Share on Google+:
New This Week:
Photo: John Lamb
My take: I have a friend who says he loves directing Shakespeare because it’s so easy to do. Just don’t get in the playwright’s way and you can’t lose. I think the same could be said of the better Gilbert and Sullivan operettas as well. Don’t mess with G&S and you’re golden. So while I haven't seen this production yet, I'm going to say that, based on Union Avenue's track record to date, it's reasonable to assume they won't get in Gilbert and Sullivan's way. Which should make this great fun all the way around.
|The Music Man|
My take: This show has been a favorite of audiences and critics alike since its 1957 premiere. It beat out West Side Story for the New York Critics' Circle Best Musical award that year, ran for 1,375 performances, and made a star out of Robert Preston. Playwright William Saroyan declared it "one of the great pieces of Americana", and audiences apparently agree with him. It's a family-friendly crowd pleaser that also gets in som sharp digs at small -town small mindedness and anti-intellectualism—a neat trick. Mark Bretz's review for Ladue News is typical of the praise this production has received: "The Muny’s spacious outdoor theater and expansive stage are an ideal combination for Meredith Willson’s memorably tuneful musical," he writes. "Director Rob Ruggiero moves this version of The Music Man like one of those trains that adheres strictly to its schedule, sending the audience happily home after two acts played out in two and a half snappy hours".
My take: As I said in my preview article, for this show's first appearance a little over a year ago, a well-constructed cabaret act is ultimately a kind of one-act play, which is why actors—who have the advantage of understanding dramatic form—often create some of the best cabaret. Mr. Watts has shown that he can do both comedy and drama, and his appearances at The Cabaret Project's open mic nights (which I host) have been very impressive. And, of course, Tim Schall and Carol Schmidt are cabaret pros of considerable standing themselves.