Earlier today Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars revealed the shows for their 50th Anniversary season. Here’s the official release and my comments/thoughts.
If you know me at all, you know I love going to the theatre and am a proud subscriber to three different companies here in Houston. So when news broke of Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd’s “retirement” with only two days notice, I was suspicious. Since then, the murmurs have turned into a loud chorus of stories about problems behind the scenes. I’ve been asked about this many times and I’ve been hesitant to give my thoughts until I had time to properly process the news. Today, I feel comfortable enough to give some very preliminary comments.
It’s a story that has been told many times before. During the early days of World War II, Western Europe is about to fall. The British government is in crisis. Fight or negotiate with Hitler? And making the decisions – a man who starts drinking at breakfast and has a questionable history of decision-making. So does DARKEST HOUR make this subject fresh and interesting, especially on the heels of DUNKIRK telling a similar story from a different point of view?
Revivals are a tricky thing. Producers have to ask some tough questions. Is it too soon for a return? Can we bring anything new to this show? Will audiences want to see this story again? One of the classics of musical theatre, SOUTH PACIFIC, took roughly 50 years to return to Broadway. If it took five decades for Rodgers & Hammerstein to return, is it too soon for THE COLOR PURPLE, which was last in Houston in 2009?
Time for my annual “throw a dart at some names and hope for the best” post.
The story of P.T. Barnum has been told in song before. In fact, it’s always been one of my favorite musicals. I saw the original cast in the Broadway production in the 80s and that night at the theatre has always stuck with me. So when plans for a new musical version (using new songs, not the ones I’d come to love) were announced, I was skeptical to say the least. Early reviews were also all over the place with some loving the film and others hating it. So what’s the truth? That’s a tough call, especially when the art of “humbug” is involved.
The popularity of “Glee” and a cappella groups like Pentatonix made making the original PITCH PERFECT a logical choice. With its success (the original film made over $113 million worldwide) a sequel was also a no-brainer. PITCH PERFECT 2 more than doubled the box office of the original and made a third film inevitable. Whether or not the latest offering is necessary, however, is another matter.
A CHRISTMAS STORY is a sacred film to many people. Cable channels have run it for 24 hours straight during the holidays and it is required viewing for many. So it should be no surprise that some were skeptical when plans for a musical stage version (and later a live TV special) were announced. The stage show, which played The Hobby Center in 2015, was a pleasant surprise and quite charming. Last night’s live TV event was a bit more problematic.
If Yoda were to write this review, he might start with the following warning:
“At your own risk read this. Ahead slight spoilers are.”
You have been warned.