Category Archives: Performances

The Emotions of Music

When you’re an orchestrator sit by yourself in your apartment for three months. As a supervisor, you’re working with the cast”

Christopher Jahnke brings a different kind of expertise to the table. Boasting 25+ years of musical experience, Chris has worked behind the scenes as an orchestrator as well as directly with the cast as a Music producer and supervisor. Working in these roles has given Chris a unique perspective that has undoubtedly contributed to his proficiency in music. Chris, who has always been interested in the way music influences emotion, describes his role as orchestrator very simply, “You are essentially responsible to create the way a piece feels sonically”.

As an orchestrator, Chris has worked on several projects including: Les Misérables (2006), Grease (2007), Cry-Baby (2008), andcurrently, Porgy and Bess. Chris has international experience as well; he orchestrated Legally Blonde on the West End in London in 2010, 3 years after using the same orchestrations that were used for the Broadway showing. He has also worked with his mentor, William David Brohn (Wicked, Miss Saigon, Ragtime), in co-orchestrating the Lincoln Center Theater’s production of Dessa Rose and A Man of No Importance. Chris is grateful for his oppurtunities to work with Brohn, “I’ve learned more from him and I still continue to than I did in college”

In 2001, Chris worked directly with David Bryan on Memphis: A New Musical, a production that took over eight years to complete. Bryan, keyboard player and founding member of Bon Jovi, worked with Chris as his Musical Producer to create the musical hit. Their years of effort were well rewarded – Memphis won the 2010 Tony Award for Best Musical.

Chris believes that there needs to be some sort of bond between co-workers when collaborating in order to create the best music, “Working with every composer is a challenge, When you have a good friendship and a good working relationship you kind of help bring the best out of each person you work with”.

By Tony Saint Jean

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Guest Blogger: Jessica Edison

Okay,
I kinda saw this musical three times. While this may make me slightly insane, in my defense, ISpring_awakening1lg
did not plan to
see it three times. It is just that
people (i.e. my parents,
visiting friends, and the class) kept wanting to go to it, and I almost never
turn down a Broadway musical.

Though
I must admit that I do have an unusually high tolerance for re-watching things,
I feel that this is a particularly good show and highly recommend it. Based on the play of the same name by Frank
Wedekind, Spring Awakening tells the story of a sexual awakening of a
group of young adolescents in 1890’s provincial Germany which leads to tragic
consequences. While the musical retains
the same setting, it incorporates modern rock-like show tunes, which oddly work
wonderfully into the story. (In
addition, there are some major plot changes between the play and the
musical).

The
music is by Duncan Sheik who is known for the hit-song “Barely Breathing.” I enjoyed the songs so much that I downloaded
the entire album from iTunes. (I also
downloaded “Barely Breathing” which I used to like but had completely forgotten
about). My favorite song is probably
“Totally F****d” which is a high-energy full-cast or nearly full-cast
number. And honestly, any song that ends
with the cast flipping off the audience is going to make me smile. Also, if in addition to swearing, you like
partial nudity and somewhat graphic sex scenes, then this is the musical for
you.

I
don’t, however, want to give the idea that this piece is just about swearing
and nudity. It is honestly a really good
and well-done serious work. If you don’t
want to believe me then trust the Tony Awards—it won eight including best
musical. The original leads are still
performing, and this is definitely a musical worth checking out. 

New York Times Review

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Guest Blogger: Ally

On Saturday night I saw an opera, voluntarily, and loved
it.   Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a
traditional opera, but it was technically an opera nonetheless: Rent. This was my third time seeing it, and it was
just aRent_castrecordings incredible this time, maybe even more so, than the first two. As most of you, or probably all of you,
already know, I am not exactly what you would call a theater person. It takes a lot for me to really get in to a
show and actually want to go. However, I
absolutely LOVE Rent. As I said, I have
seen it three times and I would definitely see it again.

Rent is one of those shows that grows on you. The first time I saw it I was really
confused, but I still liked the music and enjoyed it despite not being exactly
sure what was going on. (I was also 12
or 13 so some of the content definitely went right over my head). Anyway, I started listening to the songs a
lot after the first show and it started to make a lot more sense.

I also got to the point where I knew every
single word to the entire show (I still do). Now seeing it
this time, the experience was so different. I saw it with Dylan and our friend Amanda who
was visiting, both of whom had never seen it before, although Dyl knew the
music/story and had seen the movie. The
cast was totally different from the other times I saw the show, and Tamyra Gray
was absolutely AMAZING as Mimi. During
“Out Tonight” it was incredible to watch her dance the way she was and still
manage to keep her voice from wavering at all. I walked out of the show and was just in such a good mood. I had the songs stuck in my head for the next
few days.

This is what I went in to Spring Awakening expecting. I thought I was going to absolutely love the
show and want to listen to the soundtrack immediately. However, I was not as taken with it as I was
with Rent. I found some of the plot
confusing and rushed. I did like some of
the songs a lot but I think I would need to have a pretty good understanding of
the plot before I saw it again, which I do eventually want to do. I think part of the problem that led to my
disappointment was the fact that I was expecting something entirely
different. I had been expecting a
full-fledge comedy, not a tragedy where two of the main characters die by the
end.

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Guest Blogger: Alfred Miller Jr.

Laceykameroncontemporary_2
    I coupled my Fall for Dance experience with a trip to Long Island to see the So You Think You Can Dance Tour featuring the top ten dancers from season 3 of the summer’s number one show. More then the show itself I was excited to get out of Manhattan and see a different part of thUser8805798_1168767890e city. (I’m not sure if Long Island is e
ven still considered part of the city.)  I took the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) which is more like the Amtrak trains than New York City’s metro. You have to purchase tickets before you get on the train and then conductors walk through the train and punch holes in your ticket to show that it’s been used.  Note: Leave some time for you to get to the station and buy tickets because buying tickets on the train is waaaayyyy to expensive! I learned this the hard way.  On the way I paid $13 while on the train, but paid only $6 on the way back because my brother held the train’s doors while I bought us both one way tickets back to Penn station.

            The concert was amazing though. I don’t know if it was more exciting that I finally was able to see some of my favorite routines that I had seen on television or that there were new routines that had never been created solely for the tour.  I love the show mostly because it’s bePost4337431180958290en a great way to bring dance to middle America and get more people interested in lots of different styles of dance from hip hop to the Viennese waltz.  Also, the show has made choreographers and some dancers
house hold names, which would never have happened without repeatedly seeing and voting on pieces created or danced by these artists.  Well I could talk about SYTYCD forever, but if you haven’t watched.  There are lots of reruns of all three of the past seasons on MTV soon.  probably now.

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Guest Blogger: Allie Fields


Bruce Springsteen Concert

    Last night I went to the Bruce Springsteen concert at Continental Airlines Arena (out by Giant Stadium in Jersey).  I have been hearing about the legendary Bruce concerts from my dad ever since I was little, so I was excited to see what it was actually like in person.  We ended up getting there about an hour & a half early, and we walked around the parking lot where people were grilling, throwing footballs and blasting Springsteen songs.  (The only bad part was that there was only one PortaPotty, so the lines were really long.  It was bad enough to have to use a PortaPotty so the wait did not make me very happy). 
    The culture at the concert was so distinct, everyone seemed to know when to sing, what to do, etc. My dad told me that pretty much everyone there has already seen him one million other times, so it was a little intimidating because I dont know many of his songs, especially the newer ones.  Dave and I were also significantly younger than most people in the crowd.  Despite that, it was a lot of fun anyway.  I have never been to something where the crowd was so excited and so into a show, and that made the atmosphere absolutely amazing.   Springsteen is actually from New Jersey so that fact that it was a hometown crowd definitely added to the craziness.  All in all, it was an awesome night and I’m really glad I got to experience one of his concerts, as the tickets are nearly impossible to get.
    In addition to seeing the Bruce concert, Dylan and I happened to stumble on a
really great street fair that was taking place down by NYU.  We went down to
that area to go shopping for Halloween costumes (which we did eventually find
Brucespringsteenifiwerethebos377734

in a rather questionable shop across the street).   Anyways, the fair was great!  The weather outside was perfect, a typical fall day the way it should be (and by that I mean not 80 degrees!).  We were really excited by the idea of getting fresh squeezed lemonade and we eventually got taken in by the experience and walked the entire 2 block stretch of vendors.  There were people selling everything from $1 Thai Food to 2 for $10 scarves to American Apparel clothing to handmade jewelry.  Dylan bought two great scarves (which I?m sure I will borrow by the end of the semester) and we both bought dresses from this awesome Indian shop.  They are essentially just long pieces of material that can be wrapped, twisted or tied in a variety of ways to create really cool dresses or skirts.  I won?t bore you with the details of these outfits but trust me, they are pretty cool.  Finding this street fair randomly actually reminded me of E.B. White?s piece we read at the beginning of the semester.  We would never have known this was g oing on unless we had accidentally stumbled on it the way we did.  It is really crazy to think about what other types of things I must be missing out on, if I have already found so many cool surprises!

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Guest Blogger: Young Joc

I saw Chicago at the Ambassador
Theatre last Sunday night. Since it was
my first time seeing aChicago788248
Broadway musical, I figured I’d pick a reliable standby,
just so I could get a feel for what a proper Broadway musical should look
like. In any case, I’m really glad I
chose Chicago, because it was a fantastic show, with lots of energy, great
voices, and exciting dance sequences.
    I tried to
buy tickets about an hour before the show began. On a general note, I’d advise against trying
to buy tickets an hour before the show begins on a weekend night. It’s not a very smart thing to do. Fortunately for me, standing-room tickets
were still available. I don’t know if
all the Broadway theaters sell standing-room tickets, but to those of you out
there who know nothing about theater (like me), I’d suggest you always buy
standing-room tickets. They’re cheaper
than student-rush tickets (about $20 per), and you don’t have to actually stand
during the performance. You can walk
around and find an empty seat instead. Technically this is forbidden, but since they close the doors after the
show starts – and everybody (including security) is too busy watching the show
anyway – it’s very easy to find an open seat. Although it’s probably safer to buy student-rush tickets, when I watched
Chicago there were aisles of empty seat.
   
Anyway, the
show. Roger Ebert described Chicago as a
musical where the stories interrupted the songs instead of the songs
interrupting the stories. That sums up
Chicago neatly; it’s a long series of high-energy, glorious, frenzied musical
numbers that narrates through music and dance rather than through
dialogue. The story itself is a sharp
satire about criminals and the media/entertainment business during the Jazz Age,
where murderers and gangsters were sensationalized by a yellow-journaChicago_songleikur291lism
press. There’s a lot of clever irony
here, some of which is still resonant today.
    Musically, the singers and dancers
are all top-class. The choreography is
very energetic and fits the music perfectly, and all the singers were great –
especially Adriane Lenox, who swept the crowd off their feet with “When You’re
Good to Mama.” That isn’t to say the
performances are perfect. One of my
quibbles with the show was the over-the-top acting; Rob Bartlett, while very,
very funny, goes a little too far in turning Amos into a clown, and Michelle
DeJean turns Roxie into a demented pixie. Though the show was a lot funnier than the movie, it’s also much less
convincing from a dramatic standpoint.

The one
glaring eyesore throughout the entire show was George Hamilton. As Billy Flynn, he plays a central role in
the musical. Unfortunately, he couldn’t
sing to save his life – he had a range that went from A to almost B. Furthermore, he is not, as far as I can tell,
a very good dancer, and only a serviceable actor. I don’t really know what he was doing in a
musical.

All in all, I thought it was a very
good production, and I highly recommend seeing it.

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Review from Prof. Jeff Storer: Dark Matters

Sevensisters_1
On Thursday night, we saw Dark Matters, a new play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, directed by Trip Cullman at the Rattlestick Theater.  Here is an informal review by Jeff Storer.  The fabulous constellation pic is from him too.  Let us know what you think!!:

"Ok.  So here’s my take on Dark Matters.

I didn’t love it.  But it prompted a lot of conversation between my friend and I.  (Peter really liked it.  I thought the actress who played the mother was terrific.)  So it made me wonder what might make it work for me.

Darkmatters_1
I think it would have been interesting if the actor who played the son had really been, or been able to play, 16.  Even with all of the character’s bravura and drinking/accused drug use, etc. , if he had been more vulnerable, I think the ultimate need to protect him would have helped to make more sense out of the play.  I felt like the actor who played the boy ‘pushed’ way too hard.  Too much hand to brow angst.  Telling us he was upset, rather than just living in the behavior of a young kid dealing with a hard to understand move from the city to the mountains and (the possibility of?) having a promiscuous mother and an abusive father.  I think he should have been the one in the middle of the story, torn by the behavior of the Mother and the Father.  Ultimately finding the balance in the performances is the director’s job.  What do you think?"


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