Merrily We Roll Along @ Menier & Pinter
Posted 03 July 2013 - 12:19 PM
So there you have it- for me it all came down to their voices- I respect the peformers , many of whom I have enjoyed before- which perhaps made it more frustrating as I know they can sing in a more aesthetically pleasing way.( to my ears)
Don't get me wrong I have enjoyed New york set musicals before- but just not this one, on this occasion.
Perhaps Once has just spoilt me for gut wrenching melodies this year.
Posted 03 July 2013 - 04:57 PM
I don't think it was the high school framing device that killed the original musical production - it was the t-shirts. Though I've seen it done with both and thought they both worked very well but perhaps not in a big theatre
Posted 09 July 2013 - 08:02 AM
I think the starting at the end and going back worked really well as wasnt sure before I saw it how it would work. Shame it is closing as would love to see it again. I suppose it just isnt mainstream enough, glad I disnt take a friend with me as not sure it would have been to their taste.
Programme was £4 instead of £3.50 at really useful theatres and very similair. I always want a souvenir brochure but can see why smaller shows dont have them but I love looking at them in the future.
Highly recommend the show for other theatre lovers
Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:49 AM
Posted 09 July 2013 - 11:32 AM
Yeah why do people keep saying 'in your opinion', of course it is whether I am saying x is the best show ever or y is the best singer, obviously I mean in my opinion, I'm not going to bother writing it after each statement!!!
Posted 11 July 2013 - 01:16 PM
Anyhow, I did find this production engaging. It is so well directed and well cast that I was somehow drawn into it all. I think the reason might be that the ''Britishness'' of the production took away that pretentious/over-the-top feeling the story has. Frank's character is understated which makes him and his ''plights'' come off more realistic. Friedman and Umbers did a great job there. Jenna Russell's Mary seems to have gotten the most raving reviews, but as fine an actress Russell is, I'm not sure this is one of her best performances. She makes the drunk, jaded and bitter Mary way two-dimensional caricature in the opening scenes, which rendered me incapable of believing her sober and somewhat hopeful later (younger) Marys. Damian Humbley as Charley did a fabulous job in ''Franklin Shepard Inc.'' but i can't say I was too moved by him being betrayed by his best friend, which is, I guess, his character's main tragedy. Charley is just way too wholesome a character to be believable (or interesting). The character that worked the best for me was Gussie because she was the only deliberately over-the-top one in her first (later) incarnations, so her final scene (despite being brief and mute) was the most effective one, and, paradoxically, she came off as the most flesh-and-blood character, and I was able to feel some compassion for her (her determination to succeed at any cost, only to end up alone, rejected by the business she had sacrificed everything and everyone to). This is probably one of the finest performances of Josefina Gabrielle's I've seen - when well cast and well directed, she can be outstanding. I found Clare Foster's Beth excellent as well. She didn't overdo it with her character's melodramatic arc (British touch, again, I guess) and was able to avoid slipping into cheesiness, which isn't a small feat considering what she had to work with.
But all this notwithstanding, I still found this production exceptional because it somehow managed to make at least 2 or 3 characters three-dimensional. In the original musical, everyone is supposed to be a sarcastic caricature except for the 3 main characters, who still didn't manage to come across as very real to me. It's obvious that Friedman has given it a lot of thought and a lot of her solutions in fact work. A fantastic effort from the director and the cast. Top-notch singing, too.
It goes to show how talent and commitment and enthusiasm can not only compensate for the low budget, but also for somewhat sub-par material. I wish theater companies would take a leaf out of Menier's book (especially where I live and where EVERYTHING is low-budget, lol).
I am really glad I saw it and if I could, I'd go and see it again. I hope they get some Olivier Awards nods.
(ugh, this has been a much longer rant than I intended, sorry! And English is not my first language so I apologise for any clumsiness)
Posted 11 July 2013 - 01:38 PM
Posted 11 July 2013 - 03:39 PM
Hey, thank you so much for the encouragement! I was a bit apprehensive to write it, but I've been lurking for ages on the forum and always enjoyed reading people's opinions on shows. I find them more useful than reading professional critics' reviews (I'm never sure how unbiased they are or if they just want to show off their wit instead of offering a useful analysis). So I thought someone might find my opinion useful since the show is still running.
Now I'll try to somehow articulate my impressions regarding the other London shows I saw during my visit, and hopefully work my way up to The Hothouse... or not.
Another thing about MWRA: I had brief interval and after-show chats with an American lady who was sitting next to me and who sounded REALLY knowledgeable about Sondheim. She told me she had seen several productions of this particular musical in NY and Chicago, and that she found this one the best by far. She also praised the cast's American accents (except for the Southern ones). I'm personally not quite sure the American accents were absolutely necessary, though.
Posted 15 July 2013 - 03:01 PM
Classic audience comment though last time after the bows..
"I preferred the second half - it was much happier"
While that may be literally true.. I did wonder if said person had really paid attention. The second act is heartbreaking!
You know just how the optimism dies. Plus the marriage trio.. well if Jenna's Mary doesn't make you well up then, I suspect you have a heart of stone.
So many great moments that hindsight builds upon. And a killer ending of Frank painfully seeing just what his life has become. Much preferred this ending to that of the original/Donmar.
Posted 16 July 2013 - 09:43 PM
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