‘Rock of Ages’ delivers nostalgia with a capital N

Reviewed by Nancy McKenzie Oliveri

What was a girl to wear to a Broadway-caliber show, on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) no less, that promised to rock her and the rest of the audience right back to the wonderfully raunchy, tasteless decade of the ’80s?

For this girl, in her mid 50s, it meant faking it in black leggings, knee boots, a stretchy, black, not-too-mini skirt, red jacket with too many snaps, and an animal print scarf. Fetching, right?

But this review isn’t about me, although the highest praise I can give the touring company production of Rock of Ages is that it sure made me feel that the show was somehow about me, and everyone else in the house, and that I was right at home in that getup. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Cats’ is the cat’s meow at The Forum

Reviewed by Sarah Kuras

The  Broadway Theater League presented another award-winning show this past Sunday(March 11) at The Forum in Binghamton: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats. This was my first time seeing this iconic show, which sets a collection of T.S. Eliot poems set to music with flawless choreography and a rocking score. This musical is a great family experience, with fun dance numbers, whimsical cat costumes and memorable characters. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘In the Heights’ heats up The Forum

Reviewed by Sarah Kuras

In the Heights, a musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes, made its way to The Forum last Sunday (Nov. 6) for two performances in Binghamton after three award-winning years on Broadway. The musical, presented by the Broadway Theatre League, traces the trials and tribulations one summer  of people living in Manhattan’s Washington Heights and reflects all the characters’ hope for a chance to start a better life. Read the rest of this entry »

Rigby wows as ‘Peter Pan’ in Broadway Theatre League season opener

Reviewed by Barb Van Atta

Poor Peter Pan, his name much maligned now by women describing immature partners and mates. There’s really something gentle and bittersweet about the original Peter. Disappointed early in life by the callousness of adults, he clings to the black-and-white, all right-or-all wrong simplicity of childhood. And, don’t we all sometimes wish our lives were as simple as they seemed to be when we were young? It’s that timelessness of theme that makes the musical Peter Pan appeal to generation after generation, and it’s the timeless talent of Cathy Rigby that makes performances such as those being presented this week by Broadway Theatre League so wonderful. Read the rest of this entry »

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Broadway Theatre League’s ‘Beauty & the Beast’ a must see

Reviewed by Sarah Roche

I attended the opening night performance of Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast” at The Forum in Binghamton. What a fun show! Although I had been a little nervous about seeing a musical that I had assumed would be geared towards children, I found the show to be an excellent professional production that kept both the children and adults in the audience spellbound.

During the opening sequence, the musical matched the animated Disney movie so precisely that I wondered if the actors were lip-synching to the movie soundtrack. However, when a character’s microphone cut out for a split second, I realized that these actors really did sound exactly like the animated characters.

The play’s scenery and props were beautiful and allowed the audience to become completely absorbed in the play, moving easily from the bright and cheery town center to the dark and intimidating castle.

The ability to place people in costumes that so clearly depicted the animated characters of the movie was astounding. Lumiere’s light-up candle hands and Cogsworth’s glasses that formed the hands of a clock were adorable. The gargoyles that acted as sentries and assisted in moving set pieces were perfect in their role, adding extra pieces of life in an enchanted castle. The use of puppets for wolves was splendid.

This was exactly what you would expect from a professional touring company, a well-polished, entertaining musical that provided laughs and entranced the audience throughout its 150 minutes. Note: At Friday’s opening (June 3), the run time was a touch longer due to some technical difficulties that caused the show to stop just before the Beast was redeemed. My friend and I joked that a fairy tale that ends just before the spell is broken is simply life at its worst. Thankfully, the problem was corrected, leading to a spectacular visual display as the Beast was lifted into the air and transformed back into his human form.

Disney’s “Beauty & the Beast,” presented by the Broadway Theatre League, runs through Sunday (June 5). If you have a chance to see the show, I highly recommend it.

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‘Color Purple’ is nearly a spiritual experience

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

I must admit that I was skeptical about seeing The Color Purple last night (April 6) at The Forum in Binghamton. How could you possibly improve on Alice Walker’s timeless tale of redemption, love and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity (not to mention the classic movie portrayal with Oprah and Whoopi Goldberg)? Well, much to my surprise, they did the impossible. They found a way to convey the power of Walker’s characters in unbelievable ways. Not only was this great theater, but it was a spiritual experience, one I will not soon forget. I always knew that theater could move you, but it is rare to find such a production. I was never quite sure if I was in a theater or a church, a credit to the very talented cast.
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‘Chorus Line’ not a ‘singular sensation’

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

One of the dangers of doing a musical after a movie version is produced is that people will compare the two versions. I must admit I did this last Sunday at The Forum in Binghamton, even though I tried to avoid that pitfall. Bearing that in mind, I must admit that the Broadway Theatre League’s presentation of “A Chorus Line” left me disappointed. While the dancing was superb, I found most of the acting to be poor and the singing off-key and mediocre at best. Read the rest of this entry »

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Joint fundraiser to benefit TCO and The Forum

Barbara Fiala and Friends of the Forum

r-l Barbara Fiala, TCO Director Reed Smith, Forum Friends Ron Sall and Sue Kirkland, TCO Board Member Dr. Michael Bogdasarian

Tri-Cities Opera and the Friends of the Forum are teaming up Saturday, Feb. 5, for what is being billed as a “gala cocktail party fundraiser” to benefit the Friends’ efforts to finance improvements to the downtown Binghamton theater. Invitations already have been sent to TCO subscribers, but the event, built around an “operalogue” preview of TCO’s upcoming production of La Traviata, was announced to the general public today (Jan. 13) at a press conference on the Forum stage, hosted by Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala.

“I love this theater,” Fiala said of the onetime vaudeville house and movie theater now managed by the county as a performing arts center. “We want to preserve it and even make it better.”

The Friends of the Forum, comprised of government, business and cultural leaders, began in 2009. A previous fund-raising event, tied to the Broadway Theatre League’s presentation of Mamma Mia!, brought in $50,000, Fiala said. The opera collaboration is on a smaller scale; however, TCO General Director Reed Smith expressed hope that it would call attention to the “distinctive cultural experience” of attending a performance in The Forum. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Legally Blonde’ is legally funny

Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan

As I have stated before, I am generally not a fan of musicals. But after seeing “Oliver” at EPAC, I decided to revisit my notions that musicals are not credible sources of theater. “Legally Blonde,” which the Broadway Theatre League brought to The Forum in Binghamton on Sunday (Dec. 12), has swayed me in the other direction. I found myself laughing hysterically while feeling surprisingly connected to the plight of the main character, Elle Wood, the sorority belle who takes Harvard Law by storm.
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‘Spamalot’ brings laughing crowd to its feet at Forum

Reviewed by Barb Van Atta

How do you spoof a spoof?

In the case of Monty Python’s Spamalot, with non-stop laughs.

The Tony Award-winning musical, “lovingly ripped off” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, ups the ante on sacrilegious and scatological humor, blending beloved scenes from the cinematic send-up of Arthurian legend with new, endearingly over-the-top moments right out of a Ziegfeld folly or a Vegas revue. (Arthur and his nutty knights even are reminded that “what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Profile: 2010 Heart of the Arts Award nominee Pam Ondrusek

Solo or part of a troupe, onstage or behind the scenes, paid or volunteer, each of the five 2010 Heart of the Arts Award nominees gives 100 percent to the bright and varied world of arts and entertainment in Broome County. All this week BAMirror will be providing biographical background about the nominees. We’re also offering you an opportunity to congratulate the nominees and to share a story or two. Today we feature Pam Ondrusek, president of the board of S.R.O. Productions III. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Tonys with Tier ties

A while back, BAMirror encouraged Southern Tier theater buffs to tune into the Tony Awards on June 13 and root for Bill T. Jones, director and choreographerof the new musical “Fela!” The story of the legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti tied for the most nominations — 11 — with the revival of the musical “La Cage aux Folles.” What we didn’t realize at the time was that “La Cage” also had local ties.

Jones studied both theater and dance at the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University). Albert Nocciolino, president and founder of NAC Entertainment in Binghamton, is a member of the Independent Presenters Network (IPN), which is part of the consortium of producers for “La Cage.” (NAC, as you know, brings the Broadway Theatre League season to The Forum.)

Jones lost out in categories of best book of a musical and best direction of a musical — the latter to “La Cage” director Terry Johnson — but brought home the Tony for best choreography. In total, “Fela!” received three Tonys as did “La Cage,” which was named best revival of a musical, an award that went to the show’s producers.

Nocciolino also was part of the producing team for best musicals in 2005 (“Spamalot”) and 2002 (“Thoroughly Modern Millie”). Catch this June 17 clip on WBNG-TV of Nocciolino talking about his newest Tony: www.wbng.com/news/local/96610694.html

Energy, sensuality and spectacle: Riverdance rivets

Reviewed by Lee Shepherd

Riverdance, the riveting celebration of Irish music and dance that tapped its way onto the world stage 16 years ago, stopped last night at The Forum in Binghamton in the midst of its farewell tour. A second performance is tonight (Wednesday, March 31). Read the rest of this entry »

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