Getting in touch with my inner 14-year old girl or Glee: Live!, a review

by christina on July 11, 2011

Gleek out!

If you had asked me six months ago if I would go see Glee: Live! I probably would have made an inappropriate hand gesture and said something to the effect of “Over my dead body”. Six months ago I wanted nothing to do with Glee and it’s peppy band of followers.

Friends had been swooning over the show for months, but assuming that it was more along the lines of Disney’s High School Musical with a dash of  Beverly Hills: 90210 I had purposely avoided it.  I mean really – a show about high-school kids who sing and dance? I considered myself beyond this type of fluff television – I watch Masterpiece Theater, for heaven’s sake.

But after an entire fall spent in the turmoil of a move, remodel and general family upheaval – not to mention a holiday week with my family that could only be described as apocalyptic – I was vulnerable enough to Netflix the first season and crawl into bed on New Year’s Day to watch it.

How wrong I had been.

The first episode sealed the deal. From all the pithy, pop-culture references, to the fabulous use of color by the wardrobe and set crews, to the super-effective shooting techniques (the fast close-ups were so fun), to the spot-on musical choices, not to mention the hilarious sincerity of each actor on there (how, in her right mind, the woman who plays Mr. Schuester’s wife, Terri, could deliver all those ridiculous lines so deadpan is beyond me) – all-in-all, it was a dose of cynical sunshine I had so desperately been needing.

I quickly ran out and bought the first season for myself, becoming more and more enamored with each episode. And when Glee returned after the Superbowl, I was right there soaking in every moment.

The high continued when a few weeks later my good friend Anna – a fellow Gleek – told me that the cast was once again going out on a summer tour…and that this time they were coming to Minneapolis!  Thanks to her AMEX, we were able to snag some pretty good seats for us and some gal pals, and started dreaming over which songs we thought they’d perform. All we had to do was wait.

Four months later.

My friend Katie and I are sitting in a hotel bar located across the street from the concert venue. We figured we’d stop there prior to meeting up with the other girls, not only because we could valet there, but because we also needed at least two cocktails before entering into what was sure to be teenage-girl heaven. We love Glee, but we figured we need some bracing before encountering the teenage ridiculousness sure to be present at this concert.

A couple of cocktails later, we crossed the street to the Target Center and immediately felt the electricity/raging hormones in the air. Packs of teenage girls, their mothers, gay men of all ages, and older Gleeks of all walks of life (myself included) packed the place, many costumed as an homage to their favorite cast member (female Warbler outfits and “Born This Way” message t-shirts seemed popular choices). You could tell they were all just dying to get to their seats and start their well-bought Glee experience.

After buying a couple of beers in the ultra-short liquor line (a definite pro to going to a concert where the median age of the concert-goer is 16), we made it to our seats, located midway up the lower level (“How early did those people have to get up to snag the floor tickets?” we wondered…).  Due to our pre-show cocktailing, we weren’t able to catch all of the opening act – Mike Chang and his dance troupe – but what we did see was amazing. No singing – just dancing – most of which was executed to look like they were defying gravity and firmly solidifying the show’s stance that Mike Chang really is the best dancer.

We also soon became acquainted with the concert-goers seated around us – specifically a group of five, 14-year-old girls (chaperoned by one poor father) seated behind us. The ringleader of the group seemed to be constantly on the verge of a heart attack, yelling at her father for obstructing her view when he had to get up to use the restroom or screeching over the fact that Lea Michele had not yet made an appearance. “Where is Lea, ohmigod…I’m going to kill these guys unless they get off the stage RIGHT NOW!” I kid you not.

But I have to admit when the lights finally dimmed and those first few a capella beats of “Don’t Stop Believin” began, the shrieks and literal tears coming from those girls totally brought me back to that teenage state of mind. To be so obsessed with something (Hello? Titanic circa 1998, anyone?) that the joy of getting even just a little bit closer to it brings to you to literal tears? Well, let’s just say it brought me back.

OK - the Season 1 outfits were a little geeky. But having the whole cast there? Who cares what they wore! (Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The show was frameworked by little pre-recorded clips featuring Coach Sylvester and Mr. Schuester, talking about how “the kids had decided to go out on tour for the summer”. They were interspersed throughout the show and used to kind of introduce each “section” – like duets, theatricality, or even the Warblers. It didn’t seem totally necessary, but it definitely helped to make it even more of a Glee experience.

The set list, on the other hand, was far from disappointing. “Born This Way”, “PYT” (Artie out of his wheelchair!), “Jesse’s Girl“ (where only old girls like us were singing along), “Fat Bottom Girls” (Puck with his guitar serenading a clearly embarrassed Lauren Zizes), “Somebody to Love“ – they hit them all. Even Blaine and the Warblers did a little medley of their hits, including my personal favorite “Teenage Dream”. They seemed to hit at least one song from almost every episode and filled the two-hours almost completely with music.

The enthusiasm of the cast couldn't have been faked - these guys were having a blast! (Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

As for the singing…well, there were moments when they sounded so good that I had to wonder if there wasn’t a little lip synching going on. I mean, come on – not all of these kids are professional singers and what we hear on the show definitely isn’t live. But then there were the moments where the singing was only so-so (poor Kurt) and I knew they couldn’t be getting any help. In the end, I think they got some audio back-up about 50% of the time. Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Darren Cris, and even – for his part – Corey Monteith all did an excellent job and seemed to go unaided by any confidence tracks, and Naya Rivera’s perforamance of “Valerie” was stunning. But clearly, Britney wasn’t singing “I’m a Slave for You” while dancing her ass off on stage. Still, it was never obvious enough to be distracting.

The stage value was just fine for a TV-show-turned-concert – nothing overly flashy, but enough to show some effort. They put a mini-stage out in the middle of the floor seats which allowed them to do quick set changes up on the main stage (and afforded us cheapos in the back section a better view of our favorite cast members); they set off fireworks during Lea Michele’s cover of Katy Perry’s “Firework”, and in the in-between moments when the pre-recorded Mr. Schuester would talk to his team from the large screens mounted high on the wall, the cast sat in those same orange choir-room chairs we see on the show. Like I said, nothing over-the-top, but then again – this wasn’t a Vegas production and most of us were there to see the cast whose unbridaled enthusiasm for what they were doing was show enough in itself – these guys were having FUN.

Sing it boys! (Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Overall, it was all that true Gleek could ask for. We got to see the entire cast – which is saying something considering the side gigs some of those kids have been getting lately – sing along happily to every song, and, even though my ears rang for a good three hours after the show, it was fun to once again get in touch with my inner teenage girl.

 

 

 

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