Don’t let the title of Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started The Iraq War, turn you off. It is an hilarious, creative, clever, inspiring, fresh breath of air with a score that I would buy right now, if I could. This new musical by Marshall Pailet (Claudio Quest, Triassic Parq) and A.D. Penedo (The Three Times She Knocked), is based on a screenplay by J.T. Allen. The show is also directed by Marshall Pailet, with musical direction by Rona Siddiqui and choreography by Misha Shields. All of these names are the new up and coming talents of musical theatre and breath new life into this form. The show is as terrific as dare I say it, Hamilton. Musically it has strains of Hamilton and Assassins, but it has it’s own unique voice. Add to that exquisite harmonies done by a uber talented cast and musically, you will be in heaven.
Done in the format of an AA support group for those who started the Iraq War. You will hear “I’m _________ and I start- ed the Iraq War.” Brandon Espinoza and Claire Neumann act as the leaders of the group and take on the supporting roles, as you learn how each character did indeed start the Iraq war. We meet the mid-level spies whose foibles contributed to the worst intelligence blunder in modern history; Curveball (at the performance I saw Pomme Koch), an Iraqi defector and the only source on the biological Weapons of Mass Destruction, the German detective Richart (Brennan Caldwell) who gives the unverified story to analyst duo “Berry (Larisa Oleynik) and Jerry (Olli Haaskivi),” CIA analyst Nelson (Jason Collins) and eventually to former weapons inspector David Kay (Bob D’Haene) whose words actually may have been the cause and effect.
Though Former President George W. Bush is never seen, his State of the Union speech is heard. As well as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which he quotes Curveball’s flawed information. “Curveball” was the codename the CIA gave to the now notorious Iraqi defector who fed U.S. intelligence officials much of the flawed information that they collected about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.
It is hard to single people out, but Mr. Espinoza and Ms. Neumann are both comedically brilliant as well as vocally superb. They are so good at what they do it is hard not to give a shout out. Mr. Koch’s voice and the sensitivity he brings to his role is stellar and to think he was the understudy. His song “Stay” is glorious. Each cast member brings their A game and it shows.
Misha Shields’ choreography is simple. Like Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography, you want to learn it and incorporate it into your movements. Pailet’s direction takes a small space and together lost in. David Farley’s set divides the stwith Ms. Shields creates something so unique with the simplest of props. Rona Siddiqui’s music direction and arrange- ments are truly wonderful and it is so well done. One piano, a bongo and a cast who knows their craft can create an exciting musical.
I didn’t just like this show, I loved it. My prayer for Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started The Iraq War is that it catcheson, gets a cult following and extends and extends. This should be a bonified hit.
This show is absurd and devastating all in the same breath. Like the play Quills demonstrates words can start a war.
Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Or How I Started The Iraq War: The Actors Temple, 339 West 47th St. through November 22nd. Performances are Saturdays at 3 and 8, and Sundays at 3 and 7.
The Glorious Corner
SLY REVIVED — (via Rolling Stone) Sly Stone, the enigmatic R&B/funk icon, will share his story in a new memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), arriving Oct. 17 via Questlove’s new publishing imprint, AUWA Books.
Stone co-wrote the new book with Ben Greeman, who’s written memoirs with George Clinton, Brian Wilson, and Questlove (he helped the Roots drummer with his three other books, too). Questlove — who’s directing a documentary about Stone — will also pen a foreword for Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).
In a statement, Stone said, “For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story. I wasn’t ready. I had to be in a new frame of mind to become Sylvester Stewart again to tell the true story of Sly Stone. It’s been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it too.”
Born Sylvester Stewart, Stone’s music career began when he was a child, singing in a gospel quartet with his siblings. In the Sixties, he worked as a radio DJ in the Bay Area, forming various soul groups, including the extremely successful Sly and the Family Stone. The group’s debut,A Whole new Thing, arrived in 1967, and that same year they released their first major hit, “Dance to the Music,” which anchored the band’s second album. Between 1967 and and 1982, Sly and the Family Stone released 10 albums, including classics like Stand! and There’s a Riot Goin; On.
But after the dissolution of the Family Stone, Stone struggled to find success as a solo artist while simultaneously battling drug addiction. Though he got sober, he receded from public life, making only sporadic appearances, like the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a performance at the 2006 Grammys. In 2011, Stone released a new solo album, I’m Back! Family and Friends; in 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) is one of several books on the initial slate for Questlove’s new AUWA Books venture. (The Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint takes its name, by the way, from the bird-call noise Prince used on songs like “Baby I’m a Star” and “Eye No.”) Also on the docket: Questlove’s new book, Hip-Hop Is History, and a book from TikTok star Drew Afualo (both out in 2024).
This is major news for sure. If you’re of a certain age, Sly Stone’s music was the best. The true of story of what actually happened should be cataclysmic. The stories I’ve heard over the years encompass almost everything good and bad about the music industry. I hope the curtain is finally pulled back in this instance.
TICKET TO YOUNG — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Count Neil Young among those musicians who blame escalating ticket prices for ruining the concert industry. “It’s over. The old days are gone,” Young declared in a message posted to his Neil Young Archives website. “I get letters blaming me for $3,000.00 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers.”
The acclaimed rocker’s message was accompanied by a story about the Cure and their recent battle with Ticketmaster. The ticketing giant earned the scorn of the goth rock band and their fans by adding several fees to ticket prices for the Cure’s upcoming North American tour. In some cases, these “unduly high” fees, as Robert Smith called them, resulted in the actual price of tickets nearly doubling from their face value. Ticketmaster eventually agreed to refund some of the cost.
“Concert tours are no longer fun,” Young opined, pointing to ticket fees and scalpers as the culprit. “Concert tours not what they were.”
Young’s thoughts about ticket prices are the latest in his ongoing list of gripes regarding modern touring. In December, the rocker reiterated his refusal to play at concert venues that use factory farms.
SHORT TAKES — Could Big Blue be coming back? Blockbuster for decades was the go-to spot for DVDs and video-tapes. Stay tuned …I love Keanu Reeves, but I must admit I’ve not seen any of the John Wick movies. Chapter 4 opened this past weekend with a $74 million+ score. Rather amazing in this post-covid period.
I pulled up the trailer and was terrifically impressed by the lush visuals; beautiful music and Reeves and Lance Reddick just sensational. I am thinking of a John Wick-weekend where I’ll watch all 4 … Writer/producer Terry Jastrow arrives in NY this week with his wife actress Anne Archer … Whatever happened to the Madonna biopic? You ask three different people and you get three different answers,. Check this one out from IndieWire: https://www.indiewire.com/2023/03/julia-garner-madonna-biopic-fingers-crossed-1234819696/ …
Personally, I don’t think Garner should do it. Mired in controversy already, could it really be any good? … GUESS WHO DON”T SUE: What up-and-coming metal band is using the name of a high-profile manager to score some Manhattan-gigs? They were going to work with the manager until it blew up. Simply shady if you ask me … btw: whatever happened to Wendy Stuart Kaplan? …
Friday was the last episode (for their inaugural season) of Apple TV+’s Shrinking which has just been so excellent in this its debut season. Jason Segal and Brett Goldstein have come up with the best show on streaming yet. Infectiously good and the acting turns from Segal and Harrison Ford are off the charts. The show culminated in a wedding for best-friend Brian (Michael Urie) and ended with a call-back to the show’s very first scene. Remember it? Truly a one-of-a-kind show. We loved it … I’ve heard at least 4 stories on the news this weekend about composting. Is this a hot topic now? Trending is it? … RIP Nicholas Lloyd Webber
NAMES IN THE NEWS –— Alex Salzman; Rob Petrie; Anthony Pomes; Terry Jastrow; Tyrone Biljan; Jacqueline Boyd; Bill McCuddy; Brad LeBeau; Nile Rodgers; Nancy Hunt; Steve Leeds; Terri Epstein; Brenda K. Starr; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; William Schill; Robert Funaro; Vinny Pastore; Maureen Van Zandt; Tricia Daniels; and ZIGGY!
Broadway’s A Doll’s House Meticulously Stunning Revival Soars Like a Birdie Above That Clumsy Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
For a revival to find its footing, it has to have a point of view or a sense of purpose far beyond an actor’s desire to perform a part, whether it suits them or not. It needs to radiate an idea that will make us want to sit up and pay attention. To feel its need to exist. And on one particular day in March, I was blessed with the opportunity to see not just one grande revival, but two. One was a detailed pulled-apart revolutionary revival of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House that astounded. The other, unfortunately, was a clumsy revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that fell lazily from that high-wired peak – not for a lack of trying, but from a formulation that never found its purpose.
Relevantly Tuneless Fairytale Bad Cinderella Isn’t Bad, It’s Forgettable
You are seriously asking for it, when you make the title for your musical Bad Cinderella, however the show is not bad, it’s just seriously lacking. For an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which is normally rich in melody, the only song that has any kind of hold is “Only You, Lonely You” sung by Prince Sebastian (Jordan Dobson or in my performance the wonderful Julio Ray). The lyrics by David Zippel and book by Emerald Fennell, adapted by Alexis Scheer are inane. It doesn’t help that the cast for the most part speaks and sings with mouths full of cotton. The orchestrations sound tinny and computerized, The lead Linedy Genao has no charisma or vocals that soar musically, instead she is rather nasal, like Bernadette Peters with a cold. Why this show is two and a half hours long is beyond me.
The show is based in a town called Belleville (beautiful town en Francais), that is based solely on looks and prides itself on its superficiality. The opening number starts with “Beauty Is Our Duty,” the Queen (a fabulous Grace McLean) is into her hunks including her missing son Charming (Cameron Loyal).
And the fairy godmother (Christina Acosta Robinson) is a plastic surgeon who sings “Beauty Has a Price”. In a day and age, where we are suppose to see past all that, this show is politically incorrect.
Cinderella a Gothic, and a graffiti artist, naturally does not fit into the town’s mold of beauty, which is how she earns her nickname. Her rebel move happens when she defaces a memorial statue of Sebastian’s older brother, Prince Charming. Sebastian is more of a geek, and he and Cinderella are in the “friend zone,” since both lack communication skills in admitting their love.
Sebastian is being forced by his mother, the Queen to find a wife at a ball and invites Cinderella. Cinderella’s stepmother (the always remarkable Carolee Carmello) blackmails the Queen to get one of her daughters Adele (Sami Gayle) or Marie (Morgan Higgins) the gig.
McLean and Carmello are the bright spots in the show and if the show had been about these two, maybe we would actually have a show that could work. These two steal the show.
Cinderella has not one, but two what should have been show stopping numbers “I Know I Have A Heart (Because You Broke It)” and “Far Too Late,” but she does not have the vocals, the character development or the star power to carry them off.
The set and the revenge porn costumes by Gabriela Tylesova, are just over the top, with the storybook set faring much better than the over complicated flowered pastels that waltzed across the stage.
The direction by Laurence Connor is just dull and lacks oomph.
If you like buff men and Chippendale type choreography this is the show for you.
Bad Cinderella, Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street.
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