fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Theatre Binge - Part 1

One of the main things in my backlog of things to write about was my recent theatre binge. I do go to the theatre a lot, in general, but a lot of things collided to make for more than usual in the past few weeks.

1776: On the 18th I saw 1776 at Ford's Theatre. This is pretty much the best possible match of show and venue one can imagine. (Well, I can imagine doing Assassins there, but that would be in incredibly poor taste.) They did a good job with it, but it remains a show I have seriously mixed feelings about. The book is far superior to the score, with lots of political humor that is still relevant to this day. Take, for example, the very beginning in which John Adams says, "One useless man is a disgrace. Two useless men are a law firm. Three or more useless men are a Congress."

The acting was also fine. I was particularly impressed with Brooks Ashmanskas as John Adams, Steven Carpenter as Dr. Lyman Hall, and Floyd King as Stephen Hopkins. The one performer who I was disappointed in was Gregory Maheu as Edward Rutledge. But I suspect I would be disappointed in anybody as Rutledge who isn't a young John Cullum.

The problem with this musical is the music. There are several songs that have all the irritating catchiness of a commercial jingle. And it is, of course, the worst songs that tend to become uncurable earworms, to the extent that a week and a half later bits of "But Mr. Adams" pop into my head. I do find "Mama Look Sharp" to be moving and Sam Ludwig as the Courier did an excellent job with it. That song and "Molasses to Rum to Slaves" are the two strongest lyrically. Too many of the other songs are just embarrassingly amateurish when it comes to the lyrics. I especially hate "The Lees of Old Virginia," but there is a lot to loathe about "The Egg" as well.

Overall, the book probably makes up for the music. Most flawed musicals suffer from the opposite problem.

Come Fly Away: On the 20th, I saw Come Fly Away at The Kennedy Center. This was entirely a dance performance, not a true musical theatre production. Twyla Tharp's choreography to a number of Frank Sinatra's songs was completely lacking in a book - or much of a story at all. There are 4 couples who interact in a nightclub. There was a live band, combined with a recording of Sinatra's vocals, which is an interesting concept and worked fairly well. The dancing itself was very good, with some nice touches of humor. Overall, this was enjoyable, but I'd have preferred an actual narrative.
Tags: musicals, theatre

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