john goldman

Anastasia: A New Musical (contains spoilers)

I do not even know where to begin. 

Okay so basically the way the theater accommodated for those of us who had traveled a long distance and couldn’t come back to another date of the show, they let us in to watch the dress rehearsal. I don’t regret it for a second and I’d do it again in a heart beat. Like how many people can say they saw the DRESS REHEARSAL of a show?!

So we got to the theater and they were selling bags, magnets, tee shirts, and posters…I got a shirt and two posters because they were super reasonably priced….and I know once it hits broadway the merch will triple in price. 

So we get seated and no our seats were not as great as we’d originally had…initially I had second row seats for us but since they still had all of the tech stuff set up and the professional photographer needed to get photos….we were sat in the side sections, but that was okay. 

BEFORE the show I went to the bathroom and on my way I saw a woman all made up but in regular clothes and I was like “Damn she looks familiar!” and I went up to her and I said “are you who I think you are?” and she goes “Well I’m in the show” and I said “But you were in Moulin Rouge weren’t you?” and she goes “Yes!” and I proceeded to fangirl hard core and I was like “Oh my god it’s so nice to meet you. I just found out last night that you are in this and I’m so excited because I have loved Moulin Rouge since I was 12 years old” and Caroline took my hand and said I was so sweet and asked me my name….Caroline played Nini Legs in the Air in Moulin Rouge..you know “Don’t worry Shakespeare, you’ll get your ending once the Duke gets his…end….in.” 

So so sweet. She played the new revised version of Sophie in the show. 

SO ONTO THE SHOW ITSELF…I literally spent the Prologue and “Dance of the Romanovs” bawling my eyes out….the show opened with young Anastasia being put to bed by her grandmother and her grandmother giving her the music box….they sing their special song together and then Anastasia’s parents come in and her father offers to dance with Anastasia and it transitions into the ball the night that the Bolsheviks came…..AND GOD DAMN. The thing hurt…bad. AND THERE WERE SO MANY REFERENCES IN THE SHOW THAT YOU’RE LITERALLY ONLY GOING TO GET IF YOU ARE UP ON YOUR ROMANOV KNOWLEDGE….like Alexi trips and falls while dancing with Anastasia and literally everyone stops to see if he’s okay…because Alexi was a hemophiliac. 

And basically the whole show is set up on the premise of Anastasia escaping the house of Special Purposes (or Ipatiev House) in Yekaterinburg. It isn’t entirely clear throughout the show if that’s the case or not because the last we see of young Anastasia is her going back for her music box and an explosion going off….but later in the show Anya shows Dimitri a diamond she’s had this whole time and she tells him one of the Nurses found it sewed into her clothing and she was told to keep it safe and secret until she found someone she could trust….AGAIN another thing you’re only going to pick up on if you’ve actually read about the Romanov murders…but basically the women all sewed their jewels into their corsets to keep them secret and the hope that furthered MANY people’s dreams about the survival of a Romanov for years was that the bullets bounced off one of the girls corsets…

What I loved most about this is despite it being based off Anastasia surviving and then using the core of the film, is the history that was utilized. There is a WHOLE SONG sung by Gleb about how his father was one of the officers who carried out the executions….and how his father died ashamed of what he had done….and Gleb sings about being a little boy and hearing the children laughing inside the gates of the house and then hearing their screams and the shots….and they even have Anya remembering her dog Toby who was murdered with the family…

A few of the songs like “A rumor in St Petersburg” and “Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart” were changed or had different lyrics added but they were fine and I really liked it. “Rumor” had more basis in history and they talked about St. Petersburg being Leningrad and what not…and “Paris” had more explanation on the historical figures that appear in the movie like Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Isadora Duncan, and Gertrude Stein….which I thought was great. The young lady playing Josephine Baker was a phenomenal dancer. 

There’s more of a background on Dimitri and Vlad in this, and we learn that Dimitri’s father was an outspoken anarchist who was killed in a labor camp for his beliefs…

Another thing that was great is Anastasia’s nightmare is different since Rasputin isn’t involved, but it does involve her just having nightmares in general which has her seeing her parents….so the entire Romanov’s would circle the bed while she was dreaming, demanding she remember…and Alexi breaking my heart by saying “We’re all going to die” which leads into Dimitri coming in to comfort Anya and that leads into the way that Dimitri saw eight year old Anastasia in this is very different but it is a wonderful different and leads to a great duet between the two of them called “In a Crowd of Thousands”. 

ALSO Vlad and Sophie (now Lily) and their relationship is SERIOUSLY explored AND I LOVED IT. You find out where Lily fit into the grand scheme of things as a countess, her relationship with Vlad…I was so excited to see Caroline dancing because her tango in “El Tango de Roxanne” is still one of the best things ever in my life. 

There’s another scene towards the end where Gleb is faced with the decision to do the right or the wrong thing and while this is happening in the background they are showing the soldiers advancing on the Romanov family with the rifles for the execution and the whole thing is so raw…they thankfully do NOT show the Romanov’s being murdered because that would have really made it tough for me to love this show as much as I do…

But the sets, the costumes, the acting, singing, dancing, everything was SO perfect. Broadway has a new big hit on their hands and I really hope it makes it to the Tony’s next year….It deserves it and then some. 

I can’t think of anything else to say right now…I’m just in awe…and a little tired from crying so much during the show…If you have any questions let me know, I’d be more than happy to try and answer them. <3 <3 

100 Days of Trump: 1/100, Assassins, the Mind of the Alt Right

“Everybody’s got the Right to be Happy, don’t be mad, life’s not as bad a it seems.  If you keep your goal in sight, you can climb to any height.  Everybody’s Got a Right to their Dreams” 

So again, this is my response to my nation’s madness, to try to understand the insanity and explain WTF just happened, how did something like this ever come to pass?  So I am going to recommend 100 things that can help people understand what is going and how to fight it.  First and more importantly, the single most important thing to understand Trump, is the Musical Assassins by Stephen Songheim 

You can listen to the soundtrack here   The music is good, with a lot to recommend but I want to talk about the psychology of madness that is its core tenant.  

    The play is about a strange fantasy realm where all of the presidential assassins live together, from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, they hang out, justify, and rationalize their actions.  The play is about the psychology of people who take violence, and trying to understand the people who think that killing the president will solve their problems.  And very quickly it becomes apparent that to understand assassins, you need to understand American culture as a whole.   That Giuseppe Zangara’s belief that killing President Roosevelt would cure his stomach illness or Samuel Byck who tried to hit Nixon with a plane in a Santa costume isn’t just the demented psychosis of demented madmen, but is part of American culture as a whole.  The play notes that  Presidential assassins aren’t political activists or agents of rival factions, but instead individual nutters who take it upon them selves to kill the president.  These universally white and overwhelmingly male figures mostly don’t have a coherent political ideology or frame of principles, but instead more of a vague emotional bag of insecurities and demented psychosis writ large.  The musical is set in a nightmarish Carnival, where the assassins desperately compete for “The Prize” of the American dream, and national renown serves as the rationalization for violence.  

“There is another National Anthem, but not the one they play at the ballpark”

     All of the assassins (except Booth who plays the role of lucifer in the tale) are in various degrees losers, the social maladjusted, the failed dreamers, left over forgotten people, but critically they all buy into the idea of the American Dream.  Even as they consistently fail to do anything productive with their own lives, they idealize the American dream worshiping the notion that anybody can one day become President of the United States.  These are people born with privilege, but for various reasons are unable to reep the full benefits of that privilege, and feeling betrayed they lash out.  Conspiracy theorists, radicals, and racists, at their heart these people are pathetically lonely, and reminds you of nothing so much as MRAs or the Alt Right.  People who fetishist the idea of guns, capitalistic progress, and above all machismo, but  at their heart they are failures at all that they strive for, and whose ranting underlies a sense of insecurity and loss.  These people aren’t intellectuals, instead they find the resents of an ideology and cling to it as driftwood, they make a Cargo Cult out of American values and using it as a security blanket for their own feeling of inadequacy.  And in this bubble of loneliness, entitlement, narcissism and above all shame, which quickly turns to resentment.  And over time, that turns to violence, and they become so myopic they no longer even realize that their actions hurt other people, that such ideas have rhetoric.  Above all, these people truly believe themselves to be the underdogs, that they are the persecuted fighting against an America that owes them a prize.   Where the American dream is unbridled optimism, they are what happens when you combine it with a kitch sort of nihilism which as inspired people from the Columbine Shooters to Dylan Roof.  

   There is a lot to like in the Musical in how it talks about the Two Party System, Nice Guy Syndrome, Gun Culture and much more, but I just want to leave on this exchange.  The Assassins plead with Lee Harvey Oswald to kill JFK and he says “People will hate me” and Booth says “Yes they will hate you, they will hate you with a passion that is unimaginable.  Imagine it, people will have strong feelings about you, people will care about John Wilkes Booth”  The musical isn’t about endorsing them, in fact it is a very strong condemnation of that mindset, but why I recommend it, is because it is through this that you can understand the type of mindset that votes for Trump.  For really, what better sums up the Election of Donald Trump than this?



“Something Just Broke”

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Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH was first released on July 2, 1982.

Don Bluth, John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman all left Disney to pursue this project, which had originally been rejected by their former employer as “too dark” to be a commercial success. They were followed soon after by 20 other Disney animators, dubbed “The Disney Defectors” by the trade press. (x)

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The Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC held its first services since last week’s deadly massacre in which nine people were killed by a racist gunman. Worshippers also gathered at a small prayer service outside the church.  “ To hatred, we say no way, not today,” said pastor Jermaine Watkins, to his gathered flock.  “To racism, we say no way, not today. To division, we say no way, not today. To reconciliation, we say yes. To loss of hope, we say no way, not today. To a racial war, we say no way, not today. To racial fear, we say no way, not today. Charleston, together, we say no way, not today.”  

(Photos: John Taggart / EPA; David Goldman / pool photo; Carlo Allegri / Reuters and  Goldman / pool via the New York Times)