In the past week I’ve seen two Broadway shows. If you know me, you know this is nothing new to me. I saw my first show went when I was seven years old, it was Cats. Two Saturdays ago, I took my mother to Lincoln Center to see South Pacific – her favorite show since she was young (she was the only kid in her high school class of knife-fighters to bring in a cast recording, South Pacific, as an aid for a school project), and I’d snagged tickets for her for Christmas.
There were several understudies, but luckily at least TONY Award winner Kelli O’Hara was alive and well, and performing at the matinee that day. The only production I’d seen of South Pacific was a community production when I was maybe 7 or 8, and though I’d never been a fan of the show itself, Lincoln Center’s production won seven TONY Awards in June, so I was excited to see it for that reason alone. The overture (to quote Bob Martin, “a pu pu platter of tunes, if you will.”) was one of the longest I’ve ever heard. The set is one of the most impressive parts of the show, and when the overture is maybe a minute in, the thrust of the stage comes in and reveals the entire orchestra. When the overture is over, the conductor and orchestra stand up and take a bow. Where else on Broadway can you see such a thing?
I enjoyed the show entirely and the cast, including understudies, were stellar, especially Ms. O’Hara. Special mention must be made of Loretta Albes Sayre, who played a hilarious Bloody Mary and made her one of my favorite characters who I completely empathized with in the second act.
I will admit though that I was a bit disappointed with the end. I saw “Primo Finale” in the Playbill and expected grandiose production value. Instead I got a cast marching off stage and O’Hara walking back into the plantation to greet Emile and his children. Curtain. I guess I’m a product of today’s Broadway show – big, huge, glitzy finales. The bigger, the better.
Despite the lack of finale, it was a great production that lived up to all of its hype. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Being a former intern at The Broadway League has its perks. One is administering surveys at randomly selected Broadway shows, getting paid to do it, and also being able to watch the show. This past Friday night I spent a night at the Golden Theatre on 45th Street taking in a performance of Avenue Q. I had seen Q twice before, once with the original cast and once a year or two later. Friday’s cast was, save for one, all new to me. In comparison to the original cast this cast was equally as entertaining and enjoyable.
Special mention should be made of Christian Anderson, who despite several years in the show, is still just as brilliant and humorous to watch for a second time as he was the first as he juggles multiple roles with ease.
I have to mention also that I have not related to this show more than during this viewing. Princeton (thanks!), a recent university graduate with a BA in English, doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life, he “thinks the hard part is over,” he doesn’t know what type of job he should be pursuing, etc. As a recent university graduate myself facing some of those same problems, I find myself sometimes saying “I wish I could go back to college” because I wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills or rent – but then I snap out of it as I remember what college was like (basically an extension of high school, with more alcohol). I empathize with Kate Monster as she gets hurt by Princeton; and I remembered that there is “life outside your apartment” as I remember when I was laid off and generally hide inside my apartment, job searching day after day.
The comical staples of the show such as “If You Were Gay,” and the oh-so-true “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” didn’t fail to disappoint either. I was happy to see the show still getting such a positive response, with the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter still. Though in the finale the “George Bush!… was only for now,” fell a bit flat, I think, due mainly to the actors’ nervousness with saying it.
If you’re in town and need to pick a show to see, I’d say “South Pacific” for the more traditional theatre goer; while you may want a to try a helping of “Avenue Q” if you’re looking for something a bit edgier, while still channeling your inner Sesame Street-fan. Either way, you can’t loose!