joy magnetism: Save-a-Show Mission

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Save-a-Show Mission

Magnet #376 - Guys and Dolls

I mentioned before that I really love going to shows when they're in previews. It's more exciting when things go wrong, and it just feels more like unpolished production, not one of those slick, mass-markety Broadway numbers.

And in that respect, Guys and Dolls didn't fail me. Besides loading in the audience superlate (the line was around the block, and people were still filing in at showtime). So, it was already a late start, but about five minutes into the show, a PA fuzzy (but very modulated) announcement sounded: "Production halted, all actors leave the stage."

Freakin' awesome.

We were left in the dark for a bit, and then the director came out and started talking to us. He said that he'd gotten too big for his britches that day, the day he decided not to come out before the show to explain that they were in previews.

He further explained that a major mobile set piece had broken down, and the production stagehands were fixing it. And that we'd understand why they had to fix it before going on with the show. It's true, the set piece was a major part of the production, so yay, they got it fixed, and they restarted the show without a hitch.

But, you know what's funny? The guy who played Sebastian in that somewhat disastrous Little Mermaid production, Tituss Burgess, was Nicely-Nicely Johnson in this production! What IS it with this guy and me in a theatre together?

Anyway, I didn't want to post an early review of the show while it was in previews cuz it feels like it's a bit unfair to judge a show before they're ready. But I bought this magnet there in anticipation.

For those of you who don't know the cast, the headliners were Craig Bierko, Oliver Platt, Kate Jennings Grant, and Lauren Graham. I know, right? I was surprised, too, that Lorelai was gonna hit the a musical, no less.

But, you know that blonde bimbo part that Lesley-Anne Warren played in Victor, Victoria? That's basically this part - the classic blonde bimbo with a dream of nabbing the boy and living happily ever after. As she has said - everywhere, in every interview - she doesn't sing as bad as Lorelai did on Gilmore Girls. Tis true. She wasn't half bad...but she was still Lorelai in my head - only trying to play the half-nekkid blonde bimbo with a curly blonde wig. Not surprising, she actually received the loudest applause upon first stage entrance.

Craig Bierko was good, if a little milquetoast. He's got something...but it's a nebulous thing between sex appeal and presence. I can't figure him out - because I love him, but he's that all-American guy that should be in a letterman jacket and slicked back hair, and stuck back in the 50s/60s.

And Oliver Platt, I dunno, though he was good, he just didn't gel for me. He was a little too unkempt for me to believe him as a slickster gambler...especially because he was playing the Frank Sinatra/Nathan Lane part. It was like watching Porthos in a Zoot suit, instead of watching him run around with Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen and Chris O'Donnell.

The two who stood out for me were (not surprisingly) Kate Jennings Grant and Mary Testa. Both felt right in their parts to me, and both were terrific, hitting all of their numbers out of the park.

Tituss Burgess, for me, always feels like he's actively trying to steal the show - so I automatically dislike any of his numbers, no matter how good he is.

The production...I go back and forth. I really liked the overall production. And I loved the use of the doors at the beginning. They moved and swiveled and forced us to believe that they were inside or outside. Which was cool the first few times, but it started to get distracting as the show went on. The sets and how they morphed into various NYC locales was terrific - especially one really well directed/produced scene in the subway.

I did love the costumes and hair, and the fun zoot suits. And the marquee'd lighting design was absolutely marvelous, if a little blinding.

I loved that they bookended the beginning and the end with author Damon Runyon...but then my sister pointed out that he'd been in a few scenes within the show. I'd completely missed everything in between! Which is sad, because apparently, one of the actors actually interacted with Runyon, telling him to skedaddle. I'm sorry I missed it!

The latest news on Guys and Dolls is that it opened to rather negative reviews this weekend - so bad, that they weren't even sure they'd keep going. NYT's Artsbeat says that the producers are planning to the keep the show open, and that they're stumped as to what they're going to use as blurbs to sell the show.

That makes me sad. While it's not my most favorite production or story ever, you could tell that everyone was putting their hearts and souls into the show. For me? That's key.

To learn more about the show, and to see some fabulous pics, NYTs did a terrific dedicated page - you can find out what a Guy is. /not even kidding at all

So, last night, I was here in the office, and realized it was March 4. And I walked out into the hallway, and to absolutely NO ONE, I said, March 4. Something big is on March 4.

Sniff. I need to write these things down...Happy birthday, Anonymous!!! You can't spell magnetism without NEAT (which is what I think you are...not neat as the opposite of slob, but neat as in, you're just neato!) and TEN, (which on a scale of one to nine, you're a definite ten). What? Not all of us can be word geniuses.

Yay, happy birthday!
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The Geek said...

Fabulous review! And 10 points for working in a Three Musketeers reference--I freakin' love that movie. :)

Erika said...

Rent the movie - Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra...

joy said...

Thanks, GG. I love TTM as great.

And, I've seen the movie a million times. Well, at least the first half of it.

I've never been a big fan of it. Mainly because I'm not huge a Brando fan, but also, I just don't really like the story.

I was just there for Lorelai, and because Jenny made me go.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, very belatedly, for the kind words. You can't spell magnetism without AGE and in my advanced years my reaction time has obviously taken a big hit...