Monday, May 30, 2011

My Glee Live Tour Story

A night Gleeks will long remember
By Raymond de Asis Lo, LA Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated May 31, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (0)View comments

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Manila, Philippines - No Filipino fan of Glee, the hit musical show on TV that has spawned more than a dozen chart-topping albums and launched the TV careers of the likes of Lea Michele (Rachel), Chris Colfer (Kurt) and our very own Charice (who joined as recurring character Sunshine Corazon during the show’s most recent season), would surely forgive me if I complain anything at all about the Glee concert held at the Staples Center just this Saturday, May 28: If ever, it would be the tremendous amount of noise inside the cavernous stadium coming from the shrieking, screaming fans of the sold-out show which nearly drowned some of the memorable numbers during the 80-minute show that ran non-stop save for a brief break after the first hour.

L.A.-based Gleeks, the collective term for all Glee fans, started lining up even before the gates opened at 7 p.m. The tickets that Sony Music sent me were for a reserved upper wing on the left side of the stage and I, along with several other friends, had unobstructed view of the entire Staples Arena. We could see many fans wearing various Glee-inspired shirts trickling into the arena. There were also some fans holding giant foam hands spelling the “L“ sign which has become the prominent symbol of the trail-blazing TV musical after it debuted to wide acclaim and enthusiastic responses from fans in the US and elsewhere in the world during summer of 2009.

On both sides of the stage were two huge reminders for fans not to record any portion of the show - a planned 3D movie based on footage taken from this tour is expected to be shown in theaters starting August - but still pictures could still be taken to everyone’s contentment.

Brief conversations with several fans on the line centered on how they expected the live show would turn out. No particular Glee character dominated the chitchat and, I hope, Rachel Berry, the show’s resident diva, would not mind me saying that.

At 8 p.m., the lights dimmed and the YouTube sensation League of Extraordinary Dancers opened the show. The talented group wowed the crowd with their acrobatic moves and impressive stunts that one would think they had harnesses with them.

After the opening act, the lights went up again as the crew started transforming the stage to make it look like the Nationals stage as seen during the show’s second season finale where Charice’s Sunshine character pushed the New Direction, (the name of the main glee club in Glee), out of the top ten sending the group home empty-handed with their final year in high school looming in the horizon.

At 9 p.m., the lights dimmed again and this time the golden curtain lifted revealing the six original members of the glee club singing the rousing show anthem Don’t Stop Believing. Soon the rest of the glee club started joining them on stage. Members of the audience in the floor section of the stadium were already on their feet and singing along, drowning the voices of the cast. It was the first indication that since this was the live tour of the Glee show, this was also about the fans, the gleeks, who made the show so popular, celebrating themselves along with the characters whom they have come to identify with.

And in a rather inspired decision, the show kept itself rooted to its TV source and presented the performers not as their star personas but as the characters themselves. So when Heather Morris took to the stage to do her version of Britney Spears’ Slave 4 U, it wasn’t her who was performing but Britney’s namesake, Brittany, Heather’s character on the show.

This creative and ingenious devise allowed even those who are occasional Glee viewers to be able to follow the show without getting confused whether Cris Colfer is really Darren Criss’ boyfriend in real life or was it just Cris’ character Kurt who was in love with Darren’s Blaine.

However, stronger voice talents in the cast still managed to come through as their own individual stars even if they were still in the guise of their characters.

When Amber Riley’s Mercedes took to the alternate stage at the other end of the arena (there were two sets constructed to effectively transition the more demanding production numbers fluidly), and sang Aretha Franklin’s classic Ain’t No Way, she was joined by a choir and by the time her soaring rendition reached its high point, her joyful wail filled the entire stadium and it was so easy to determine that when the audience gave her a rapturous applause after, it wasn’t Mercedes, who they were really cheering for; it was her.

The show’s main stars, Lea Michele and Cris Colfer, had their own moments on the show, too. Lea’s Rachel and Cris’ Kurt did the Barbra Streisand/Judy Garland counterpoint duet Happy Days/Get Happy and it was just as easy to understand why they are considered the glee club’s main singers. Both have that certain quality to their voices that may lack the specific appeal of a power belter like Amber but still command that immediate hint that through sheer theatricality of their voices, they can  and do  drown out even the highest notes hit by other singers.

The show featured as many solo spots for Rachel as there were for Kurt.

Both had the spotlight all to themselves twice. Rachel did Katy Perry’s Fireworks (complete with fireworks effects on stage) and Streisand’s Don’t Rain On My Parade while Kurt did The Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand and Beyonce’s Single Ladies (the number he did during an episode of the first season where he finally revealed to his embracing dad that he was gay).

Kurt’s love interest in the show, Blaine, was introduced midway through along with the competing all-male glee club Warblers. During the short banter with Kurt after Blaine’s spot with the Warblers, Blaine hinted that he might join New Direction next season  this surprise revelation did not escape the fans’ attention and everyone nearly doubled up with excitement. This may also be indicative of the recent persistent rumor that the third season may finally be the show’s final TV season yet. The glee club may finally win the Nationals and finally bid high school goodbye and start tracking their adult lives separately.

But whether that would be true or not, fans in the US and some countries in Europe will still have a couple more months to enjoy this season’s live tour.

And perhaps the show’s fans in Manila might just be able to catch them live later this year as well if talks bear fruitful conclusion - keep your fingers crossed, fellow Gleeks!

If that happens, Manila-based Gleeks will have the special treat to catch Mark Salling’s Puck rock it out with Fat Bottomed Girls while being accompanied by his fellow glee cast members on various band instruments.

Or, perhaps, fans may be able to listen live to Cory Monteith’s Finn’s plaintive singing of Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl or witness in person Chord Overstreet’s Sam and Dianna Agron’s Quinn as they do a romantic duet of the Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz hit love song Lucky.

And because Filipinos love to sing along during concerts, they can wow the entire Glee cast by singing along with them when they sing the signature song that brought the glee club their first win at the regionals, Queen’s Somebody to Love.

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