Category Archives: Misc.

On Stage: The Sound of Music

So I’m sitting on the couch watching “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” when The Wife comes to me and she says,

The Sound of Music opens tonight. Let’s go!”

“Uh, Wizard World Comic-Con opens tonight.”

“You’re not seriously going to compare a nerd-celebrity meet-and-greet to one of the greatest musicals in the history of musical theater, are you?”

“Uh, No?”

“Do you really want to miss a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic for a 30-minute Q-and-A session with Sebastian Stan?”

“Uh, No?”

“Then get dressed, because the hills will be alive with the sound of you screaming in pain if I miss The Sound of Music over a comic book convention.”

And so it was that The Wife and I made our way to the Fabulous Fox Theatre last night for the opening performance of a weekend run of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music.


Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria in “The Sound of Music.” Photo by Matthew Murphy

What can I say about The Sound of Music that hasn’t already been said?

This classic collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II made its Broadway debut in 1959, but is best known for its 1965 film version starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It features the timeless tunes “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” Edelweiss” and the title song.

It’s based on the memoir “The Story of the Trapp Family Singers” by Maria von Trapp and tells the story of a young woman who is kicked out of a nunnery for being too spirited (not in the religious sense) so she’s sent off to serve as a governess to seven children. Their father, a strict disciplinarian and military man, finds Maria too chaotic at first but is soon drawn in by her siren songs about the joys of singing. Oh, and the Second World War is looming in the background.

But then, you already knew that. Mostly because you’ve probably seen the show or are not culturally illiterate, and possibly because you remember reading my review of the musical from the last time it was in town.

The current production stars Jill-Christine Wiley as Maria and she’s terrific. Wiley sings the classic tunes with gusto all while maintaining that essential Julie Andrews-like charm. The young actors playing the von Trapp children are equally adorable and talented. The adults are equally talented but not quite as adorable. Lauren Kidwell, as the Mother Abbess, belts out a tremendous version of “Climb Every Mountain.”

The show boasts impressive set designs, costumes and orchestration. Comic-con probably had better costumes, but I doubt Sebastian Stan can sing as well as the von Trapp family singers.

The Sound of Music is playing through Sunday.


On Stage: School Of Rock

I’m usually hard to please when it comes to movie comedies but one recent film that did hit the right chord with me was “School of Rock,” the 2003 musical comedy that had just the right mix of Jack Black, humor, kids and rock.

It surely came as no surprise when it was announced that the movie was being retooled for Broadway in 2014. What may have surprised some was the news that musical icon Andrew Lloyd Webber would be involved in the project. It’s a long way from “Phantom of the Opera” to the “School of Rock.”

Working from the screenplay by Mike White, Webber (music), Glenn Slater (lyrics) and Julian Fellowes (book) crafted a theatrical experience with all the fun and exuberance of the movie.

School of Rock Tour (9)_preview
 The cast of the School of Rock tour. © Matthew Murphy


Rob Colletti stars as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock god (with emphasis on wannabe) whose enthusiasm is greater than his talent. Fed up with his antics, his partners kick him out of his band right before the big Battle of the Bands competition.

Dewey retreats to his bedroom, in an apartment that he shares (without paying rent) with his best friend Ned Schneebly (Matt Bittner) and Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Emily Borromeo). Patty wants Dewey’s freeloading days to end.

While moping about the house, Dewey answers a phone call from Horace Green, a prestigous prep school. The school is looking to hire Ned for a substitute teaching gig. Dewey decides to impersonate Ned to earn some much-needed cash.

At first Dewey plans to bluff his way through the day with lots of recess but when he discovers several of his students are talented musicians he comes up with a new class project. Now he just has to raise his students’ confidence levels, whip them into shape as a band, and keep their parents and the school principal (Lexie Dorsett Sharp) unaware of what’s going on.

“School of Rock: The Musical” follows the film pretty closely, cutting out bits here and there to make room for more music. The score features three songs from the movie – including the title track – and a dozen songs written for the stage, highlighted by the anthemic “Stick It to the Man.”

Colletti does a fine job capturing the manic energy of Jack Black, while the young cast members (too many to name) prove to be just as talented — or maybe moreso — as the adults in the show. The kids are alright at jumping up and down, singing in harmony, and especially at rocking out.

School of Rock runs through January 28 at the Fox Theatre.

The 25 Most Entertaining Things of 2017


1. An American in Paris


2. Something Rotten


519-film-page-thumbnail3. Logan


161005_Shotspeare_Carousel34. Shotspeare


5. Trivia Night 2017


6. The Ikea Adventure


7. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


8. Secret Empire


9. Ann Wilson


10. Wonder Woman


11. Titus

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12. Joelfest 2017


13. Spider-Man: Homecoming


14. Astonishing X-Men


15. LawyerCon 2017: Lake Tahoe


16. Wind River


17. Billy Joel


18. Generations: The Archers


19. Gallrein Farms Family Reunion


20. Thor: Ragnarok


21. On Your Feet!


22. The Punisher


23. Justice League (hey, I enjoyed it)


24. The Crown


25. Black Mirror

On Stage: Cinderella

If you’re wondering how to spend a few hours in this cold, hazy space between Christmas and New Year’s, here’s a suggestion: Find a young girl, dress her up in a cute ball gown, and take her to see “Cinderella” at the Fox.

She will have a good time — and you probably will too.

And she won’t be alone. There were plenty of young ladies dressed in their finest regalia at the opening night of the show. I even saw a few young men in the crowd. I guess “Cinderella” is a fairy tale for all ages and all sexes.


Leslie Jackson and Tatyana Lubov in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.”                              Photo © Carol Rosegg

Originally written for television by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the musical first aired in 1957 with Julie Andrews in the title role. The Broadway version currently on stage was adapted in 2013 with a new book by Douglas Carten Beane.

One of those “tales as old as time,” “Cinderella” stars Tatyana Lubov as Ella, a young woman working like a slave for her demanding stepmother (Sarah Smith). Stepmom only married Ella’s father for his money — her main concerns are her “real” daughters Gabrielle (Nicole Zelka) and Charlotte (Joanna Johnson).

Elsewhere in the kingdom, Prince Topher (Louis Griffin) is busy slaying dragons and giant insect creatures and not really paying attention to the welfare of the little people. His handler Lord Pinkleton (Vincent B. Davis) decides it’s time for the prince to settle down so he schedules a ball because they didn’t have back in those days.

Stepmother is determined that one of her daughters will win the prince’s hand — just not her stepdaughter. But Ella doesn’t need stepmom’s help because she’s got something better — a fairy godmother (Leslie Jackson). Ella is whisked away to the palace by magic carriage but has to flee at the stroke of midnight when the magic wears off.

At this point you’re expecting Ella to lose one of her glass slippers, but we’ve got to stretch this short story out to a 2.5-hour show, so she keeps her footwear — forcing the prince to have a second party so we can repeat the process and get to the happy ending we all know is coming.

There are other changes to pad, or enhance if you prefer, the story. Charlotte falls in love with the town radical (Corbin Williams) and there’s talk of mixing democracy with the monarchy.

“Cinderella” is a charming show. It features memorable songs like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Impossible” and my personal favorite — “The Stepsister’s Lament.” The stage design and costumes are bright and colorful. The transformations are magical. The cast and musicians do fine work.

“Cinderella” runs through Dec. 31.


On Stage: The King and I

After entertaining audiences with the modern musicals “On Your Feet!” and “The Bodyguard,” the Fox Theatre is dancing back to Broadway’s golden age with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic “The King and I.”

The show is based on the life of Anna Leonowens, who served as governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s. Her story was made into a book — “Anna and the King of Siam” — by Margaret Landon in 1944. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II turned the tale into a musical that made its Broadway premiere in 1951.

The current touring production, directed by Bartlett Sher, won four Tony awards in 2015, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Matthew Murphy_preview

Jose Llana and Laura Michelle Kelly in “The King and I.” Photo by Matthew Murphy

Laura Michelle Kelly stars as Anna — the “I” in the title — a widowed mother of one who has come to Bangkok to teach the many children, and wives, of the King (Jose Llana). The king wants to be considered a modern-day ruler but continues to cling to old ways. It’s a puzzlement.

Both Anna and the king are strong-willed and the challenging nature of their relationship is the heart of the story. There’s a subplot involving a young princess (Q Lim) who doesn’t want to be the king’s property.  Also playing a key role is Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang, the first among the king’s wives.

The leads all have powerful voices as they deliver such standards as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,”  “Getting to Know You” and “Shall We Dance?” Kelly performs the role of classic musical heroine with grace and style while Llana is a supercharged powder keg of explosive energy.

The set design is minimal for the most part while the costumes are bright and elaborate. The music is sharp and memorable and the performances are all strong. “The King and I” isn’t a holiday classic, but it’s a fine diversion for the holiday season.

“The King and I” runs through Dec. 10.




The RRoy Report Holiday Gift Guide 2017

So you’ve got stuck playing Secret Santa and you don’t know what to do? Or say you’ve got some great co-worker, friend, brother, cousin, former co-worker, husband and you really want to show your appreciation for all that person has been to you — but what to do, what to do?

Well, that’s why I’m here. And that’s why every year I struggle to bring you the latest and greatest in gift ideas for the holidays. To be honest, I didn’t struggle too much this year — the holidays have kinda snuck up on me. Doing “Justice League” week last week really threw off my schedule.

Still, I scraped together a few things so let’s get through this so you can get back to turkey leftovers or football or whatever you do today.


download2017 was lousy in many ways, but it was stellar when it comes to superhero movies. Many of them are available now on blu-ray (my preferred format) or DVD. If you want to spend the holiday darkly depressed, check out Wolverine’s last run in Logan. It’s violent and sad and very well done. If you need something much more lighthearted, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming offer laughs, action, special effects and decent villain turns by Kurt Russell and Michael Keaton. If you want all of that (except Keaton and Russell) and a heaping dose of feminism, check out Wonder Woman.

If you can only buy one — why can you only buy one? You’ve got a computer and internet, you can’t be that poor.


I tend to latch onto bands and musicians because (a) they put out that one song that really grabs my attention (b) a friend/nephew/roommate turns me on to them (c) there is no c.

Green-Day-Gods-Favorite-Band-billboard-embedI’m not a fan of Green Day. I’ve heard some of their stuff but they’ve never had that one song that really grabs me. Still, I know they’re popular and I’d probably like their stuff if I tried it and they do have a greatest hits album coming out for the holidays, so BAM! it’s on the list. Besides, apparently they’re “God’s Favorite Band,” so they must be good.

The New Pornographers, one of my favorite modern bands — maybe my only favorite modern band — put out a new record this year. “Whiteout Conditions” starts out with a couple of really strong songs, has an OK middle and then loses steam at the end. I’d still recommend it. U2 will have a new album out December 1. I don’t need a copy of “Songs of Experience” because they’re sending us 2 copies for advance purchasing tickets for their St. Louis show. I don’t know what I’ll do with the second copy — maybe I’ll do one of those “Like and Share” things on Facebook for some lucky winner. Since I haven’t heard it yet I can’t tell you if it’s any good, but hey, it’s U2 — how bad can it be?


9780785194521_p0_v2_s600x595Uhm, don’t have much in the way of book recommendations this year. Susan Sagarra didn’t write one. I mentioned this last week, but DC is releasing an omnibus version of the wonderful Justice League International comic book. If you enjoy some Bwah-Ha-Ha with your superhero action, it’s worth checking out. It will not fit in a stocking.

Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is the collection edition of Secret Empire. This is the controversial (because everything is controversial these days) story in which Captain America turns out to be a secret Nazi — I mean, Hydra — and takes over the world. Some nerds just don’t understand that heroes temporarily being turned into bad guys is a staple of comic books and — spoiler alert! — Cap isn’t going to be evil by the story’s end.

As you probably expect, I’m only recommending this because there’s some decent Hawkeye/Black Widow moments. Although it doesn’t end well for Natasha.

Station Trinkets

I learned a new term this week: Station Trinkets. Apparently that refers to all the crap that people put on their desks to give it a personal feel and help convince you that you’re not really wasting your life away at a desk like a cog in a machine for some cold, impersonal company.

Some people, of course, put up family photographs. Many people in my office like those god-awful ugly Funko dolls. Others prefer different forms of memorabilia.


My personal recommendation: Heroclixs. They’re game pieces (I’ve never played the game and have no idea how) that come in the shape of your favorite comic book characters. They are small, so you can have several on your desk. They are cheap, so if someone steals them it’s no big loss. And they look cool. Although to be fair, the quality of some of them varies– especially the faces. So check them out before you buy.

In Conclusion

I went out recently looking for superhero Christmas sweaters but all they had was Deadpool and I don’t like ‘Pool enough to wear him for the holidays. Target had an amusing light-up Star Wars sweater, but I’m not enough of a Star Wars geek to want that. But then, I’m not you.

As always, if for some reason your taste in holiday gifts veers towards automotive-related items, check out all the great deals at

Now get out there and go shopping. Our nation’s economy is counting on you.




Gone: Malcolm Young

Stand up and be counted for what you are about to receive
We are the dealers
We’ll give you everything you need
Hail hail to the good times
Cos rock has got the right of way
We ain’t no legends ain’t no cause
We’re just livin’ for today
For those about to rock, we salute you

‘Cause the walls were shaking
The earth was quaking
My mind was aching
And we were making it
And you
Shook me all night long
Rode down the highway
Broke the limit, we hit the town
Went through to Texas, yeah Texas, and we had some fun
We met some girls
Some dancers who gave a good time
Broke all the rules
Played all the fools
Yeah yeah they, they, they blew our minds
And I was shaking at the knees
Could I come again please
Yeah them ladies were too kind
You’ve been
If you’re havin’ trouble with the high school head
He’s givin’ you the blues
You wanna graduate but not in his bed
Here’s what you gotta do
Pick up the phone, I’m always home
Call me any time
Just ring 362 436 oh
I lead a life of crimeDirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap
(Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap)
(Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap)

Ridin’ down the highway
Goin’ to a show
Stop in all the byways
Playin’ rock ‘n’ roll
Gettin’ robbed
Gettin’ stoned
Gettin’ beat up
Broken boned
Gettin’ had
Gettin’ took
I tell you folks
It’s harder than it looksIt’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

I’m rolling thunder pouring rain
I’m coming on like a hurricane
My lightning’s flashing across the sky
You’re only young but you’re gonna die
I won’t take no prisoners won’t spare no lives
Nobody’s putting up a fight
I got my bell I’m gonna take you to hell
I’m gonna get ya satan get yaHells bells
Hells bells, you got me ringing
Hells bells, my temperature’s high
Hells bells

Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t noise pollution
Yes I’m back in black
Back in the back of a Cadillac
Number one with a bullet I’m a power pack
Yes I am
In a bang with the gang
They’ve got to catch me if they want me to hang
Cause I’m back on the track and I’m beatin’ the flack
Nobody’s gonna get me on another rap
So look at me now I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck just get out of my way
Cause I’m back
Yes I’m back
Well I’m back
Yes I’m back
Well I’m back back
Well I’m back in black
Yes I’m back in black
Livin’ easy
Livin’ free
Season ticket on a one way ride
Askin’ nothin’
Leave me be
Takin’ everythin’ in my stride
Don’t need reason
Don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothin’ that I’d rather do
Goin’ down
Party time
My friends are gonna be there tooI’m on the highway to hell