Friday, February 26, 2010

"ATribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber" at the Sunset Center

The Webber show features five well-regarded professionals in musical theater, who have all worked on Broadway but are mostly based in Southern California at present. The all-star quintet includes Norman Large,  Kevin Earley, Eric Kunze, Valerie Perri and Dale Kristien, all of whom have played numerous roles in Webber musicals, both on Broadway and elsewhere.  The five, backed by an eight-piece orchestra, will sing some of Webber's most iconic songs, including "The Music of the Night" from "Phantom of the Opera," "Memory" from "Cats," "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," from "Evita" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye," from "Sunset Boulevard. 
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Eric and President Bush Sr.

The cast of "Miss Saigon" were visited backstage by President Bush, Sr. and Barbara Bush after the performance.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"In his first solo of the evening, the audience is amazed at the talent, power and sadness in Eric Kunze’s marvelous voice as he sings the plaintive, “Why, God, Why?” His starring roles in a long string of theater favorites, such as Marius in “Les Miserables,” Tony in “Westside Story,” Che in “Evita, as well as Lt. Cable in “South Pacific,” have prepared him well for the sensitive portrayal as Chris in this heart-breaking story of a puzzling time, that is almost as difficult to understand now, as it was thirty plus years ago."
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"But the cast keeps the story and the music grounded in a rich emotional landscape. They all have enormous knockout voices. When Kunze's Chris sings about his conflicted love or his sleepless nights, the effect is heart-wrenching."
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Handsome Eric Kunze as Chris is equally as excellent as Chris. His glorious tenor voice and fine acting casts a magic spell on Kim and also on us and reminds us what great musical theatre is all about."

Review from Buzz Bellmont, The Critics' Critic
Unplugged critiques of the arts, life, love and the pursuit of truth
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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Seeing Miss Saigon at TUTS by Maggi

Intense is the word I would use to describe this incarnation of Miss Saigon.  I realized my hands were shaking as I put on my coat to leave.   Each of the cast had been  so believable I realized I was transported to another time and place.  This was a world so different from my own, but the motivations and characterizations made it feel very familiar.  Love and passion at first sight, a mother's love for her child, a wife's love for her husband were themes I could understand and I felt I had lived through all those emotions in the span of 2-1/2 hours. 

Eric and Philip Michael Baskerville (John) were in the first national tour of Miss Saigon together in the 90's and Melinda and Eric worked on the show together a few years ago.  Their history as friends and co-stars shows on stage.  There were no awkward moments. Their dialogue and songs were as seamless as a well oiled machine.  Director Bruce Lumpkin did an admirable job, especially during the difficult and frantic evacuation scene.  Joseph Anthony Foronda took the flashy role of the engineer to a new level of smarminess.  His transformation from nightclub owner to groveling peon of the new regime and back again was a joy to watch.  As Ellen, Jessica Rush strikes a perfect balance between a sympathetic understanding of Kim's plight and her fierce desire to fight for her husband's love.  I especially loved the rich tone of her voice in "Now That I've Seen Her". 

Each time I see the show (I saw it on tour in the 80's and four times at last year's Muny presentation) I pick up something new.  This may seem obvious to everyone else, but it's the first time I realized the foreshadowing of Kim's death (Melinda Chua) singing to her son Tam in her beautifully performed song "I'd Give My Life For You".  The storyline was clearer to me in this production, a testament to the cast's diction and timing.  I understood every word. 

The TUTS production is steamier, sexier and grittier than I have seen before, a brave move on director Bruce's part.  If it weren't for the sad ending, it's perfect for a Valentine's Day date!  No one in the audience seemed to complain.  All the comments I overheard on the way out were superlative.

All right, ladies, here's what you have been waiting for.   How was Eric in the show?  Better than ever!  He just keeps improving with each show.  His commitment to the part is 100% each and every show. An orchestra member who has accompanied Eric in many productions told me he is the gutsiest performer they have ever seen.  This is not an easy part to do.  He has to convey tired cynicism, giddy first love, lust, anger, frustration and grief.  This is a very physical role and I can't imagine how he will do this twice on Saturday and twice on Sunday.  He is very physically fit and looks it (thanks to Bruce who allows us more than a glimpse of that fabulous physique a couple of times in the first act).   

I can't end this review without a shout-out to the conductor Thom Culcasi and the orchestra.  As a musician, I know from experience the speed and rhythms right from the very first notes make this is a particularly difficult score to play, but they carried it off with precision.  The whole show really was perfect from start to finish.  I'm so glad I will get to see it again four more times this weekend.  Stay tuned! 

God bless and good night!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Miss Saigon review: "Eric Kunze makes a persuasively love-struck, then haunted Chris, belting his power ballads with heartfelt zeal."

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Kunze and Chua complement each other in both on stage passion and chemistry but also in tone, vocally creating amazing harmonies throughout their duets. As the plot progresses Kunze masterfully moves Chris from carefree and smitten in love to a wiser man under the pressures of his complicated social situation.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Photos of Eric and Melinda from the Houston TUTS Production of "Miss Saigon"

Enjoy a few preview photos of Eric Kunze (Chris) and Melinda Chua (Kim) from the upcoming Houston production of "Miss Saigon"!

Photos by: Bruce Bennett Photography

Monday, February 1, 2010

Miss Saigon Study Guide

TUTS (Theater Under the Stars) in Houston posted a link to a valuable resource for anyone attending or interested in "Miss Saigon":