jefferson, you have the floor, sir

JEFFERSON:
‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
We fought for these ideals; we shouldn’t settle for less
These are wise words, enterprising men quote ‘em
Don’t act surprised, you guys, cuz I wrote ‘em

8th I made it so we could wear tight jeans

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

JEFFERSON & MADISON:
Oww

JEFFERSON:
But Hamilton forgets
His plan would have the government assume state’s debts
Now, place your bets as to who that benefits:
The very seat of government where Hamilton sits

HAMILTON:
Not true!

JEFFERSON:
Ooh, if the shoe fits, wear it
If New York’s in debt—
Why should Virginia bear it? Uh! Our debts are paid, I’m afraid

Don’t tax the South cuz we got it made in the shade

Oh niggas must think I’m not petty cause I’m the best that’s ever made music

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

In Virginia, we plant seeds in the ground
We create. You just wanna move our money around

14th Nigga it’s called creativity #youshouldtryitsomeday

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

This financial plan is an outrageous demand

Second, your first single was corny as fuck and most there after

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And it’s too many damn pages for any man to understand

3rd no one I know has ever listened to one of your albums all the way through

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Stand with me in the land of the free
And pray to God we never see Hamilton’s candidacy
Look, when Britain taxed our tea, we got frisky

7th I am your OG and I will be respected as such

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Imagine what gon’ happen when you try to tax our whisky

6th don’t ever come out the side of your neck at me

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Thank you, Secretary Jefferson. Secretary Hamilton, your response

HAMILTON:
Thomas. That was a real nice declaration

Welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation
Would you like to join us, or stay mellow
Doin’ whatever the hell it is you do in Monticello?

If we assume the debts, the union gets
A new line of credit, a financial diuretic
How do you not get it? If we’re aggressive and competitive
The union gets a boost. You’d rather give it a sedative?
A civics lesson from a slaver. Hey neighbor

11th I showed you respect as a man when I met you

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Your debts are paid cuz you don’t pay for labor
“We plant seeds in the South. We create.”
Yeah, keep ranting
We know who’s really doing the planting

Bro first of all you stole your whole shit from Cudi

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

And another thing, Mr. Age of Enlightenment

Don’t lecture me about the war, you didn’t fight in it

10th don’t you ever in your fucking life speak sideways about a nigga that’s fighting for us I do this for all of us

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

You think I’m frightened of you, man?
We almost died in a trench

maybe I couldn’t be skinny and tall but I’ll settle for being the greatest artist of all time as a consolation

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

While you were off getting high with the French

15th Nigga I tried to call you and you changed your number

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in
Sittin’ there useless as two shits
Hey, turn around, bend over, I’ll show you
Where my shoe fits

Don’t ever ever ever come out the side of your mutherfucking neck bro or bruh or however you say it Mr. Waves

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Excuse me? Jefferson, Madison, take a walk! Hamilton,
take a walk! We’ll reconvene after a brief recess. Hamilton!

HAMILTON:
Sir!

WASHINGTON:
A word

MADISON:
You don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON/MADISON:
You don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON:
Aha-ha-ha ha!

JEFFERSON/MADISON:
You’re gonna need congressional approval and you don’t have the votes

JEFFERSON:
Such a blunder sometimes it makes me wonder why I even bring the thunder

MADISON:
Why he even brings the thunder…

WASHINGTON:
You wanna pull yourself together?

HAMILTON:
I’m sorry, these Virginians are birds of a feather

WASHINGTON:
Young man, I’m from Virginia, so watch your mouth

9th me and Cudi created this shit

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

HAMILTON:
So we let Congress get held hostage by the South?

WASHINGTON:
You need the votes

HAMILTON:
No, we need bold strokes. We need this plan

WASHINGTON:
No, you need to convince more folks

HAMILTON:
James Madison won’t talk to me, that’s a nonstarter

WASHINGTON:
Winning was easy, young man. Governing’s harder

HAMILTON:
They’re being intransigent

WASHINGTON:
You have to find a compromise

HAMILTON:
But they don’t have a plan, they just hate mine!

You have distracted from my creative process

— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON:
Convince them otherwise

HAMILTON:
What happens if I don’t get congressional approval?

WASHINGTON:
I imagine they’ll call for your removal

HAMILTON:
Sir—

WASHINGTON:
Figure it out, Alexander. That’s an order from your commander

Questions, Comments and Concerns: The Wiz

Last night, millions of Americans tuned for another edition of NBC’s ______ Live! Last year, we flew with Allison Williams over London in Peter Pan Live! and the year before that, we named our favorite things with Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live! This year, third time proved to be the charm with The Wiz Live! As expected, the telecast dominated social media with viewers’ quips, but perhaps what wasn’t expected was the sheer positivity across the board. We livetweeted it, but we still have a number of questions, comments and concerns about the show, so here’s our post-mortem on the life-changing musical that was The Wiz Live!

Concern: The Wiz is my pop culture blind spot

Oops. Somehow I’ve never seen The Wiz. Not the MJ/Diana movie or anything from the OG musical. I’ve somehow managed to be in the Wizard of Oz musical, see the horrendous recent Wizard of Oz tour, and Wicked four times, but never The Wiz. This might be my downfall. – T

I’ve seen The Wiz, but the first thing I always remember about it is how someone we went to high school with was in an all-white production, which sounds like a joke but isn’t. – M

Question: Is this a modern day musical?

Dorothy’s dressed like she could be from 2015, but also it’s nondescript enough that it could be a generic timeline. Either way, I’m kind of really into it, and her skirt? – T

Into it, too. Those skirts were popular when we were in high school (c. 2000 – 2004), but had moments in the 70s, 80s and 90s as well. I like the nod to the original light blue and red Dorothy color scheme. But then Auntie Em is dressed like Aunt Bea from Andy Griffith.  “Generic timeline” checks out. – M

Question: Is The Wiz a precursor to The Color Purple?

Pretty sure the cart Stephanie Mills leans against is the same one from The Color Purple. – T

Comment: Beyonce took part in this

The cyclone scene almost looks like it was lifted from a Beyonce tour production, or more specifically, the music video for Ghost. By the by, the choreography was done by Fatima Robinson, who has worked with some of the best musicians in the biz, including Michael Jackson, Pharrell, Aaliyah, and the Backstreet Boys, which is the only reason she’s been a part of my life for so long. She did the choreo for iconic songs like Everybody and As Long As You Love Me, and when I hear her name it’s like *Home*. – T

The cyclone reminded me of those trippy live-action children’s shows from the 1970s, like H.R. Pufnstuf and The Wombles. – M

Question: This costume

If I dress up like one of these munchkins for Halloween next year, will I have missed the boat on the zeitgeist of it all? – T

And if I wore the glittery silver Mary Janes, the Scarecrow’s fun bird blouse, and Dorothy’s skirt in my daily life, would you still be friends with me? – M

Question: Omaha?

Was Dorothy always originally from Omaha, Nebraska?? – T

I THOUGHT IT WAS KANSAS. Was “we’re not in Kansas anymore” just a reference to how Nebraska and Kansas are mostly samesies? – M

Concern: I *almost* forgot just how amazing Amber Riley is

OKAYYYY YOU BETTER SING AMBER RILEY!!! #FlashbackFriday – the time my friend and I were on our way to the Glee concert and were belting out Amber’s part in one of the Glee songs in the car, and Amber rolled up next to us and I looked over, felt flushed with embarrassment and she gave a wave before driving off. Moral of the story, leave the belting to Amber. – T

RYAN MURPHY DOESN’T KNOW A TREASURE WHEN HE HOLDS IT IN HIS HANDS. – M

Comment: Life lesson number one:

“There is some nasty stuff betwixt here and there.” – T

Comment: Looks like Lord Licorice’s house

Photo Dec 04, 4 33 42 AM

Pretty sure this set could double for a Candy Land musical. – T

Thing I’d be into: a Candy Land musical. – M

Comment: Life lesson number two + joke

“Sometimes the most dangerous things are also the most beautiful.” “That’s deep, cuz.” – T

Concern: I might be a Shanice fangirl now

Shanice sings Soon as I Get Home, and I’m actually screaming. YASS SHANICE. A STAR IS LITERALLY BORN. WERK. IT. – T

If Shanice Williams isn’t all over the Broadway stage or a movie screen or WHEREVER IT IS SHE WOULD LIKE TO BE MOST, there’s no good in the world. – M

Concern: I already forgot who’s playing the Scarecrow

That’s how good this costume is. Oh JK it’s Elijah Kelly. I’ve watched Hairspray enough to recognize that voice. – T

I hope Elijah Kelly has been living his best life, and I know he’s worked consistently, but I’m still surprised he didn’t get huge after Hairspray. – M

Comment: Apparently you CAN win

During You Can’t Win, the crows are giving me so many jokes (“I’ll catch you on the B-Side”). Also giving me life with this song. Did anyone else notice the stanky leg from the Scarecrow? – T

Comment: I have a bad memory

Ok I thought I didn’t know any songs from The Wiz, but I forgot about Ease on Down the Road. But is the original arrangement as funky as this version? I love it. – T

I feel like you would also know Home, if only from televised singing competitions. – M

Concern: I’m crying again

And this time it’s for this Barbie commercial. – T

Me too, we’re messes. – M

Question: What’s up with this magic oil?

Yo does this magic oil make everyone sing like Ne-Yo tho because I have some choice handsome men I could think of that could become 10 times hotter if they could sing some R&B. – T

Is this supposed to be very sexual or is there a problem with me? – M

Question: Why do we still not have a live audience for this?

Both The Sound of Music and Peter Pan before this were shot without a live audience, and it was awkward when it came to needing laughs for jokes and clapping after big numbers. If this was shot in front of a live audience, there definitely would’ve been a lot of cheers and applause for Ne-Yo’s robot dance break. – T

Yeah, when you have to time the beats to laughter or applause that ISN’T THERE, it doesn’t work. The whole reason they had fake laugh tracks in old shows is because audiences respond better when they hear other people responding. Give these stars an audience next time! – M

Question: Does the scarecrow’s hair look like The Weeknd or nah?

Photo Dec 04, 4 31 38 AM

Comment: That’s a trusting lion

For someone who’s cowardly, the Lion had an oddly easy time to ease on down the road with strangers. Also, David freaking Alan Grier. What a talent. Also the psychiatrist owl really made me chortle. – T

Comment: Nature’s not for me.

These shenans are exactly why I don’t go into enchanted forests with three strangers. – T

Everyone trusts everyone so much.  – M

Concern: I’m crying again

DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE CRYING THIS MUCH AT THE FREAKING WIZ. YOU BETTER SANG SHANICE AND DAG. – T

Question: What are these poppies trying to get at?

“I know just what they want and it’s not gonna happen.”… Is the Lion going to sex these sexy poppies???? – T

No but everything IS v sexual, right? – M

Comment: Ad targeting

I’m just gonna say it – a lot of these commercials are geared towards black viewers. From McDonalds to USPS, there’s a number of them which prominently feature black actors. It’s like when you’re watching BET and the commercials are not quite the same as the ones you would see on say, Fox News. And it’s great on one hand, as in a whole other demographic is being catered to, but like, also, just show the same commercials during an episode of Castle or The Big Bang Theory. That being said, The Wiz being playing on primetime network TV is so incredibly important, because like I’ve said many times before, representation is important. And this cast and crew is doing an outstanding job at it. – T

“the ones you would see on say, Fox News” – Traci, I love you forever. – M

Concern: I FORGOT COMMON WAS IN THIS

Photo Dec 04, 4 42 59 AM

OK BUT COMMON. I WOULD GLADLY BE DENIED ENTRY TO A CLUB IF I HAD FACE TIME WITH HIM. – T

Question: But I do I get into this club frreal tho?

I am LIVING for this Wiz club! It feels like the set of J Lo’s Waiting for Tonight video filled with dancers from the Sprockets SNL sketch with Mike Myers. ALSO, I can’t stop watching this part where they circle around Dorothy & the squad, and they’re vogueing and whacking while the ensemble says, “Live. Werk. Yass. Fierce. Slay. Serve. Fierce.  Twirl.” “I don’t know what none of that means,” says the Tin Man. LOL. – T

The ensemble is everything! They sell it so hard. – M

Comment: Life lesson number three

“The door is just a door.”

Question: Is this secretly a Spice Girls crossover?

We meet Queen Latifah as The Wiz, sporting a Brigitte Nielsen haircut. She also says the phrase, “Tell me what you want. What you really really want.” Is that a Spice Girls ref or coincidence?? – T

Since we’re sharing embarrassing celebrity encounters: at DeGaulle airport c. 2006, I thought my friend said “Queen Latifah just passed away!” I squealed “No, I LOVE Queen Latifah!” But, she said “Queen Latifah just passed by.” Queen Latifah heard, and smiled like the Queen that she is, and was really nice and chit-chatted with a bunch of American college kids, she’s royalty, the end. — M

Comment: Through the wire
Photo Dec 04, 3 38 52 AM

I just realized Ne-Yo sounds like Kanye circa Through the Wire, because the tin is around his face. Still sounds 10 million percent better than I ever will. Also, I’ve never been so attracted to a chunk of metal before. – T

Question: Is a standing ovation a real standing ovation if you do it by yourself?

I legit just stood up and gave the cast a standing ovation after singing We Got It. I’m watching this alone in my living room. I tried looking up this song and I didn’t realize Ne-Yo co-wrote this specifically for the telecast. Amazing. – T

Am I wrong that they included an original song for award nomination purposes? – M

Comment: Praise in the highest to Queen Mary J

Bitch comes on screen and I’m already all SLAY YASSS QUEEN. By the by, I feel like the words screamed out the most by viewers are “YASS” “SLAY” and “QUEEN” over and over again. – T

When Mary J. was on screen I found myself sitting with my chin propped in my hands and the glistening eyes of a child present at the Sermon on the Mount. – M

Comment: No Bad News = No More Drama

WHEN MARY J BLIGE IS SCREAMING AT YOU TO WORK, YOU WERK. – T

Question: Did we switch to another musical’s set again?

I feel like the Brand New Day scene turned into Fela! all of a sudden. Either way, props to DAG for werking this choreo (including some Carlton and Soul Train action) in the ridic lion getup, and props to him for catching Elijah Kelly in his arms at the end. – T

Concern: Have I become an elderly person at age 29?

Queen in a robe is lit’rally me rollin up to the club. And the club is my bed. – T

Comment: The bench is deep

Legit every member of this cast, including the ensemble is fantastic! – T

Question: Can u not?

UZO ADUBA IS A LITERAL ANGEL FROM HEAVEN. – T

She is SO GOOD as Crazy Eyes that I feel like people don’t even realize how beautiful and amazing she is IRL. – M

Question: Is this a Michael Jackson tribute?

Actually is Dorothy’s jacket an homage to MJ??? – T

Speaking of which, it takes guts to take on a role most associated with MJ. Let’s hear it for Elijah Kelly! – M

Concern: I am crying again

I JUST STOOD IN FRONT OF MY TV CRYING. SHANICE GIVING ME GOOSIES. GIVING ME LIFE. I get really emotional when I see people achieving their best, ya know. Shanice was picked out of obscurity (New Jersey) and because of her true talent – and NBC taking a risk on a non-celebrity – she’s truly become the breakout artist of the year.  (Also watch this video of Shanice post-show. All the tears.)- T

Random final comments:

Overall, I loved this Live! version of The Wiz. The talent, the production value, the costumes (by Hamilton costume designer Paul Tazewell), a teleplay by Harvey Fierstein (I KNOW), the choreo (no but did you see that dabbing tho) – everything. But most importantly, I think something changed last night. Changed the landscape of what we expect and see on television and media in general. Like in the 1970s when this musical made its debut, the themes still have a prominent relevance in today’s society. When kids who are watching this with their families at home can see themselves on the screen, it’s progress. And that is the power of art. -T

 

Woman Crush Wednesday: Laura Benanti

Today I’m starting a new series after the popular Wednesday trending hashtag, #WCW otherwise known as Woman Crush Wednesday. Now I know this is usually reserved for guys to tag their celebrity or real life paramores, but I’m going to take this time to talk about my girl crush on Laura Benanti. #SameLoveYall

If you’re a theatre nerd, or watched cancelled shows Go On or The Playboy Club or are a religious viewer of Law & Order: SVU or Royal Pains, you’re familiar with Laura Benanti. If none of those things apply to you, here is why you need to start paying attention to this wonderful woman.

The BROADway

Alright, so Laura is KIND of a big deal in the theatre world. She’s been in shows like Into the Woods, Nine, The Wedding Singer, and Gypsy, for which she won a Tony Award. So it goes without saying that this broad is talented. Like I mentioned above, Laura’s been on a few TV shows, making her one of those Broadway types that goes on to try their hand at the small screen – including her run on one of my faves (the whole one season it was on air) Go On, featuring her and Matthew Perry. That being said, she doesn’t always have the best of luck on TV, but luckily she can always return to Broadway and make fun of herself. This clip, featuring Andrew Rannells (The New Normal RIP), Megan Hilty (Smash AND Sean Saves The World RIP) and everyone’s favorite awards show host, Neil Patrick Harris (HIMYM, soon to be RIP) from last year’s Tonys is the perfect example of this.

The Sound of Music Live!

I feel like the masses were really introduced to Laura when she played Baroness Elsa Schrader on the recent live version of the beloved musical, Sound of Music (which we also liveblogged here). She and fellow Broadway vet Christian Borle made up the scheming pair of Elsa and Max Detweiler, and brought some of the Great White Way to middle America. It was like they were the representatives for all the Broadway folks and boy did they do their team proud.

Not to mention we got this fab meme out of it:

And GIFs:

PS: Check out Laura singing my personal fave song from the show, Something Good. Like who are you.

Bringing the Hilarity to Side by Side

I feel like I might need to do a follow up post just on this webseries alone. Side by Side is hosted by Susan Blackwell a ridiculously hilarious fellow Broadway gal. She interviews other Broadway stars, usually in odd places, and isn’t afraid to ask the hard-hitting questions. I think this particular one was one of the first – if not the first – she ever did, and it features Susan and Laura enjoying some treats in a Hooters restaurant. It also featured some other fab people, including Jonathan Groff in a horse-drawn carriage and in bed with Sutton Foster.

Making Twitter Her Bitch

I think what pushed my #wcw over the edge was by following her on Twitter. Like the Anna Kendricks and Josh Grobans of the world, Laura has managed to kill it every single time in 140 characters or less.