Monday, April 15, 2013

9 to 5 at the Paper Wing Theatre

9 to 5: The Musical

“9 to 5” is a Broadway musical adaptation of the early 80’s film starring Dolly Parton, Lilly Tomlin, and Jane Fonda as three uppity women who fantasize about killing their innocently flirtatious boss, Mr. Hart. Paper Wing Theatre unflinchingly addresses the dangers of what happens when you allow the women-folk to leave the kitchen with shoes on and enter the workplace.  Can you imagine a world where women were treated equally? Well, I am most certainly glad that someone is willing to tackle the dangers of such thought. The show is set in the year 1979

Kate Faber takes the lead as Violet, a single widow taking struggling to make ends meet as she raises her unruly teenage son (Jordan Brewer). She is the de facto office manager, training the new employees and running errands for the heroic Mr. Hart (Michael Alliman). Kidding aside, Faber has an amazing voice and plays up some of the tongue-in-cheek anachronistic comedy with special nods to some modern references scattered through the show. She opens the second act with a great song, joined by the male ensemble, in one of my two favorite pieces for the show. She’s joined by Judy (Alyca Tanner), a recent divorcee entering the workforce when her husband leaves her for another woman, and Doralee (Mindy Kruty-Crothers), an always chipper country-western singer struggling to fit in when her “assets” draw unwanted attention from the office men. The three ladies are constantly harangued by their sexist, egotistical, manipulative, lying bigot of a boss and his trusty secretary, Roz (Kelly Machado). Events transpire that draw them together.  The three women are forced into action after an accidental poisoning forces them to kidnap Hart and hold him captive for a month in his own home, allowing the three women to take control of the office for a time. Their policies have an immediate effect, but I’m going to say you should probably see the show if you want to know what those policies are and what effect they had. I’m not going to sit here and spoil it for you, faceless reader!

I know some of you are aware that my earlier comments were a little tongue in cheek in reference to the sexism being addressed by the show, but let me be clear… Michael Alliman is cast as a slimy weasel of a boss, filling the shoes of Dabney Coleman from the original production. His dismissive attitude toward Judy, his lecherous advances toward Doralee, and his dependant lack of appreciation for Violet gives each of the women a reason to fantasize about his death in elaborate scenes that feature the villain getting his come-uppance. The ladies are all brilliant throughout these scenes, and Hart is the perfect foil to common decency that everyone takes a certain degree of pleasure in seeing him suffer.

My favorite song in the show was, without a doubt, the solo piece from Roz as she tells the audience how she truly feels about her boss and expresses her unrequited passion.  “Heart to Hart” is great and allows actress Kelly Machado to take her moment to shine with both voice and comedic timing, with a special appearance from Alliman who adds just the right moment to the whole piece. I laughed so hard I nearly passed out!

A big kudos to the rest of the cast and crew throughout the show, because there was almost always a constant movement on the stage.   The smaller roles gave considerable momentum to the story arc as the ladies navigate through office politics, social cliques, and even the amorous affection of a young accountant vying for Violet’s regard. If I were to sit here and write about everyone who left some sort of impression on me I’d be writing long past anyone’s interest level, suffice to say that there a bunch of people whose talents deserve more than just a brief blurb in some guys blog.

5 out of 5.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Evil Dead Remake!!! Late, but I've had it saved for a few days now.

“EVIL DEAD” The remake

I am not a fan of remakes.

That’s not to say that I condemn them out of hand or refuse to watch a remake, only that I have not seen too many that have brought a major justification to the table for their existence. Often they’re only pale imitations of the original or they just aren’t very good to begin with. In a few instances, the movie just blatantly spits in the face of the original and delivers a new ‘vision’ that does nothing that the film maker believes it does. On a rare occasion there are some very good remakes, however… especially when the source material begins with something that maybe didn’t do so well or where something is blatantly a product of its own time and could be retold with a fresh outlook based on a new generation.

And then, even rarer, the remake just stands on its’ own merits. Such is the case with “Evil Dead”, a remake of the Sam Raimi classic which starred Bruce Campbell and got a good number of people started in the business. But this isn’t a continuation of the story begun so many years ago, this isn’t a remake that includes the two sequels, this is a straight up “5 kids go to the woods and get possessed” remake of ONLY the original film. It’s a formula brought to snarky parody in recent films like “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and “Cabin in the Woods”, the latter of which is referenced by a local reviewer who wonders why this movie was even made since the formula had so richly been played out since the films initial release. The same reviewer wonders why Sam Raimi would greenlight the production, act as an executive producer along with the original films’ other makers, and generally laments the lack of “soul” and execution from this films creators. A reader might actually wonder if the reviewer actually watched the original film, or if they only vaguely recollect the basics given the cult status of the films popularity. I rarely tend to agree with the reviewer, who seems to fashion herself some sort of a "fangirl" who quickly bashes any genre film that doesn't immediately capitulate to her feminist views and somehow act as an apology to all the male chauvinist sexism spread throughout the years. Yeah, I'd say I'm not a fan but I honestly look forward to her reviews in the newspaper because they differ so vastly from my own.

“Evil Dead” may not be a parody, but it’s still one of the most hilariously gory films to ever reach my local multiplex. The screen is painted red with blood and there are visceral scenes of unbelievable cruelty as the five characters are forced to cope with the awful horror they accidentally unleash.  The flimsy excuse for these five to be so secluded is that our lead character, Mia, is undergoing a cold-turkey rehab from some unnamed substance abuse problem. After finding and reading passages from the book, the rest of the group continuously excuse the erratic, violent, and self-abusive behavior from Mia to be a result of the hardcore detox. This confusion is played to both serious and comedic effect as Mia’s actions become much increasingly intense and the ‘reader’ of the book (Eric) starts to fit the puzzle together and figures that Mia has become possessed.There's an especially hilarious moment when Eric is trying to tell Mia's brother, David, what he thinks is happening and David keeps questioning the theory.

Oh, the characters… the ones we’re supposed to care about are David and Mia, the estranged brother and sister. David is here to help his sister after having grown apart from her and his dying mother. There's a bit of a history referenced here between the two characters as they opine over photographs that seem to have been taken some time in the past. Of course, the photo looks about a week old and everyone in it has the same hair style as they currently have in the film so... uhm... how much time have these two been apart? Don't worry, you won't get an answer. This is just flimsy back story exposition. Eric and Olivia are the childhood friends struggling to help Mia through her addiction, both of whom harbor feelings of resentment for David since he seems to have disappeared from all of their lives some amount of time ago. Natalie rounds out the group as David’s girlfriend, who is as blank a slate as they come when it came to character development. Seriously, she's introduced with only the slightest of waves and barely says anything through most of the rest of the movie. You sort of know she's just fodder going in, so that kind of adds to the comedy a little later in the film. Most of the problems between David and Mia are explained through scenes of stilted exposition dialogue that comes off as largely awkward, though Mia’s performance is pretty strong despite the writing. Her possession is well played to horrific effect, and when the poop hits the fan it TRULY hits the fan.

I know it sounds like I’m being a little cruel to the film, but this is what it is… another cabin in the woods movie. It’s a remake of a classic. It doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to be entertaining, and entertaining is precisely what it is. The formula isn’t ‘dead’ just because Joss Whedon wrote a film that offered a parody on the tropes delivered, it’s still a fun concept and good way to make a scary movie. The actors playing Eric and Mia tend to stand out while the others just sort of blend into the background… but it’s not a situation where the movie is "bad but at least it has gore", it’s a fun little spook ride at the amusement park with lots of influences from various horror movies. It plays with clich├ęs, dances with the hardcore fanbase, and generally has some good stuff to offer.

4 out of 5.