May. 28th, 2017

calimac: (Haydn)
While everyone else is at Wiscon or Baycon or whatever, I went to two musical theatre productions, both from the South Bay Musical Theatre. Both were ... mixed.

Their regular production was My Fair Lady. Of all the classic shows from the classic period of Broadway history, this is the classicest, if that's a word. Every song in it is better than good, most are great. Eliza had a very strong voice, and kept her accents straight. If only she'd put more power in "Show Me" and "Without You", which is where she really tears loose. Higgins developed character over the course of the show, as if the actor gradually stopped being afraid of the part, but he wasn't that great a singer. Doolittle cut the rug with his music-hall songs pretty well. Freddy was ... unmentionable. The best actor in the show was the Mrs. Higgins, but the best moment was the look on Mrs. Pearce's face as Higgins sings the last verse of "A Hymn to Him" to her. The costumes were impressive throughout: When Eliza steps out, she's rigged for the part.

B. was with me for that one, but one was enough for a weekend for her, so she didn't go back the next evening for Chess in concert, first of a mere two-performance run. The reason for doing it in concert, just the music with a thin skein of narration, proved to be to cram in as many songs from as many different versions as possible without having to make them fit or to deal with what the director, who delivered the narration, feels is a basically unstageable plot.

Because it was a concert, the parts were all divided up among a lot of different people. Some were quite good, and some were ... not. (The ones who could never hit the right note; the ones who kept shifting between octaves in the middle of the song. On the other hand, then there was the singer who plowed through on the right notes despite the orchestra being completely out of tune.) The problem was that there wasn't enough of the good ones. By far the best of a lot of medium-good Florences (pinch-faced, but excellent voice with good characterization) sang "Nobody's Side" and hardly anything else. I also liked one Anatoly with a really deep voice. A woman sang "One Night in Bangkok," but maybe it should have been some other woman. And maybe her microphone shouldn't have kept cutting out. The narrator was right; the storyline falls apart in Act 2, and it went on too long.

In between, I got up to Davies for a gratifyingly heterogeneous SF Symphony chamber music concert. In order of increasing oddness, Barber's String Quartet (where the famous Adagio for Strings comes from), a flute-oboe-piano trio by Eugene Goossens (very French-sounding), a wind-quintet-and-piano sextet by Poulenc (a chaotic work from his "Stravinsky fils" period), and the Varied Trio by the centennial boy, Lou Harrison, for violin (played normally), piano (sometimes with its strings plucked), and percussion (alternatingly xylophone, rice bowls (some with water in them), and baking pans), exotically peaceful.

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