Category Archives: Performance Art

North Bergen High School’s Alien. The Story Just Keeps Getting Better

Remember the North Bergen (New Jersey) High School production of Alien that went viral last month? After audience members posted a few key scenes from the play to YouTube, it was praised by everyone from Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey, to Ridley Scott, director of the original film, and Sigourney Weaver, who starred as Ripley in the Aliens movies. Scott was so impressed that he donated $5,000 so that the North Bergen kids could stage it again for a limited run. The encore production opened Friday night.

Guess who showed up to surprise the cast and crew, and to introduce the performance.


Redditor Gato1980 posted this video of Friday’s full performance:

Gato1980 also posted the timestamps for key scenes: The Face-hugger scene is at 29:00, the Chest-burster scene is at 48:30, the alien reveal is at 54:08, the alien attack scene is at 1:10:45, and Sigourney outro is at 1:24:50.

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Beach Blanket Babylon Closing in San Francisco After a 45-Year Run

Those hats! Those huge, wonderful, silly hats, each larger than the last.

Beach Blanket Babylon, the world’s longest-running musical review, is as much a part of the San Francisco mythos as cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, and beautifully painted Victorian houses. But after 45 years and 17,216 performances, the show will close with 2019’s New Year’s Eve finale.

The ever-evolving show uses modified lyrics from popular songs to poke mildly racy fun at celebrities and politicians, many of whom, like Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in the picture below, turn up in the audience sooner or later. (Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had already seen an abbreviated performance of the review in 1983.)

The show could probably have run forever, since it had become a sure-fire way for San Franciscans to entertain out-of-town visitors.

Every performance ended with the audience joining the cast in singing a rousing and joyous rendition of “San Francisco”—the real, Jeanette MacDonald “San Francisco”, from the 1936 movie of the same name.


New Year’s Eve at Beach Blanket Babylon

The Beach Blanket Babylon website has an excellent collection of pictures from the show, including one gallery dedicated exclusively to those giant hats. It also includes videos of selections from the show’s New Year’s Eve performances. Here’s the one from 2018:

(All photos found on the Web.)

Meltdown! A “Leave Britney Alone” for the 2010s

Meet social media “influencer” Jessy Taylor, who has a problem. Following complaints about Taylor’s racist postings, Instagram temporarily deleted her account. So she did what any sane and responsible media influencer would do, and called 911.

When the police failed to arrest Instagram or something, she published the following video on YouTube.

Warning: NSFW. Language, incredibly foul language, mental illness, gross stupidity, general obnoxiousness, and TMI. Oh, and did I mention language?

Some people have speculated that it’s all an attention-seeking act, but she doesn’t seem bright enough to open a can of cat food without help, let alone come up with that particular kind of scam. Nonetheless, the joke is ultimately on us, because the video has already been viewed more than a million times, probably earning her a significant amount of YouTube money.

But real or fake, this is the best YouTube meltdown since Chris Crocker’s unforgettable “Leave Britney Alone” performance back in September, 2007.

Warning: NSFW. Same reasons as above.

Little Big — New and Improved Video for “Skibidi”

Inspired silliness.

Little Big is a Russian band known for bizarre and sometimes NSFW videos, and “Skibidi” is their best-known song. This new video, which they call the “Romantic Edition”, was released last month. It has about 21 million views.

The band, which describes itself as “a satirical art collaboration”, has just finished the American leg of its current tour, and will be playing to sold-out shows in Europe for the next six weeks.

“Skibidi” went viral when it was released last Fall. Here’s the earlier official video of the song. This one has 206 million views.

I like the new one better.


An Unavoidable Comparison

You can’t listen to “Skibidi” without being reminded of YouTube’s top trending video of 2013, that glorious Norwegian masterpiece, “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)”.

It’s unlikely that “Skibidi” will ever beat the Fox’s 838 million views.

Alien: The Play — High School Theatre at Its Best

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What happened in North Bergen, New Jersey, last weekend was like a real-life version of one of those high school musical movies from the 1930s, where Mickey and Judy need money to save the old folks’ home, and somebody comes up with a great idea: “Let’s put on a show! We can have it in my uncle’s barn!”

Except that nobody sang show tunes in the North Bergen High School Drama Club’s production of Alien: The Play, and a Xenomorph killed off most of the characters.

The Xenomorph

The Xenomorph

Working with costumes and scenery made largely with recycled materials, the club brought its own version of the classic 1979 horror movie to the high school stage. And the critics raved.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted this:

A non-profit founded by the mayor of North Bergen funded extra performances of the play.

And then things got heavy. Ridley Scott, director of the original film, gave “Thumbs Up To High Schoolers Who Adapted His Sci-Fi Classic: ‘Do Gladiator Next!’”

Ridley Scott

But the absolute topper was this:


It looks like the North Bergen production diverged from the original movie by including a scene that comes from the sequel, Aliens, rather than from Alien itself, but there’s no way in this or any other world that they could have resisted including one of the greatest lines in film history. With just six little words, Sigourney Weaver’s has been bringing cheering audiences to their feet for more than three decades.


Duet: Elton John and Taron Egerton Perform Together

For 27 years, Elton John has hosted an Academy Awards viewing party* to raise money for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. This year, the party and auction brought in 6.3 million dollars.

This happened last night’s party:

So yet more proof that Taron Egerton, better known for his acting than for his singing, can really deliver the goods in the upcoming film, Rocketman.

I see, btw, that Rocketman is being described as “an epic musical fantasy” rather than a musical biography. I also see, btw, that the 92nd Academy Awards show will take place on 9 Feb 2020. Save the date.

The movie will be released on 24 May 2019 in the UK and on 31 May 2019 in the US.


*A gay man hosting an Oscars party! Who’da thunk it?

David Rakoff’s Thoughts on Rent

NSFW:  Language

I didn’t see the televised not-really-live performance of Rent last night, but I read some of the reviews this morning. While I was searching for them on the web, I found this wonderful old recording of David Rakoff’s thoughts on the musical.

He was not a fan.

I’ve been a fervent devotee of this passionate and humane writer since I first saw him when he was a guest of Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

Among other honours, Rakoff won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. You can see why in his two-minute Advice to Graduates.

David Rakoff died after a horrific battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma on 17 August 2012. This is his funny, sad, and beautiful Final Performance.