by Norma

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night” on Broadway

Long Day’s Journey Into Night premiered on Broadway in 1957, over a decade after Eugene O’Neill had originally finished the play. The autobiographical work about O’Neill’s family was not to be produced until after the his  death, at the bequest of the playwright. Long Day’s Journey has since become a Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning work that is an American theatre classic.

Now, Roundabout Theatre has revived Long Day’s Journey for a Broadway run at the American Airlines Theatre. The play follows Mary Tyrone (the resplendent Jessica Lange), wife to James Tyrone (Gabriel Byrne) and mother to James Tyrone, Jr. (Michael Shannon) and Edmund Tyrone (John Gallagher, Jr.). Edmund keeps coughing in a way that hints at something worse than a cold, and James and Jamie seem to be in a contest for most embittered alcoholic. But the most troubled person in the family by far is Mary, who is struggling with an opiate addiction that threatens to break the strained family bonds.

Whenever a older show makes its way back to the Broadway stage, I always wonder why it’s coming back. (Besides the obvious reasons: the producers paid for it, a movie star wants to be taken seriously for their acting, it’s a beloved show that hasn’t been on stage in eight billion years, etc.) While watching Long Day’s Journey, I found myself asking that question repeatedly. I will say that Jessica Lange’s performance is worth price of admission alone: she is captivating through and through, giving humanity to the troubled characters she plays. Mary is no different: she is charming and coquettish in one breath, sullen and rarely sober in the next. But you feel for her plight, despite the anguish she gives her family. The rest of the cast also does well: Byrne is enigmatic as the patriarch, Shannon takes on his role as the contemptuous son with a touch of knowing humor, and Gallagher Jr. is adorably troubled as always. (Also, Colby Minifie is delightful as Cathleen, the family maid.) The performances, guided by the clean and careful direction of Jonathan Kent, make Long Day’s Journey a solid revival. Mary’s addiction problems are just as relevant as they were in O’Neill’s time, if not more today, with the rise of opiate addiction in the United States.

Photo by Sara Krulwich/ The New York Times

But we can’t get away from the fact that Long Day’s Journey Into Night is, well… long. Clocking in at 3 hours and 45 minutes, Long Day’s Journey is even longer than most revivals of Shakespearean tragedies. And no amount of sleek direction or compelling performances can change that. While O’Neill’s characters are compelling and oh-so-human, their dialogue (and meandering monologues) can be repetitive. And by the time you hear Edmund waxing poetically about being on a ship, you wish that you sail away from the theatre instead. (Meanwhile, the act divisions made you feel even more aware that you were in for a long show: perplexingly, a curtain on a rail would slowly be dragged across the stage , making you think the cast is taking a quick shower between scenes.)

There are many worthwhile elements into Long Day’s Journey. Eugene O’Neill is a revered playwright for a reason, and his plays have laid the foundations for American drama. Roundabout’s revival is just as worthwhile as the play, and its actors give one heck of a show. I do wish that like a Shakespearean tragedy, the revival’s creators could have taken a red pencil to the script and picked up the pace. Instead, we are left with one frustratingly long night.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night plays until June 26th. For more information, click here.

Here’s How NYC Broadway Characters Would Vote

Congrats! You’ve voted and done your civic duty! But these people haven’t! Because they’re fictional, you say? Sure, okay. But really. Now that we’ve made our decisions, ho would these Broadway characters, all New York residents, vote for? Continue reading “Here’s How NYC Broadway Characters Would Vote”

Mobile Shakespeare Unit Presents “The Comedy of Errors” with Substance and Style

Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is an odd gem of a play. As one of his earlier comedies, it’s rife with MacGuffins, mistaken identities, and slapstick comedy. It also has far too many rhyming couplets and a set up so complex and over-the-top that it resulted in the longest monologue Shakespeare had ever written. Still, The Comedy of Errors is one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, and I’ve seen more productions of it than any other play.

… And I may have done it in college. Sue me.

The Comedy of Errors is the latest of Shakespeare’s offerings that is now playing at the Public Theater, courtesy of its Mobile Unit program. After spending three weeks touring correctional facilities, shelters, and community organizations all over the five boroughs, the Mobile Unit finishes its run with a residency at the Public. It’s important to keep in mind the Mobile Unit’s mission, as it’s inherent in every part of the production. A cast of seven actors change hatsliterallyto play more than double the amount of characters. Props and costumes are vibrant and detailed, but still minimal and portable enough to change from scene to scene… and performance to performance. (In some cases, certain items, like wigs or a tube of lipstick, don’t even make it past prison security for those stops on the Mobile Unit’s tour.) The cast itself is diverse, with performers of different sizes and shades, resembling a typical New York City street more than, say, that all-white Wars of the Roses revival that just finished playing in London. Though all of these elements are tweaked and trimmed to fit the nature of Mobile Unit’s production, Shakespeare’s narrative still shines through.

Twinning. ( ◀ ▶ X Lucas Caleb Rooney and Bernardo Cubría Photo Credit: Joan Marcus. Matthew Citron, Bernardo Cubria, Flor De Liz Perez, Christina Pumariega, Lucas Caleb Rooney, David Ryan Smith and Zuzanna Szadkowski. - See more at:
Twinning. (Lucas Caleb Rooney as Dromio of Syracuse and Bernardo Cubría as Antipholus of Syracuse. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.)

The Comedy of Errors follows two sets of twins as they are separated at sea. Each Antipholus (Bernardo Cubría), accompanied by his servant Dromio (Lucas Caleb Rooney) end up in different citites; one in Ephesus, and one in Syracuse. When Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse enter Ephesus, they are mistaken for their Ephesian counterparts, causing all kinds of confusion for Adriana (Christina Pumariega), Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, and Luciana (Flor De Liz Perez), Adriana’s sister. The Antiphol-i and Dromio’s are not exempt from the resulting chaos, encountering a scheming courtesan (Zuzanna Swadkowski), a strange abbess (also Zuzanna Swadkowski), and a debt-collecting goldsmith (David Ryan Smith) before they finally discover their brothersand a happy ending, of course.

(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)
But first: mistaken husbands. (Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

Like I mentioned earlier, The Comedy of Errors isn’t a perfect play. But it’s a delightful one, and director Kwame Kwei-Armah taps into that fun in this production. Ephesus and Syracuse are now border towns not unlike the southwestern cities along the United States/Mexican border. Leather belts and denim work shirts are staples for the Antiphol-i and Dromio’s, while Adriana and Luciana are visions in turquoise. I was especially amused by Adriana’s Real Housewife-esque styling, complete with a bright orange dress, a bouffant wig, and a bedazzled wine glass. The border town placement is not just a fun design element, though. As the Duchess of Ephesus delivers her ruling on an errant border-crosser, she does so wearing a baseball cap that coyly reads, “Make Ephesus Great Again” and waving a fan that has Donald Trump’s face on it. I don’t think the intent was to make a huge statement on a political issue, but I found it to be a clever way to contextualize the Ephesus/Syracuse conflict with a knowing wink to the audience.

Comedy of Errors Public Mobile Unit Matthew Citron, Bernardo Cubria, Flor De Liz Perez, Christina Pumariega, Lucas Caleb Rooney, David Ryan Smith and Zuzanna Szadkowski. - See more at:
Border Patrol. (David Ryan Smith, Christina Pumariega, Zuzanna Swadkowski, and Flor De Liz Perez. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)

The performances are also top-notch. Bernardo Cubría as the Antiphol-i has a constant charisma coursing through his characters, along with a constant state of wide-eyed befuddlement. Christina Pumariega’s Adriana is one of the best I’ve ever seen, combining the reality-show worthy hysterics we typically see in her character with a grounded sense of self that was refreshing to see. Zuzanna Swadkowski is the MVP of playing more than one character, giving every role an amusing specificity.

If these aren’t enough reasons for you to check out The Comedy of Errors (though they should), it’s worth a visit just to hear Shakespearean verse done in a Southern accent. Now that’s an odd gem in of itself.

The Comedy of Errors is now playing through November 22nd. For more information, click here.

PTP/NYC Presents “Scenes from an Execution” @ Atlantic Stage 2

In Scenes from an Execution, now playing as part of Potomac Theatre Project’s summer residency at Atlantic Stage 2, the idea of an artist “selling out” is not a new one. Playwright Howard Barker eschews contemporary artists and their struggle with commodification, focusing his dramatic lens on a Renaissance-era painter–and a middle-aged female one, at that.

Jan Maxwell as Galactia. Photo by Stan Barouh.
The Artist. (Jan Maxwell as Galactia. Photo by Stan Barouh.)

Scenes from an Execution follows Galactia (Jan Maxwell) as she receives a commission from Urgentino, The Doge of Venice (Alex Draper), to depict a recent battle that Venice has won. Urgentino recognizes Galactia’s great talent, but he is concerned that she will be unable to defer to the requirements of the Admiral (Bill Army) or the Cardinal (Steven Dykes). While her lover, fellow painter Carpeta (David Barlow), and her daughter Supporta (Lana Meyer) warn Galactia to adhere to the Doge’s wishes, Galactia remains adamant. She wants to convey the violence and horror of war in her painting, and not even the threat of execution will stop her from realizing her vision.

Lovers. Painters. (L-R: David Barlow as Carpeta, Jan Maxwell as Galactia. Photo by Stan Barouh)
Lovers. Painters. (L-R: David Barlow as Carpeta, Jan Maxwell as Galactia. Photo by Stan Barouh.)

Out of all of Barker’s plays that I have seen so far, Scenes from an Execution has been the most approachable. While there are no clear winners, there is an unexpected transfer of sympathies in the play. At first, Galactia’s relentless defense of her artistic integrity appears to be noble, while Venice and the Church seem to be unimaginative tyrants. As the play progresses, however, we see that Galactia’s stubbornness would make Ayn Rand proud… and I don’t mean that as a compliment. Galactia, no matter how noble her ideals are, has been hired to create something that edifies Venice. Moreover, when her loved ones, fellow colleagues, and employers inform Galactia of this repeatedly, she ignores them all for her sole mission. While Galactia’s creative desires should be expressed, they can be shown in another painting–a painting not made on the state’s dime.

Church and State. (L-R: Bill Army as The Admiral, Alex Draper as the Doge. Photo by Stan Barouh)
Church and State. (L-R: Bill Army as The Admiral, Alex Draper as the Doge. Photo by Stan Barouh.)

At one point during the play, Galactia says, “I haven’t time to listen to your motives, and who cares about them anyway? If we all had to understand one another’s motives!” Still, I wish there was a point in the play where the audience could listen to her motivations. It is clear that Galactia thrives on creating works containing anger and violence, but there is little else that explains her connection to her art and why she wants to convey these dark messages. As a result, her willingness to become a martyr for her art devolves into shallow petulance. While Barker appears to understand the appeal of selling out, he leaves the artist’s quest for true expression a mystery.

For more information on Scenes from an Execution, click here.

NYMF 2015: “Acapella” Removes the Instruments but Keeps the Heart

The New York Musical Theatre Festival has taken over the city once more with its program of full productions, workshops, and concerts of new and up-and-coming musicals. Acapella, which is now playing at PTC Performance Space, is one of the shows that kicked off the festival on Wednesday. Acappella NYMF logo

Like its namesake, Acapella is a musical with no instruments, as the singers use their voices to provide the instrumentation. Using the music of Christian vocal group The Acappella Company, Acapella follows Jeremiah (Tyler Hardwick) from his start as a gospel singer to superstardom in a boy band. When he returns home to his southern small town, Jeremiah remembers his love for gospel music and a more normal life. But the people Jeremiah left behind, best friend Simon (Anthony Chatmon II) and former sweetheart Sarah (Darilyn Castillo) aren’t ready to welcome Jeremiah with open arms.

Top: Sarah (Darilyn Castillo) and Jeremiah (). Bottom: Simon () and Jeremiah (). Photo by John Keon.
Top: Sarah (Darilyn Castillo) and Jeremiah (Tyler Hardwick). Bottom: Simon (Anthony Chatmon II) and Jeremiah (Tyler Hardwick). Photo by John Keon.

Acapella bills itself as a musical about “finding your own voice,” and in some ways, it already has. The musical’s winning features are its rich catalog of music and insanely talented cast. The Acapella Company’s songs have both complexity and spirit as they course through the production. And the ensemble creates an acapella team so dynamic that it will impress Pitch Perfect fans. Some highlights include Katrina Rose Dideriksen’s insanely powerful belt, Rachel Gavaletz’s smoky alto, Garett Turner’s smooth bass, and Janelle McDermoth’s sickeningly good beat-boxing. The result is so good I had to stop myself from dancing in my seat.

Photo by John Keon.
Photo by John Keon.

Like many jukebox musicals though, Acapella‘s book could use more development. While the love triangle between Jeremiah, Sarah, and Simon is clear to see, I wish there was more to the characters’ relationships. I am also curious to know how acapella gospel music has become such a staple to their small town that multiple groups (including a hilarious subplot with Jeremiah’s aunt and her old singing quartet) are participating in the local concert. If Acapella dug a little more deeper into its setting and characters, then it could have a story that matches its music.

Acapella runs through July 14th. For more information, click here.

Summer 2015 Off-Broadway Round Up: Part I

While Broadway has been spending the last few weeks anticipating whether their most recent productions will make it or break it under the Tony Awards chopping block, Off-Broadway theatre companies have begun to premiere their exciting new shows for the summer season. Here are two productions that should make you keep your eyes open for the theaters beyond Broadway’s bright lights:

Mobile Shakespeare Unit Presents Macbeth at the Public Theater. 

The Public Theater is famous for their free Shakespeare in the Park performances at the Delacorte Theater every summer, but they produce Shakespearean productions year-round. Their Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which continues to spread Public Theater founder Joseph Papp’s mission that Shakespeare is for everyone, performs Shakespeare’s plays for the public in nontraditional venues, such as shelters, prisons, and elderly care centers, throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Every Mobile Shakespeare Unit production ends its NYC tour with a run at the Public Theater. This year the Mobile Shakespeare Unit tackled Macbeth, and their production is just as revelatory as the Public’s more lavish presentations of Shakespeare’s work.

If you don’t know the plot summary, I’ll Spark Notes it further for you: Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman, meets three witches who make prophecies of his growing power. Lady Macbeth, his wife, is loving this supernatural development, and encourages Macbeth to murder the King. The body count only rises from here.

Macbeth and the Weird Sisters go grunge. Photo by Joan Marcus.

This production, directed by Edward Torres, has a practicality befitting both its genesis as a touring show and the world of the play itself. Macbeth’s Scotland was one of thanes and kings, but it was also one of war and bloody takeovers. Wilson Chin’s set design, cleverly composed of small movable pieces, and Amanda Seymour’s utilitarian, grey-toned costume design created an aesthetic that is efficient for the cast to use and the audience to absorb. The fight sequences were effective, their choreography and execution being athletic and brutal. And Rob Campbell’s performance as Macbeth imbued the character with a rugged charisma that allowed me to see the character in a more nuanced way.

With this compact but emotionally rich production of Macbeth, it is clear that the Mobile Shakespeare Unit’s work would do Joe Papp proud.

What I Did Last Summer at the Signature Theatre.

Charlie (Noah Galvin) and Anna (Kristine Nielsen). (Photo: Sara Krulwich)

Signature Theatre’s revival of What I Did Last Summer takes audiences back to a familiar time and place. Set in the summer of 1945, fourteen-year-old Charlie (Noah Galvin) is summering with his mother and sister on the shores of Lake Erie. When Charlie, sick of avoiding his mother’s chores and wondering about his father serving overseas, sees a flyer for a summer job, he leaps at the chance to make some pocket change and impress his friends. But his employer, Anna Trumbull (Sara Krulwich) is notorious in the town for her part Native American heritage and affair with a well-known doctor. She has been dubbed the “Pig Woman” by locals, and her art teaching and leftist point of view are both strange and exhilarating for Charlie. But the summer must come to an end, and Charlie’s mother (Carolyn McCormick) is determined to restore order and bring her son home.

At first glance, What I Did Last Summer seems like a play that is covering well-trodden territory. There is no shortage of coming-of-age stories about young white boys in America’s nostalgic past, and I wondered what A.R. Gurney’s play could say that hasn’t already been said before. As it turned out, quite a bit. Anna’s mentorship of Charlie is a unique element of the play, as I don’t recall many stories about a young man who was inspired by an older woman in an unromantic way. As Charlie asserts his independence (which has decidedly mixed results), he does so in a way that shows that he is growing up–but is still a boy who must fall back in line with his family’s values.

What I Did Last Summer is also not afraid to state it’s a play, with projections of stage directions, direct addresses by the characters stating who the play is and isn’t about, and a drummer clad in forties garb who provides sound effects, incidental music, and an omniscient presence of his own. John Narun’s projection design is especially moving, as the set directions and dialogue, in the ubiquitous typewriter font, became breathtaking and evocative backdrop images that set the scene both on page and on the stage.

Though What I Did Last Summer takes us to often-visited places, like Charlie and Anna, it forges its own path–and audiences are all the better for it.

F.I.T.R. Productions Presents “Gruesome Playground Injuries”

My childhood scrapes and stitches have nothing on Gruesome Playground Injuries, a play by Rajiv Joseph that inflicts physical and emotional wounds on its characters. F.I.T.R. Productions presents a new mounting of the play, which has not been in New York since last year’s production at Second Stage Theatre. Gruesome Playground Injuries follows childhood friends Kayleen (Jaz Zepatos) and Doug (Priyank Rastogi) from their first meeting at the school nurse’s office to their troubled adolescence and adulthood, which often takes place in hospital rooms. Doug physically falls apart after a series of violent incidents, but he never gives up on his friendship with Kayleen, even when Kayleen is determined to break away from it.

At first, it seems that Gruesome Playground Injuries has much to say with its gory concept. The graphic nature of Doug’s wounds, though not fully depicted on stage, are still shocking to hear described. Even more shocking is Kayleen’s reactions to his injuries. She is fascinated by them, even going so far as wanting to touch them. (My inner germaphobe winces at the idea.) But underneath the bloody trappings is just another relationship play where things never quite work out. Kayleen spends the majority of the play pushing Doug away, and it is never explained why that is the case. (A “she’s just not that into you” would have sufficed.) Neither is Doug’s constant need to thrust himself into dangerous situations that nearly cost him his life. While the morbid metaphor is present, more can be said in Gruesome Playground Injuries about relationships and the pain they can cause.

Photo by Chananun Chotrungroj.
Doug (Priyank Rastogi) and Kayleen (Jaz Zepatos). Photo by Chananun Chotrungroj.

Though the source material could use more development, F.I.T.R. makes a capable go of it. Priyank Rastogi plays Doug with so much charm that I wanted to hug him (and offer him a life-time supply of bandages). As Kayleen, Jaz Zepatos takes on the challenge of playing someone who has difficulty connecting to others while imbuing the character with vulnerability. Set design by Laura Moss provides an ominous complexity to the production, as hanging wire forms, wearing the characters’ costumes, line the stage walls. We never quite see the inner workings of Rajiv Joseph’s characters, but we can appreciate how dark and dysfunctional they can be.

The Perplexing Plots and Performances of “It Shoulda Been You”

It Shoulda Been You, now playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, has all the ingredients to make a Broadway hit for the Discerning Theatergoer™:

  • An original new musical not based on a preexisting film/novel/group of pop songs? Check!
  • A Broadway directorial debut by distinguished actor and Discerning Theatergoer™ fave David Hyde Pierce. Check!
  • A glorious ensemble cast filled with Tony Award winners (Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris), Tony nominees (Montego Glover), and future Tony nominees (Lisa Howard and Sierra Boggess)? Check times a million!
Lisa Howard and Sierra Boggess - Photo by Joan Marcus
Future Tony Award nominees Lisa Howard and Sierra Boggess. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

But sometimes, even the finest ingredients don’t add up to an appetizing dish. Despite its talented creative team, It Shoulda Been You has some issues that makes the production difficult to swallow.

First, the set-up: It Shoulda Been You spans the wedding day of Rebecca (Sierra Boggess) and Brian (David Burtka). Sierra’s older sister Jenny (Lisa Howard) is happy for Rebecca, but she isn’t so happy with her mother’s (Tyne Daly) constant comments on her weight and lack of a boyfriend. When Marty, Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend, finds out about the wedding, he’s determined to stop it at any cost. He’s not the only one, as both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom (Harriet Harris) disapprove of the marriage–and each other. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Brian are hiding a secret that would shock the entire wedding party if it came out.

This all sounds like the plot of a fun musical… if it were the only plot. But there are several other narrative threads in It Shoulda Been You that are begun but never fully developed. Why does Brian’s austere father have random impulses to break out into dance? How does the wedding planner magically anticipate every character’s needs? (And no, his response of having years of experiences working weddings does not cut it.) If all of these story-lines weren’t enough, It Shoulda Been You also hinges on a plot twist that, while certainly jaw-dropping, doesn’t have complexity and specificity.

Sadly, the same can be said for the rest of the musical. The music and lyrics are not particularly memorable and at times sound dated. The set also does not look modern, resembling a hotel that hasn’t updated its decor since 1996. The production’s few references also seem like they were taken from the pop culture archives: Marty admits that one of his weaknesses is watching infomercials, while one of the wedding planning issues centers on including paninis at the reception. Yes, you read that right. Paninis.

Dueling In-Laws. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Dueling In-Laws. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The one aspect of the show that doesn’t falter is its cast. Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris are both scene-stealers as monsters-in-law, while Sierra Boggess and David Burtka make an adorable bride and groom. Montego Glover shines in her only number. And with strong acting and a voice to match, Lisa Howard shows how amazing she is at leading a musical. (I hope we get to see her do it again, and soon.)

It Shoulda Been You definitely should have been better. Still, even with all of its weak elements, it provided an entertaining night at the theatre. But the Discerning Theatergoer may be less than pleased–and they’d be right.

For more info on It Shoulda Been You, click here.

Listen to our podcast for more thoughts on It Shoulda Been You.

Vanessa Hudgens Stars as “Gigi” on Broadway

When it was announced that Gigi would be returning to Broadway, I was intrigued. I had semi-fond memories of seeing the original 1958 musical film, which features beautiful Parisian scenes, but also has a troubling plot, with a girl  being molded into courtesan for a much older man. It also has one of the creepiest songs known to musical theatre:

No. Just… no. (Source: Tumblr)

When it was also announced that Vanessa Hudgens would take on the titular role, I was even more intrigued. I honestly haven’t seen her in much since her High School Musical days, other than her annual pilgrimage to Coachella, the music festival of fringe-laden clothes and hair feathers. I wondered how this production would fare, and whether Hudgens actually had the chops to pull it off.

Gigi takes place in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. While romance is alive in the city of love, marriage is not, and wealthy men and their beautiful mistresses are often the talk of the town. Gigi (Hudgens) belongs to a family of courtesans, and receives lessons from her Aunt Alicia (Dee Hoty). Gigi’s grandmother Mamita (Victoria Clarkson) wants Gigi to enjoy being a child as long as possible, insisting that she remain innocent. But when close friend of the family Gaston (Corey Cott) cuts ties with his latest mistress, Aunt Alicia sees an opportunity for Gigi that even Mamita can no longer ignore. When Gigi comes into her own, she has to decide whether becoming Gaston’s mistress is enough for her happiness.

Before/After. (Photos by Joan Marcus)

Despite my misgivings, Gigi is an entertaining night at the theatre. The performances are all nuanced and engaging, from Dee Hoty’s queenly Aunt Alicia to Victoria Clarkson’s sweet Mamita. I was also charmed by Corey Cott as Gaston, and much preferred his younger man-about-town version of the character. It helped make his pairing with young Gigi more palatable and less like a musical redux of Lolita. Vanessa Hudgens did a fine job as Gigi, capturing the character’s gamine essence with energy and charm. (Even better, she sings and dances the part as well as a regular stage actress.) My one quibble with her performance was her diction: it’s as if she was given a note to enunciate her lines, resulting in every “t” to be overemphasized. Other than her “t” issue, Vanessa Hudgens was a wonderful Gigi, and she can definitely hold her own on a Broadway stage.

photo (1)
Mamita (Victoria Clark), Gigi (Vanessa Hudgens), and Gaston (Corey Cott). (Photo by Margot Schulman)

While the revival Gigi works overall, I wonder who the intended audience is. Of course, the ideal answer for Broadway is everyone, but that doesn’t quite work for this production. General audience members and musical theatre lovers may not be wowed by Gigi, as its story-line and score tread a well-worn path made by a more beloved musical by Gigi creators Lerner and Loewe. The New York Times review of the original film said it best, when it called Gigi “a musical film that bears such a basic resemblance to My Fair Lady that the authors may want to sue themselves.” Even fans of the original Gigi film may not be pleased with a former Newsie playing Gaston, a character who is supposed to be pushing forty. Nor would they enjoy a former Disney starlet who still reads more as a contemporary American than a European girl at the turn of the 20th century. And while fans of Vanessa Hudgens will delight at seeing her take a starring turn on a Broadway stage, I wonder if they will be as entranced by the older source material. One thing is certain though: Vanessa Hudgens has much more to offer as a performer, and I look forward to seeing what other things she could do.

For more thoughts on the show, listen to our podcast!

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