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|The great, the so-so and the ugly|
surprised, Dear Readers, when a woman approached Al directly after the end
of the new show, Goofyís Beach Party Bash in the
Hollywood area of Disneyís California Adventure (DCA) on Sunday July
2nd. "Are you Al Lutz," she queried. Anne Hamburger then
introduced herself. To Alís reply of yes, she said, tongue thoroughly
implanted in her cheek, "I've read your web page. I hope you enjoy
our new entertainment."
Well Ms. Hamburger, I know you donít care what I think, but since I was standing next to Al taking in all the shows with him, I thought Iíd give you my notes anyway. You did great, so-so, and horrible. At least you tried. Could we have a little more of the great, though?
Weíll start with the horrible first; itís always good to get rid of the garbage straight away. The DCA guide describes Bountiful Valley Farmís Mickey Mouse show as a "visit in Mickeyís garden for a corn poppiní, carrot flyiní hoedown!"
A big load of manure would be a more accurate description. And like manure, it should be dumped.
Farmer Polly, dressed in Astroturf overalls (man, they look uncomfortable), hosts the show. The basic premise involves Chip and Dale trying to eat the seeds Polly wants to plant in her farm. Polly enlists help from audience members (who all looked bored) to get the seeds in the ground, water them with imaginary water and watch them miraculously grow into giant cartoon carrots. At one point Mickey Mouse arrives, Polly and the various rodents dance around a lot, and Polly sings. Polly has to do all the talking, Iím sorry to say, because none of the rodents speak. Pantomime is the best they do here.
In the course of the show, Polly tells corny joke after corny joke followed by her obnoxious laugh. I had the feeling this was supposed to be our cue to laugh. There were few of us in the audience who did, and not because we are too stupid to understand, but because thereís nothing funny to laugh at. As if to insult our intelligence further, each joke is followed with the words, "get it" just in case we donít. Even a two year old would get these jokes without prodding.
"He was outstanding in his field. Get it? Maybe he will turnÖip later. Turnip. Turn up. Get it?
Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it?
I got it. Now Iíd like to get rid of "it".
Next up, Al and I tried Goofyís Beach Party Bash at the Hollywood Backlot Stage. Iím not sure quite what this show is supposed to be, but at least itís not condescending, which is more than I can say for the farm show. The motif of movie- in- progress is retained here, as it was in its predecessor, Lights, Camera, Chaos. This time however, Donald Duck plays the diva director. Goofy and his son Max are the stars of the movie and we get to see them set up and film their scenes. An assistant director lets us in on the action and defines movie terminology like slate and play back.
As this show drags on, dancers Sandy Shore and Cliff Hanger are brought in to teach us (meaning the kids in the audience) the Bunny Hop, the Surf Dance, the Wipe Out, and the Spinning Top, among others. The kids I saw seemed to enjoy all of this, which is great, but it would have been even nicer if there was an adult level to this show.
I would strongly recommend that the writers of these things have a look at the Aladdinís Oasis show over in Disneyland. A lesson could be learned. You know, while I think of it, add in the Princess Storytelling too. Both these shows have layers. Kids think theyíre uproariously funny and they are also loaded with double entendres for the older crowd. Everyone in the audience laughs. Everyone in the audience can enjoy the show. I think thatís what has always made the entertainment at Disneyland so terrific. Layers. I could appreciate it every bit as much as my kids. Sadly, thatís lacking with the Goofy show as well as the farm show.
On the other side of the wall from Goofyís bash, we get Cruella DeVil. Donít look too closely at Cruellaís trailer while you wait for the show to begin, though. The slap- dash paint job is painfully cheap and the paste-on lettering is just sad.
The show itself fares better than the trailer does, Iím happy to say. It could stand a few improvements, but it does have a bit of charm and the acting here is super.
It starts with nerdy assistant director, Winston, practicing his running man dance moves. Heís fun to watch and rather endearing. The director of the movie shoot (itís the Hollywood Pictures Backlot remember, so everythingís a movie shoot) informs Winston they need puppies for Miss DeVil (donít they always?).
Winston gathers kids from the audience and the director hands them all puppy masks. The most adorable part of the show involves Winston and the "puppies." He instructs them how to growl and act, well, like puppies. Itís very charming to see the group of kids ham it up. If I was six, Iíd be begging my mom to let me have a go at it just to get that puppy mask and romp around with Winston.
After that, the show unravels a bit. Cruella comes out of her trailer, the director parts the crowd, making way for Miss DeVil to get onto the set, she "films" her scene and the camera lens breaks. The "puppies" all stand around with nothing to do and the show ends with Cruella adjourning to sign autographs.
If there was a little less of the director, a little more of the charming Winston and perhaps some tension between Cruella and the "puppies" (with Winston stepping in to save them), this could be a first rate show. As it is, itís not a bad show, it just runs out of storyline half way through and stops. It feels unfinished.
Now for the good stuff. Yes, Dear Readers, there was something I liked, itís not all negative. The last of the shows in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot is easily the best. In fact, that understates it. Allow me to rephrase. Itís truly terrific. Itís well written, well acted, well sung, well...itís just good, really good. Go see this show and forget the rest. See it two or three times, go get yourself half a tortilla, and then come back and see it again.
Unfortunately, itís not listed in the DCA guide. The kind cast member at the information booth informed me that the show is entitled Hollywood and Dine Musicals. Al took a look at a CM flyer and it said it was called Chance to Shine. The poor show doesnít even have a real name. I guess thatís only fitting because it doesnít have a real venue to play in either. The three actresses in this show just come out and cavort on the concrete in front of Hollywood and Dine.
Thereís no set, thereís no stage, and from what I could see, thereís not much of a crew either. Amazing. Itís terrific and thereís nothing there but the three actresses, their talent, some nifty costumes, and one guy with a hand- held device to operate the sound.
Anne, have you read this far? You did good with this one. Please get this show a real name, a real stage (kick Goofy out, it would be fabulous on the Hollywood Backlot Stage) and list it in the guide. Itís so good, itís a crime not to publicize it, which in effect, hides it from the DCA guests.
Have I raved on enough yet, Dear Readers? You get the picture then that I liked this one.
Hereís what itís about.
Imagine if you will, three extras. They work day in and day out, slaving away with the meager hope of getting their chance to shine. The saloon gal, the tropical fruit gal (Carmen Miranda has nothing over her), and the lady from way out in space each take a turn at trying to get their moment in the Hollywood spotlight. Through the course of the show they let us see what they can do when their big moment comes.
I loved them all, but I have to confess a soft spot for the tropical fruit girl. Not only does she possess Kristin Chenoweth- like charm and vivaciousness, she is cunning as well. I have to admire resourcefulness when I see it. When Tropical Fruit Girlís big moment arrives, she is required to tap dance. She, of course, lies about her tapping abilities, and lacks skill (not really, the actress was terrific, but play along). What to do? The only logical thing of course, surround yourself with dancers of lesser skill so you look good. She does just that when she grabs folks from the audience, with the request, "Who out there doesnít know how to tap dance?"
And so it is with each "extra". The saloon girl tries her hand at roping a steer, and space lady saves the day with the help of Captain Fingerslanet.
The interaction with the audience is terrific, the actressesí adlibs are the best "Is my watermelon on straight?" and, the dual layer- factor is there. Kids love it, adults love it. Itís good fun. I want to see it again. And as a matter of fact, I went back for two more performances, each unique since the performers are just the best at those adlibs.
Itís nice to know you can get something right Anne. It gives me hope.
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