So I managed to score a balcony seat about half an hour before the final performance of The Wild Party at City Center last night. I was far away but I was only there for the music and the acoustics were great. I knew about many of the changes but I was trying to keep an open mind.
Let me start by saying that Steven Pasquale was a perfect Burrs. PERFECT. He was vocally stunning and even from far away, I believed all of his choices. My other favorite was Miriam Shor as Madeline True. So fantastic. Joaquina Kalukango had a great voice as Kate but I didn’t like her acting choices. Brandon Victor Dixon as Black made great choices but his riffing was too non-stop and out of the ordinary. I guess I just wasn’t used to his scatting as opposed to Taye Diggs’.
Then there’s Sutton Foster. Broadway royalty, I know. Whatever. I was sitting next to a Sutton fanboy and it was almost unbearable. Anyways: She could only sing about 1/3 of the score and there were parts where she couldn’t even be bothered to try to belt it. And she is definitely not a blonde and the wig looked awful. Her acting choices were fine though, maybe I’d even say good.
Now to the changes: There were so many lyric changes for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. They changed the entire refrain (not to mention title) of “Come With Me” to “You and Me.” It was so pointless.
And the beginning? Awkward. SO awkward. What I gathered from it was that it opened at one of Queenie’s vaudeville acts and then it went to her and Burrs’ apartment. I don’t know. I could be completely wrong. I don’t under why they’d cut Queenie Was a Blonde and Out of the Blue. They’re two such important songs to the exposition of the characters and setting up the plot. I mean “Queenie was a blonde” is the first line of the poem that The Wild Party is based on. I could only imagine how confused the people were around me who had no familiarity with the show at all.
Overall, I enjoyed it for what it was – a great score with a few great performances. I’m glad I saw it. It was kind of neat to think that we were watching it in the building above the theatre where it was originally staged 15 years ago. Maybe next time though they can cast a Queenie who can sing the score in it’s entirety… Just a thought.
I’m supposed to go see this tomorrow but I’m rethinking it now. Is it really worth my $25 to see a show that’s been so massively gutted of arguable important songs? I know The Wild Party from it’s 2000 staging cast recording, which is one of my top 10 favorite scores ever, and from working on it in college. I listened to the score over and over and over. I love it.
I’ve only scanned this review, but I heard last night from Kristen that they cut Out of the Blue, Queenie Was a Blonde, all of the I Want songs, and Lippa wrote a terrible new song for Foster that, I think according to the New York Times review, was called “Happy Endings.” This sounds like it’s suffering from the same thing that High Fidelity on Broadway suffered: adding a happy ending to a show that’s not supposed to have a happy ending. Kristen has corrected me. This is not the case. Good.
Everyone’s saying Sutton Foster is miscast. No surprise there. It seemed that way from the trailer that came out. I don’t really like Steven Pasquale, as talented as he might be, but people are saying he’s very good. Kate is black – which doesn’t make sense for the songs she sings (the south will rise again? really? you want that?!). And the dude playing Black never stops riffing.
I have no idea if I want to experience this show without those vital songs. But do I want to miss a trainwreck production of this show? Probably not. I’ll probably go. People are saying they cut those songs because Foster has had bronchitis and can’t sing back-to-back 11′o’clock numbers like that. To that I say: Fire her, or she should’ve stepped down.
Alternatively: throw Julia Murney some cash to play Queenie. Like god and Andrew Lippa intended.
Last Saturday I was invited to see the new musical based on the movie Big Fish after winning a contest that was held on their website. I was incredibly excited because I remember liking the movie (when I saw it in theatres back in 2004!) and the cast was phenomenal: Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Steggert, and Kate Baldwin. Tonight: Big Fish opens!
I didn’t really remember what the movie was about, but I heard it was a touching father/son story. A man who’s father has always told him phantasmagorical stories is dying and before he passes, he wants to find out the truth about his father’s past.
The first thing that stood out to me were the costumes (design by William Ivey Long) – they were gorgeous and somewhat magical. My next favorite aspect of the show? Norbert Leo Butz (and his dancing). He was fantastic in Catch Me If You Can, and he lives up to and surpasses every expectation in Big Fish. He weaved in and out of being a teenager and a dying old man with such ease. Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert also, of course, didn’t disappoint either. Baldwin weaved as easily from teenager to senior citizen as well, and Steggert has it easiest (as he never had to make any huge age leaps) but was still a joy to watch discover the truth about his father.
The score is enjoyable, the choreography fantastic, and supporting cast was lovable. Remember how I said this was a heartwarming father/son story? Well: it was. Everyone around me was crying at the end and I even choked back a tear.
I hope lots of legs are currently breaking at the Neil Simon and the reviewers are warm. Big Fish is definitely a welcomed addition to this Broadway season!