Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Devin Kilpatrick of RFA

I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of acrobatics and other related feats performed by gymnasts. It simply seems too painful, too dangerous, to enjoy even as a spectator.  I must say, however, that Cirque Dreams Holidaze, the latest show brought in to the Stanley Theatre in Utica by the Broadway Theatre League, left me dazzled and in pure awe.

Holidaze is a part- musical cabaret, part- acrobatic show that combines to form an overall pleasing performance. With the holidays quickly approaching and somber news rampant on the news, it was really invigorating to see such a great show to get me in the holiday spirit.  What is the theme of Holidaze? That's hard to say, because the show is all over the place with different Christmas songs, both secular and religious, as well as a plethora of assorted acrobatic acts. It seems that the show was all about inspiring and reviving the Christmas spirit, the holiday wonder inside of the viewer that often is lost as life goes on. With such a wide variety of acts (balancing demonstrations and tosses using feet instead of hands, daring roller skating stunts, and dynamic jump-roping skits, for example), the show restores the novelty and the vivacious bounds of energy that accompanies the winter season.

I found it very interesting that the Broadway Theatre League chose to add this show to their 2013-14 schedule, because it is very unlike any traditional musical. With no discernible plot, Holidaze is an anomaly; is it truly "theatre"? Regardless of what the show is, the important aspects to consider are the show's strengths. As previously mentioned, the acrobatics were jaw-dropping. Everyone has seen a circus, but no one has seen such feats of acrobatism, such astonishing stunts of the human body and mind, onstage in Utica. There were countless instances during the show at which I gasped, yelled, and applauded the performers for their audacity to attempt such amazing routines.  I heard countless "how do they do that?" 's,  and "wow!" 's when the applause wasn't deafening. The performers definitely deserve the praise, as I am sure that it took innumerable hours of rehearsal and honing of skills to put on such a show.

As this was a quasi-musical, it is important that I mention the vocal performances. The vocalists were on par, if not above, the talent level of their acrobat cohorts. I was blown away on the last song, "O Holy Night", when the lead female singer gave such a touching and powerfully emotive rendition of the oft-sung tune. Throughout the show, the vocalists help to add another dimension of awe and fun to the performance, and I would have sorely missed their additions to the show had they not been present. The only points of negative critique I have for the music experience are that microphones were simply not loud enough to carry the sound through the whole theatre, and that the show utilized backing tracks instead of a live pit. However, these two shortcomings did not detract from the show's overall experience.

Some technical aspects of the show that really stood out to me were the lighting and the costuming. The lighting was bold, avant-garde, and energetic; bright, flashing lights helped to convey the overall ebullient tone of the show. Costumes were a highlight of  Holidaze! Vibrant colors and shimmering material certainly elicit from the theatre-goer a sense of wonder. Too many shows forgo costuming expenses to cut costs, and I am happy to say that Holidaze did not shortchange this tenet of the theatre experience.

Overall, I am pleased that I had the opportunity to attend Cirque Dreams Holidaze courtesy of the Broadway Theatre League. I highly recommend this show to everyone and anyone who is not a total Scrooge... Actually, the show might even cure Ebeneezer of his "Bah Humbug" mood!

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Ashley Brenon of VVS

Last Saturday I went to see another great Broadway Theatre League of Utica show. Cirque Dreams Holidaze features an international cast of 30 amazing professional acrobats, dancers, singers, and jump ropers. Of course, I was very excited, I had never seen a Cirque production before, but I have definitely loved the circus as a kid. My favorite act ways always the aerial ballerinas, so I really hoped there would be an aerial ballet act in the show.
                  The show was completely decked out- lights, giant inflatable nutcrackers- the stage was never bare. In fact, during each section of the show, there were not just the featured performers, but singers and other cast members helping with the scene. The show started with an impressive acrobat, just a little girl, no older than ten year old, spinning and contorting 20 feet off the stage. I was baffled at how talented and flexible the little girl was.
                My favorite act was definitely “Holy Night”, where two flying angels performed an aerial ballet routine using two white silks. As the soprano singer accompanied their beautiful dance, the entire audience was transported to a somber winter wonderland. The angels gracefully glided through the air and landed into each other’s arms. This act definitely rekindled my interest in ballet and dance in general.
                The show was a perfect way to get in the Holiday mood. The spectacular is complete with tons of Holiday tunes sung by three performers in eye-catching costumes throughout the show. I recommend this show to everyone, because it is a truly spectacular show.

                Thanks to the Broadway Theatre League of Utica and The Bank of Utica for such an amazing opportunity to see and meet the cast of this production.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Adelaide Zoller of Clinton

On Saturday, November 16th I saw the "Cirque Dreams Holidaze" show at the Stanley Theatre in Utica. This show dazzled with every kind of astonishing act from acrobatics to unbelievable balancing to mesmerizing jump rope. The show flowed impeccably from one act to another, all surrounding a common theme of Christmas. Performers of all different backgrounds, ages and talents graced the stage to involve the audience in a jaw dropping holiday spectacle that was engaging and wildly entertaining. These unbelievable acts were often accompanied by mediocre carolers who distracted from the beautiful acts occurring onstage. Despite that, this show can provide avid entertainment for any person of any age. Thank you to the Bank of Utica for making shows like this possible. #BTLYAP

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review By Erin Donovan of New Hartford

Who knew the Stanley Theatre’s stage could be home to 10 year-old acrobats, balancing penguins, jugglers, and ice-skaters? I certainly did not! The cast of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” gave a breath-taking performance during their season’s opening show in Utica. From the moment the curtain opened, you could not take your eyes off the stage without the risk of missing something extraordinary! Every second of the show and every inch of the stage were dedicated to creating an exciting and rare experience for the audience. The colors, the costumes and the props all aided the cast in a spectacular performance that, for many, is something you can only see “once in a lifetime.” The “oohs” and the “aahs” from the audience only helped to prove how incredibly talented this cast truly was. (However, there were a few stunts that caused the whole audience to clutch on their arm-rests in anxiety!) One minute you would see a cast member jump-roping in a reindeer costume and a few moments later they would be a wobbling penguin or a dancing candy cane! If there could only be one show that could get the world excited for the holidays, it would be, without a doubt, “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.” The singer’s had amazing vocals, the acrobats had incredible flexibility, the juggler had extreme intensity and, above all, the entire cast gave off a welcoming and joyous vibe. The audience could tell how dedicated this cast truly was and how excited they were to perform. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see such a high-spirited, nerve-wrecking and fun show thanks to the Bank of Utica. As a community, we are so lucky that the Broadway Theatre League of Utica can bring in shows such as “Cirque Dreams Holidaze.”  So many thanks to the cast of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze,” the Bank of Utica, and the Broadway Theatre League of Utica for a show I will never forget! @broadwayutica #btl

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Review by Rylee Powers of Notre Dame

Imagine the set pieces and costumes of a Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular, coupled with the best of the best circus feats that defy all laws of physics, as well as a few unexpected acts, strung together with a beautifully composed and, at times, techno-esque, score of holiday inspired music, and you may be on your way to picturing the wonder and enchantment of Cirque Dreams Holidaze. I had the pleasure of viewing this show on Saturday night, and I must say if anyone in the audience was not already in the holiday spirit, they could not have possibly left the Stanley that night with anything but carols in their heads and the joy of the holidays in their hearts. Now on its fifth year touring, this show is like a present, wrapped in glittery paper and topped with a huge bow, bursting with magic and just begging to be opened, and even Scrooge himself would be unable to leave without a smile. The international cast of Cirque Dreams Holidaze takes circus acts to an entirely unprecedented level of pure talent and sheer beauty. These incredibly gifted and dedicated performers flipped, kicked, and flied through a series of seemingly endless blink-and-you-might-miss-something scenes. Each one varies, with some leaning more towards humor and delight while others elicited collective gasps of wonderment and suspense. Every movement made by the aerialists and contortionists was a true work of art. Holidaze allows audiences to experience wobbling, spinning penguins, dancing puppets, gingerbread men flipping though the air, bouncing, soaring reindeer, jugglers in candy stripes, twirling ice skaters, and so much more. This show was without a single dull moment throughout its entirety. Audience participation is even included in one portion, where unsuspecting members are invited to join the cast onstage and create a symphony of music using classic holiday bells, much to the delight of both the audience and the Bell Maestro. Without ruining the magic of the show, I will say that the finale number is breathtakingly beautiful, and is sure to bring tears to the eyes of many audience members. Every moment of the night felt like tearing open shiny present after shiny present, and reaching under the tree to still find more. I would like to send a special thanks to The Bank of Utica for their contributions that make the Broadway Theatre League (@broadwayutica) and Youth Ambassador Program (#BTLYAP) a possibility and such a success, and I look forward to the remainder of the Broadway Theatre League Season!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Will Rock You review by Dillon Head of Brookfield

On October 11, 2013. I had another great opportunity. I was able to attend one of what I believe to be, best Musicals in 2013. We Will Rock You, a musical based off of the greatly known band Queen rocked The Stanley. For the first time in the USA. I believe we were all amazed, speechless, encouraged and even rocked. Ben Elton did an awesome job at creating a show that has brought not only the past, present and future to one show. The story that Elton created was not only a Love Story but also he created an amazing outlook on life whether he realizes it or not. A futuristic and up to date, like 2013 musical. The background of the musical is that, Music is Banned, Computer generated Internet/Cyber-Space Idols have infested the charts, the main and only Idol that's important to the Iplanet is The Killer Queen! She is a nasty, knowledgeable, powerful, manipulative individual who causes The Bohemian's to Rebel. The Bohemian's are created by Individuals, or Believers of Rock Music! Have you ever wondered how Lady GaGa got her name? Well I'll tell you, she got her name by asking Frank Mercury and him coming to her and asking for the approval to use one of his songs as her stage name. Radio GaGa, is not only a great number and song, but it's also a pretty huge part of music history. Also history in general! Based in 2302, Elton's musical is one of the coolest tech shows that I have seen on Broadway! The use of strobe lights, disco balls, lasers, projections and much more stepped the musical to a whole new ground. As main character's Galileo and Scaramouche create this Love/Hate relationship it brings the musical even more character to what it already had. Their story is touching and shows the audience that the musical is not only like a Big ROCK Show but it's also a life lesson. If I were able to see this show again I would definitely take the opportunity. To see if things changed and the show became even more modernized! Thank you to The Bank of Utica for supporting YAP! If you have an opportunity to see this show for its 13th Anniversary in The USA, then I would highly recommend this show.

We Will Rock You review by Julia Lubey of Notre Dame

As the crowd settled into their seats at the Stanley theatre on Friday evening, most did not know what to expect from “We Will Rock You,” that night being the Queen-based musical’s United States premiere.  As soon as the curtain rose, the guitars crashed, and the lights shone, though, the audience was hooked.  Every song had us dancing in our seats, delighted by the superb voices of main characters like Galileo Figaro and Saramouche and the incredible musical talent of the elevated on-stage rock band.  The futuristic storyline hit home with its criticism of “Computer Generated Auto-tuned Pop,” or, “crap,” and the dream of the return of real rock music.  Each joke landed perfectly and made us laugh out loud, without being overacted.  The real heart of the show shines like a star during the remembrance of rock stars gone too early in “No-One but You (Only The Good Die Young),” evoking tears even from those unfamiliar with this style of music.  As the story progressed the music got bigger and louder, ending the show with a jaw-dropping version of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  Everything about WWRY is high-energy and infectious, and it’s impossible not to become deeply invested in the quest of its main characters.  The show might be in the early stages of its North American tour, but there is no doubt in my mind that its reputation will quickly spread far and wide.  Seeing “We Will Rock You” is an opportunity that should not be missed!

We Will Rock You review by Rylee Powers of Notre Dame

A few nights ago, I had the sensational pleasure of being in the audience of the American premiere of “We Will Rock You,” a musical written by Ben Elton and featuring some of the greatest and most beloved hits from one of the world’s best-selling groups of musical artists, Queen. This show was part romance, part comedy, part musical tribute, and 100% rock! Both visually and orally captivating, this show transported its audience ahead in the future to a time when conformity was law, while also leading the audience to appreciate the time not so long ago when music and creativity flowed freely. The show is comprised mainly of musical numbers, but what little dialogue it contains was consistently entertaining and witty. The cast made a point to encourage audience participation in the songs, creating an air similar to that of an actual rock concert, which was heightened by the use of strobe lights, fog machines, a live and visible band elevated above the stage, and multiple spotlights trained out towards and roving across the audience. The renditions of the songs were sung in a classic Queen style, which allowed the audience to recognize and sing along with their favorites. In addition, some lines from the show were updated to match the events of the present, and references to Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Britney Spears created some hysterical moments. A number commemorating artists who have passed away recently, including Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Amy Winehouse, as well as those whose talents have been sorely missed for years such as Jimmy Hendrix and Queen’s own lead vocalist Freddie Mercury, surely did not leave a single dry eye in the audience, and strongly affected the cast members, as well. Ultimately, this show was a hit from beginning to end, and far exceeded its promise of “rocking” its audience. 

We Will Rock You review by Devin Kilpatrick of RFA

Imagine a rock concert, but with amazing harmonies, dazzling choreography, and a huge audience. But instead of standing up, jostling for a glimpse of what’s going on onstage, you are comfortably seated with your hands waving to the rhythm of the music. In essence, this is the experience that I had this past Friday at “We Will Rock You!”- a show based off of Queen’s music catalogue.  The performance was a double premiere of sorts: in addition to being the first Broadway Theatre League show of the year at the Stanley Theatre in Utica, it was also the first showing of the musical in the United States.
Even before the show started, I knew that I was in for a different, exciting experience. As opposed to a traditional “put your cell phone away” message, an announcer (very energetically) told us to prepare for the show of our lives, and to not be stupid during the show. A minor detail, perhaps, but it was new and captivating; it set the tone for the whole night. The key word to describing the show is ENERGY. There was never a dull moment on stage! Vivid scenery engulfed the senses. Enthralling choreography wowed me at every step. The pit band was phenomenal –a very interesting component of the show is that instead of the band tucked away in the pit, it was elevated on a platform above the actors, truly highlighting an integral part of the show.

Technology plays an enormous part in “We Will Rock You!” Powerful strobe lights, gargantuan speakers, and a massive LED board are critical components of the production. Costuming in some cases seemed a little oversimplified; however, all of the clothing was of appropriate sartorial taste. The set pieces were chosen based on simplicity so that attention was not drawn away from the actors and actresses on stage. All of the technical, supporting aspects of the show melded together to form an excellent environment in which I was able to lose myself in for the entire duration of the show.

Admittedly, plot is not “We Will Rock You” ‘s strong point –the show is very “American Idiot”-esque in that it is really a cabaret of songs as opposed to a “drama.”  I won’t spoil the story for you, but you can rest assured the ending is very predictable. However, despite this shortcoming, there was never a point at which I felt the show was lacking something. The actors and actresses sang their hearts out. It was quite a powerful moment for me when the female lead quivered with emotion while she sang Queen’s “Somebody to Love.” Every single performer, from the smallest extra to the male lead, was full of energy and more than happy to please the audience.  As I left the theatre after the “Bohemian Rhapsody” curtain call, I had a huge grin on my face. I was “Rock”ed to the core by the stellar performance I had just witnessed.

I strongly encourage EVERYONE to go and see “We Will Rock You” at the Stanley Theatre this weekend. Bring a friend, bring a date, and come see this “Killer “Queen”” production!

We Will Rock You review by Francesca D'Ambro of New Hartford

Stomp your feet and clap your hands for We Will Rock You, America! Premiering in our very own Stanley in Utica, the British show revives the legacy of the beloved band, Queen. The musical envelopes around the dynamic duo, Galileo and Scaramouche, against the conforming world of music production and advancing technology under Killer Queen. Despite her vindictiveness, the "Radio Gaga" diva put on a phenomenal performance, as did the entire cast and crew. Cover upon cover from Queen were most definitely brought to the table with hypnotizing sets and execution. I laughed, cried, and found myself head banging to multiple numbers. I highly recommend this show to anyone who wants to have a good time. Congratulations to Ben Elton for arranging a beyond memorable show that made it across the pond on its 13 year anniversary. Thank you to The Bank of Utica and YAP for giving me this rare opportunity and I look forward to the Broadway Theater League Season!

We Will Rock You review by Noah Haar of Mt. Markham

The US premier of the musical We Will Rock You by Queen and Ben Elton was a night of both spectacular highs and unfortunate lows. Despite its highly successful run in Great Britain, the musical failed to make any sort of distinct or memorable impression on me other than confusion. However, there were a number of positives that I’ll address before moving on to my concerns and criticisms regarding the show. First and foremost, the level of musical talent that appeared on stage was simply outstanding. Strong performances from Brian Justin Crum as Galileo Figaro, Ruby Lewis as Scaramouche and Jacqueline B. Arnold as the villainous Killer Queen really gave the production great musical merit. The actors would have made Queen proud (if they had happened to be in the audience) as they belted out such hits as “Another One Bites The Dust”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and of course “We Will Rock You”. Another of the production’s strong points was the detailed and beautiful sets. Although the strange projection screen became a bit of an annoyance after a while, other locations such as the Hard Rock Café and Graceland were truly masterpieces of set design. The set pieces, in many cases, were designed to look semi-dystopian and this came across very well, meshing nicely with the overall plot of the play.

However, despite the obvious positives of the production, there were undoubtedly quite a few negatives. The biggest flaw in the entire musical, in my opinion, was the plot itself. Not only did the story fail to capture my interest on any level it was simply convoluted, confusing and basically directionless. It was particularly hard to immerse myself in a future in which no one knows what music is how the cast would follow dialogue about how clueless they were about music with rambunctious rock and roll numbers, which had rarely had any connection to the plot. The entire production had an air of, “Okay let’s stop the dialogue and sing another Queen song! This is their show after all.”  Another problem I faced during the course of the musical was trying to connect in some way to the characters. Alas, they remained stereotypical archetypes and not much more. The acting was sub-par at best and I began to cringe at the constant song lyrics spewed by Galileo. I suppose the audience was supposed to find the “love/hate” relationship between Galileo and Scaramouche cute or endearing, but it quickly entered the realm of tiresome and cliché. Not all the acting was horrible however. I genuinely enjoyed the zany antics of Ryan Knowles, who played Buddy, although it seemed as if even he realized what a ridiculous show he was acting in and wearied of it by the finale.

In closing, We Will Rock You had some great voices, awesome set pieces and cool lighting effects, balanced by a wandering and meaningless plot and a deficit in the acting department. If you are a Queen fan I would absolutely recommend this show, the musical talent is genuine and the songs are sung in true Queen fashion. If you are not a Queen fan though, you might be better served by finding a play that actually makes you feel something beyond confusion.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rock of Ages review by Nicole Kasprzyk of Poland

Yesterday I had the chance to see the musical "Rock of Ages" and I now have to say it’s my favorite musical. From the first drum beat and guitar strum I was hooked on the 80s rock. This show is filled with comedy, romance, drama, and everything else you can think of. The way they show their story line with narration is incredible! The cast never skipped a note and kept their energy and witty humor throughout the entire show! This show may not be appropriate for all ages but it brings you right back to the 80s. Don't miss your chance to see this musical of rock in your hometown tonight at 7:30 at the Stanley Theater in Utica. 

Rock of Ages review by Jaclyn Courter of Milford

"Can't Stop Believing!" Was the song of the night as theatre dwellers left the Stanley Theatre Tuesday night! The original musical Rock Of Ages had the crowd on their feet, hands in the air, and feet tapping to the 80's classics like, "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" "I Cant Fight This Feeling" and many, many more! This upbeat and hilarious show kept you on the edge of your seat from the first explode of fog machines.

The introduction of the hard rocking characters drew the audience into the 80's lifestyle on the L.A. Sunset strip. From rockers to hippies this show blew the audience away with their intriguing dance moves, fantastic musical performances, and lasting hilarity. The show introduced the element of a high spirited narrator, washed up rocker, and aspiring teenage heart throb. The entire show left the audience begging for more. This modern musical will last for years as it joins the books as a Broadway classic. If you missed Rock of Ages, you missed an experience not soon forgotten.

Rock of Ages review by David Peterson II of Remsen

Really enjoyed going to see Rock of Ages with the Youth Ambassador program this past week at the Stanley Theater. The choreography was spot on and the dancers were very energetic. The interaction with the audience was something that I thought was really unique and interesting. You really don't see that in a lot of shows and I think it really makes this show stick out. I liked how they were able to incorporate hit pop/rock songs of the 80s into a score and create a show from it. The vocals . . . they were sooo good!! 

Rock of Ages review by Hannah Wagner of West Canada

What can be said about Rock of Ages, other than it rocked!  This exciting, upbeat show had everyone singing along and non-stop laughing.  With classic hits included in it such as: Don't Stop Believin', Hit Me With Your Best Shot, We're Not Gonna Take It, and many more, this show appealed to the crowd the entire time.  With the constant energy throughout the cast members, this show was anything but drab!  Whether, you were reminiscing, or just enjoying the music, Rock of Ages was a definite crowd pleaser!  The sets were fantastic, the script was hilarious, and everything was executed in an unbelievable way.  The cast continued to have energy throughout the show and that really kept the audience excited.  Also, the vocal and dance talent in this show was astounding!  Every note and every move kept the audience wanting to see and hear more and more.  The show was a little surprising at times with its risqué movements or language, but it definitely contributed to the reality of the story.  All in all this show was a lot of fun and most certainly one of the more popular shows on the stage.  Thanks to the Broadway Theatre League of Utica and the Bank of Utica for allowing my fellow ambassadors and I to experience incredible opportunities like this!  Thank you also for allowing us to introduce and present ourselves on the stage!  It was an amazing experience and absolutely a night I will never forget!

Rock of Ages review by Christine Lee of Adirondack

Rock of Ages was by far the most unique musical I have seen so far. The story revolved around the ideas of fighting for your beliefs, following your dreams, and finding your true love, which are all relatable and beautiful “mottos” to live by. The audience was able to truly connect with the pain and joy of the actors on stage because we all have experienced these emotions some time in our lives. In addition to the audience members appreciating the story line, we were also given the opportunity to travel back to the very memorable and distinctive 1980s. The scenery and the costuming brought an extremely vivid visual aspect to the entire performance. However, these components are not how this musical obtains its many fans-- it is the music! Rock of Ages is especially known for its high energy, classic rock anthems.The performers did an absolutely phenomenal job with their interpretations of these musical numbers and their vocal ranges were showcased perfectly. With all of the dancing and singing by audience members, the Stanley Theater exerted enough energy to light up downtown Utica! By the end of the show, I felt beyond ready to jump out of my seat and give that performance the praise it deserved! As a final statement, I truly appreciated how the actors were able to break the barrier between the stage and the audience. This in itself provided for some absolutely hysterical lines and it allowed for us to feel completely involved in the magic musical theater produces. Congratulations to the actors and everyone involved for creating a spectacular performance!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Chorus Line review by Dana Bever of Sauquoit

I recently had the opportunity to see "A Chorus Line" at the Stanley Theatre. This was unlike any musical I had seen before. There was no intermission, not only because of the length of the show, but I believe it was also to not interrupt the intense yet wonderful flow of the plot that took place all in one day. I walked into the theatre with very little knowledge of this production, and it didn't turn out to be what I expected. It was refreshingly different. This musical was based on a true story, backed by the book from James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, that told about the backgrounds and hopes of various dancers that actually existed. During an important audition, the characters tell their possible future director and other performers about who they are, their lives, how they got there, and most importantly, their dreams and aspirations. These descriptions included some touching and some comedic content, along with several interesting dance numbers and songs. The stage-length mirror in the back was a nice touch. Along with giving the set a more realistic feel to it, it also made the stage seem more occupied at times. This performance, however, from every one of the cast members was so boldly real and refreshing for me. I would recommend this to any adult, young or old, and I would most definitely enjoy being an audience member for this show again.

A Chorus Line review by Anthony Parker of RFA

The third show of the Broadway Theater League’s season was A Chorus Line. It became the “one singular sensation” of Broadway when it debuted in 1975, winning nine Tonys and a Pulitzer Prize. It is currently the sixth longest running show in Broadway history with over 6,000 performances. The book for the musical was written by James Kirkwood Jr. and Nicholas Dante, and features music by the recently deceased Marvin Hamlisch. The plot focuses on a group of seventeen finalists in the search for the ideal dancers to make up a Broadway chorus line. It’s fundamentally the story of those who make it in show business and those who don’t. The show makes strong use of ensemble acting, with not one character vying for the chance to dance doing it for the same reasons. The characters are thus easier to identify with; almost everyone can relate to at least one character to some degree. And, since this show is all about dancing, the cast is wholly outstanding with their dancing. The show is also peppered by its memorable songs delivered with terrific singing and exceptional flair by the cast ( including “At the Ballet”, “Dance Ten Looks Three”, “One”, and the best number in the show by far, “What I Did for Love”). The only complaint I have about the show was the lighting design. The use of the spotlight was overly rigid and did not transition as well as it should have. But, that is a minor complaint for such a great show. A Chorus Line is the best show I’ve seen in the Youth Ambassador Program so far. I give it four and a half stars out of five. The next show is The Addams Family, opening February 12. Come see it!

A Chorus Line review by Michael Castellano of Herkimer

Tonight I had the opportunity to be a part of the audience for the opening night of A Chorus Line at The Stanley Theatre! Not knowing much about the hit 1975 Tony Award winning show, I was excited to see it. I knew that it was primarily a dancing show that ends with a big number involving sparkly gold suits…and that is pretty much it. To my surprise, I enjoyed the show very much! I’ll admit I wasn’t sure about how I would feel about it with it being set decades back and being mostly a dance show. But I was very happy with it. The choreography was amazing to watch, and sitting in the balcony made it easier to see the intricate moves the cast makes in the many big production numbers. The singing was of course just as amazing as the dances, I liked how almost every cast member was featured at one point or another, and that no one character seemed more important than another. The show also has it’s comedic moments, even some dirty jokes here and there, which is always entertaining. We also got to meet with a few members of the cast before the show, Sophie Menas, Gabriel Mudd, Mary Leigh Christine, Pim Van Amerongen, Jeremiah Ginn, and Andrea Weinzierl. They were all very nice and happy to take the time to speak with all of us. I can’t say anything negative about the show because it really was a great production with an amazing cast. I give this show an A+.

A Chorus Line review by Annie Zeina of Clinton

What a “Singular Sensation”! Being one of my favorite shows of all time, A Chorus Line is a true expression of the love and dedication the performers of today have to the stage. We follow 12 members, who all come from different backgrounds and all have a story to tell. Although they all come from various places in life, they meet in the middle with their one true passion, dance. One of my favorite songs “What I Did For Love” brought chills up my spine and “One” was as glamorous as I always remembered it would be. There is no doubt that the true meaning of this show reflected on each cast member as they performed one of broadways most memorable tales. This show is not about winning and losing while standing on that famous line, it’s about the journey getting there and the continuous struggle to achieve greatness. In the end, every member whether they make the cut or not, is a “Singular Sensation”.

Flashdance review by Lauren Holt Town of Webb

Those born in the Digital Media Age have been brought up in a world different than ever seen before. With the whole world at the click of a mouse our eyes have been trained to computer screens our entire lives. This could be the reason why the production of Flashdance at the Stanley Theatre mesmerized me. Growing up with the TV flashing ads, the computer close by and my iPod blaring created the perfect gateway to enjoy Flashdance. This show magnified my day to day doings to a whole new level. The backdrop of the performance was completely computerized and the music vibrated through the theatre. I was viewing the classic movie Flashdance three dimensionally. Alex a character whom I have always seen on screen came to life at the Stanley, epitomizing the spunk of the eighties. This production took something old and created a modern new look for its premier showing. However, the technologically advanced musical did not take away from the swagger Flashdance has been known for.

Flashdance review by Ross Agen of Poland

“Flashdance” was phenomenal, a definite hit and success. The dancing, the singing, and the characters all portrayed the 80s era as well as I could imagine it. Between the set designs and technology used in the production adding effects, such as the sparks in the steel mill when cutting/welding and the smelting pot in the background, the effects used in this show made the visuals of the production more realistic and really transported me into the places/areas the scenes took place. The choreography was everything I imagined 80s dancing would be, which helped to really time warp you to the 80s for the show. The grit and spunk of the main character, Alex, made her seem like a real city girl who knew how to fend for herself and was used to disappointment. Alex held tight to her dream of dance and getting into a ballet academy even though the odds were against her. The underdog story, along with the love story, that takes place in this show keeps the watchers enthralled throughout the performance. Alex worked as a bar dancer along with the supporting actresses, who stole the show. The sass, brutal honesty, and the slight to moderate vulgarity of these ladies had me laughing every time they came on the stage. All of the performers nailed their parts. There were a few mishaps throughout the show, but nothing that took away from over all performance. Little things, like a dropped hat and a skirt falling off of the performer’s leotard were all that I noticed to go wrong throughout the performance, and any difficulties that did come up, the performers pushed through and stuck to the saying, “the show must go on.” I was beyond pleased with this show and would recommend it to all ages above 13 and anyone above 10 at their parent’s discretion.

Flashdance review by Steve Sbiroli of Notre Dame

If you’re looking for something exhilarating, fun, and that has something for everyone, then look no further than Flashdance on Broadway. This musical adaptation of the iconic 1980s movie is full of flair, passion, sexuality, jaw-dropping talent, and the music and style of a decade as recognizable as the title itself. It’s visually gorgeous, brilliantly directed and choreographed, and all-around nothing short of impressive on all levels. There’s something in it for everyone (who is above thirteen, as much of the content is fairly suggestive), and is pure entertainment, whether it’s a blast from the past for people who grew up with the movie, or a fresh new experience for younger audiences experiencing the culture of a new decade for the first time.

The cast of the show is thoroughly talented, and everyone plays their parts brilliantly. The main character, Alex, is feisty, dynamic, and a fantastic dancer and singer. She sells it when it comes to playing the role of a strong, determined, ambitious young woman looking to make her way in the world through dance. Her best friend, Gloria, deals with a breakup, drug addiction, and the apparent hopelessness of her own dreams. Nick, Alex’s love interest, is her rich boss that matches her ambition in an effort to be a good employer that is relatable to the lower-middle class workers. These strong leads are supported by the equally engaging smaller roles. Hannah is Alex’s elderly mentor that provides humor and wisdom to the dialogue. Alex and Gloria’s fellow dancers at Harry’s club steal the show at times with their tremendous voices and strong, sassy attitudes. The entire cast is cohesive and does everything right when it comes to engaging the audience.

When the choreographer said at the beginning of the show that it is a very technical show, he was not kidding. The sets and props are absolutely breathtaking, and create an excellent setting that really feels like you are looking at a steel mill, city street, dance studio, etc. The lighting, stage effects, props, and projection all contribute to this effect, and are so versatile in creating so many different settings. The costumes are fantastic, accurately representing the iconic fashions of the 1980s, and also get quite risqué for many of the club dance scenes. Everything that appears on that stage works to draw you into the performance and gives the final product great believability.

Flashdance is full of dancing, music, fun, sex, and incredible stage effects. It’s exciting from the get-go, and the intermission between the two acts seems too long, because you’ll be on the edge of your seat to see what happens next. The Stanley Theatre had the pleasure to host this brand new show for its premiere before it goes on tour. I highly recommend finding dates for future performances and going to see this up-and-coming classic. Take the opportunity to witness the hottest new musical around for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Flashdance review by Nick Kinney of Herkimer

Flashdance: the musical, based on the thoroughly 80s movie, comes to the stage. Currently, it is running the preview circuit before it goes on to Broadway. Changes are made every night: dialogue being re-worked, choreography changed, and music tweaked. The musical still has a long way to go.

The plot focuses around Alex Owens, a steel-mill worker in the day and a 'flashdancer' at night with dreams of going to a prestigious ballet school. Then a man, Nick Hurley, an executive of the company and from the family who owns the company, comes into her life. The main storylines, Alex striving to become a dancer with support from her instructor Hannah, and her relationship with Nick, are overused and outdated. The first being a failed attempt at women empowerment, especially when set with the backdrop being a place one step higher than a strip club, and the second being a trite example of romance that can be figured out right from the beginning. The subplots aren't much more exciting. Gloria, Alex's best friend, and her loser boyfriend both share dreams of reaching the big time, but Gloria becomes a real stripper in an ill fated attempt to achieve those dreams that gives some average drama one would see in a lifetime movie. Then another plot with economic troubles at the steel-mill gets lost among all the others. The sub-par story with very two dimensional characters moves to the beat transported directly from the 80s, drum machines, electric guitars, and synths abounding. In the big, fun productions this style is welcomed, while with the more dramatic and emotional songs, it comes off as a little cheesy.

While the story is a little hollow, presenting almost laughable social commentary, and the music can seem a little kitsch-y, the overall talent is great. Alex, played by Emily Padgett, has booming vocals, great dance moves, and an impressive memory seeing as almost everything she does during the show is being tweaked every night. Her acting may seem off, but I simply attribute that to a lackluster script. Nick, played by Matthew Hydzik, also has a great voice and even made the cheesier songs more enjoyable. Kelly Felthous, who plays Gloria, is funny and as talented, even with her higher pitched voice for the part. The only singing voice I was not impressed with was David R. Gordon's, Gloria's boyfriend Jimmy: it was a little nasally. The true enjoyment from the show comes from the modern choreography, glamorous and glitzy costumes, and impressive technical aspect. See the show just for the iconic water scene at the end of act one that has Alex dancing on a platform shooting water around her, like a more modern rendition of Singin in the Rain, that blends the dancing and technical prowess of the show in one beautiful moment.

Overall, sadly I am not a fan of Flashdance: the musical. This is especially disappointing knowing all the hard work that has been put in this show since its original production in 2008. However, there was something else I noticed in the theater: the nostalgia was extremely apparent in the audience. Don't go see Flashdance expecting a deep and complicated story. Don't go to see Flashdance to see incredible music. See Flashdance for the dancing, costumes, and 80s appeal. Anyone who grew up during this time will appreciate this musical much more. However, without that nostalgia factor, I would not see it again when it hits Broadway in this coming summer.

West Side Story review by Rachel Wojnas of Notre Dame

If painstakingly perfect choreography floats your boat, then West Side Story is your show. The acting was genuine and dynamic - this twist on Romeo and Juliet followed the original storyline closely enough that we were familiar with it, but shook it up enough so that we could still be taken by surprise when we least expected it. From the very first dance number to curtain call, the cast meant business, and they not only put themselves in 1950s West Side New York City, but pulled us into their world as well. This story is much more genuine than the movie - a bit of Spanish dialogue is thrown in here and there to add authenticity, and I can honestly say that I felt like I had lost a best friend in the end - a feeling I've never experienced so strongly in the world of theatre. The show was extremely dark at points, but I did plenty of laughing. "Gee, Officer Krupke" had me cracking up the entire time, and humorous bits were dispersed throughout the rest of the show to maintain a balance between the serious and not-so-serious. All in all, I would definitely give the show 5 stars, and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anybody. To boot, I had the opportunity to meet the cast afterwards, and every single person I talked to was extremely humble, gracious, incredibly easygoing, and absolutely hilarious. Tickets for tomorrow's show at the Stanley are still available, and you will not regret taking advantage of the opportunity to go. THANK YOU to everyone involved in Broadway Theatre League's Youth Ambassador Program for creating such an amazing experience. It won't be paralleled for a very long time!

West Side Story review by Melissa Paravati of New Hartford

It is nearly impossible to love theater- or even movies, for that matter- without hearing about West Side Story. It’s one of the most well-known musicals of all time; even someone who has never seen West Side Story would be able to hum “I Feel Pretty” or “America.” Never having seen either the movie or musical version of West Side Story, I went into the performance only knowing the tune of a few songs and a vague grasp of the plotline. I was more than impressed. West Side Story blew me away.

I knew during the first scene that West Side Story would live up to its expectations. The entire cast was just so talented, especially Maria. Her high notes were breathtakingly beautiful. The group numbers were the best part of the production; the cast danced perfectly in unison and sang harmony extremely well. The group numbers were energetic, professional, and hilarious. Though “I Feel Pretty” and “America” may be the most well known songs from this musical, “Gee Officer Krupke” deserves just as much attention for its humor.

The production at the Stanley differs slightly from the movie in the way that it incorporates Spanish into the script. In an attempt to give the musical a more realistic feel, the cast sprinkled Spanish throughout the dialogue and in some of the songs. They succeeded in their goal to be more realistic, and the Spanish didn’t take away from the plotline at all; since they mainly included Spanish in the better-known songs, like “I Feel Pretty,” it didn’t subtract anything from the performance. However, I do feel that the thick Spanish accent sometime took away from the English dialogue.

Overall, the performance hooked me from the very first musical number. The cast was incredibly talented and played their parts very well. They had a difficult job, living up to so many expectations, but they shone in their roles and showed me why West Side Story is considered a classic.

West Side Story review by Alissa Snyder of Mohawk

Last night through the Youth Ambassador Program, I was able to experience the wonderful production of "West Side Story." This modern version of "Romeo and Juliet" with a Puerto Rican twist was absolutely captivating. Meeting the cast before the show was amazing! Seeing that these actors are extremely kind and welcoming, as well as talented, was stunning. The set was very accurate for the time and era of each scene. While I personally believe the character of Anita was the best with her amazing singing and dancing during the song "America" the entire cast was superb! Each song was sung strongly and each dance was perfectly in sync. The sense of family that they felt with eachother shined through in each scene. The costumes blew me away with their vibrant colors and wonderful details. Overall, a fabulous show and a great time!

West Side Story review by Ryan Geer of VVS

Last Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of being in the audience for A Chorus Line at the Stanley Theatre. I hadn't seen the show before, but I've heard a few of the songs and watched part of the movie. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. The fact that the entire show revolved around 17 dancers who were only looking for a casting was puzzling at first. Little did I know, each dancer had within them a character to be seen, a song to be sung, and a story to be told. The set, albeit simple, was extraordinary in that it was needless. I felt that the way the dancers moved so fluidly and sang so vividly gave no need for elaborate scenery, and captured the audience's attention. However, the mirrors behind them added a unique touch. You could see every movement the characters made, and it gave a sense of the characters having "nowhere to hide", which allowed them to convey their individual stories more clearly. Aside from the beautiful voices and choreography, the acting really drew my attention. For example, Paul's monologue about performing in a drag show and his relationship with his parents was fantastic. The fact that most of these actors do these scenes so many times repeatedly from show to show and still bring emotion and intention to them is impressive. "What I Did For Love" was definitely my favorite number of the show. Listening to them talk about why they do what they do and share a love for theatre was truly inspiring. After the show, I had the incredible opportunity to go to the cast and crew party, where I made some great friends and talked about the show with the cast! In hindsight, the entire night gave me a brand new perspective on performing and inspired me to keep doing what I love. Bravo!