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. 

Review: ‘The Wild Party,’ With Sutton Foster as a Louche Jazz Baby

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. 

Review: ‘The Wild Party,’ With Sutton Foster as a Louche Jazz Baby

The new musical The Bridges of Madison County opened this week to pretty good reviews. I was lucky enough to secure a ticket one night last week and I was excited. I hadn’t seen Kelli O’Hara in anything since Piazza and she’s lovely so this was exciting. Also: Steven Pasquale is a person with one of the dreamiest faces and prettiest voices out there.

Everything about Bridges is beautiful. The score, the cast, the minimal set, and especially the lighting. Man, is the lighting beautiful. I enjoyed hearing the story for the first time. Although it was pretty cliche, very sad, and got extremely dark at the end, which I totally didn’t expect, I still enjoyed watching it unfold. I was surprised yet relieved with the choice she made at the end.

The cast is wonderful. For the part they’re wonderful actors with beautiful voices.

What didn’t I love? The complete lack of chemistry between Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale. Kelli is a great actress (we all know this) and I thought Steven might be too. But I didn’t believe they liked each one tiny bit. This huge passionate love affair that we’re supposed to be witness to onstage? It looked like two people who weren’t really interested in each other that had to kiss so they could get their paycheck on Friday.

But somehow, despite not believing the two protagonists were into each other, I still enjoyed it. Which is a total testament to Jason Robert Brown’s writing. It’s as close to a traditional musical as we’re going to get (it does run a strong 2 hours and 45 minutes) and it could even be called good.