So…I fell off the posting band wagon, that usually happens when the shows were neither exceptional enough or bad enough to really get the juices pumping (and when normal life takes over.) In an effort to maintain my 52 weeks challenge to post about everything I have seen we are going to summarize the shows 25 to 28. I’m still on pace to hit 52 shows, even though I did not go to a single show in July (at least none that counted.) So to summarize:
#25 – Violet
This is a quirky little musical about a young woman who had an unfortunate encounter with an ax that left her face and her psyche severely scarred. It’s set in the 1960’s and follows her bus pilgrimage across the country to see a charismatic faith healer that she is certain can heal her and give her the beauty she’s always yearned for. Along the way she befriends a couple of soldiers and eventually finds love both for herself and one of the soldiers. Sutton Foster as the eponymous Violet is wonderful as can be expected (although I miss seeing her dance) and Joshua Henry as the soldier Flick did justice to my favorite song from the show “Let it Sing.” It’s a touching story about acceptance and creating the life you want for yourself. I really enjoyed it but I wished that they had played up the rockabilly side of the music more. In regional version of the show I saw in DC the music seemed to have more of a indigenous Appalachian flavor to it that I really enjoyed and gave it a different from the more common lyrical musicals.
#26 – When We Were Young and Unafraid
This was an excellent play! I have yet to see a dud from Manhattan Theatre Club. That and Cherry Jones were the main reasons for wanting to go see this show. The story is a simple one, Agnes, circa 1970’s is part of an network of women that provide shelter for battered women trying to leave their husbands. The story revolves around the impact two unexpected visitors have on her life. The two women who drop in on Agnes represent the changing culture of women that started in the 60’s and really took hold in the 70’s. On one hand you have the young abused wife who has defined herself by the men in her life and at the other end of the spectrum you have the young woman who is self reliant and wants to do it all herself. Add to the mix Agnes’ teenage daughter, right at the age where she wants to be noticed by boys and trying to determine how much of herself she must give up to achieve that goal. The emotions and actions in the play rang with a real world genuineness, this is how people would talk and act; it was authentic. I think in the mouths of less able actors it would not have been nearly as enjoyable or meaningful.
#27 – We Will Rock You
This was in impulse buy (Thank You Goldstar.) It is yet another jukebox musical that’s cashing in on someone else’s talent and popularity. I went because I liked the concept they came up for the show and well, I love Queen’s music. The story is based on a dystopian future (is there any other kind) where music is only programmed and musical instruments have all been destroyed. In this sea of conformity a rebel group, the Bohemians, are fighting against the Killer Queen and are searching to discover the fabled days of Rock and Roll. It’s a cute concept…the execution was lacking a little and writing could have used a little tightening. I don’t know why the Bohemians, who had all adopted names of “ancient” rock and rollers, all had to sound like Jeff Spicoli. I know this isn’t the type of show you should think about too much; just enjoy the ride, and I might have if the performances were a little better. While I was moved when Brittany Spears gave his life to free his comrades the majority of the cast didn’t have Queen appropriate voices. The female lead was easily the best ; not that the audience didn’t seem to care.
#28 – Totalitarians
I really didn’t know what to make of this play. It started out as a funny story of two women both failing at their chosen careers, speech writer and housewife turned politician, who find success when they start working together. It plays on the current notion of charismatic but not bright public figures (think Michelle Bachman and the not a witch lady from Delaware) that are propped up by strategic players in the background for their own purposes. While the paly starts out as a story of two women empowering each other, it turns into a story of two women using each other to achieve their own goals and then into a power struggle and finally takes a hard right into murderous and not un-bloody finale that left half the cast dead (okay, it was only a 4 person cast). Entertaining in the moment but not much else.