Monday, May 16, 2011

Lucky Guy

Lucky Guy isn't everyone's cup of tea. As a matter of fact, only those with a real taste for tea will leave quenched. If the idea of an overgrown drag queen, a funny-looking little troll, and the worst camp since Dachau doesn't sound like a winning formula (and God knows the formula failed in All About Me with such resounding proof that to even consider mounting this production required balls too big to gaff), you may need to look for other reasons to see the show. The good news is, those reasons exist.

For the Varla Jean fans, Merman is in full tuck. The script utilizes her schtick to comedic effect but doesn't come close to matching the on-your-guard laughs from her solo shows. The score gives her ample opportunity to sing but doesn't fully showcase her vocal talents.

For the Leslie Jordan fans, and I count myself among those who walked in believing he could make anything funny, the writing proves me wrong. The story is so thin it loses sight of itself. The songs are neither memorable nor remarkable and are so formulaic they stole from themselves; but they are fun and occasionally funny. Willard Becham--the book, music, and lyric writer--might have done himself and the production a favor to let someone else direct.

The real reasons to see this show are the delightful performances of the most stunning quartet of male, triple threats since Jersey Boys. Callan Bergmann, Xavier Cano, Wes Hart, and Joshua Woodie sing harmonies so tight they are almost waterproof. Their dancing, taken as a group and choreographed to showcase individual abilities, fully entertains. They don't have enough collective body fat to fry a chicken. I realize that isn't a talent; but they didn't really do any acting and, when they took their shirts off (repeatedly), it was a threat to my self-esteem.

Kyle Dean Massey, so haunting and powerful in Next to Normal, was charming and vocally stunning. He was so good, he made the hokey Okie character seem genuine and sanguine instead of genuinely stupid. Massey was billed as the Lucky Guy, but I enjoyed his performance and those of the four Buckaroos so much that I considered demanding shared billing


Ross Selavy said...

I've never read your blog before, so perhaps you were just having a bad day when you wrote this. As a matter of full disclosure, I confess to having thoroughly enjoyed "Lucky Guy" despite its flaws--and it does have some.

To put it bluntly, I'm appalled by your writing. Is a consistent point of view irrelevant to you? What are readers supposed to take away from your review?

Your opening paragraph reads like a pan. Then you tuck "the good news" into the last sentence. As a critic, you know most people don't read beyond the first few lines. It sounds to me like you were having too much fun tossing around bon mots to care about the message you were sending. That's irresponsible.

You go on to praise Varla Jean Merman, then knock the book. You manage to do a complete reversal about the music in a single sentence. "The songs are neither memorable nor remarkable and are so formulaic they stole from themselves; but they are fun and occasionally funny."

Obviously, you enjoyed the hunky and talented chorus boys. You might have complimented William Ivey Long's outrageous costumes for exposing so much skin. You thought Kyle Dean Massey's performance so charming that you considered yourself a "lucky guy" for getting to see it. Well, given your opening paragraph, there's a good chance not many people will. Yours is the kind of review that kills small shows like "Lucky Guy."

Anonymous said...

"the worst camp since Dachau"? You know, 400 years from now would be still be 'too soon' for that 'joke'.

Rick said...

I'm not sure why R. Selavy has taken such issue with this review. It is not "irrelevant" to think a show has both strengths and flaws. The "good news" is not tucked into the last paragraph, as is claimed. It runs throughout the whole piece--including the first paragraph that is described as a pan. I don't think anyone would describe "there are reasons to see this show" as a pan.

Nor do I think it is the responsibility of a writer to compose each paragraph of a review in such a way that if someone only reads that section, they will get the gist of the entire piece. That's ridiculous.

I enjoyed the review and will continue to read this blog. I'm glad I found it.