I should have prefaced my comment about Pipe Dream with the admission that i have a general aversion to all things Steinbeck (I think it’s due to growing up minutes from Canary Row and finding the whole culture unremarkable).
that would explain why it was so pointless onstage. Nothing offensive, but nothing to make you go “yay! i’m at a musical!”
Brian Stokes Mitchell and Davis Gaines sing Silverware from We Take The Town by Harold Karr and Matt Dubey. from Stephen Sondheim’s Songs I Wish I’d Written (At Least In Part) performed at the Library of Congress Birthday Celebration May 22 2000.
Seeing it tonight - glad to hear it has some promise. Encores has featured some DUDS lately (did you see Pipe Dream?)
I did see Pipe Dream. It was all pleasant enough as it was happening, but I didn’t respond to anything in the material. I appreciated the opportunity to experience a show I knew very little about, and as a history lesson it was downright pleasant (and I thought the choreography was idiosyncratic and interesting). But Pipe Dream has never been a good show. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was a smash and plays like one (but I will personally shoot in the face whoever speaks of it transferring, because that’s silly and I could think of so many better uses for $10mil).
“We thought the show was already in pretty good shape, and while we had to move very fast to build the sets and get ready for Broadway, it seemed doable,” Mr. Viertel said. “Yes, we did a lot of work on the show during previews, trimming back songs and other tweaks. But that’s the usual work in previews. The reality is, you don’t have time to change 50 percent of a show once you’ve started previews. And if we’d thought we’d be needing to change 50 percent of the show, we wouldn’t have come to Broadway in the first place.”
Did you read the reviews in LA? You would have needed to change about 100% of the show for it to succeed. (i.e. Why did you think writing this musical was a good idea in the first place?)
Some producers, including Mr. Viertel, have another theory about why “Leap” failed. “It may be hard to intrigue a Broadway musical-theater audience with a show that undertakes a semi-serious discussion of faith,” he said, before adding that even he wasn’t sure if that view held up. One of the show’s marketing consultants, Tom Allen, who specializes in outreach to religious groups, challenged the theory by pointing to musicals like “Memphis” and “Sister Act” that are “faith oriented” and have been running for a year or more.
Not to mention Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Oblivious producers. Or, rather, investors. Convinced they have a worthwhile product on their hands just because they have spent over a decade developing it. (Seriously. Why did you invest in the first place?)
I just don’t know at what point anyone was sold on this show, or who was even doing the selling in the first place. But I think it may another example of how staged readings are kinda killing the musical. I don’t know the developmental history of Leap of Faith, but I have a feeling it all started with a 29 hour reading which attracted whatever muscle was needed to get the show done regionally and ear-marked for Broadway. I have a feeling that before the first rehearsal in CA, there were people already determined to bring the show to Broadway, essentially based solely on this 29 hour reading and their imaginations. Again, I’m sorta making this up, but it’s the only way it makes sense to me. Because I can imagine Leap of Faith working well as a reading. The book is pretty clear and connecting the dots and communicating plot points (not hard to do since Meredith Wilson already figured it out, but I digress). And the Gospel Choir must have been very exciting in a rehearsal studio, where they werent accompanied by an orchestra scattered throught the theater and where standing and singing half the score makes sense. Most shows usually max out at one gospel number, because there’s only one way to stage one. It’s not until you get into the theater that you realize that every production number is the same, or that clear story telling does not equate interesting story telling.
As for the notion that “It may be hard to intrigue a Broadway musical-theater audience with a show that undertakes a semi-serious discussion of faith,” I guess we’ll never know because NO ONE HAS WRITTEN ONE YET (aside from Meredith Wilson). Certainly not the writers of Leap of Faith. Not that there’d be much value in a “semi-serious discussion” on ANY topic. What does that even mean?
“So congratulations, North Carolina. Last night, you struck a decisive blow for loneliness. And tonight, as you go to sleep beside your heterosexual life mate, you can rest assured that all across your great state, a gay man or lesbian woman is crying themselves to sleep in solitude and making your relationship stronger with each tear.”—STEPHEN COLBERT, The Colbert Report (via inothernews)
“I Love What I’m Doing" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
music, Jule Styne. words, Leo Robin.
performed by Yvonne Adair
I saw this at Encores! last night and it was the strongest production I’ve seen them do. The score truly is an underapprectiated gem, with any number without Channing being largely forgotten. Which is a shame, because I’ve always generally preferred Yvonne Adair’s numbers (and the Lisa Kirk Realness she serves up!). Randy Skinner (and his good old fashioned dancing chorus) choreographed a series of wildly exciting dances that made splended use of Trude Rittman’s epic dance arrangements. The tightly clustered singing chorus nailed Hugh Martin’s iconic vocal arrangements. Rachel York led this number (performed with the men’s olympic team) which quickly became a Josh Logan wet-dream of shirtless male dancing! (The lengthy dance break is not featured on this recording). Megan Hilty was a true star, bringing the house down with “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” and ALL of it’s encore verses (most of which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before). But every single number was tuneful and fun. And it plays just fine to the balcony, if you can only barely afford the $25 ticket (like me).
“…or get Katharine McPhee to sing a gospel song because she is going to be America’s first post-racial sweetheart (besides Michelle Obama, that is) if it kills you and me and every other person in North America who has ever so much as uttered the words “Laura Benanti.”—
“Johanna (Quartet)” from the new cast recording of Sweeney Todd.
i should make a policy of always reblogging any rendition of this song. I am also finding myself pleasantly impressed by Michael Ball! No longer the schlocky, PBS pledge fund, Andrew Lloyd Webber chanteur of my yesteryear.
so now I have to re-reblog this again. Sorry/not sorry.