Movie Review! Central Intelligence

Looking for something to do this weekend?! Today’s post, a mix of a Collaboration, Event Recap, & Movie Review, will definitely provide an awesome idea!
On Monday, I was offered the chance to get a sneak peek of “Central Intelligence” – a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson & Kevin Hart that comes out THIS FRIDAY, June 17th! Thank you FabulousArizona.com for this awesome opportunity! The Event was a lot of fun, way more than just a basic Movie viewing. Radio stations Power 98.3 & 101.9 were there giving away a ton of free branded merchandise, as you’ll see below, & playing some great music. I was genuinely surprised no one started a dance party, especially when they started playing “The Wobble”! I posted a video of the theater filling up on my Twitter, go check it out & Follow me: @MissAl_Leigh. Keep scrolling to watch the trailer for “Central Intelligence” & read my Review – I’ll try to keep SPOILERS to a minimum!

As you can see from the trailer, the basic plot is that Hart’s character, Calvin, & Johnson’s character, Robby are high school classmates with very different social standing. Calvin is Prom King & basically Captain of every sport, voted Most Likely to Succeed & dating the prettiest girl in school. Robby is an overweight goofball that’s a social outcast, an easy target for bullies. Flash forward 20 years & Calvin definitely doesn’t have the amazing successful life he imagined. He married his high school sweetheart & now works as an accountant. The day before their 20 year High School Reunion, Calvin is reunited with Robby – now Bob Stone. Bob Stone is, of course, in way better shape, but the same lovable, if a tad bit annoying, goofball – & he’s also a human weapon employed by the CIA. Bob involves Calvin in his latest mission which twists & turns until Calvin has no idea who to trust! Underneath the huge muscles, is Bob still that misfit from High School, who now needs his help to save the world? Or is he really a dirty CIA Agent hell bent on killing whoever gets in his way? Calvin & Bob must overcome many obstacles on the road to clearing their names in this Action Comedy that has a really sweet message about friendship & learning to love who you are.

Rating: B
Usually I split my Movie Reviews into Likes & Dislikes, but there wasn’t anything I DISLIKED about “Central Intelligence”. I just didn’t really connect with it enough or find it hilarious enough to give it an A rating. It’s definitely funny & there were quite a few moments that had the whole audience laughing out loud. However, if you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart, you most likely won’t enjoy this film. He’s a “big” actor, but I have the same sense of humor/style of comedic acting, so I guess I’m biased! The writing is clever, pay close attention for a few lines that reference other characters the cast has played. For example, a line about Bob looking like Hercules – a character Johnson has played. Also, there are some awesome cameos for fans of “Breaking Bad”, “Arrested Development”, & “Bridesmaids”. This film was relatively tame in terms of language & violence which I was kind of surprised by. Plot wise, the details of the CIA storyline hardly matter. The real story is the developing friendship & character growth that occurs between Calvin & Bob. The end is predictable & slightly cheesy, but was nice to see in a mostly male cast action/comedy/buddy film. Character-wise, I liked that Calvin is honestly a good guy. I appreciate that he wasn’t some bad boy jock getting his comeuppance by becoming a paper pusher. I think more people can sympathize with a nice character that had a bright future ahead of him – & just turned out to be average. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I think many of us can identify with having big dreams, only to wake up to a reality that’s much different. All in all, I would definitely recommend this film for anyone looking for a movie that’s fun but also has a lot of heart – no pun intended!

For a chance to win a Sneak Peek of your own for an upcoming film & to check out all sorts of cool restaurants, local spots, spas, donut shops, etc, in Arizona, please Follow Fabulous Arizona on their website, Instagram, & Twitter!

While you’re at it, please Follow me here on MissAl-Leigh.com, Instagram, & Twitter! Let me know if you plan on going to see “Central Intelligence” or once you’ve seen it, Comment below what you thought! What other movies are you planning on seeing this summer?! Thanks for reading 🙂

Movie Review! PAN

Hi y’all, today I’m going to be reviewing PAN – the Peter Pan prequel film that came out this weekend.

I’ll keep this plot description brief, although, please be cautious as there will be spoilers down below. The film tells the story of how Peter Pan came to Neverland and met his famous band of Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, & Tiger Lily.

Keep reading to see my likes, dislikes, final thoughts, & rating of this film! Be warned – SPOILERS!!!
Click the FOLLOW button on the top right or enter your email down below (mobile version) to stay updated with all my posts.

Likes:
– Some of the writing/plot points were creative in a subtle way that was perfect for a family friendly film. There were a few instances where the writers created a sort of parallel universe between Neverland and the “real world” which was set during WWII. One example; Peter lives at an orphanage & boys have started to disappear. One character says he hopes they’ve escaped to Canada. You eventually find out they’re being sold by the orphanage to Neverland pirates. In real life during WWII, children were stolen by/sold to Nazi’s or were sent to other countries by their families to escape. These subtle references to that time period would go over the heads of most kids, but adds another layer to the story for those familiar with history. Another way they made things more family friendly was, rather than showing a bloody massacre when the Neverland tribespeople are killed during a fight scene, they explode into a mist of bright colored powder.
– References to source material included lines such as, “To die will be an awfully big adventure”, references to Peter crowing, minor characters such as Nibs & “the twins” who are important Lost Boys in the source material, a few important scenes involving shadows – a reference to the importance Peter’s shadow plays in the source material, a scene with a Neverland Bird’s nest, and a clever line at the end of the film when Peter asks Captain Hook if they’ll always be friends and he says, “Of course, what could go wrong?”. The line was humorous yet ironic, as most viewers know they go on to become enemies, but more importantly, seemed to be setting things up for a sequel.
– There were 3 big animation sequences that were amazing & reminded me of “The Deathly Hallows” scenes from Harry Potter. Overall, the visual effects were stunning, yet dramatic – some might find them cheesy, but I enjoyed them.

Dislikes:
– I don’t know anyone else that experienced this, but I found the accents extremely difficult to understand in the beginning.
– Super slow, kept waiting for something big/exciting to happen, especially between Pan & Hook.
– Garrett Hedlund’s portrayal of Hook felt extremely forced. With that deep voice & disjointed way of speaking, it seemed like a bad impersonation of The Joker or Indiana Jones. This was the first time I’ve seen him perform so I’m not sure if that’s his style or that’s what the director wanted. Either way, it didn’t work for me.
– Tiger Lily, a character that was originally written & is typically portrayed as Native American, was played by a Caucasian actress. I think they should’ve stayed true to the source material & not made the character Caucasian.
– Not a fan of the musical numbers. At first it was cool to hear modern music, but they didn’t include enough & the few songs felt out of place. They either should’ve gone for it or left them out all together.
– Very little about this film felt original. As the film progressed I was thinking to myself, “Harry Potter, Pinocchio, Star Wars, Stardust” etc, etc. I’m not talking about the THEME of the stories aka Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” but actual plot points felt lifted from other stories.
– Why did people grow old on Neverland?!?!!?!?
– There was a lot left unexplained. I feel like they only wrote this film to create/gauge interest & then planned a sequel that would delve into the meat of the story. However, I doubt there will be a sequel.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
– I really, really wanted to love this film. Peter Pan has a huge place in my heart. I love the story, the musical, the Disney film, & the 2003 film – but overall I was disappointed in PAN. I feel like they missed the point of the Peter Pan legend, or at least, the way I see it. Peter isn’t a hero. He’s a bratty little boy that doesn’t want to grow up because he doesn’t want responsibility. He would never want the responsibility given to him in the film – he wants “always to be a little boy & to have fun”, yes, I just quoted the source material, I told you I love Peter Pan. Nothing is real to him, there’s no consequences. When confronted with death he says, “to die will be an awfully big adventure”. Everything is a game, he’s just moving from one wild adventure to the next. I’ve always seen Peter as a warning. Yeah, being a kid & having wild adventures is great, but eventually you have to grow up or you’ll miss out on the rest of life – & the rest of life is pretty great too! Wild adventures don’t stop because you grow up, they just change – & usually involve alcohol, haha! If you can’t change/grow up, the best part of the adventures – your friends – will leave you behind & you end up alone, like Peter does in the source material when Wendy leaves Neverland & takes all the Lost Boys with her. I understand this film was showing us Peter before he becomes “Peter Pan”, so he has yet to turn into the famous character. However, in a film about how a character gets his start…they don’t really explain how he gets there! If you have any feelings at all for Peter Pan, go see this just for the heck of it, but don’t expect too much other than great visuals & the occasional clever reference.
My Rating: C

Did you see PAN? If so, do you agree with my review? If you’re planning on seeing it, please leave me a comment after & let me know what you think! Thanks for reading 🙂

Event Recap! The Steve Jobs Movie

Hello all!

I’m excited to finally announce…I was an Extra in “Steve Jobs” – the newest Steve Jobs biopic being released THIS WEEKEND!!! The film was directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) & written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball – which I was also an Extra in). The film stars Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, & Jeff Daniels. I saw the director & all the stars except Seth Rogen, which I was kind of upset about, but it was from far away anyway so it’s okay. The film takes place backstage during 3 key Apple product launches leading up to the 1998 launch of the iMac. Obviously it will delve into what was going on with the company and Jobs during these times.

Filming took place in San Francisco at the Davies Symphony Hall and the surrounding streets. During the scenes at the Symphony Hall we were portraying guests at the unveiling of the “brand new” iMac so we did a lot of sitting, waiting, and cheering when Fassbender came on stage as Jobs. During the outdoor scenes we were portraying guests arriving for the unveiling. As these were large crowd scenes, I do not expect to have any screen time AT ALL, but hey, ya never know! It was a long day. There were some slight scheduling issues & we didn’t get a food break until we were done filming around 7pm! People were VERY upset because we had been waiting quite awhile & it had started to get cold. I had a great time, my mom was an extra with me & we quickly made friends with other extras & of course had each other for entertainment. However, to a certain extent, I understand why others were getting a bit peeved, especially because we weren’t getting paid to be on set.

All in all it was an awesome experience! A major highlight of the experience was overhearing this conversation…
Woman 1: “Is Steve Jobs actually going to show up?”
Woman 2: “GIRL, he’s been dead for years! If he shows up we’re all in trouble!!!”
With conversations like that, it’s no wonder I love to be on set! Take a look at the pictures I included below, they’re just picturse of my “’90’s costume”, but I’m curious to see what y’all think. We were told to dress like it was 1998, but when I was 7 & 8 years old I was definitely NOT wearing anything that I wanted to wear to a movie set in 2015, haha! I wanted to dress my current age within the staged time period, not wear clothes I actually wore during that time period. I did a lot of research on Google & Pinterest, but even that proved to be somewhat difficult as certain ’90’s trends are making a comeback. There were a lot of modernized looks, but of course, that wasn’t what I was aiming for. Anyway! Please let me know what you think of my look! Also, please see the movie & let me know if you spot me! 😛 Thanks for reading!

Movie Review! Pixels

Hello all! Today I’ll be doing a review of the new Adam Sandler movie “Pixels”.
I wasn’t too keen on seeing this film. I’m not a huge gamer so I wasn’t sure I’d understand the jokes & also…it’s an Adam Sandler film. Let’s be real. My expectations weren’t too high. I don’t hate Adam Sandler, but my favorite films of his are, “Little Nicky” & “Click” – older material. I haven’t been interested in his more recent films such as “Grown Ups” or “Jack & Jill”. Although too be fair, I don’t think many people liked “Jack & Jill”, so I don’t think I’m alone. Moving on!

“Pixels” centers around a time capsule sent into space in 1982 that is eventually intercepted by aliens. A video of the 1982 Video Game Championships is included in the time capsule featuring games like Donkey Kong, Centipede, Pac-Man, Galaga, etc. The aliens misinterpret the video games as Earth threatening to start a war. They retaliate with video game “soldiers” modeled after our 1980’s video game stars. The main cast, Sandler, James, Gad, and Dinklage, were all kids that competed in the 1982 Championships with Sandler and Dinklage coming in at second and first place, respectively. James’ character is now the U.S. President & he calls in his old buddies to help defeat the aliens as they are the best at playing the old games. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue – but do the nerds save the day?!

Keep reading to see my likes, dislikes, final thoughts, & rating of this film! Be warned – SPOILERS!!!
Click the FOLLOW button on the top right to stay updated with all my posts.

Likes:
– I really enjoyed watching this cast work together. Yeah, you have to deal with Adam Sandler & Kevin James working together as they do for most of Sandler’s movies, but can you blame them? If I was a really rich/famous actor I’d want to make movies with my best buds all day too! It’s not the whole crew, no Rob Schneider or Chris Rock – which could be good or bad depending on your view. I was super excited to see Josh Gad & Peter Dinklage. They were a breath of fresh air in a typical Sandler film & played their parts excellently. Thankfully, overall the acting was pretty good. Even the celebrity cameos, like Serena Williams & Martha Stewart were well done.
– Obviously the film centers around ’80’s video games, so big icons like Donkey Kong & Pac-man make appearances. My favorite, video game “cameo” was by Q*Bert – SO CUTE!! To be totally honest, I don’t know who he is, I told you I’m not a gamer. Still, one of my favorite things about the film.

Dislikes:
– There were quite a few anti female “jokes”/references that I didn’t appreciate. Women are having a hard enough time making their presence known in the gaming & military world, & this movie jumped right on the “women don’t belong” bandwagon. Yes, Monaghan’s character is a high ranking officer but her main purpose is a love interest for Sandler. There were maybe only 4 other females in the film. 2 don’t speak at all & they all were love interests or assistants to male characters. In the trailers I saw a scene where Monaghan has efficiently killed some aliens, to the astonishment of Sandler and his crew, & she says something along the lines of, “What? You boys think you were the only ones that spent time in the arcade?”. However, in the film, they changed that scene to her killing an alien shaped like Smurf then saying, “Please don’t tell anyone I just killed a Smurf!” I was SO annoyed! The power of language is so amazing. Even while doing the same action – killing – one response makes her a total bad ass with non stereotypical feminine interests, while the other reduces her to a stereotype – weak & emotional, filled with regret over acting aggressively.
– There were some odd continuity issues/plot holes. When we first meet Monaghan’s character she’s drinking out of a baby’s sippy cup & I swear I saw baby food in her kitchen, yet there’s no baby. In another scene, Peter Dinklage’s character, Eddie, says he’s been in prison for a certain number of years, yet in doing the math it doesn’t come out to be 2015 or later. I assumed the film took place in at least 2016 as Obama has already served based on other dialogue. SPOILER!!! Another plot line I took issue with was in regards to the cheat codes, but this might have been confusing for me because I’m not a gamer. When Eddie reveals he used a cheat code written on his sunglasses to defeat Pac-Man, he says they’re the same sunglasses he wore to beat Sandler’s character at Donkey Kong in 1982. How does the same cheat code work for two different games? I might be showing my ignorance, so if someone could explain that in the comments I would be really grateful!
– Visually painful to watch. Super bright & fast moving with lots of explosions. I get headaches very easily, especially from 3D films. I didn’t see this film in 3D but I found I had to look away during the big action scenes as there was so much going on.

Final Thoughts & Rating:
– Overall, I suppose this was just a cute silly movie. Don’t dig too deep – which is probably the point of most films, especially Adam Sandler films. I’m not sure who the audience of this film was supposed to be. I don’t think children will find a lot of entertainment in the ’80’s references & I don’t think adults that can appreciate the references will find the rest of the content entertaining.
My Rating: C –

Have you seen “Pixels”? What did you think? I’d really to talk to someone that enjoyed this film & hear your reasoning. Please leave me a comment at the bottom of this post & let’s hash it out! If you liked this review, please feel free to share it (or any of my posts) on your social media! Thanks for reading!

Event Recap – “The Chosen” Movie Premiere!

As I’ve discussed on the blog before, I have somewhat recently graduated from Chapman University with my Bachelor’s in Communication Studies & am currently working as an Event Planning Intern. My ultimate career goals are to end up working in the Entertainment Industry in Public Relations/Publicity, Event Planning, Social Media Management, Production, Casting, etc. With that being said, I’ve started to try to apply for Casting Assistant positions or Production Assistant gigs.

On July 24th, I was selected to work as a Production Assistant/Event Staff with SuperGravity Pictures at the World Premiere of “The Chosen” starring YouTube star Kian Lawley. The Black Carpet Event took place at the Gardenwalk in Anaheim. I was responsible for Check In which included not only Fans, but VIP, Industry, and Press. The short story is- it was SO. MUCH. FUN! I met wonderful people, saw some celebrities (I MET KANDEE JOHNSON!), did some networking, and had an amazing time. I can’t wait to see what my next adventure is. If you want to be part of the journey make sure you click on that FOLLOW button at the top right of this page!

Carmen!!

Carmen!!

Also, I wanted to give a shoutout to one of my new friends, the amazing Miss Carmen Sharafeldeen! In a crazy twist, we both used to work at the Starbucks in Disney California Adventure, just not at the same time. She’s lovely and talented & I can’t wait to hang out again! Please support her by following her on Social Media!

YouTube, Instagram: @CutieFightsBack, Tumblr, Twitter: @dar_lingx, & Periscope: dar_lingx.

She says, “My world consists of creating with Music, Makeup, Film, and Travel  Email thedailydarlingx@gmail.com for business inquiries  vegan 

Movie Review! Pitch Perfect 2

As I’ve discussed here before, I grew up doing musical theater, acting, and cheerleading, among other performance based activities. Whenever a film comes along that touches on any of that, I’m usually super psyched to see it. Yes, “Bring It On” is one of my favorite movies – although I don’t care for any of the films that followed. That seems to be the trend. I love the first “Pitch Perfect”. I really connected with the plot and especially Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca. She has the perfect amount of sass and sarcasm, yet shows a lot of heart & dedication to the Barden Bellas, which I identify with in regards to my 10 years of cheerleading experience. I really wanted to love “Pitch Perfect 2”, but unfortunately, I just couldn’t. I’m sure my opinion will not be popular, but please read below for my list of Likes, Dislikes, Final Thoughts, and Rating! Don’t be shy – click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to be notified when my next post goes up 🙂

Likes:
– I empathized with Beca’s attitude towards the Bellas. She was appreciative for the experiences they’d had together, but felt it was time for her to move on. She felt torn between dedicating her time to the “last hurrah” and her future. I understand how she felt. During the end of my time cheerleading, I started to feel like the near constant injuries I was sustaining didn’t make sense to tolerate anymore. I knew I wasn’t going to be a cheerleader forever, or even in college, so why permanently injure myself over something that wouldn’t be permanent in my life? It’s hard to come to terms with those emotions, so I applaud PP2 for taking on that storyline.
– The scenes that took place at Beca’s Internship were the funniest parts of the film.

& that’s it. That’s literally it.

Dislikes: There are so many things I disliked about this film. SO MANY.
– The story seemed undeveloped. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because you really got to know all the characters and their quirks. You hardly see Jesse – Beca’s boyfriend. You hardly learn any new information about any of the characters.
– I was disappointed with Flo, who is basically a Guatemalan version of Lilly, a strange, awkward non-white character thrown in to up the count of non-white actors. However, does it really count as being inclusive, broadening your casting, & having a multi-racial cast if all the character does is reinforce negative stereotypes of their race?
– The “love story” between Bumper and Fat Amy. They could have turned that into a substantial storyline about how Fat Amy was afraid to get into a relationship because she didn’t want to lose her independence or because she wasn’t sure where her life was going after college, etc. Nope. They just created a cheesy, dramatic, excuse to throw in another 80’s throwback love song, like they did with “Don’t You Forget About Me”. However, the inclusion of “Don’t You…” was well executed because it made sense with the rest of Beca & Jesse’s story – and yes, it reminded me of “Bring It On” when Torrance includes the songs from Cliff’s Mix Tape into the Toro’s competition routine. You don’t often see “big girls” involved in love stories, so I was (again) disappointed that they chose to make Fat Amy’s love story sloppy and uncomfortable.
– I didn’t appreciate the substantial number of jokes aimed at women.  A few I remember off the top of my head were the classic, “Women belong in the kitchen”, “This is why we shouldn’t send women to college”, “I’ll do whoever it takes”, and one character’s plan to become “A music teacher in a 3rd world country, or an exotic dancer. Whatever pays more!” Really? In a movie marketed towards young woman, the target audience is being subjected to jokes that put us down. I’m so glad I paid money for this! Seriously, if I wanted to subject myself to BS like this I’d just look around the Internet for free.
– The classless jokes didn’t end there. This film covered the gamut of sensitive topics, poking fun at Thailand “Lady Boys” (their words, not mine!) and the Gay/Lesbian community, among others.
– A plot point I didn’t understand (SPOILERS!!!!): The Bellas lost the private Sing-Off because Emily sings an original song & everyone is yelling at her that “Acapella doesn’t do originals, we’re supposed to do covers” etc…but then they (SPOILER!!!!) win Worlds, by singing the same original song…?!? Wha!? There’s no consistency, unless, the story writer was trying to imply that the world of Acapella was old school & the judges appreciated them trying something new…? This could be, but was not explained in the film. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I understand cheerleading is a different beast altogether, but we usually were penalized for doing “new” things, because the judges were typically older people that had been involved in the community for a long time. They didn’t like twerking and Top 40 songs, they preferred “Oldies” and moves that focused on technique. I don’t understand how something that was criticized earlier in the film, helps them win in the end with no explanation. Maybe I missed something…?

Final Thoughts & Rating:
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m capable of laughing at plenty of stuff that offends other people, but this film pushed too hard and it didn’t seem genuine or in line with the previous film. I’m fine with films like the Jackass series, you know they’re going to be offensive, you expect it. I did NOT expect this type of material from PP2. It seems like they can’t decide who their audience is. Pitch Perfect 1 was a nice, happy, girl power, family film, but PP2 did a complete 180 and distanced themselves from that. They were trying to be “hard/edgy” & have a Borat like set up where they wanted to offend as many people as humanly possible just to be “funny”. Overall, I thought this film was full of crass jokes that took aim at people who are different for cheap laughs. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because it was inclusive. It was a film about a group that often gets made fun of and their hard work goes unappreciated. A group of misfits that banded together to create a family. PP2 ruined all of that and was just another run of the mill, over the top, teen “comedy”.
My Rating: D

What do you think? Am I being too harsh or taking things too seriously? Did you like Pitch Perfect 2? Hopefully my review gave you some food for thought. I’d love to know what y’all thought of the film and my review! Please shoot me an email, or write me a comment down below! Thanks for reading 🙂

New York, Broadway Review! Honeymoon in Vegas, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, Kinky Boots, Matilda, & It’s Only a Play

Hello all!
I recently took a trip to New York – check my Instagram: @MissAl_Leigh for pics! We got caught up in the “blizzard”, plus, the main event I went for (a job fair) was canceled, but we did manage to see 5 Broadway shows that I will recap for you below! Keep reading to see what I thought of “Honeymoon in Vegas”, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”, “Kinky Boots”, “Matilda”, & “It’s Only a Play”!

I have always had a passion for the performing arts. I have been a performer in one way or another since I was 2, starting with dance classes. I saw my first Broadway play, Beauty and the Beast, when I was 8. I fell even more in love with performing and for the next several years took part in local children’s theatre. While I enjoy all types of theatre, I prefer musicals. I have seen a fair number, my favorites being, “Wicked”, “Avenue Q”, “Hairspray”, “Beauty and the Beast” (of course), and “Phantom of the Opera”, to name a few. Obviously none of this information makes me a professional critic or performer, but based on my experiences, I feel like I know what I’m talking about to some extent.

“Honeymoon in Vegas”
Plot:
 This story was originally a non-musical film released in 1992 starring Nicholas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, and James Caan. I’m not sure how closely the musical follows the movie. Jack and Betsy have problems due to Jack’s commitment issues stemming from a “curse” his mother placed on him. They decide to get married in Vegas and wild adventures ensue.
Notable Cast: Tony Danza played Tommy Korman – James Caan’s role.
Thoughts: This show did not seem like Broadway caliber to me. For example, there were a few instances of microphone wires falling off the actors. It was very noticeable, and even more noticeable when other actors would try to remove the wires from their co-stars, or pick them up off the ground. Another issue was when Betsy had a quick costume change. The actress missed her cue to come back on stage and there was an awkward silence before someone tried to cover. She arrived a moment later with her dress almost completely unzipped in the back, being held up by just a belt, which later popped off. Another actress tried to zip up the dress as the scene continued, but was only halfway successful. There were several actors visibly laughing, which made the whole show seem very unprofessional. I was disappointed with Tony Danza’s performance. I’m almost certain he was sick. He was very quiet, had no energy, & looked ashen. I listened to his performance on Spotify & he sounded excellent, although I suppose that could’ve been AutoTuned. 
Best Songs: “Anywhere but Here”, “Honeymoon in Vegas – Finale” 

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”
Plot: “Gentleman’s Guide…” is the story of Monty Navarro, a poor young man who, after his mother’s death, finds out he is part of an illustrious local family – The D’Ysquith Family. This makes him 9th in line to be Lord D’Ysquith. Hoping to impress his spoiled love interest, Sibella, Monty informs her of this amazing news. He’s sure the family will welcome him in but of course, the wealthy family has no interest in acknowledging another heir. Upon hearing of his rejection, Sibella marries a more wealthy suitor. Determined to prove to Sibella and anyone else who might doubt him, Monty sets out on a nefarious mission to quickly shorten his line to the top. Does he get away with murder(s) & win Sibella back or does the law catch up with him?!
Notable Cast: I didn’t recognize any of the cast but I’d like to especially applaud Jefferson Mays. He played the entire D’Ysquith Family – men & women. It was a great casting choice.
Thoughts: While I thought the Cast was extremely talented and the plot was creative and well written – I didn’t connect with this show. It was hard to find the characters sympathetic or relatable because they were murderers, liars, cheaters, and the like. In a strange twist, I would highly recommend this show, but I wouldn’t want to see it again unless I was taking someone that had never seen it before.
Best Songs: None. I didn’t download any of the songs, like I said, I didn’t connect with this show.

“Kinky Boots”
Plot: Kinky Boots is another musical based on a film – based on the true story – of a young man named Charlie who takes over his father’s shoe making company and has to find a way to modernize the company or lose everything. With the help of a sassy drag queen named Lola, Charlie figures out his niche market and grows up along the way.
Thoughts: I really wanted to love “Kinky Boots” because I like the message of finding yourself amidst chaos and learning tolerance. Sadly, the level of professionalism just didn’t live up to Broadway caliber for me. Maybe my standards are too high, but I believe for as much as it costs to see a show on Broadway & as rigorous as the audition/rehearsal process is, the cast should blow me away. I was cringing at parts of this performance. The dancing was sloppy, the singing was pitchy, & I’ve seen more convincing drag queens on episodes of Law & Order. I realize they didn’t hire actual drag queens for the show, but think of all the time they spent rehearsing! They should’ve been able to do anything in those heels! Cyndi Lauper wrote the music/lyrics & you can definitely tell. If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy the music at least. I can only pick out Notable Cast for bad reasons so I’m not going to name names because I don’t think that’s fair, they may have been having a bad day. Talent will win out, if they truly are not a great performer, they won’t be cast as often in the future.
Best Songs: “Take What You Got”, “The History of Wrong Guys”, “Step One”, “Raise You Up/Just Be”, “Land of Lola”

“Matilda”
Plot: “Matilda” is a musical based off a movie – based off a book by Roald Dahl. Matilda is a super smart girl born into a family of losers who just don’t understand her. As she grows up she learns just how very special she is & how she can take control of her destiny & help those she loves.
Notable Cast: The entire cast was truly amazing from the smallest child to the few adult actors. Think about the attention span you had at age 7, could you have been the lead in a Broadway musical?!
Thoughts: I’m sure I read the book but I don’t remember. “Matilda” was one of my favorite movies growing up so I had REALLY high expectations for this show…& they were beyond met! It was so epically amazing. They perfectly combined the magic of a well executed stage performance with Dahl’s story and classic scenes from the film. The dancing and singing was on point from every member of the cast. One issue I had was the pitch of the children’s voices. Sometimes their little voices were so high pitched you couldn’t really decipher what they were saying. In a hilarious twist of fate, one of the scenes in “It’s Only a Play”, pokes fun at that. I wasn’t completely in love with the music, but the script/lyrics were clever and the story was relatable to audiences of all ages. The staging/use of props was incredible. Some of the tricks they used to create the wild adventures Matilda goes through were so amazing. My words can’t even do it justice here. I laughed & cried. If you’ve ever been a weird misunderstood kid, or heck, adult – you have to see “Matilda”.
Best Songs: “Miracle”, “When I Grow Up”, “Naughty”

“It’s Only a Play”
Plot: “It’s Only a Play” is the story of a group of friends and random associates that work (or want to work) in various facets of the entertainment industry. They’re celebrating the opening night of a new play. Hilarity ensues as reviews come in, tensions rise, and egos explode.
Notable Cast: OH MY GOSH!!! I was literally 50 feet from Martin Short, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing (Rizzo from Grease), & F. Murray Abraham (Salieri from Amadeus)! The cast had some rotating parts, Martin Short had just taken over his role from Nathan Lane – but he’ll return (which they make fun of in the play) & I JUST missed seeing Rupert Grint (RON FROM HARRY POTTER!!!!).
Thoughts: While this play had a lot of big names I recognize and respect, I didn’t really care about seeing it because it’s only a play (pun intended) & as I mentioned earlier, I generally prefer musicals. However, I’m so happy I saw this! The script was originally written in the 1980’s but had been rewritten for today’s audience and it was truly hilarious. They referenced pop culture, everything from snarky remarks about other Broadway shows all the way to the Kardashians. It was awesome to see actors of this quality perform, play off each other, & interact with the audience. I highly recommend this show, especially if you’re at all familiar with the entertainment industry & pop culture.

Official Ranking – in order of what you SHOULD see to what you could check out if you have time…
1. Matilda
2. It’s Only a Play
– Based on talent and level of professionalism, I would move “Gentleman’s Guide” to spot 3 and “Honeymoon” & “Kinky Boots” would tie. However, I decided to base this ranking on fun, how much I enjoyed the music, and how much the show resonated with me, so the ratings stand as thus. While they had their good moments, I doubt I will see these last 3 shows again in the future. I only rated “Honeymoon…” & “KB” above “Gentleman’s Guide…” because I see a ton of room for improvement. I could possibly be persuaded to see them again with the hopes that they were better the next time. “Gentleman’s Guide…” however, was already a very talented performance, I just didn’t connect with it.
3. Honeymoon in Vegas
4. Kinky Boots
5. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Have you seen any of these performances? Will you now? What are your favorite musicals or plays? Let’s chat below in the comments! I’d love to hear any recommendations you might have for me. Please FOLLOW me here to get email notifications when I post. Thanks!