Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Scandalous - Let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against religious people, and nothing specifically against Kathie Lee Gifford. This is, however a musical about faith with book and lyrics by Kathie Lee. I knew it was going to be awful, and it was. This one didn't last long on Broadway, so if you didn't see it - you won't. The story is about Aimee Semple McPherson - a spiritual leader (whose church still exists and was one of the producers of the show) and the woman playing Aimee from ages 18-50 is amazing. She has a voice that is out of this world. Good thing, too, because it was the only redeeming quality in this schmaltz-fest of the Lord. I am sad that Carolee Carmello didn't have a longer time to shine on Broadway, but with a voice like hers I am sure she will be back soon.
The Heiress - Everyone is going on and on about how amazing Jessica Chastain is. Well, she isn't. She is a fine actress but in this stately drama she has made a bad acting decision. The play is written so that the female lead (Chastain), the Heiress of the title, is plain and quiet and is browbeaten a bit by her father and taken in by a handsome suitor who may or may not have cause to really love her. It seems Chastain has decided that to mean that she is so completely monotone and dull and overly stilted as to be unbelievable. The suitor, played by the actor who plays dreamy cousin Matthew on Downton Abbey, is then really hard pressed to be interested in her. It takes away the great central question of the story "does he really like her or is he just after the money?" because now you know.
Chaplin - I didn't expect to like this. I had very low expectations of a musical based on the life of a silent film star. Something about that seemed completely backwards. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself really touched by the show - though I couldn't tell you a single song from it, which is normally a bad sign if you aren't humming something when you leave - and taken in by Rob McClure who plays Chaplin. Though his singing voice is a little thin, he completely embodies the character with heart and charm. I think that there are some historical inaccuracies, but that isn't why I go to the theater. I found myself enjoying it - there are certainly some showmanship numbers and even folks who aren't familiar with Chaplin's films will still recognize the iconic walk of the Little Tramp (the moment he becomes that character is delightful).
The Mystery of Edwin Drood – I have to admit I don’t really understand the point of this show. It takes an unfinished work by Charles Dickens and uses it as the show within a show set in an English musical hall. The audience votes on “who done it?” and the cast finishes the show along those lines (I assume they have rehearsed every version depending on audience outcome). It was diverting, I guess but for a show that has some great performers – the sexy Will Chase (Joe Dimaggio on “Smash”) and the blockbuster Stephanie J. Block – they really underuse them. Ms. Block barely sang one song, I would have her belting the entire time.
Grace – I love, love, loved this. It is not a happy play, and the fact that it isn’t a splashy musical might keep it from running very long (tourists love to go see musicals) but this is fan-freaking-tastic. I went to go see Paul Rudd, and he is just as charming and talented as you think, but the real star in my eyes was Michael Shannon. I had seen him years ago in a show called “Bug” and he has found fame on TV in Boardwalk Empire, but he was a revelation. Go, go, go see this show.
An Enemy of the People- Okay, I was bored. There will probably be a Tony nomination for the lead actor (and he did have some scenes that were fantastic so it will be well-deserved) but the Ibsen play that has resonance with today’s political issues was a bit of a snore.