Saturday, March 30, 2013
They also argue that Lazaro's success so far in avoiding eleimination is attributable to "the cute factor" and "the pity vote" ostensibly because of his severe speech impediment and his penchant to shed a tear or two when things don't go right for him.
These folks are completely missing the point.
American Idol does bill itself as a singing competition. However, the real purpose of the show is to find a new artist who is popular and potentially successful commercially. That's what it is all about: to discover someone who can sell records and make record producers, songwriters and studios even richer than they are.
The idea that Elvis Presley was technically the very best singer in America for three decades is laughable. That The Beatles were the best vocalists technically in the world is also comical. They weren't, and they even knew that. The true great singers in this world are not being discovered and hence, do not have huge careers in commercial music.
What these superstars had was a unique ability to record a song with sufficient studio assistance to amplify their vocals and cover up any weaknesses and perform in such a way that girls from all over--the ones who drive the record industry--would go nuts over them.
In essence, that is what American Idol is seeking: "the wow factor. " The winners of this so-called singing competition with a few exceptions had lesser careers so far than those who failed to make it to the top. Clay Aiken, David Archuleta, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert and others did not win the competition outright and were better vocalists than the ones who had won. Yet they have launched successful recording careers. But David Cook, Lee DeWyze, Kris Allen and Taylor Hicks did win. Where are they today?
So how valid is the voting that allows up to 50 votes per person? If this is, in fact, a pure singing competition that ignores the popular appeal of the contestant no matter the reason, then only qualified judges should decide the outcome and leave the viewers out of the selection process. Of course, that would negatively impact ratings and advertising dollars.
To suggest that Lazaro Arbos has survived the Top 7 because of sympathy or his appeal to young tweens is not incorrect. But it is exactly what the producers are looking for--a popular artist who can sell records. With coaching and professional handling, Lazaro could be successful in the industry given that he already is popular in key demographic blocs. See: Justin Bieber.
These fans have been completely loyal to Lazaro. How long that loyalty will hold out is speculative. But denouncing him because he is not a great singer completely misses the point of the show. hocoblogs@@@
Monday, March 18, 2013
His stuttering pushed him into the job of ice cream scooper following his 2009 Gulf Coast High School graduation. “It’s the only job I can get where I don't have to do ‘smart people’ stuff like talking.” Lazaro points out.
It is not clear if Lazaro was ever overtly bullied in school but he was shunned, which is a form of bullying. When kids continue to taunt or bully other kids based on the child’s race or religion, or for being overweight, having acne, wearing glasses or braces, being short, or being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it is not a stretch to believe Lazaro was bullied because of his severe stuttering.
[UPDATE - March 21: Lazaro survived the judges' bashing of his March 20 performance ("In My Life") as well as Jimmy Iovine's statement that he was "the bottom of the bunch" and "by far the worst singer of the night" to advance. In this contest, it's the voting public that counts more than the judges' evaluations.]
[UPDATE - March 28: Again, Lazaro survived the night after singing Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life." The judges said he was much better than last week but it came off as a backhanded compliment. On Results Night, Jimmy Iovine predicted (incorrectly) that Lazaro will be sent home. Devin did instead after an emotional "save" performance of "It's Impossible." That was an apt title as the judges will not save anyone until there are 5 or 6 contestants remaining. Meanwhile, Lazaro lives to sing another night in the final 7.]
[UPDATE - April 4: Lazaro stunned the "experts" by landing in the Top 3 this week after last week's Bottom 2 finish. the night before he covered Queen's "We Are the Champions" and did not get reamed by the judges this time (Jimmy, yes, as for the 2nd consecutive week his prediction of a Lazaro defeat went unfulfilled). In fact, Randy sort of apologized (seemingly aware of the blogosphere's blasting Lazaro) when he said, "I gotta call 'em as I see 'em" when he said that Lazaro's performance was better than the previous week. The young fellow is the last man standing of the final 6. Nobody would have predicted that. I beleive next week is the last opportunity for the judges to save someone--an option they would most certainly have to use even if it is Lazaro or the season would be finished a week too early. It's an interesting dynamic and a conundrum for the producers as well as the judges.]
[UPDATE - April 11: The journey ends. After two dismal performances the night before, the legions in Lazaro Nation were not enough to prevent the inevitable--much to the relief of Jimmy Iovine, the judges and the producers of FOX who saw his remaining while others were eliminated as a farce. Good luck Lazaro, whatever you decide to do. You took the pounding better than most would have.]
Saturday, March 16, 2013
|Photo: Stan Barough|
Deborah Hazlett as Veronica, Christopher Bloch as Michael, Megan Anderson as Annette and Tim Getman as Alan
God of Carnage is the second production to grace the Everyman Theatre’s sparkling new Fayette Street location, and it’s a hoot. It centers on the uproarious, if not insane, interactions of two Brooklyn, NY yuppie couples who are the parents of the combatants.
Mr. Getman flawlessly portrayed Alan, the corporate lawyer who is frequently on the phone defending a questionable drug company. He really never bought into the need for this meeting with the Novaks and would have preferred to be anywhere but here. But here Alan was, delivering many laugh lines.
Michael was assailed by the Raleighs and Veronica for allowing his daughter’s pet hamster to “escape” only for it to face the realities of street survival. He was also chided by Veronica for being wishy-washy during the arguments involving his son.
Timothy R. Mackabee’s set is functional if odd. Behind the ordinary living room furniture in what is probably a brownstone apartment is a super-sized, dominating painting of a pack of dogs pouncing on a prey, which undoubtedly is a metaphor for carnage.
God of Carnage plays through April 7 at the Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette St., Baltimore. For tickets, call 410-752-2208 or visit everymantheatre.org.
Monday, March 04, 2013
|Fatima Quander, Robert Lee Hardy and Felicia
Photo: Stan Barough
…with this outstanding cast, director and crew, ‘Home’ is a good play to see.
It is normally a risky venture to stage a play in that configuration when the work consists mainly of dialogue. But it succeeds here, thanks to Boutte’s attention to details, emphasis on movement and pacing and the stellar performances from the three-person cast.
In reviewing Home on the second night of four previews one could have anticipated a few rough spots to iron out. Other than a minor fumbling of a line, little ostensibly needs to be fixed.
The story depicts the plight of hardworking Cephus Miles, played powerfully by Baltimore native Robert Lee Hardy, a farmer in the fictional rural town of Crossroads, North Carolina. Cephus is a likeable, good-natured young black man who from his early life and virtually throughout his journey can’t catch a break. He chalks up his misfortunes to “God taking a vacation in Miami”—a theory that he repeated at various turns in the play.
Through his impassioned and, at times, humorous storytelling, Cephus recounts the events that shaped his life. Tragic deaths of family members left Cephus to fend for himself as a youth. There was a brief romantic relationship with Patti Mae (Felicia Curry) who left him for college, never wrote him and eventually married someone else. He lived his younger years in this town but not finding greater opportunities despite his indomitable spirit.
The turning point occurred when Cephus resisted the draft during the Vietnam War and was sentenced to a five-year term in a Raleigh jail. This portion of the play was its weakest because of Williams’ casual treatment of such a pivotal sequence. There is no convincing rationale why Cephus would refuse to serve other than quoting the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” No evidence suggested during the play that Cephus was particularly religious and even if he were, why would he not serve as a Conscientious Objector rather than facing imprisonment at the age of 19?
While in jail Cephus encountered guards and others who convinced him to go to the big city—“the promised land”—to try his fortunes there. The city is unnamed but the audience is told there is a subway. When his term ended, he meets up with unsavory characters from street hustlers, a gold-digging woman and drug addicts who swallow him up. His jail record causes him to lose his job and ultimately his apartment as well as almost losing his life to the dangers the big city presents.
Sensing a continuation of this tragic spiral, Cephus returns to Crossroads where despite his reputation as a “traitor” by some, the ending provides a much-needed smile.
Throughout this journey, Mr. Hardy is accompanied by two sterling actresses—Felicia Curry, a Helen Hayes Award winner, and Fatima Quander—who successfully play a staggering array of characters (male and female) from teasing children to dominating older folks who were part of Cephus’ life. With the simple addition or subtraction of an article of clothing—a scarf here, a hat there, a sweater, a handbag, etc. Ms. Curry and Ms. Quander transform easily into their countless roles and played them to the hilt with passion and intensity.
Director Boutte ensured there was plenty of physicality and movement throughout. Mr. Hardy trekked around the blond-wood, double-platform center stage —at times pacing, occasional sitting, and sometimes emulating working the fields. but always mindful of the in-the-round set-up.
Ms. Curry and Ms. Quander are forces in motion throughout. For example, as teasing children they energetically encircle the outside perimeter of the stage dancing and chanting. (Ms. Curry effectively conveys tenderness and innocence as Patti Mae). When not in a particular scene they wait in opposite corner platforms readying the next costume addition or a stage prop but never a distraction as Mr. Hardy during his monologues commands the stage and the audience’s attention. At times the cast gets to sing a bit; not enough unfortunately for they possess rich voices.
Credit James Fouchard for the simplistic yet very functional set. Dan Covey’s clever lighting effects are in sync with the play’s many changes of scenes and moods. And Neil McFadden did a fine job of using sound effects judiciously—blues music, wind, and a car, for instance—adding to this expertly staged play.
Home was written before the advent of personal computers and the Internet. But we all know how comfortable we are at a home page after exploring an unfamiliar website. That is the message of Home: a good, comfortable place to return. And with this outstanding cast, director and crew, Home is a good play to see.
Running Time: Two hours with no intermission.
Advisory: This show contains profanity and sexual situations and is not appropriate for children.
Home runs through March 17 at the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center on the campus of Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21044. Tickets may be purchased by calling 443-518-1500 or email the Box office at BoxOffice@howardcc.edu.