Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Well, that was disappointing

The scene: Intermission at the Broadhurst Theatre
MP: (wearing his coat, pulling his bag up onto his shoulder, obviously ready to leave) So, what do you think?
ACB: Well, ok, here’s what I think. While I think Eponine will have some lovely moments in the second half, and Marius and students most certainly will, and Javert and Valjean might, the rest of it seems awfully like a high school musical. And, well, since my dream of Broadway has pretty much been shattered…”
MP: (bursts into sad laughter) So... drinks?

Ok, so it didn’t quite go down like that, but it wasn’t far off. What a disappointment. The “new orchestrations?” Obviously a money-saving venture, as the pit was thin and far too electronic to have any of the power of the original version. The tempi were so strict, and so fast, obviously in an attempt to keep the running time under three hours and avoid union overtime fees. No flexibility, no room for any feeling, just rushing from one line to the next. I felt like I was listening to a highlights version on cd. Except with some really shameful singing.

I was amazed at the lack of support, breath control, and intonation. Even with mikes, the lack of vocal technique was incredible. It was like American Idol Does Broadway. And I know it wasn’t just my nostalgia talking. I know enough to let go of my aural impressions of the Original London Cast Recording that I listened to over and over again in junior high and try to make room for a new experience. Just not this one. And that doesn’t mean that I’m not currently downloading said Original London Cast Recording (with Patti LuPone! and Colm Wilkinson! And Rebecca Caine!) off iTunes. I imagine I’ll give it a good listen or five in order to restore this work in my mind’s ear.

Sigh. Maybe a better revival will show up in a few years?

(MP and his boyfriend assure me that there is better Broadway to be seen out there. I’m going to see how many shows I can get them to take me to to make up for this…)


Campbell Vertesi said...

dude, we went to see the Jekyll and Hyde musical awhile ago, and it was just painful. Seriously, how far has musical theatre fallen? If this kind of stuff is what we're seeing on Broadway now, maybe it's perfectly legit for Opera to pick up the "real" musical theatre pieces like West Side Story and Carousel... we could actually do them justice.

Sarah said...

Did you know that a girl who went to DCPA after us was in that? I think in the ensemble.

You must see Avenue Q. I don't know about the rest of it, though. I was not thrilled with the new Sweeney Todd, and it's my favorite musical (Patti was a goddess, however).

fachingnuts said...

I'd heard that the Les Mis cast got completely canned a few years back and they started over. Apparently it's not any better...very sad. I guess those oldy-moldy shows aren't attracting the talent anymore. So sad. I'll still know all the words to On My Own!

Melissa said...

This is exactly how I felt last year when I saw the Sweeney Todd production with the cast playing instruments. The "orchestration" was so lame compared to the original, and it just seemed like a huge gimick to me. Plus, Patti LuPone had to break character every time she had to pick up or put down her tuba.... :)

See you soon!!!

Ryan said...

Go get yourself the cast recording of "The Light In The Piazza" - such wonderful music, and some excellent singing. If nothing else, it will renew your faith in musical theater. Jake Heggie, Peter Gelb, and Adam Guettel are doing their best to shove their fields together...sort of like Turducken (turkey-duck-chicken....yah, it's a real thing).

And don't let the gooey, swoony overture music turn you off. There are further riches to be had in the score.

The Management :) said...

From the looks of it, with all these Broadway-gone-bad experiences, perhaps located Kermit T. Frog and producing his "Manhattan Melodies" might not be such a bad idea...or maybe just another bad idea to add to the afore mentioned list of someone else's bad idea.

P.S. Forgive me if the references are lost on you. We're are all too well versed in all things Muppets, ca. 1975-1985. We'd blame it on sweet Bella's existence, but really...you've got to love the Muppets.

The Management :) said...

Those are some fierce typos above.

Grace. Please extend grace.

Y.ouRs TrooLy

ACB said...

Thanks, all. I agree with you: I would love to see more "classic" musical theater in opera houses AND more opera singers in "legit" roles. Ryan, I hope you are right!

(And, yes, of course I know what Turducken is! I've watched John Madden every Thanksgiving for many years now!)

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