Sunday, March 26, 2006

Review by the not-so-much-with-the-musicals guy:

Back in my theater days, I pretty much hated the musicals. I didn’t get them. I didn’t think there was anything to get. I figured if you had a point to make in a scene, make the point and move on. Don’t dwell on it during an entire song, and for the sake of all that is holy, don’t dance.

My belief that musicals were somehow wrong because spontaneous singing didn’t just happen in real life didn’t hold water for very long though. It occurred to me that the Shakespearean language I loved so much was hardly practical: A brooding youth can think about suicide in real life. A Jewish wedding can happen in real life. Why should I be okay with iambic pentameter in one show, but not Sunrise, Sunset in another?

So I grew to like musicals, or at least begin to appreciate them. Songs are one more stroke of the paintbrush – one more way to tell the story. Yeah, in my mind, it’s still a long way around to make a point. But listen to American Dream in Miss Saigon. The character doesn’t really have a Cadillac and dancing women, but isn’t that musical dream sequence a more entertaining way to tell the story?

Flash forward to last night when Lisa and I went to see The Last Five Years at MusicalFare, featuring Lous Colaiacovo and Kathy Weese. KT talked a bit about it earlier. This isn’t even one of those mostly-talking-with-intermittent-singing types of shows. This is a mostly-singing-with-intermittent-phone-calls types of show. And the two actors only interact with each other during one twenty second point, right in the middle. That’s right. We went to see two one-man shows that happened to take place at the same time, on the same stage.

Okay, I kid, but only because I want to show what a challenge these actors had. They couldn’t react or respond to scenery or other actors – there weren’t any. They had to, and did, tell the story in a one on one conversation with the audience, all in song. This didn’t really occur to me until afterwards (a sign of true theatrical mastery), but at no point was I bored. Not only did they sing the points they were making, but they seamlessly strung these points together into a plot, a story. And a good one, at that.

One on one with the audience. No scenery or other actors with which to interact. ALL SINGING. And Garvey was entertained by it? Go buy your tickets now, people.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that the Garvey was entertained! Thanks so much for coming to see the show and not walking out in a huff with the other two god-fearing women!!! who knew my bare shoulders would cause such a ruckus!


Johnny said...

The last 5 years is bloody brilliant. i have...actually, i have no idea what cast recording, but its a good one. brilliant concept, huh the dual perspective and whatnot...the things we miss out on when we pretend musicals aren't awesome...:)