Miscellaneous

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Play Review: The Book of Mormon

Published December 31, 2014 by mrsrag

bomStarring: Declan Egan, Rob Colletti, Denee Benton and a monstrously talented supporting cast.

Sold out 1543 shows in a row on Broadway and counting.  We saw it at the The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL; but possibly coming to a town near you soon.

Musical/Comedy.  Written by: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Robert Lopez.

I have to begin with the background story of how Maria and I were able to attend The Book of Mormon.  I didn’t even know it was coming to town until the day before it opened at the Kravis, as I read about it in the paper.  Also, I had no clue how popular this show was, but I soon discovered in my attempt to get tickets.  I called my brother Randy, because I know he donates to TKC every year, and I thought he might have an “in” for getting tickets.  He did, but there were simply no tickets to be had anywhere, for any price.  My brother, however, is not used to taking “no” for an answer.  I had called him on Monday, he proceeded to embark on a five day crusade to find tickets.  At the eleventh hour, he found a pair, in Las Vegas (yes Vegas!) and had them FedEx’d on Saturday morning.  He showed up at our door at 10 AM: “Merry Christmas!  You have no idea what I went through to find those.  Have fun.”  I also shudder to think what he paid for them, but oh my goodness, did we ever “have fun”!!

We just felt so lucky to even have the opportunity to go and see this play, especially under the circumstances.  But we had a wonderful night out on the town thanks to Randy.  And we had a ball getting decked out and doing something a little different.  This show is pure, unadulterated fun.  What I love about Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of a little t.v. show called South Park, is that they aren’t simply filthy or just silly, they’re fucking brilliantly smart.  And their writing beautifully displays their knack for raunch, storytelling and an admirable fearlessness.  The Book of Mormon was right up our alley of humor with innuendos, puns and a supreme selection of musical parodies.  One of our most favorite things.  The most unbelievable aspect of this rendition is that most of this cast was comprised of second string actors and the performance was still absolutely flawless.  I can’t imagine it could be any better on Broadway.

It would be fun someday to get to the Broadway version to compare the performances, but I’m with Maria, hard to imagine anyone doing it better than this cast.  The humor here is definitely not for everyone, but absolutely in MRSRAG’s wheelhouse.  Let’s face it, Mormons have some crazy ideas: magical underwear, your own planet when you die, white people were here in the U.S. before Native Americans etc., so making fun of them is easy.  Matt and Trey rarely disappoint when it comes to laughs and the songs are fantastic, only equaled by the people singing them.  The play kicks into high gear when Elder Price (Egan) and Elder Cunningham (Colletti) get to Uganda to do their two years as missionaries and bring as many of the locals into the fold as possible.  As you may guess, the Ugandans are less than receptive as they have many horrific problems to deal with, and one of the first numbers; reminiscent of the hakuna matata song from The Lion King, is hilarious.  Faith, persistence, despair, loss of faith, innovation, hope; all examined here in song, performed brilliantly with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  If you’re not easily offended, do yourself a favor and try to find The Book of Mormon if you get a chance, you’ll be happy you did and you won’t even end up with “maggots in your scrotum”.  Just believe, because I say so, it’s the Mormon way!

This isn’t the first time Matt & Trey have poked fun at the Mormons.  Some of you may be familiar with the South Park episode where a constant stream of, “dum, dum, dum…” plays in the background during an explanation of how Joseph Smith developed the faith.  I imagine growing up geographically close to Mormon country has had some hand in influencing this pair’s affinity for the religion.  They originate from Colorado and Mormon land is only a hop or skip away in Utah.  I don’t want to give anything away, but I have found myself singing their Hakuna Matata-esque mantra, ‘Hasa Diga Eebowai’.  If you don’t find yourself as lucky as us with the ticket situation, you can always check this one out on YouTube.  It’s well worth stealing five minutes away from cat videos.  And one final note, did we mention that our seats were two rows from the stage?!  Now THAT is some Christmas present.  Thanks again Randy!!

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Playbills out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Playbills.

 

Book Review: Sharp Objects

Published December 22, 2014 by mrsrag

sharp objectsAuthor: Gillian Flynn.  Originally published in hardback in 2006. 393 pages in paperback.

Murder mystery/Psychological drama/Suspense.  Fiction.

The reading world was smashed wide open after Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl reigned atop Bestseller’s lists across the country following its release in mid 2012.  I remember hearing the first glowing reviews from friends and knowing it was a must for my beach season repertoire.  I absolutely loved it and lately have been hearing great things about her other novels.  My recent stint in an airport bookstore left me desperately seeking something of interest and I came across Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects.  I gave the back cover a quick read and knew this suspenseful mystery would more than captivate me.  This lady has a penchant for writing about twisted broads.  Flynn is talented, unique and absolutely fearless.  Her first novel pushes boundaries and disproves numerous stereotypes often used to describe women writers.  Her style can be described as wicked, crazy and brilliant.  She is capable of weaving a vicious web, sending readers on a journey of moral exploration and self doubt.  Just as soon as you believe you have a handle on what’s going on, she throws in another twist that changes the readers perspective.  This time we find ourselves immersed in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, following journalist Camille Preaker back to her roots and an uncomfortable home life she’d rather leave in the past.

“Twisted broads” indeed.  Gone Girl’s Amy Dunne was one mercenary, crazy woman, and Camille holds down the crazy quite well in Sharp Objects; but her mother Adora is at the very top of the literary food chain of fucked up nasty bitches.  Camille works for a small paper in Chicago, and when one little girl is murdered and then another goes missing in her hometown in Missouri, her editor thinks it’s a good idea if she goes back to cover the story.  Camille isn’t too happy about the assignment though, she hasn’t seen or spoken to her mother or her younger half sister Amma in years.  Camille was right to be hesitant to go back to Wind Gap.  There’s a reason she likes to carve words into her flesh (yes you read that right), like “WICKED”, “NASTY”, “HARMFUL”, “WHORE” and a myriad of others, but you’ll have to read to find out.  I don’t know what kind of women Gillian Flynn has in her background, but I sincerely hope she is writing from her imagination and not life experiences. Steven King had nothing but superlatives for Sharp Objects, calling it “a terrific debut novel” and “an admirably nasty piece of work.”  I couldn’t agree more with the greatest writer of my lifetime.  Gillian Flynn is badass!

Flynn has received vast amounts of praise for her growing body of work and personally I can’t wait to see what she does next.  She isn’t afraid to discuss sexuality, violence or a myriad of taboo behaviors.  And I believe it’s this freedom in her writing that allows her to reach a pinnacle of creativity and excellence.  Her novels are the kind that you just can’t put down.  I found myself stealing away during the Thanksgiving holiday just to plow through another chapter.  It creeps into the dark recesses of your mind, into your dreams and daily thoughts.  I was feeling mighty thankful that I was raised by a nurturing and caring woman.  And that my family is comprised of loving and kind people.  Sharp Objects will introduce you to a cast of players ranging from emotionally disturbed to pure evil.   I’m planning on picking up another of her twisted tales, Dark Places.  We’ll see what that has in store for me during my Christmas travels.

Gone Girl was made into a movie (an excellent adaptation, check out our review in the MRSRAG archives) and I just read Sharp Objects is coming to the small screen soon, presumably as a mini series.  Ms. Flynn is hot and her style is unique as Maria pointed out.  There’s nothing like a book that you just can’t put down, and she’s two for two in that department with me.  Sharp Objects has some dark shit going on, but it will keep you thinking, guessing and reading until the wee hours of the morning.  Dark circles under your eyes?  A small price to pay for such an exquisitely demented journey through the mind of a master storyteller.

Maria’s Rating: 4.5 Bookmarks out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Bookmarks.