Weird Theater News: Willy Wonka, Amy Schumer, and Basketball Musicals

About a month ago, I read the funniest headline of my entire life. It is, and I quote, “Weird Al, John Stamos, Finn Wolfhardt to star in Willy Wonka Concert.” To this day, I am convinced this casting was concocted in some fever dream or an alternate dimension. It is a work of modern art.

 

For context, this is not a full production of the musical or story. Instead, it is a concert sponsored by the Hollywood Bowl. John Stamos is taking on the role of Willy Wonka, which is something I both cannot and do not want to imagine. Weird Al will play the Oompa Loompas. It’s both hysterically funny and oddly perfect. Finn Wolfhardt as Charlie Bucket just makes sense. Ingrid Michaelson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Richard Kind will also make appearances. I want to sincerely applaud whoever the casting director for this concert was. Regardless of if the cast is successful, I will still remember the casting announcement months after I’ve read it. The show will take place on Nov 3-4 and I pray that they will release video footage.

 

In this line of thinking, I’ve decided to compile a top three list of the most startling/weird/confusing musical theater announcements as of late.

 

  1. Amy Schumer is making her Broadway debut. Collective sigh. Everything about this casting, as well as the production itself, confuses me. The show itself is “Meteor Shower,” a play written by Steve Martin. Other stars include Keegan-Michael Key and Laura Benanti. Alan Tudyk was set to star as well but recently left the production due to “creative differences”. As for the quality of this show, I have literally no idea with this one. Laura Benanti is a Tony Award-winning actress with an absolutely beautiful voice. While it might seem odd that Steve Martin is delving into Broadway but this actually isn’t his first production. His musical “Bright Star” was nominated for a number of Tonys in 2016. Still, Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key are complete wildcards here. Alan Tudyk’s sudden departure from the production is also a bit of a red flag.
  2. There is a Spongebob musical. It is coming to Broadway and the theater is literally in the center of Times Square. While the show already had a semi-successful run in Chicago, I’m still seriously judging whoever came up with this concept. Still, the cast is actually really talented and features a number of musical theater veterans. Songs for the musical were written by a number of established performers, from Aerosmith to Lady Antebellum to John Legend to Panic! At The Disco. The soundtrack is entertaining enough but not anything special. Granted, I have definitely disliked musical soundtracks more than I dislike this one. It’s out on Spotify if you want to listen to it. Ultimately, while the show seems fun, but it’s a little long at two hours and thirty minutes. It’s not going to go down in Broadway history.
  3. The general manager for the Houston Rockets basketball team is producing a musical. Guess what the musical is about? Basketball. The plot of this musical sounds absolutely wild. The name of the show is “Small Ball” and it centers around the island of Lilliput (yes, the island from “Gulliver’s Travels”) as they try to join the international community by fielding an international basketball team. However, if you remember anything about “Gulliver’s Travels,” the residents of Lilliput are only six inches tall. On top of all this, their star player is Michael Jordan, who just happens to share the same name as the famed basketball star. According to an article by “The New York Times,” there is also a love story somewhere in there. Quite frankly, this whole production just sounds like a hot mess, a musical reminiscent of “Space Jam” but without charm or appeal. Luckily, it’s only running for six weeks in a theater in Houston. The name of the theater is Catastrophic, which honestly sounds pretty accurate. In the words of the actual writer of this musical, “This sounds like the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”

 

Sources include

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/03/sports/basketball/daryl-morey-rockets-small-ball.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Ftheater&action=click&contentCollection=theater&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=10&pgtype=sectionfront

 

http://ew.com/theater/2017/08/07/amy-schumer-broadway-steve-martin-meteor-shower/

 

http://www.npr.org/2017/09/14/550446601/first-listen-spongebob-squarepants-original-cast-recording

 

Weird Al Yankovic, John Stamos, Finn Wolfhard to star in ‘Willy Wonka’ Hollywood Bowl concert

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About the Author

Elissa Miller is a sophomore at UNC Charlotte studying Communications and Political Science. When she isn’t reviewing theater for Niner Times, she is pretending to be a homicide detective for the Mock Trial team and forcing her friends to binge watch television with her. In the future, she would like to be an investigative journalist, a lawyer, or the second female President of the United States (because if there isn’t one before the time she gets there, that’s just sad).
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