Saturday, June 03, 2006

MOVIN' OUT -- A Review

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge Billy Joel fan. I’ve seen him on concert three times, and have wanted to see the Billy Joel inspired musical “Movin’ Out” since it opened on Broadway in 2002. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards in 2003 and walked away with two – Best Choreography (Twyla Tharp) and Best Orchestrations (Billy Joel and Stuart Malina). I was disappointed that it only won two awards, but it was up against “Hairspray,” which won eight that year.

The show landed in Madison this week, playing Overture Hall, and my younger sister and I attended the sold-out performance Friday night. First, I must say that this was the first chance I’d had to attend a performance at the new Overture Center for the Arts and must say it is beautifully designed and the acoustics to die for. The seats, while reasonably comfortable, are not designed for our super-size-it society, and I can see a great many people being uncomfortable in them. The one thing I like about the seating at Overture Hall over the Kohl Center is that, while both feature arena-style seating, Overture Hall has metal railings in between rows which is ideal for holding on to while making your way to your seat, and in assuring that no one will fall on you from behind (a realistic fear of mine since it happened to me the second time I visited the Kohl Center).

The set design is minimalistic, with few props — a car driven onto the set in the opening scene, a hill for the scenes representing the Vietnam War, a bar for scenes set in both Saigon and New York. The band performed on a metal platform elevated above and to the rear of the stage, which made it difficult for those in the balcony to see them, due to the proscenium stage. From where we sat third row in the balcony, we could only see the lead vocalist/pianist; the rest were faceless torsos.

The musical is a fusion of ballet and modern dance, "narrated" through the songs of Billy Joel by the lead pianist/vocalist, following the lives of five friends through the 60's, the Vietnam War and into the 70's. While the dancers were incredible, the lead singer was amazing, making every song his own. To quote my sister, "He was friggin' awesome!" Piano and lead vocals for tonight's show were performed by Matthew Friedman, and he was indeed spectacular. Needless to say, he received quite an ovation at end of the performance — louder than that for the cast even! And deservedly so!

The worst thing about the show (other than not being able to see the band) was NOT singing along to every song. As mentioned earlier, I've seen Billy Joel in concert three times and walked away hoarse every time. But, well...though it *was* his music, it wasn't exactly the sing-along-at-the-top-of-your-lungs event his concerts are. However, that did not keep me — or the rest of the audience — from tapping fingers or feet, bobbing heads in time to the beat, or even mouthing the words on occasion. *g*

In short, it was an enjoyable performance, and I would definitely see it again, if given the chance. Especially if Friedman were performing lead piano and vocals.

Click Here to read a review from the Capital Times.


Lynn Daniels said...

I'm a huge Billy Joel fan, too. This sounds like it'd be a fun show! I haven't seen a show since I was single and skinny. That was a LONG time ago!

Jana said...

Wow! Sounds like a spectacular time. I'm not much of a Billy Joel fan (I don't dislike him either) but it sounds like fun. Glad you enjoyed it and had a great time.

Heather said...

Hi Lynn and Jana!

It truly was a fun show, and I would love to see it again--only from a lower vantage point than the balcony.

I have the soundtrack, and I have to tell you -- once you see it, the songs mesh together more cohesively, and you understand why some were done the way they were. For instance, "We Didn't Light the Fire." When I first heard the soundtrack, I didn't like the way that one was arranged, but now that I have that turbulent scene in my head it makes perfect sense.

Latesha said...

Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself at the show. I didn't see it when it was in New York, but I've heard others say that it was good.

Heather said...

Thanks, Latesha -- sorry you missed it when it was in NYC. I would have LOVED seeing it on B'way!