I know what you are thinking--this is the wrong Wednesday. Well, last week I had internet issues... and then holiday prep. hit... so you are getting this Wednesday. Happy New Year to my fellow Jews.
It's good because it's just in time to comment on the Chestor Gregory Shrek casting change. Now, let me tell you--they had a hard time casting that Donkey. I had a friend who was in time and time again. For a long time they just couldn't find the exact right person. I was hoping when the news of Gregory came out that they had finally found him, but, I guess not. Is it his fault? Maybe. I don't know. I will say that the whole Jason Moore thing always made me nervous, as I believe I've said here previously. Yeah, Avenue Q is good, but I've never been sure how much of that credit he should get. It never seemed like he was the huge driving force behind the concept; at the time it was happening less was said of him than, let's say, Rando during Urinetown. BUT, nevertheless, after the success of Avenue Q, Moore began hot. Then he directed Steel Magnolias which, um, wasn't well directed. And, yet, people continued to think highly of him. He escaped heavy criticism. Even those that admitted to me they felt the revival was poorly directed thought that he was still a good musical director, it was just that particular show was difficult. I want Shrek to succeed because I want all theater to succeed and I like Brian d'Arcy James, but, still, I wasn't sold on Moore. Now, with the casting and costume changes and the addition of Rob Ashford, I wonder what other people are thinking about Mr. Moore. Of course, I hope these changes are the sign of a smart director. The addition of Ashford makes it seem like, if they are, it's not Moore, but, I do think it is wise to make changes. I am all for changing what doesn't work--to me, that is the purpose of a tryout. I've never understood why shows go out of town and then make only tiny changes even if they aren't very good. Why did Cry-Baby not come up with a big opening number after La Jolla? Why do so many shows keep leads that aren't good? Is it just the money issue? Isn't it better to pay out an actor than have your show do worse because of him/her? (Note that I am speaking generally and not of Mr. Gregory.) I mean, I guess it is a win/loses thing when it comes to all changes, but, I tend to think most are worth it. I am not investing though.
Speaking of which--who is investing now? The recession hurts all of theater, but it particularly hurts riskier ventures. Which is sad. But true. So, I fear we won't be seeing a lot of adventurous things having commercial productions in the neat future. Stay tuned though, I suppose.
And I leave with a "thank you" for the comments below and for the emailed good wishes.