Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Broadway in Tucson Review: 'Mrs. Doubtfire'

The musical adaptation of "Mrs. Doubtfire" tiptoes a fine line that hinges entirely on its lead performance. Because it leans so heavily on the character, Daniel, a struggling, recently divorced voice actor who masquerades as a Scottish nanny in order to spend more time with his kids, the show's entire tone and upside is set by the performer's panache and magnetism. If the performance is cloying and overexerted, the entire show would be an agonizing bore.

Rob McClure, however, is anything but that. A dynamic, astoundingly talented performer and gifted comedian, he serves as the dynamic lynchpin that holds together the wily, impossibly funny parade of whimsy, pop culture satire and subtle, yet effective, sentimentality.

Based on the 1993 movie that starred Robin Williams, the show ran on Broadway in 2022 and 2023, when it launched a national tour. McClure played the role on Broadway, and he manages to elevate Williams' original creation into a bombastic virtuoso turn that's entirely his own. His considerable talents, which reach their peak in the numbers "Easy Peasy" and "About Time," thrive in a role that at times demands rapping, breakdancing, juggling, tap dancing and impressions.

An exquisite bookend to the Broadway in Tucson season, which opened in September with another heavily Williams-influenced production, "Aladdin," "Mrs. Doubtfire" is a spellbinding spectacle that is undoubtedly the funniest musical I have ever seen, topping "The Book of Mormon" by a longshot.

Other standouts in the cast include Maggie Lakis as Dennis' flustered ex-wife, Miranda, and Giselle Gutierrez as their oldest daughter, Lydia, through whose lens the show plays out as a coming-of-age story.

While the plot is crammed with nonsensical non sequiturs that grow even more absurd and outlandish on stage than what the original film offered, every note and flourish stays true to the core impetus of painting Dennis as a troubled, terminally immature parent who will go to any ends to stay in the lives of his children. Even in its wildest moments, the emotional core stays firm, and McClure is always able to shift on a dime from showman to sensitive shrinking violet, making the serious moments register, and even sting a little.

"Mrs. Doubtfire" surprised me with its irrepressibly entertaining fervor. Its instant standing ovation was well-earned and exuberant, rather than the grudgingly polite sort you so often see. The show is a true treat, and if you're a fan of musical comedy, you owe it to yourself to catch McClure's performance while it's near/

"Mrs. Doubtfire" plays through June 2 at Centennial Hall. Buy tickets here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Game Review: 'Braid Anniversary Edition'

Originally released in 2008, developer Jonathan Blow's "Braid" set the indie scene on fire. The 2D platformer satirized "Super Mario Bros." and other pop culture icons while also telling a deep, subversive tale that grows more complex the farther you advance.

An unequivocal masterpiece of minimalist game design, the game gets a remastered special edition not so much because it needed a fresh coat of paint, but because it deserves a victory lap in the manner of a Criterion home video release.

Just as with the simplicity of the original game, the additions are minimal and largely unobtrusive. Those who want to re-experience the game with some historical perspective have the opportunity to trigger a running commentary track that provides deep insight into the craft and strategy that went into nearly every pixel of the effort.

The game gets an HD makeover, but those who crave the original art design look can toggle back and forth between the new and former look. The ability to appreciate the game on multiple levels speaks to the depth and strength of the rock-solid, deceptively intricate design factors at play.

"Braid Anniversary Edition" is a jubilant celebration of the game and the indie movement it spawned. No doubt responsible for inspiring a generation of fresh, vivid thinking in game design, the rereleased version stands as the definitive form of one of indie gaming's grandest treasures. I envy those who get to experience it the first time in this impressive form.

Publisher provided review code.


Thursday, May 02, 2024

Samsung Galaxy S24+ rocks T-Mobile's speedy 5G network

A larger, slightly bulkier version of its base-model cousin, the Samsung Galaxy S24+ is geared for those who need a phone with some more durability, screen real estate and battery life.

Boiled down to basics, the phone is a souped-up version of the flagship Samsung Galaxy S24 model.

Like the standard S24, the S24+ comes with a promise of seven years of consistent update support and a slew of AI features.

Just as in the base model, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy CPU deals out a bewildering amount of processing power, working in tandem with T-Mobile's blisteringly fast 5G Magenta network to tame whatever array of multitasking challenges you ca hurl at it.

The 6.7-inch display is an upgrade over the 6.2-inch screen on the standard S24, upping the resolution from FHD+ to QHD+. The difference may at first seem inconsequential, but upon regular use, the colors stand out as richer and the image contrast appears sharper.

The bump from 8GB to 12GB of RAM is considerable, with the S24+ taking advantage of the extra memory to handle games, apps and streaming video with silk-smooth ease.

A larger, more powerful device needs more juice, and the S24+ gets just that in the form of a 4,900mAh battery, which bests the 4,000mAh battery found in the S24. I found the device could handle at least 16 hours of heavy use without needing a charge-up break.

The camera array remains consistent. The main 50MP camera with a 12MP lens and 10MP telephoto with 3x optical zoom capabilities is familiar, with the ability to capture images with as much as 50MP resolution, as well as 8K video.

Object Eraser helps you deploy AI to touch up pictures and delete photobombers, and Circle to Search lets you juggle your web surfing with Google Image scans. 

While the S24+ may lack the S-Pen and souped-up features fo the S24 Ultra, it serves its need as an impressive mid-tier option that passes the eye test and turns heads. There's no middle child syndrome here.

T-Mobile sent device for review.

T-Mobile Mother's Day Weekend deals

T-Mobile is rolling out new offers for Mother's Day weekend, including a free iPhone 15 (up to $830 off) with eligible trade on Go5G Plus or Go5G Next, or when you add a line on most plans; free Samsung Galaxy S24 with eligible trade OR when you add a line on Go5G Plus or Go5G Next50% off iPad 9th Gen 64GB when adding a line; free Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 (40mm or 44mm) when adding a watch line; $300 off the Harman Kardon Onyx Studio 8 speaker in any color and an Apple Watch SE 2nd Gen 40mm on Us (or 44mm for just $30) when adding a new watch line.

The T-Mobile Magenta Status, comes with special offers on things such as hotels, rental cars, food, concert and movie tickets and more. According to T-Mobile, customers can unlock as much as $1,500 in added value every year in Magenta Status perks. Other offers in the array of plans include free Apple TV+HuluNetflix and free season-long subscriptions to MLB.TV, to free in-flight Wi-Fihigh-speed data abroadScam Shield protection, exclusive deals and freebies every week through T-Mobile Tuesdays and more.