The strength of a script, whether it be for television, movies, or the stage, can be judged by how well it stands up with nothing else to support it. Some of my favorite pieces are those where the visual isn’t really part of the story at all. In contrast to the visual feast that is MISS SAIGON (my last review), sometimes it’s nice to have a show just feature great writing and acting. But is that enough to make CONSTELLATIONS worth seeing?
Perhaps the third time is the charm? Producer Cameron Mackintosh and I have a love/hate relationship. I’m very grateful to the man for financing some of my all-time favorite shows. But I also hate that he has closed the original versions of some of his biggest hits in favor of newer versions that while no-doubt more cost-effective, are unfortunately not nearly as impressive as their forefathers. The recent tours of LES MISERABLES and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA are two of these shows. With the arrival of MISS SAIGON, we finally find out if he can actually make one of his shows better with a “newer” version.
The Alley Theatre produces eight shows in a typical season and usually does a great job of navigating the waters between world premieres, contemporary plays, and classic revivals. The most curious choice on this season’s schedule is CRIMES OF THE HEART, a title likely familiar because of its movie version, but a play not often revived in professional productions. Why would the Alley make such an unusual pick?
Adapting an epic novel for the stage can be a tricky proposition. Unless you plan on doing a two-part, eight hour show (like the 1980s epic NICHOLAS NICKLEBY) you will likely have to make cuts to the story and perhaps excise characters or storylines completely (see also: LES MISERABLES). NICKLEBY and LES MIS are contrasts in success, one having relegated itself to being a Trivial Pursuit answer, while the other is arguably the most successful musical ever. So where does RAGTIME fit in?
This is part eleven of a series of blogs about my trip to Uganda. I’ll post a new chapter each day until the story is complete.
One of my favorite plays (and movies too, for that matter) is NOISES OFF! It’s one of those shows you have to see several times to catch all the jokes, not because they’re delivered badly or not funny, but rather because you’re laughing so hard you miss the next line frequently. I knew that THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG was a similar type of show, but would it stand on its own or just re-hash what NOISES OFF! had already done?
One of the questions we’re asked, as humans, is what do we want to be? What are our goals in life and where do we hope the road takes us? Often the answer isn’t clear or our minds may change throughout the journey. THE HUMANS deserves its title in this sense, as it seems to have a general idea of where it is going, only to change its mind in the end.
Musicals featuring real characters and events can be tricky, especially when the original story doesn’t have the “happy ending” audiences will crave. A show’s creative team is faced with a dilemma: Do they stay completely true to the facts, or do they take some creative license to “improve” their storytelling? ANASTASIA, whose national tour arrived in Houston on Tuesday, faces this tough decision.
It’s easy to dismiss MAMMA MIA! as fluff or a jukebox musical and after my less than stellar experience at the invited dress rehearsal, I must admit to having been a bit apprehensive. Did the show rise above the obnoxious audience and technical issues (mostly sound) that seemed to plague the rehearsal?