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Monday, April 16, 2007

110 in the Shade

It's never a good sign when you leave a musical without the scantest trace of a tune in your head. The Rainmaker worked best as a straight show, adding the townspeople and showing us Jim's little-red-hatted love, Snookie, only dilutes N. Richard Nash's sweet little story. As for Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, their score here is far from Fantastick, and everything from Santo Loquasto's minimal staging to Lonny Price's formulaic direction calls for a smaller stage. The script is all intimacy, and no spectacle (which is why the sun is bigger than anything else in the show), so what were the producers thinking to stage this at Studio 54? So far as dramatic acting goes, Audra McDonald's Lizzie is the center of this show, and her interactions with Bobby Steggert's brilliantly daft Jim and John Cullum's steadfast H.C. go over pretty well. But Steve Kazee's Starbuck is an energy-draining disappointment (as is Christopher Innvar's bland File), and the romance of this play winds up being an old maid, no matter what angle you look at it from. "Raunchy" is the only number with enough life in it for McDonald to sing through; the rest of her songs are breathy, overly vibrating numbers in search of some heart. It's not that I don't believe McDonald in "Old Maid"; it's that I believe her more when she's straight. The music is suffering a mighty heavy drought, and I don't think this cast has enough magic to make it rain.

Also blogged by: [Christopher]

4 comments:

Patrick Lee said...

Are you saying that Studio 54 is too big a venue for this musical? I remember the show working very well when City Opera did it, in their ginormous barn.

Cameron said...

For what it's worth, I found the staging at Studio 54 appropriately intimate. That said, I was in Row H of the orchestra; that could have had something to do with it. The stage is deep and the sets are proportional to it.

Jennifer said...

i didn't leave Light in the PIazza humming the tunes...but thought it was a fabulous musical.

i hope to see this soon.

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