Well, here I am. My loyal readers know I haven't posted in a very long time--the reason being I simply didn't have the desire to do it after all the loss that happened in my private life. But I have been keeping up.
I've seen a lot recently... And I'll start by commenting on The First Wives Club. I met/spoke to one of the producers of the show shortly before it was announced that they had hired Francesco Zambello to direct. He boasted about the "red hot" director they were in negotiations with. Of course, this is before anyone saw The Little Mermaid. This is when people thought Disney must know something the rest of us didn't about Zambello's ability to direct mainstream musicals. Now--I am going to detour a little bit here. I often wonder why producers continue to think it's easy to direct a musical comedy. I had this argument with some people involved with 9 to 5. Producer Bob Greenblatt only wanted Joe Mantello (who he went to high school with)--Mantello wasn't always eager to do it, but Greenblatt so wanted him. Joe Mantello has done some good things, but, he's not known for his jovial spirit. Why was there this insistence that he would be so great at directing a big budget musical comedy? The same thing with Zambello... She knows how to direct certain things, but I am not sure why anyone thought she would be a huge musical comedy director. I see why Disney hired her--she and her team were known in opera circles for being good with striking visual images and The Little Mermaid was something that seemed to need astounding visuals. We know how that turned out, but it was an attempt on their part to do something creative. That said, why anyone else hired her is a mystery to me. What about her resume screamed Little House on the Prairie? What screamed any mainstream musical?! Even if The Little Mermaid was a hit, I'm not sure anyone would want to be Zambello's Green Bird, but at least if The Little Mermaid was a hit there would be some legitimate reason to support her. Now, there is the theory that goes you have to take a risk sometimes, these other producers were taking a risk on her. But, the thing is, Disney was already taking that risk, so I am not sure I wouldn't have waited to see whether it paid off before taking my own risk on the same person.
OK, back to The First Wives Club. It's not good. There are some good tunes and Rupert Holmes did an okay job, I just can't point to one thing I really liked. It was HORRIBLY directed. Or not directed actually. The producers know this and now Zambello is gone and they plan on mounting the show at another regional with a new director. We'll see if it happens, but that is the plan.
I also finally saw West Side Story recently, which I was super excited to see. I was very grateful to be going. It actually ended up to be only my second experience with a mid-performance stop--it was halted for ten minutes do to technical problems. But I wasn't phased by that and I was happy the whole cast was there. I must admit I had mixed feelings about the language change a few weeks ago. On one hand, I am against compromising a director's artistic vision this late in the game just to pander to audiences. On the other hand, I don't speak/understand any Spanish. Not having seen it when all three songs were in Spanish, I can't comment on that version. (I do hate when people comment negatively on things they haven't seen--my friend Billy knows this more than anyone.) But I will say I find the one song in Spanish sort of bizarre. Why that one? Because it's Maria alone with her friends? But then 'America' too is Jet-less.... I don't get it. And I found it odd. Yes, I know what they were singing, because I know the lyrics to the songs in West Side Story, but I am fairly confident everyone does not. Just printing the lyrics in the Playbill doesn't negate the problem because no one wants to read the Playbill as the show is going on. I know the Spanish is supposed to make it more authentic, but we all know it is not authentic. It's a musical. This goes back to me whole "I don't care if Mama Rose was small in real life" argument.
Is this enough for my return post? I think I'll wait until next time to comment on the promotion of Jordan Roth, which was the least surprising thing to happen since In My Life closed.
I shall end with a very heartfelt thank you to those of you who have donated to the liver cancer charity we set up in my friend's honor. I was going to send you all my own personal thank you notes, but it was not clear which people donated from here and which people donated for another reason.