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Sunday, April 16, 2006

 

Broadway Report: The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Terrible

THE GOOD: There's a delightful afternoon of faux-vintage entertainment taking root at the Marquis Theatre called The Drowsy Chaperone, the only guaranteed crowd-pleaser that has opened this spring. The show's recipe for success is a clever conceit and smart comic performances that send it sailing. Sutton Foster and Bob Martin are phenomenal, but if the Tonys gave a Best Ensemble Award, this show would win it hands down. Silly, disposable, and fun.

THE BAD: Our favorite queer leading man, Alan Cumming, lets us down in The Threepenny Opera, but its probably not his fault. Director Scott Elliott puts a woefully misguided Disneyfied sheen on top of Brecht and Weill's searing socialist musical, which makes everything seem odd, disjointed, and out-of-whack. (How can there be any serious discussion of class warfare when Broadway tickets are $110 dollars, and only the richest of the rich are in attendance?) It's very hard to take songs like "Hymn For The Poorest" seriously when the poor people in question are wearing fashionable outfits designed by costume designer Issac Mizrahi. It's like a socio-economic protest play performed with jazz hands and showbiz polish. (The two bright spots: a jaw-dropping performance by Cyndi Lauper as Jenny, who is simply unbelievable, and Jim Dale, whose physical comedy is the best in New York.)

THE TRULY TERRIBLE: If you smell a foul stench at the corner of 47th and Broadway, it is probably Elton John and Bernie Taupin's vampire sudser Lestat, which by all rights should never have made it to Broadway in the first place. (It has no beginning or end...the story just begins and stops, leaving a dazed audience to figure out what's happening.) Taupin should hang his head in shame over the excreable lyrics; Sir Elton's music sounds like two-bit Andrew Lloyd Webber. Leading lady Carolee Carmello is very moving (as always) in the role of Lestat's mother, but the rest of the cast should be shot by a firing squad. Hugh Panaro, as the H.V.I.C., overacts so much that criminal charges can be brought against him if the District Attorney feels so inclined. Ugh. Avoid at all costs.

Coming Soon: reports on The History Boys, Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful, Tarzan, and The Wedding Singer!
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