Essays · TV

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Live is Just As Magical As You’d Imagine

Medford, Massachusetts: Only 13 T Stops from the Beach.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live
By  · Published on April 9th, 2018

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is on tour for the first time ever. I went to the Boston show, and it was the best night out I’ve had in years.

Tickets went on sale, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day. And as Greg Serrano would say, it was a shitshow. A lot of tickets were snatched up by bots, and a lot of fans were shut out. I had my Ticketmaster login and a stiff drink ready at noon, and I just managed to get two individual tickets nowhere near each other. Then creator and star Rachel Bloom won everyone’s hearts by fighting the robots and keeping tickets reasonably priced. The show moved to the larger Chevalier Theatre, with new seats available only as will-call.

The change opened the show up to more fans, and it appropriately moved it from downtown Boston to Medford, Massachusetts. A medium town on the northwest commuter rail line, it was a perfect West Covina counterpart. And by God, there was free on-street parking.

The show itself was glorious. Rebecca, Paula, Josh Chan, Darryl, Valencia, and Nathaniel (almost all of the main cast) were there. The three-piece band included the show’s songwriters Jack Dolgen and Adam Schlesinger. Donna Lynne Champlin (Paula) brought down the house twice. Gabrielle Ruiz (Valencia) led the entire theater in a yoga class. And Rachel Bloom charmed the hell out of everyone.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an ensemble show, and the live experience reflects that. Everyone performed at least one solo song, and many of the numbers were a family affair. But the star was obviously Bloom, who served as both headliner and emcee with a wonderful, raunchy energy she’s not allowed to show on network tv.

“Do you see Westworld doing this shit? Do you see Modern Family doing this shit? No. Because they get decent ratings.” — Rachel Bloom

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airs on the CW, where it rubs up weekly against its TV-14 rating. It’s actually an exciting element, seeing how the show manages to get its message past the censors. Occasionally songs are released on YouTube in both clean and explicit versions, resulting in things like the beautiful duality of Buttload of Cats/Fuckton of Cats.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live

In the live version, however, all bets are off. And this is probably the most notable difference — it’s a look at the mood the show would’ve had if it’d aired on Showtime as intended. The songs remained untouched, but the choreography and Bloom’s banter were decidedly more R rated. And it was amazing.

The live show isn’t plot-based. No one is in character. It’s a musical showcase, and one you could easily drag a non-fan to. (Think of it like a more expensive session on YouTube where you try to convince your friend with “just one more.” I have led many of these sessions).

The most fascinating element comes from the very existence of a fanbase that focuses on such an obsession-driven show. At one point an audience member ran up to the stage to leave a collage and letter. Bloom picked it up and talked about it, and then asked if anyone else had anything to lay on her alter. Another fan rushed up to give her a thong.

Any show that’s any show gets its fair share of obsessive fans. (Stan twitter is more alive now than ever). But few engage so directly with the idea of obsession in their content, or so charmingly and openly with their fans off-camera.

And Bloom and the rest of the cast really seemed to relish what they termed the “nice hecklers” in the audience. Just as the tv show finds humor and love in the relatability of Rebecca’s “craziness,” the live show encouraged a mood that was both wild and life-affirming. Pete Gardner (Darryl) got one of the night’s biggest cheers introducing “Gettin’ Bi” as “a song about being proud of who you are.” And Bloom led an impassioned singalong with her encore of “You Stupid Bitch.” A song about lonely self-loathing and private flagellation, it reached new heights and achieved new meaning sung together by a group of 2,000 people.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Live runs through April 11th, hitting 5 more cities after Boston. And then, presumably, the work will begin on the show’s fourth and final season (which was ordered in the middle of the tour and kicked the palpable excitement up another notch).

All shows are already sold out (apart from the final show, in Covina itself, which is doing will-call only). But if you can manage to find a ticket, snatch it up. If you love Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it’s a religious experience. Even if you don’t, it’s an outstanding night of comedy and musical talent. If God truly loves us (and the promise of season 4 suggests that he does), the success of this tour will prompt many more to come.

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Liz Baessler is a frequent contributor and infrequent columnist at Film School Rejects. She has an MA in English and a lot of time on her hands. (She/Her)