Showing posts from January, 2016

Busy, Busy, Bizet

I like to do my research before seeing a show. This gives me some idea as to whether I will like a show before I even make the decision to see it, and by keeping myself on top of the plot and -- especially important in a musical -- the lyrics, it allows me to focus on the individual aspects of that specific performance rather than trying to keep a gauge on the show as a whole. The operas haven't changed for over a hundred years. The productions have.

I attended the Met Live in HD broadcast of Bizet's The Pearl Fishers the other day. I'll be calling it The Pearl Fishers because I don't want to have to spell out that impossible French title with all the accents. Now I'm going to get into a lot of stuff about drama and playwriting and Carmen later that has nothing to do with this production, so if you're just here for the review, I'm going to get it out of the way quickly now. Everything was great. The audio in the broadcast sounded off a few times. I wasn'…

1970's Company, 2016's Crowd

A lot of directors think they can improve, or, god forbid, "fix" Company. They are almost invariably wrong. Ann Arbor Civic Theater's current production was, disappointingly, no exception.

If you aren't familiar with the plot of Company, here is the synopsis Sondheim offers in his book Finishing The Hat: "A man with no emotional commitments reassess his life on his thirty-fifth birthday by reviewing his relationships with his married acquaintances and his girlfriends. That is the entire plot."
Obviously a full-length two-act musical has to be a bit more than that, and it is. Company is a series of individual scenes, some with lines loosely drawn between them, some completely independent, of one man, Robert, Bobby, Rob-o, and other nicknames, hanging out and talking with his various friends and girlfriends. It was the first true "concept" musical, that is to say, a musical about ideas rather than about a story, and most modern American musicals owe…