• In-Depth Review for The MLP Musical: Rainbow Rocks Appears!

    Well folks, the musical has come and gone in Singapore. And since I don't own my own time machine, or my own plane, and am not independantly wealthly (as figuring out the costs for hiring artists to do the art for my creator owned comic has made abuntedly clear) so no one from Equestria Daily was able to attend this event.

    However, thanks to the MLP Phenomon being golbal, Bronies were able to attend the show! And most importantly, one of them jotted down a review of their experience.

    Be sure to grab yourself a sandwich, this incredibly indepth review from @NormandyJayden is a long read. But for those us unable to attend, it gives us a little bit of a glimpse of what the show was like. Have a big Equestria Daily thanks from all of us for sharing man!

    Below the break, you'll be able to find that, and a couple more images released by the MLPMusical_RR Twitter handle and instagram account. I swear, it's like the show is spamming us with these things.

    I think anyone that knows me knows that I love Rainbow Rocks. I’ve watched the movie probably more than 10 times since it was released, and have almost 400 plays on the Rainbow Rocks songs. (Yes I know how many that is, you can sue me later) So when I heard that there was a Rainbow Rocks Musical, I was happy! And when I heard I’d be able to catch it in Singapore? I don’t think there’s a word invented yet to describe how excited and ecstatic I was. Excitstatic? Eh, I’ll work it out next time.

    I went out to book the tickets for the 25th, but just my luck the 24th and 25th shows were cancelled. Why? I don’t quite know. Maybe they weren’t selling enough tickets? Maybe there were some costume issues? Either way, I had to have a conversation with the SISTIC employee and managed to move the show to the 27th, the Sunday. Luckily it was basically hassle free and everyone, including Hugh Osborne on Twitter, was extremely helpful! But enough about that, let’s move on to the show!

    I won’t be going through the musical scene-by-scene, mostly because it’d take about ten pages before I’m done talking about everything. So I’ll just state the general things I liked or didn’t quite like about the show.

    When the show started, it started off strong. The giant horse statue was already pretty amazing, and when Adagio, Sonata and Aria came on stage, their costumes were spot on beautiful. That’s the one thing I need to give this show credit for. If there’s 2 things they absolutely nailed in this production it would be the costumes and the props. Both were done by professionals, and depict the style of Rainbow Rocks perfectly through their designs. They contribute a lot to the overall atmosphere and feel of the musical, which were top notch.

    However, the starting was marred a little by a couple of technical difficulties. Aria’s mic was not working (though her voice was loud enough to resonate through the theatre), and when the Rainbooms came on, Pinkie’s verse in the titular song ‘Rainbow Rocks’ fell silent due to another broken mic. These two issues were swiftly fixed by the time the song ended, and didn’t pop up again as the play continued.

    Special shoutouts need to be given to the actresses who play the characters. Every actress did a spectacular job voicing and singing as their characters while acting on stage as them. The only character that had a little problem was Pinkie. Though not because she’s a bad Pinkie, far from it, it was due to Pinkie’s style of changing her volume from speaking to shouting in an instant. This resulted in her voice occasionally blasting through her mic and the speakers in a deafening volume. Sometimes during the songs, thus drowning out the instruments and other vocals.

    Ah right, the songs. Many of the songs have had a verse or two changed or added to match with the story being told. For example, “Shake your tail cause we’re here to have a party tonight” was changed to “Shake your tail cause Twilight’s going to meet us tonight” (or something along those lines). And the changes varied from good (there were several reprises of Better Than Ever that explored Sunset’s trouble to fit in with her friends) to not so great (the example I provided above is one such case, as it seemed unnecessary).

    There is one aspect about the singing I feel like I need to address: the harmonies. When more than one of the girls attempts to sing together, occasionally one would off-harmonize. This was most apparent in Friendship Through the Ages when one girl would accidentally harmonize a little too high. This results in the other girls attempting to fix the harmony, but harmonizing even higher. This cycle would repeat until the girls got a chance to reset/breathe, usually at the end of a verse or chorus. There were moments where it would get especially bad. One that sticks out in my mind is the part in Friendship Through the Ages where the instruments cut out, leaving just their harmonies to run the song, and it didn’t work as the pitch of their singing far outshot what the melody was playing. Is this the fault of the singers? No, I don’t think so. Alone, they sing great, but harmonies, especially on a stage production, is all about rehearsal. Don’t hold me to this but I think that they haven’t had much time to sing with one another before performing the musical. As such, when one of the five to twelve (!!!) singers went off pitch, the others would jump to correct it instead of letting the singer correct it herself. It was one of the more notable problems of the production, that I’m sure would be able to be fixed with more time and more runs of the play. It can only get better from here.

    What was also interesting is that Luna and Celestia sang quite a bit in this production! Joining into songs such as Battle of the Band and Under Our Spell. They were amazing singers and most of the time were given really solid lyrics to sing. Their dance moves were nothing to shy away from either! Actually, everyone’s dance moves were fun, energetic and impressive! The choreographer did a spectacular job making the moves visually entertaining and lively!

    The story itself had been altered, but the characters’ personalities are spot on, that is, except for one. Aria is no longer the gloomy foil to Sonata’s quirkiness or Adagio’s straightforward humor. Instead she’s exactly the same as Sonata - the dumb comic relief. This really hurts the dynamic and some lines could have definitely used a bit of mean Aria touch. One example is Adagio calling the two morons to which Sonata asks Aria ‘What’s a moron?’ and Aria replies ‘I don’t know either.’ I think if mean Aria was in play and she said something along the lines of ‘Look in the mirror, Sonata” it would have worked much better.

    In the middle of the play we get a very brief visit to Equestria. This was the part I was dreading the most and yes it was the most ‘kiddy pandering’ part of the play (not that I mind considering I know I’m no where close to the target audience). However, what surprised me was the quality of the costumes. They were the best pony costumes I have ever seen. Each of their manes was done without error (though Rainbow’s tail was the wrong color order) and their eyes somehow did not look soul-less and dead. My friend and I were absolutely blown away by the quality of the costumes especially since they only appear for 5 minutes in this 2 hour play! So special mention to the people who did those costumes and operated them. They were spectacular. As predicted, Twilight goes back to CHS, becomes a human and meets with the Mane 5 and Sunset.

    I think this is a good time to talk about my favorite aspect of the musical: Sunset Shimmer. (I say that with as little bias as possible). Sunset is put into a much more central role this time. The sirens are drawn to the school not by the giant rainbow battle of EqG1 but instead by the negative energy that the students expend towards Sunset. This is further escalated by the fact the Rainbooms clearly do not accept Sunset into her group like we see in the movie. They alienate her away, even when Twilight arrives. Not only that but we visually see her being verbally attacked by the student body and (in a great plot line) see the Sirens attempt to turn Sunset to their side. This was an exceptional idea that I think was really well executed. The message is the same but with Sunset in the leading role we do empathize with her and see just how her past has affected her. This culminates with her singing ‘My Past is Not Today’ which is my favorite performance of the musical due to the emotional impact and the incredible singing voice of Abbie Chambers. It sent shivers down my spine as to how well it was integrated into the Rainbow Rocks storyline and how raw the performance was. There were no props or sets to distract from the main focus of the song: Sunset Shimmer.

    As the story itself no longer features Flash or Trixie, the band doesn’t just argue after Sunset ruins Awesome as I Wanna Be. One hell of a funny moment is as the entire ‘chaotic’ rube goldberg effect plays out in slow motion, with Rarity getting smashed in the face with the top of AJ’s bass guitar a huge standout. They split up completely and we then get a word-for-word recreation of the ‘under the stage’ scene in the original Rainbow Rocks and they realize they need Sunset to get their counterspell to work.

    Before I continue, there’s two scenes I wanna mention that I never thought would make it into the play. They managed to work in the horrible counterspell singing from Twilight and the kitchen-scene conversation between Twilight and Sunset. Granted the latter took place after the former, but it was a seamless transition that anyone that hadn’t watch the movie wouldn’t have noticed. And the fact they worked them in at all shows the team’s commitment to stay faithful to the original while understanding what makes the movie great.

    Finally, we get our climatic battle, and while it’s no spectacle to behold like the original, it was still valiantly done. In place of the giant sirens and magical instruments we get solos from the Rainbooms, which results in a running joke that Fluttershy doesn’t want a tambourine solo (it replaces the ‘I write songs too’ running gag from the original) having a payoff as she gets the chance to perform the solo she tried to avoid! (And saves the day might I add) Which props to them, I was not expecting! It was both funny and touching. We then get the moment when Sunset joins them onstage and sings, once again, causing chills from her voice alone.

    The musical ends with a surprise song! Right There In Front of Me, from Friendship Games! It’s performed after the Sirens are defeated and it’s probably the best song they perform as a group (almost none of the aforementioned harmonization issues pop up here or the song after this). After which, Twilight goes back to Equestria and they finish it off with Shine Like Rainbows, encouraging the kids to dance along as they do simple dance moves (once again, props to the choreographer and director for including such a section for the young kids) We get a curtain call and that’s it! Sadly there was no meet and greet or Helping Twilight Win The Crown, two things we were really hoping would pop up. But I understand, the cast has another show to prepare for and they are probably dead tired, I just hope they get their well-deserved congratulations!

    Overall, would I say I like this musical? Yes. I loved it. It kept faithful to the original as much as it could, managing to include all the songs while adding three from the friendship games and reprises for many of the existing ones (almost 15 songs!). All of this while making several great changes on its own, adding to the already great story. There were a few problems, yes, but nothing that detracts from the amazing production quality and fun atmosphere it kept. It wasn’t afraid to take itself seriously when it needed to, but didn’t keep it dark for too long to block some of the joy from shining through as well. Most importantly? The kids absolutely adored it. They were jumping and singing with bright smiles on their faces. I didn’t hear a single kid cry throughout the play!

    And the biggest accomplishment? The parents were singing and clapping too. Not just a reluctant participation, but full on enjoying the experience as well. That’s one heck of an achievement and the production staff should be very proud of it.

    I hope Rainbow Rocks comes back so I can watch it again, and for the foreseeable future, my playlist is going to have me shaking my tail.
    Excsistaticted? How do you even combine those two words?

    Find me on twitter:
    @judacris (friend I went with)
    I didn't know we were back in the black and white days! 

    Seriously, can this show come to the USA already? Also, toss in Tara Strong and Rebecca Shoichet and we'll have quadruple Twilight Sparkles in one shot.