Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

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Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

Post  LadyCDaae on Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:27 am

Well, I've unpacked, soaked my aching muscles in the tub, and I've got a little more energy in me before I collapse, so time to do the recap thing (or get started, at least...).

***

So, is it possible to like something not for what it was, but for what you know it was trying to be?  Because this was definitely an "off night" all around, but I still enjoyed myself overall.  Thrill of having good seats?  High on the start of a New York weekend?  Just in a magnanimous mood?  No idea.  But there it is.

Prologue: The "Hannibal" poster slipped from the porters hands as he was unraveling it (he managed to catch it in the fall, though--good reflexes!).  An omen of things to come, perhaps--or maybe just distracted by the unusually high number of people gabbing in the audience.  Seriously, I heard loud "ssshhh"-in well into the second lot.  People who talk in the theatre don't know what they're missing.  Thnigs like Jeremy Hays' beautiful reaction to the music box--you can see the life flowing back into him.  Chandelier goes poof, and we're off to the races.

Hannibal: Michele McConnell was out for the week, so the understudies are in rotation.  At the plate tonight: Lynne Abeles, who was generally cold and haughty and didn't do a whole lot for me.  No matter, it's the little things that always make this scene for me.  Like how Kenneth Kantor's Lefevre tries to put a cheerful face on when he's clearly annoyed by everyone and everything around him.  Satomi Hoffman making the most of the Wardrobe Mistress as she chases Carlotta and Piangi around trying to mend their hems.  Laird Makintosh's Andre absolutely fanboying over Carlotta (more so than usual for the character, I mean).  Christian Sebek's Piangi just being so eager to be liked--it's funny and very sweet.  And Reason to be Grateful for the Expensive Seats #1: Arlo Hill's (Reyer) reaction to Christine's "Think of Me" opening.  He does this wonderfully subtle transition from "Okay kid, impress me if you can" to "Whoa, girl's got pipes!  How did I not notice this before?"

Think of Me: I don't know if it's because I've become accustomed to her performance or she's just been doing the role for too long, but Boggess' Christine is losing some of her authenticity for me--her actions tonight came off as rather too practiced and "stagey."  Nevertheless, you can tell she enjoys rocking her inner diva on this song, and she does add a bittersweet element to the "think of me waking" verse that I like.

Angel of Music: Cristin J. Hubbard's Giry lacks...I don't know what.  I can't say "depth" because she does display some later, but I would have liked to have seen hints of what's behind her stern facade earlier on.  Polly Baird's Meg has good chemistry with Boggess, though--there's a genuine closeness and confidence between them.  

Little Lotte/The Mirror: Raoul as written is kind of a blank slate, and it amazes me how good actors in the role find different ways of bringing the character to life.  Cudia was sweet, Mauer intense, and Ragone noble.  Jeremy Hays gives Raoul a kind of Mr. Darcy vibe--very proud and proper, but with good principles and an honest heart beneath that.  I think it's what Kyle Barasich (and probably Hadley Fraser) were trying to be but weren't.

So, after hearing Norm Lewis described as everything from a massive disappointment to a religious experience, I was quite eager to hear him for myself.  Having done so, I can see why he's divisive--he has one of the more distinct voices in the role; lower and darker than normal, but very powerful and expressive.  Personally, I liked it.  They say first impressions are important, and Norm has a killer one--he may have the most authoritative, coldly condemning "Insolent boy!" I've heard apart from Crawford.  

PotO: So, um, it's great that they're casting for diversity and all, but you know the doubles?  Yeah, they're....kind of obvious now, at least from the front.  But honestly, I can't think of a better solution than the current one (low lights, fog, lots of facing upstage, and a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief).  Hiring ethnically appropriate swings and then having to change them out every time an understudy is on would be overcomplicated, and as for makeup...not even going there.  So it is what it is.  On the plus side, Norm delivers some damn powerful "Sing for me" lines.

MotN: Well, it wasn't clean--there was some shakiness on the sustained notes and a break on "You alone can make my song..." (though if you closed your eyes and held your nose, you could imagine that was the intensity of the character's passion, I suppose).  But it was effective.  Lewis tends to crouch slightly when he moves, giving him a predatory vibe--the kind that has a compelling air about it, where you can't help being fascinated even as you know you should be running the hell away.  That and the interplay with Boggess carry the scene through the bumps in the road.

I Remember/STYDI: Good thing about having seats near the front right (stage left) of the house: good view of Norm at the organ, where he has some good business "conducting" the music in his head.  Bad thing about the seats: not the best place to view the crucial unmasking aftermath.  Ah well.

Magical Lasso: I like Richard Poole's dismissive reactions to Mme. Giry in this scene.  That is all.

Notes/Prima Donna: Argh, what is up with the tempos in this scene?  The whole thing dragged terribly, and then during Abeles' verse in "Prima Donna" she was out of sync with the orchestra (or vice versa) for a couple bars.  (Conductor that night was David Caddick, so it's not like he doesn't know what he's doing.)  The supporting cast scenes can be dull if the right energy isn't brought to them, and unfortunately that wasn't there today.

On the positive side, though, Hays does a nice slow "wait, what?" reaction on "wrote/written."  I'm going to be gushing about him a lot, I'm afraid; he has some of the best acting nuances I've seen in Raoul.

Il Muto: I like the way Abeles plays the "laughter" in reaction to Seraphimo's kisses.  Nice touch.  Can't see the proscenium very well from where I'm sitting, but it doesn't matter because Norm's deeper voice makes for a seriously awesome evil laugh.  ("A lot of guys ignore the laugh, and that's about standards...")  Reason to be Grateful for the Expensive Seats #2: Solo Dancer Nicholas Cunningham's wonderfully cheesy nervous grin on his entrance.  ("Oh hiiiii, um, everything's absolutely normal, no really...")

AIAOY: Finally!  It's been a couple years since I've seen a good Raoul in this scene.  Hays is very comforting and reassuring, but not in a condescending way--there's sincerity in his tenderness.  And this still is a good scene for Boggess, so it was nice all around.

AIAOY Reprise: Hot damn, Norm's head voice...it's like you can hear his heart breaking in each note.  The rage wasn't as strong as I like it to be, though--but the energy seemed muted across the board that night.  Not sure why, but it's live theatre and it happens.

Masquerade/WSS: Nice to see Hubbard's Giry letting her hair down (so to speak).  And while this scene is overall best viewed at a distance, it's nice to see some of the costume detail for a change. (Scary clown is scary.) Unfortunately messy, messy articulation on the lyrics, to the point where I"m pretty sure they were flubbed in places.  (I was reminded of the rumor that long-running cast members will on occasion amuse themselves by substituting the song's title with "masturbate"...)  

More Hays gushing--you know how Christine's "oh crap" reaction happens a couple beats before everyone else realizes there's a scary guy in red behind them?  Hays' Raoul notices this.  It's a great moment that shows the character really is attentive to Christine's emotional state and concerned for her.

Norm has an awesome laugh, have I mentioned that?

Giry's Story: More nuance from Hubbard here; she has a good mix of wonder, empathy and fear in her story.

Notes/TEW: Argh, drag, drag, drag.  C'mon people, this musical lives and dies by what you put into it.  But Reason to be Grateful for the Expensive Seats #3: Hays acting in this scene.  You can see the lights come on when the Phantom's note starts going on about Christine--"Hang on, I can use this..."  And during the counterpoint, he ad libs some lines to Christine--"you have to sing, it's the only way"--which reinforce the idea that he knows he's asking a lot of her but is desperate to put an end to the madness.  Sierra, unfortunately, gets stagey here again, throwing in big gasping breaths during her solo like "see how emotional I'm being right now?"

DJT Rehearsal: Damn, Christine does not want to be here--she cuts off "battlefield" like it hurts her to be involved in this any more than she has to be.  The guy next to Piangi (Ted Keegan as Passarino, I think?) is clearly enjoying the latter's constant line flubbing, though, which adds a bit of dark irony to the whole thing.

WYWSHA: More emotional gasping from Sierra.  She still performs the song beautifully, though.

Wandering Child: Norm is in head voice again, and the effect is sinister and poisonously seductive.  Brrr.  And yay, the trio is back and it's gorgeous!  One of my problems with the trio has always been the "wait, why is Raoul just standing there?" issue, but Hays makes it work, taking a moment to collect his willpower before leaping in to the confrontation.

Before the performance: Oooh, Norm's Phantom is clearly enjoying screwing with everybody's head in this scene, I like it.  But oopsie--the gun doesn't go off.  Hays, bless him, doesn't miss a beat--"You idiot, I said SHOOT!"--so it's one of those things that if you'd never seen the show before, you probably wouldn't have guessed anything was wrong.

PonR: The huge issue in this scene has always been "Does Christine know who she's singing with, and if she doesn't why the hell not?"  Boggess' Christine knew.  And she was pissed.  Which leads to her verse being a bit of well-deserved payback--"oh, you think you're going to seduce me with your Don Juan fanfic, do you?  Well, two can play at this game...how do you like them apples (pun not intended...much)?"  It was an interesting new dynamic to the scene and one that worked very well.  Only instead of being frightened by rubbing against his mask, she...well, you know Gillian Lynne's analysis of "Music of the Night"?  Yeah.

Final Lair: Actor/orchestra out of sync on "Hounded out by everyone..." aaaargh. Norm Lewis' performance in this scene is kind of a cross between a caged tiger and a petulant toddler (he pouts in the throne, there really is no other word for it).  A little bit unintentionally humorous, but it is very much in keeping with Leroux's description of the character's childlike tendencies.  Hays, again, does some great acting in this scene--he actually looks like he has to struggle to maintain his balance and avoid being strangled, rather than just standing there.  Boggess is pretty much what we've seen from her before, but the parting is very powerful, with Norm running after her calling "I love you!" as if he can't understand why that's not enough. Heartbreaking.

***

So there you have it.  Not the best I'd seen, but not unendurable either.  Luckily there was the Saturday matinee...but that's a post for another time.

~LCD


Last edited by LadyCDaae on Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:56 pm; edited 4 times in total

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Re: Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

Post  phantom10906 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:54 am

Having seen Hubbard a number of times as Giry, I think for me, what was lacking was her age. I felt she was WAY to young to be Giry. I completely agree with your comments about Boggess feeling more lackluster. Can't wait to read more.  Smile 

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Re: Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

Post  LadyCDaae on Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:56 pm

Finished the rest. Will post my thoughts on Saturday at a later time.

~LCD

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Re: Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

Post  operafantomet on Mon Aug 04, 2014 10:02 pm

Ooooh, it's SOOOO long since I've read a truly good review (good, as in "This really gives me an impression of the cast and the overall experience"). This was great, and so interesting. Also, I'm liking that more and more people vote Jeremy Hays as one of the best things about the Broadway production in a long time. He really seem to add a lot to the role.

PotO: So, um, it's great that they're casting for diversity and all, but you know the doubles? Yeah, they're....kind of obvious now, at least from the front. But honestly, I can't think of a better solution than the current one (low lights, fog, lots of facing upstage, and a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief). Hiring ethnically appropriate swings and then having to change them out every time an understudy is on would be overcomplicated, and as for makeup...not even going there. So it is what it is.

I would think a pair of gloves would do some of the trick. That, and being better with keeping the face away from the audience, something they're technically instructed to do anyway.

Looking forward to more! Very Happy

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Re: Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

Post  SenorSwanky on Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:43 am

So, um, it's great that they're casting for diversity and all, but you know the doubles? Yeah, they're....kind of obvious now, at least from the front. But honestly, I can't think of a better solution than the current one (low lights, fog, lots of facing upstage, and a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief). Hiring ethnically appropriate swings and then having to change them out every time an understudy is on would be overcomplicated, and as for makeup...not even going there.
 Laughing I remember bringing that up in the Broadway thread after he was cast.

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Re: Broadway 7/31/14 Evening (Lewis/Boggess/Hays)

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