Live: Glee Warbles And Waves At Nassau Coliseum
Saturday, June 18
Better than: A slushie to the face.
Getting caught up in a cultural juggernaut leaves you ripe for teasing. I casually followed Glee at the beginning, but I didn't tumble headfirst into true fandom until this season, sacrificing my Tuesdays to write Gleecaps and pushing the show on friends and family at every opportunity. "Fan," you learn, can become something of a dirty word; when you're a fan of something mainstream it's even dirtier. Which is why I reveled in the opportunity to watch the cast of Glee perform live twice in one day at the same venue this weekend. (Before anyone asks, no, they do not actually do drastically different things between shows; I effectively watched the same set of song and dance numbers back to back.)
The word "Live" is obviously a bit of a cheat. Like most pop groups who dance and sing at the same time, a high percentage of the show is lip-synced, with certain songs performed live. The cast's musicial proficiency varies widely; Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and Amber Riley lead the charge with show-stopping numbers while poor, pretty Diana Agron dully lip-syncs. Heather Morris, who plays the ditzy bisexual cheerleader Brittany, has the most arena experience of the group; she danced for Beyoncé during the "Single Ladies" era.
The show opened with the overplayed anthem "Don't Stop Believing," with the original club members slowly being joined by the ever-expanding cast. From there things rambled forward; Morris's "Slave 4 U" tribute introduced the concept of bondage gear to the five-year-old in front of me; Chris Colfera critically acclaimed Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner with a startlingly unique voice, and my personal favoritewas the first of the performers to break down the fourth wall and reach out to touch eager fans during his touching take on "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"; at the late show Amber Riley followed him up, belting out "Ain't No Way." The full club returned to perform Gaga's "Born This Way," although just like on TV, the "gay straight or bi, lesbian transgender life" line had been cut. Lea Michele followed up Gaga with Katy Perry's also-acceptance-themed "Firework," the first of two Perry songs on the night.
Then it was time to showcase the students from the Glee universe's Dalton Academyin particular Darren Criss, who plays Kurt's love interest Blaine Anderson. He entered to the most thunderous screams of the night and opened with "Teenage Dream," performed on the smaller back stage; the Warblers walked through a crowd of grabby girls to the front stage during "Silly Love Songs" and closed things out with the crowdpleaser "Raise Your Glass." Criss' family, which includes Freelance Whales' Chuck Criss, was in the house for the late show; his mother bounced and leaped and waved her hands above her head through the whole set until Criss shouted, "I love you, Mom!" Celebrity parents: They're just like ours.
After the polyester-clad Warblers disappeared Cory Monteith, who plays football-jock-turned-glee-clubber Finn Hudson, served as the guy who reminded the crowd that the show had a narrative structure; he noted that the club was preparing to face rivals Vocal Adrenaline and had to practice. Michele and Colfer turned in a spellbinding take on their Streisand/Garland tribute "Happy Days Are Here Again / Get Happy"; the snoozefest of "Lucky," unfortunately, followed. At least watching the Glee club ham it up in the background was fun, and that hilarity continued during "River Deep / Mountain High" where the club, and Monteith in particular, tried to emulate the female dancers with varying results. They finished the main set with Lea Michele's showstopping tear through "Don't Rain On My Parade" and upbeat numbers from Monteith and Naya Rivera before closing with the upbeat Glee original "Loser Like Me."