It is a dangerous decision when a creative team decides to “re-imagine” a musical, especially a well-known classic. Certainly CHICAGO and CABARET stand out as recent revivals that were both re-conceived and met with high praise. But it is a risky move and doesn’t always work. When TUTS announced that they would be giving their GUYS & DOLLS revival a Latin flair, I must admit I was a bit concerned. How would this change an already great musical and its story? Would it work? Last night, I got my answer.
All nominees, winners and my picks are listed below. Not my best win percentage this year but I went out on a limb for a few of these and lost. Congrats to all the nominees and winners!
“There are moments that the words don’t reach…”
These words, taken from the emotional song “It’s Quiet Uptown” could easily be applied to any review of HAMILTON: AN AMERICAN MUSICAL. What can be said that hasn’t already been written about this juggernaut? This review will take a bit of a different form since there’s not much to quibble with regarding the show itself.
When I hear the word “concert” I think of a stage with a band and microphones where artists perform their latest hits. Even some of the most ambitious tours I’ve seen (Madonna’s “Blonde Ambition” comes to mind) were bold in their theatrics but were still, in the end, the very definition of a concert. NBC had been billing JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR as a concert event. To say that is a dis-service to what was actually presented, although I suspect there is a reason for this somewhat deceptive marketing.
Before the curtain rose on MEMPHIS last night, TUTS Artistic Director Dan Knechtges (also the show’s director) and Executive Director Hilary J. Hart delivered a pre-show speech, pointing out that for their upcoming 50th Anniversary season, all six shows would be locally produced and focus on using Houston talent. They also explained that the majority of cast and crew on MEMPHIS were local artists. So for better or worse, this show is a watermark of things to come for this performing arts company.
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.
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?