Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The movie was better...

This past weekend I saw two shows. And it's always a little weird because when you see two shows almost back to back, it's like you never have time to digest the first one. (I'm always shocked by the theatre tourist who comes to New York for 8 days and sees like 9 shows! You can't possibly appreciate them all with out some time to think about them...)

I saw the tour of The Wedding Singer and the City Center's Applause concert staging.

Now I had seen Wedding Singer in New York. So it wasn't my first time with the show. And on top of that I have seen the movie a bunch of times (thank you VH1 Movies That Rock!)

It almost goes without saying that The Wedding Singer the musical is hardly ground breaking art, but it's a lot of fun and held my attention for the most part over the course of the evening.

There's not much to say about it, a left at the altar wedding singer falls for an engaged cater waitress and then through a series of events, one including Billy Idol (and some other 80's celebrities) they end up in love. Nothing to crazy, but what makes the show great is all the references to 80's pop culture. Its almost like some one took an episode of I Love the 80's, musicalized it, then got Lisa Frank to design the set.

I really like the show a lot, knowing that it's not very good (for a show about pop culture, to not have real 80's music is sad. But on the flip side... thank gawd it's not a jukebox musical using the Wedding Singer motion picture soundtrack!)

But seeing a non-equity production about 5 months into it's tour, just brought out all the flaws even more. It made me miss the movie...

I could totally see through the flimsy book, the empty energy in the choreography, and the attempt at pastiche with the score. What's more I had to travel to New Jersey to see it! (But don't worry, the ticket was comped. A friend, Joel Abels, is in the show. He by the way, was great, playing all the male "adult" roles, including a hilarious bum and a dead pan Ronald Reagan.)

But good for me, the non-eq tour didn't totally erase the fond memory I have of the original cast led by Stephen Lynch as Robbie Hart (the Adam Sandler character) and Kevin Calhoon as George (the David Arquette, Boy George character) who were able to make the show seem better then it was.

On Sunday I saw the final show of the City Center's concert staging of Applause. It was a star studded evening (Broadway stars mind you... not Hollywood stars so don't get too excited. No Julia Roberts.)

Applause is based on the movie All About Eve. Christine Ebersole plays Margo Channing, a famous film and theatre actress who's life gets hi-jacked and eventually upstaged by her apprentice, Eve, played by Erin Davie. Mario Cantone plays Margo Channing's hair dresser, and the list of stars goes on to include Chip Zien, Kate Burton, and Tom Hewitt.

The show itself if forgetable, and even more the The Wedding Singer, begs to be compared to the movie, which is superior in every way, but was still a pleasant enough night out. Christine Ebersole was fantastic as always, but like the performers in Wedding Singer, one can only transcend so far above mediocre material.

There are so many exciting plays out right now. I don't know when or how I will be able to see them. Come Back Little Sheba, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, TheSeafarer are all on my list... hopefully I'll be able to see them all before they are gone.

Oh, and remember the 50 foot rule. At both of these shows, it was very hard for me to follow my own rule! So I wanted to just encourage everyone to keep up the 50 foot rule :)


Knight said...

50 foot rule. We didn't even get out of our seats! You can blame Chunyendu though. She started it.

NYCeCe said...

I agree with everything you said
except that the cast being Non-Equity brought out the flaws.

I always think that the original spirit of a show gets slightly diluted with every replenishment of the cast. Equity or Non.

I'd like to give non-eq's more credit.

Alex! said...

@ nycece

I totally hear you. A show will get diluted with every subsequent cast that is out there, equity or not.

What I was referring mostly was to the quality of the set (it has been redesigned a little bit, no doubt to tour it) and also to the leads mostly. Without strong enough actors to pull off the material, the weakness showed more.

And I guess the fact that they were bad, isn't a direct result of them being non-union.

Lawrd knows, there are plenty of bad Union actors too!