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The BOMB squad arrives

Best of Modern Broadway better than that title

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Let's face it; we have to admire the self-confidence of any group willing to call its production BOMB, even if it is a clever acronym (Best of Modern Broadway). Such faith in a production directed, choreographed, and performed by kids-including the band!-borders on foolhardy.

I've stated my reluctance to dump on actors who aren't consenting adults before, and I think it should carry at least a misdemeanor. Besides, Lakewood Playhouse and Lakewood's Youth Theatre program mounted BOMB in a space vacated by the incredibly challenging Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead only days ago, so it came as no surprise to me or, apparently, Playhouse staffers when gremlins ran roughshod over BOMB's final-dress preview.

First there was hubbub from actors backstage during the pre-show announcements.  Then keyboard speakers spat so much distortion the actors had difficulty hearing their pitch.  The wireless mics flatly refused to work.  Even seasoned adult actors would be thrown by technical difficulties of this magnitude, but the BOMB squad soldiered on.  Luckily, at least the distortion problem was fixed at intermission.

Lakewood's Youth Theatre program has been so successful that at times it was difficult to cram the entire 35-member ensemble onstage.  Credit co-directors Michael Clark, Alex Domine, and Elizabeth Meberg (PLU students all, just a few years older than the 10-18 age range of the cast) with the hours of effort needed to make that happen as smoothly as possible.  At times BOMB 2010 looked like a black-clad, underage flash mob, but it worked.  Meberg's choreography was solid throughout, if a tad over-reliant on Solid Gold era dance moves.

Broadway song revues are a staple of community theaters, as they usually require only the company's standard ASCAP and BMI licenses to produce.  (The stipulation, of course, is that they must be performed concert style, with minimal dramatization.)  I've seen and even performed in several of these over the years-with sincere apologies to "If I Were a Rich Man"-so I have to give Lakewood further credit for bypassing some overused song choices.  Every young Lea Michele idolater wants a shot at "Defying Gravity," for example, but Wicked is represented here by "I'm Not That Girl."

Having said that, I would love to know which definition of the word "modern" is being applied.  The show's second half includes no less than three Rodgers and Hammerstein classics.  Of the 16 songs performed here, six are from the last 20 years, meaning most are older than the cast and directors.  Make that six and a half:  "Just Dance" made a bizarre intrusion into "Welcome to the ‘60s," right at what should've been the intermission climax.  One song had nothing to do with the other.  Lady Gaga is not Broadway, and the style change totally threw the cast.  I dig Glee, too, but ya gotta make sense and be cohesive.

Voices ranged widely in quality and assuredness, of course, and it's time we let the American Idol melismatic yodeling die.  Jake Elliott and Kylie Skellen made strong vocal impressions, as did Coleman Hagerman's amusing Eric Idle impersonation on "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."  But the real showstopper here was Molly Bordeaux, who emerged from the pack to cast star power on "Strongest Suit." 

The worst singing by far came from the audience at curtain call.  We were painfully flat on that octave leap in "Happy Birthday."


Through Aug. 29, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$15
Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Center Towne Road, Lakewood

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Comments for "The BOMB squad arrives" (27)

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Devin said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 12:12pm

I'm a member of the cast, and the actual title of the show is Best of Musical Broadway. Other than that, in all honesty, I pretty much agree with everything else you say. Thanks for your honesty and integrity about this show. I hope we can use what you noticed to improve ourselves for the rest of the run.. Thanks you.

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Scott Stratton said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 12:30pm

Elizabeth Meberg is not a PLU student, she is a University of Washington Student.

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Rose Smith said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:00pm

Not trying to be rude but its Musical not Modern. So could you please next time check your facts before writing a review? I think that would make everyone more content. Thank you. :)

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Molly said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:41pm

Hi, i just wanted to say that it's Best of Musical Broadway, thank you for the honest review though.

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youdon'tneedtoknowmyname said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:44pm

BEST OF MUSICAL BROADWAY, get your facts straight
-member of the cast
by the way your full of crap

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Norah Delphi said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:52pm

If the name of the show is "Best of Musical Broadway, and not "Best of Modern Broadway", I feel the section criticizing the production about its lack of modern songs is invalid. I attended this evening's show, and the technical problems you mentioned were not present. Considering the show only opened yesterday, they were most likely opening night bugs. That said, the rest of the review was either accurate or a tad cynical and harsh on the performers. I believe that youth theatre is present as a learning experience and an opportunity for the cast to have fun, not put on a Broadway standard production. Yes, this is a review, which is meant to compare the good and the bad, but in this production, there is definitely more positive than negative.

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members of best of MUSICAL broadway said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 10:57pm

u stupid usuch a pile of sticks its musical not modern whats wrong with im not not that girl .

"listen up puppet" we spent like alot of time working on this and you come on the prevewie night so ofcourse theres going to be difficulties u should of aleast put it was are preview that afternoon we had just finished q to q and are techie spent 2 nights at the playhouse making it the best show ever! and by the way the person who sang im not that girl probly took what u said about the song affencev

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kristin said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 11:20pm

u should come see our show again cus u didnt even get the title right so it messed ur whole review up

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members of best of MUSICAL broadway said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 11:23pm

theres actulley 18 songsin the play learn how to count! And u need to brighten up on the happy b-day song have some fun! and the cast loves to have fun with b-days and songs with lady gaga in it alot of people liked it so again have some fun! no joke im sure lady gaga would be very affended! loosen up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Member of Best of Musical Broadway said on Aug. 21, 2010 at 11:30pm

First of all, the production is called Best of Musical Broadway, not modern, which would be the reason all types of musicals were chosen not just modern ones. Thank you however for making us step up our game from our dress rehearsal to opening night and tonight even more which was our second night performing. Your uncomplimentary comments for the most part lit a fire under us which then in the end made our performance stronger and proved you wrong. For that I would like to thank you.

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Beth said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 12:31am

Article Fact Corrections:
1. The title is the Best of Musical Broadway. (not modern)
2. There are 18 numbers in the show.
3. Elizabeth Meberg attends the University of Washington.
4. The directors and musicians are adults, not kids.
5. Dance styles present in the show include vintage jazz, hip hop, Broadway, and disco. Much more versatility than the Solid Gold era comment.

A reviewer is only as credible as their facts. Please double check your information before publication. Thank you for seeing the show and posting a review.

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Scarlett Peacock said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 1:25am

Eh hem. Excuse me sir, but I believe since everyone else has already informed you of your lack of knowledge about the show's name, number of songs, etc, that I will have a much shorter comment than originally thought out.
First of all, the directors are amazing adults with artistic passion and enough patience to run a show of 35 children and young adults-which says a lot. They are not "kids." Second, the fact the cast is so close that they sing happy birthday after a performance to their fellow actors should be congratulated-not all casts are like a family. It's fricken Happy Birthday, dude-lighten up. And there is no way you are dissing Gaga! She is the monster queen and everyone in the show loves her.
Also, while you are not dissing the song "I'm Not that Girl" I still think it should be recognised that there is more than one star in this fabulous production, and that song should make you cry, because it's that amazing.
Last, but not least, thank you for your criticisms, because you have enhanced the performance by pissing off the entire ensemble-ask the audience this evening, some people have seen the show all three nights thus far, and say it just keeps getting better. And a tip for next time-don't come on a preview night if you are going to rip a show apart, come on an actually show date.
With Love,

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Cray Cray said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 1:58am

I know that everyone has been saying his but it's Best Of MUSICAL Broadway. Not. Modern. Thus you messed up the whole article. get your facts right before you wrote crap. We work hard on our show. And we proved you wrong Friday and Saturday night. And we're going to keep doing that. You know nothing about this so maybe you should come see it again and look at the signs that say Musical on them and write a new review!

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Tech member of Best of MUSICAL broadway. said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 2:41am

"Even seasoned adult actors would be thrown by technical difficulties of this magnitude"

these technical difficulties you talked about are you just being cynical toward the show, we had little time to prepare our tech, the people who work on tech stay up past 1 am working on this show to try to get things working, instead of paying attention to the tech, next time how about you pay attention to the actually show? Hmm?

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members of best of MUSICAL broadway said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 10:01am

u show 'em scarlett !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rewiever get ur facts straight pile of poo!!!!!!!

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Carv said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:02am

What can I say, you're right about the title. I totally dropped the ball on that one and I do apologize. As for the technical difficulties, I said you handled them with aplomb, and I assumed they would be fixed as a result of the final dress rehearsal. One of them was fixed at intermission, as I stated. As for the age and university of the directors, I went with what I was told by Lakewood Playhouse's education director. If I misunderstood her, again, I apologize.

For the record, though, this isn't a negative review of your show, it's just not a glowingly positive one. And as performers, you are responsible for the quality of any show to which you invite an audience. I don't hold tech problems against you--I even explained why they happened--but I can only review the show you show me.

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Scarlett Peacock said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 11:44am

Then maybe we should show you again.

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Carv said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 1:22pm

I suspect you'll show everyone. Again, I apologize for my errors; I can honestly tell you I'm embarrassed about them. I can only chalk them up to writing this review at one in the morning in an attempt to get it posted before the weekend. Have a spectacular run.

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Former Lakewood Playhouse Actor said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 1:30pm

Coming from an actor, i understand that it is annoying to get some criticisms that you dont agree with, but don't let that be a bad thing. Either just let it go without making a big deal, or try to fix what was criticized.

Honestly guys, he didn't say it was a bad show, just had a couple opening night bugs. These notes on the bugs can be used to help shape the show BETTER the next couple weeks of performances.

Scarlett, yes Lady Gaga may be great, but why does she belong in Best of Musical Brodway? Also, him saying happy birthday was the worst singing, is a compliment! It means the rest of the stuff was awesome or close to awesome.

Again, don't take these criticisms as bad things, take them as opportunities to improve. Im positive it wasn't a bad show though!

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members of best of MUSICAL broadway said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 5:04pm

hey its me again. I just want to tell u lady gaga did a broadway show her senior year in high school guys 'n dolls infact wich a song had appeared from in 2009 s best of MUSICAL broadway so lady gaga does have to do something in broadway!!!!!!!! so former actor of the playhouse i think u have just been proved wrong!!!! ( im sorry if your a friend.) Also i just want to tell u im not that girl is a amazing so i think u should say sorry to us and the person who sang it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! by the way we found your face book but we cant do anything to it. thankyou for saying sorry we do appercaite it but next time get your facts straight!!!!!!!!!!

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Heathir McKee said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 8:21pm

Your review has taught our kids a valuable lesson...when you have a show that YOU know is good and that YOU are proud of and that YOU know your doing the very best you can...then no matter what OTHER people say....YOUR SHOW IS A SMASH!!!! Thank you for that valuable lesson!!!!!

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Heathir McKee said on Aug. 22, 2010 at 8:27pm

And to add to my previous comment about the valuable lesson. THAT IS TRUE INTEGRITY!!!!!!!!!!

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Carv said on Aug. 23, 2010 at 10:21am

You guys probably aren't done beating up on me, and for the most part, I deserve it. There are at least two whopper mistakes in the review (the title and number of songs), and what's worse, I did have the name and list of songs in front of me when I wrote it! I'm a human being like anyone else and I probably should've waited till the morning before I wrote the review. Just so you know, I've made the revision on my copy and have them ready in case the editor decides to run this review in the print edition.

However...I have to correct a few things you said as well.

1. I've sung several Broadway songs onstage. If, however, I then wrote a Top 40 Broadway song, it wouldn't make that song a Broadway song. Lady Gaga is not Broadway. She's amazing and I like her, but she's not Broadway.

2. I didn't say anything negative about the performance of "I'm Not That Girl." I was actually complimenting an unorthodox song choice.

3. I'm 42 and taught college for four and a half years. I know this will seem strange to young people, but to me college students are all "college kids," even if they're over 21. It's an old people thing. :-)

4. Thank you to the reader who got my joking tone on the "Happy Birthday" comment. Just because we in the audience can't sing doesn't reflect on you.

So. Congratulations on fixing the tech glitches as I knew you would, and I'm honestly glad you're having a successful run. It looks like both you and the audience are having fun, and that's a win in anyone's book. Break a leg in your second weekend.

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Carv said on Aug. 23, 2010 at 10:50am

Dangit, like I haven't made enough mistakes already, I meant "top 40 pop song."

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members of best of MUSICAL broadway said on Aug. 23, 2010 at 4:19pm

u pratically said that it was a bad song choice beacause "Every young Lea Michele idolater wants a shot at "Defying Gravity," for example, but Wicked is represented here by "I'm Not That Girl." i just want u to know oh and by the way you called us pitchy!! wich we are not thank you for appologizing.

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Beth` said on Aug. 23, 2010 at 4:30pm

Thank you for making the fact corrections. Clearly the cast feels very strongly about their show and I also thank you for taking their comments in stride.
In response to the Lady Gaga comment, no she is not Broadway, but she sure is theatrical. The songs Welcome to the 60s and Just Dance are matched in content rather than pure musical style. They are both about letting go and enjoying the moment, which is why they compliment each other. Just a different perspective.
Thank you again for taking the time to review the show!

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Addison (Member of BOMB cast) said on Aug. 24, 2010 at 8:55am

Thank you for correcting your mistakes and for taking all of my cast mates' comments well. I'm sorry for the people who were rude, some of us are kind of touchy. But thank you for coming to our show and reviewing it. I understood the happy birthday joke and I agree that Lady Gaga is not Broadway, however it is fun, haha. I also think that although your review seemed negative, your comments and overall attitude towards our criticism have been positive, so thank you.

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