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May 30, 2010

Glee Live plays Radio City Music Hall

by Jesse North

The national spotlight that such Broadway veterans as Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, and Jonathan Groff are receiving due to the hit show Glee makes the news and events of the Fox show a direct interest of Stage Rush and its readers. Rusher and Glee fan Irina Gonzalez attended the Saturday Glee Live concert at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and reported from the fan-crazed scene.

There wasn’t a single warm seat in the house Saturday night—that’s what happens when an entire show becomes a standing ovation. The kids of Glee delivered fun and entertainment in their Glee Live tour, which hit New York this weekend.

Guest blogger Irina Gonzalez

Starting off the show was the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers, the dance troupe of cast member Harry Shum Jr. There was a lot of jumping and break dancing for the mostly-male cast, and a huge round of applause as Shum, aka Mike “Other Asian” Chang, came on stage at the end for a “idle shoes” inspired dance sequence which sent the audience to its feet for the first time that night. The LXD ended the show sans Shum to a standing ovation.

After a 30-minute intermission, Jane Lynch came on a screen to welcome the Gleeks to Radio City Music Hall as her alter ego Sue Sylvester. “Hello, suckers!” was her opening line, greeting everyone as “idiots” and having McKinley High cheerleaders pass out “barf bags” through the audience. Matthew Morrison then stepped in to introduce the kids of New Directions as they opened the show with their biggest hit, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”.

Lea Michele, as star wannabe Rachel Berry, shined as the female lead in almost every song, from “My Life Would Suck Without U” to “Halo/Walking on Sunshine.”  Her voice carried beautifully in her iconic solo number “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” which was even more impressive in person than it was on the screen. That being said, Chris Colfer impressively held his own in their duet of “Defying Gravity”—even holding the high note at the end of the song.

For her part, Amber Riley’s touching rendition of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” finally had people sitting down—though not for long. Mark Salling’s guitar rendition of “Sweet Caroline” had the audience of mostly younger girls screaming their joy once more. A screen even came down at the end of the song so that the audience could sing along. The fun Riley-versus-Naya-Rivera number “The Boy is Mine” was followed by Salling’s “Lady Is A Tramp,” then Riley’s “Bust Your Windows” and Kevin McHale’s “Dancing with Myself” rounded out the solos, as requested by the on-screen Morrison.

The staging of the songs were fairly loyal to the show itself—including the cast dressing in outfits identical to those in the show, especially for the phenomenal rendition of “Bad Romance,” in which Colfer and Rivera’s voices shined. One big surprise of the night was when rivals Vocal Adrenaline were introduced in another video by Sue Sylvester as an example of “a good show choir,” performing “Rehab” and “Mercy.”

But the biggest surprise came when Michele came on stage to introduce her “very best friend,” Jonathan Groff, aka Jesse St. James, for a wonderful rendition of their first Glee duet “Hello.” I only wish that they had kept him around to do “Run Joey Run” with Cory Monteith and Salling.

The most fun of the night was definitely the banter between Heather Morris’ Brittany and Colfer’s Kurt before the mattress-full cast rendition of “Jump.” Morris, playing the ditzy character she does on screen, marvels that Kurt looks like “a boy peacock that likes other boy peacocks” and eventually, after Kurt runs away from her advances, decides that “one day I will make Kurt Homo mine.” She tells us that we can count on that—even though she can’t count.

The show focused on the female leads, with Michele and Riley standing out the most, and Colfer (because, let’s face it—he carries female vocals in the show) and Rivera leading second. Morris and Diana Agron had no solo parts, though Morris, a trained dancer, did dance backup in many numbers. Jenna Ushkowitz sang “True Colors” toward the show’s end, and it made me wish the show had been more balanced.

The male voices concentrated mainly on Salling and McHale’s solos, along with Monteith singing male lead in almost every song. However, Monteith didn’t have the strong voice to carry the lead alongside Michele, and honestly, I could barely hear him half the time. His best number actually came at the end, closing the show with “Somebody to Love” as confetti flew through the audience.

Overall, the show was just as much fun as you would imagine it to be. The cast sang all of the fans’ favorites and the energy was great. Although the show wasn’t terribly inventive in any of its staging, it was a great showcasing of what people love about Glee—great kids, great dancing, and great singing.

Grade: A-

Set list:

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’
  2. My Life Would Suck Without U
  3. Push It
  4. Don’t Rain on My Parade
  5. Beautiful
  6. Sweet Caroline
  7. The Boy Is Mine
  8. The Lady Is A Tramp
  9. Defying Gravity
  10. Bust Your Windows
  11. Bad Romance
  12. Dancing with Myself
  13. It’s My Life/Confessions Part 2
  14. Halo/Walking on Sunshine
  15. Rehab
  16. Mercy
  17. Jump
  18. Faithfully
  19. Any Way You Want It
  20. Just Like a Prayer
  21. Hello
  22. True Colors
  23. Somebody to Love

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