Boy bands then and now

30. June 2014 10:23 by Julie Merar in   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Fun. debuts their new single

26. June 2014 14:43 by Julie Merar in Music   //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

After the wild success of the breakout album Some Nights, and the thousands of Fun. tickets that were sold as a result, it looks as though the band is preparing to release a brand new album. Fun. revealed a taste of its newest offerings when they stopped by "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." As the musical guest, the group performed their newest single, "Harsh Lights." The song has all the classic elements that made audiences fall in love with the band on Some Nights: anthemic choruses, rousing alt-pop instrumentation, and an engaging arena-rock-meets-Broadway vibe throughout.

Off-season work
Band members Jack Antonoff, Andrew Dost and Nate Ruess have been on quite the hiatus since they hit the road for a three-year promotional tour in support of Some Nights. In the meantime, the group has settled down, taking a well-earned vacation from the road and the studio.

Since the trio has started to take their break, guitarist Jack Antonoff has been busy working on his solo project, Bleachers. He released his first album, Strange Desire, and is now ready to start recording with Fun. again.

Songwriter and vocalist, Nate Ruess, meanwhile, has been busying himself with constructing the band's new album offerings. It is always difficult for a band to follow up on its early success. Artists must decide whether they want to continue in the same style as their popular work, or challenge themselves creatively with a completely new style. If "Harsh Lights" is any indication, it seems as though Fun. has elected for the former.

A familiar style
The single is emblematic of the kind of life-affirming pop-rock that we have come to expect from the group. With plenty of "wa-ohs" and dramatic builds, "Harsh Lights" has enough energy and spunk to reignite the kind of fan fervor that propelled Some Nights to the top of the charts. In addition, the new single echoes some of the lyrical themes of disillusionment and youth that the band captured in their previous songs. "We all got scars, so/ I'm slipping into midnight/ Under harsh lights/ and nothing here is bringing me down," sings Ruess in the song's chorus. It is a mix of youthful optimism and reckless abandon that enamored the college-set with Fun. in the first place.

With the preview of the band's new single, hope is revived for an announcement regarding a full-album release date. However, as it currently stands, no official release has been set. As such, we are left anxiously awaiting the return of one of pop music's favorite sons.

From the West End to the Great White Way

26. June 2014 11:49 by Julie Merar in Theater  //  Tags:   //   Comments ()

Matilda: The Musical tickets have been selling steadily since the show opened on Broadway in the spring of 2013. The musical's success in the U.S. didn't come as a surprise to those familiar with the show's stunning British pedigree. Originally produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company on London's West End, the U.K. equivalent to Broadway, Matilda: The Musical is not the first production to arrive in New York after a successful run across the Atlantic. In fact, the longest-running Broadway production, The Phantom of the Opera, is a West End transfer. But who chooses which musicals get to make the move to the Great White Way? And what goes into that decision?

Eliminating the guesswork
Transfers from London to New York have become increasingly popular over the last few years due to the savings that the process incurs. On the one hand, Broadway producers do not have to worry about building sets and costumes, as they simply have to pay the shipping fee to transport them from London. In addition, the months that go into planning, casting, rehearsing and staging a fully produced Broadway show can be reduced to a mere days during a transfer. In essence, all of the heavy lifting has already been done by the time a Broadway producer sees a show in London that they like. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of transferring over a London production is that producers can wait to see if the show gets good reviews on the West End before committing to it. Creating a brand new show involves a lot of investment without the guarantee that the show will be a success. A few bad reviews of a new show are enough to tank a production and lose a lot of money.

A different kind of work
While transferring a show does eliminate some guesswork, there are still many things that need to be worked out before the deal can be completed. It isn't quite as simple as loading up the cast and crew on a plane with tickets for the Big Apple. In fact, one of the first considerations is which actors will transfer to Broadway and which will be recast in New York. Often the leads will stay with the show as it moves, however, there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that necessitate recasting a lead. For example, in Matilda, the four girls who rotated through playing the role of Matilda were recast for the New York production, as child actors are not able to move around the globe in the way that adults can.

What is your favorite show you have seen on Broadway? Was it a West End transfer?