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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Happiness

wHappiness, currently in previews at the Lincoln Center Theatre, has excellent bloodlines; its book is by John Weidman (Pacific Overtures, Assassins) and its music and lyrics are by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie (Grey Gardens). But it does not live up to its creators' earlier works. The book is illogical (I'm not referring to its overall premise), and the characters thin. While some of the music is nice, there are no standouts at the level of "Will You," "Revolutionary Costume," or "Another Winter in a Summer Town" from Grey Gardens. For all I know, the lyrics may be wonderful, but they were frequently unintelligible due to murky sound and some iffy enunciation.

(Spoilers ahead!) The characters are dead people choosing a perfect moment in which to spend eternity. But Weidman, Frankel, and Korie seem more interested in being inclusive (which I support!) than in being believable (which I don't). I don't believe that Ken Page's character would choose to spend eternity in a moment when his boyfriend was desperately ill. I also don't buy that Joanna Gleason's character went from being a hippie doing good works to a nasty right-wing homophobe because at a reunion she discovered that her classmates made more money than she did (a twist that manages to insult both hippies and right-wing homophobes!). More importantly, I was not touched by anyone's story, and from the response of the audience (tepid), I was not alone.

Despite all this, I feel that the show has potential. I guess I just can't rule out those bloodlines.

2 comments:

chris caggiano said...

Wendy,

I really wish that you had embedded your spoiler a little further into the graf. As it stands, I wound up reading the spoiler part before reading that it was a spoiler. (A function of the way I read.) As a blogger, I understand the necessity of sometimes divulging key plot points to fully express my views on a show. But you spilled the beans in the very first sentence of the second graf, and as a result, I inadvertently discovered something about the show, which I won't be seeing until the end of April.

Something to keep in mind.

Regards,

Wendy Caster said...

Many apologies! I'll be more careful next time.