BROADWAY: 22 - 24 JUNE 1998
I have now had my taste of Broadway and the Broadway show, seeing Titanic, Jekyll and Hyde and the Lion King and my opinion on each show ? superb, excellent and OK but if you want to know which comment goes with which show then you must read on. Before I comment on the shows themself I must comment on the audiences, maybe I just got three bad ones but never have I come across such restless and fidgety audiences, there were continual trips to the restrooms making sure they made as much noise as possible, was I just unlucky ? It seems that the cue to start the show was the cue for everyone to start getting up and wandering around !!! Thankfully this did not disturb the shows
TITANIC - 22.6.98
After a year of listening to the music I was eager to see how this show was staged. A clip from the Tonys & a documentary were my only clues to the staging. I thought the show was excellent, capturing the atmosphere of how things may have been on the ship. I was particularly impressed with Michael Cerveris as Thomas Andrews, he portrayed the character very well and particluatly as he sat hunched over the plans trying to see what went wrong. Kay Walbye gave it all as the social climbing Alice Beane longing to be with the first class. There can't be many shows where you could get neck ache but from the 5th row it was a possibility !, the stage was at its most impressive as it showed three decks of the ship all at once and then the crows nest being lowered from the ceiling. Also very clever was the staging for the stairs scenes in the third class giving the effect that the audience was looking up the middle of the stairs. Unexpectedly I found the end very emotional, not at all anticipating the way they would stage it. The survivors wrapped in their Carpathia blankets saw their friends, who had perished, standing on the dock prior to boarding not seeing or hearing their loved ones who had survived. The survivors approached their relevant partners hoping they could be together again. I look forward very much to Titanic coming to London.
JEKYLL AND HYDE - 23.6.98
J & H was a last minute decision with tickets from the TKTS booth and although I did enjoy the show, in my opinion it was not up to a standard I would expect from a Broadway or West end show with the exception of three performers. Apart from some of the more familiar songs, 'This is the Moment', 'Someone Like me', 'A New Life' and 'One Upon a Dream' I found the music on the whole unremarkable. I found the ensemble choreography to be wrong for the period it seemed to hark back to the 'Oliver' days when all the crowd perfomed in unison, this works for Oliver but not J & H. Robert Cuccioli was superb as Jekyll/Hyde and most deserving of praise in this show, he performed the character very well and gave you an insight into the character he was portraying, something which seemed to be lacking in other parts, especially Lucy. His confrontation scene was superb and his ability to portray the two charcters by a simple change of posture and type of voice was excellent. I'll be one of the first to say Linda Eder has a wonderful voice but as an actress she has no stage presence and by the the end of the show you knew nothing more about her character than you did at the beginning. I will say that the dialogue she had didn't give much chance for depth of character as it always seemed to serve as just a lead in for the next big song, but if the dialogue was better I don't think Linda could have carried it. On the other hand Christiane Noll could have. We were able to see more of Emma's character but not enough and apart from 'Once Upon a Dream' she had no solos. It seems that the dialogue and songs were mixed up, I mean who was the leading lady ? the one with the big songs but no character or the one with character but no songs ?
Finally I must also mention George Merritt as John Utterson, as he played a very good supporting role to the Doctor. I was also extremely impressed with the laboratory set.
LION KING- 24.6.98
What can I say about Lion King, a pure theatrical experience and superb. Never has an opening sequence bought me close to tears and this one did. In a way it is hard to believe you are seeing everything that you do on stage, the imagination of Julie Taymor is astounding, having the vision to transform the film to stage. We had three understudies for Rafiki, Mufasa and Scar - Lindiwe Hlenwa, Kevin Bailey and Eugene Barry-Hill, I learned a good time ago that having an understudy is by no means a performance of less quality. I was pleased to be able to see Jason Raize though. I loved the combination of shadow puppetry and the use of puppets for Zazu, Timon and Pumbaa, although you know and can see the operator of the puppet at all times you don't see them and your eyes are always drawn to the puppet and not the operator. The hyena costumes were probably the most effective. There are so many puppets to describe that I can not do justice to them, but this show shows that even the simpliest of designs can be most effective, in particular the grass. All the costumes were stunning and beautifully designed and crafted. Aswell as the songs which are so familiar from the film there are several more songs and I particularly like 'Shadowlands', 'Endless Night' and 'He lives in you'. I love the african rhythms and the wonderful voices which evoke the African setting of the show. Performances, well not a weak link at all but I must draw attention in particular to Jason Raize's adult Simba who captured the spirit of this restless Lion, Heather Headleys's Nala and the comic Timon and Pumbaa (Tom Alan Robbins and Danny Rutigliano). The set, though underneath very technical, are very simple concepts, Pride Rock as it spirals out from the stage, the Huge elephant graveyard (I hope I never see an elephant that big !!!) and the effects of the stream and waterfall. My review can do no justice to the innovativeness of the show, go and see it and lose yourself in the 'Lion King' fantasy. Roll on the London production :)
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