A couple of weeks ago I saw an early preview performance of Doctor Zhivago, a new musical currently playing at the Broadway Theatre. I knew nothing about it except that the lead (Tam Mutu) was out, his understudy(Bradley Dean) was flung in on a moment’s notice, and it was based on a dense (of course) Russian novel.
And it was three hours long. WOOT!
I was told it was about a love triangle – or something like that – and it was. Doctor Zhivago runs into a blonde woman who takes his breath away, of course he’s also on his way to his own wedding to an equally as lovely brunette. Isn’t that the way it always works? The show starts when Russia was still the Soviet Union (or at least somewhere in the first few decades of the 20th Century) and continues on until the revolution is over.
It’s a great historical piece. I learned a lot from it – well, whatever in it was historically accurate. But my goodness, it is long. Doctor Zhivago and the blonde woman sing no less than four songs about how they should be together, etc. etc. and although the score is quite pretty (think Tale of Two Cities meets Scarlet Pimpernel), it’s tiresome. By that four song, I’m like, “Okay, well, GO. Be together!”
I read the synopsis of the novel afterward and they even cut a lot of book out. Like, a LOT. But the musical is STILL dense. There are tons of characters and it takes itself very seriously, where as, say, The Great Comet of 1812 did not (it even poked fun at itself in the very first song). The cast is uniformly lovely and talented. Bradley Dean kicked some serious ass in this monster of a role that he probably had a few days rehearsal in.
I’m interested to see how it’s received on Broadway and how it does at the box office. (Spoiler alert: the critics did not review it well last night.)