It’s been a tough few weeks for the Alley Theatre, with the departure of long-time artistic director Gregory Boyd and the subsequent allegations of abuse. So it’s a bit ironic that the next production would be a story of struggles to bring people together in times of crisis. I had personally been torn about continuing to support the theatre but ultimately decided to support my friends in the resident company and their colleagues. The thing the theatre needed the most right now is some good publicity and a big hit — and they have found it with this near-perfect production of THE GREAT SOCIETY.
Putting together a Broadway show is much like assembling a good band. There are specific elements that must be in place to make you successful. One element both have in common is the music. A great musical (and a great band, for that matter) must have songs people want to hear and lyrics that tell a great story or entertain. The biggest problem with SCHOOL OF ROCK, playing this week at The Hobby Center, is that one of these key factors is missing.
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.