Today's expedition was to Signature Theatre to see Giant, the world premiere of Michael John LaChiusa's musical adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel. I have to admit that I've neither read the novel nor seen the film adaptation of it, so I had nothing to compare it to. In fact, my only real familiarity with the novel is its frequent appearance in crossword puzzles.
That unfamiliarity is both an advantage and a disadvantage. There were several aspects of the story which seemed insufficiently resolved to me - but I can assume that is a problem with the source material, not the adaptation. Was it Ferber who wrote a novel without making up her mind whether it was about people, tradition, bigotry or all three? Or was Sybille Pearson (who wrote the book for the musical) reluctant to choose one interpretation?
That sounds more negative than I intend it to. I thought that, overall, the show was worth seeing and, surprisingly, did not feel in need of editing despite running for nearly 4 hours (with two intermissions). The first act establishes the fundamental problem of Leslie's search for belonging in Texas. The second act stretches that to Bick's difficulty in adjusting to the changes in Texas, while the third takes on both the next generation and newer conflicts. The question of how to deal with political differences within relationships is always an interesting one and kept my interest as Leslie (and, later, Jordy) try to make Bick change his prejudices.
As for the music, I thought it was, in general, effective at setting mood and revealing character. Jett gets the best songs (as a villain should), though "When to Bluff" may be just a bit too creepy. ("The Dog is Gonna Bark" is creepier, but more forgivably so since it reveals Jett as a McCarthyite.) I also thought that the reprise of "Aurelia Dolores" made a strong lead-in to the finale, particularly because of the translation of the lyrics into English.
Betsy Morgan did a very good job as Leslie and Lewis Cleale was competent as Bick. But the two performances I want to make particular note of are Ashley Robninson's as Jett and John Dossett as Bawley.
Overall, I thought this was worth seeing and I think it could transfer to Broadway successfully.
On an only mildly related subject, the oil light on my car came on when I pulled into the parking lot on the way to the show. I stopped at the service station a couple of blocks away after the show and added oil, but it looks like taking my car in for service has to go on the to-do list for the week. Sigh.