Monday, November 3, 2008

It’s a Hard Knock Production

Miss Hannigan was staged like an old tyme baddie, only missing the moustache to twirl. She delivered her lines half to the audience, then twisted her body unnaturally to deliver half the lines to the orphans. I half expected the kids in the audience to boo her loudly as she rubbed her palms together while sharing a dastardly plan.

In fact, this entire production of Annie was pretty bad. The cast was directed with adjectives. Annie was chipper. Miss Hannigan was evil. Daddy Warbucks was grumpy. Lily St. Regis was masculine. It was like watching cardboard puppets on stage. And chipper Annie popped out for the final scene with her beautiful brown hair shoved under a stunning red wig with short, tight curls that made me think she’d be later on scrubbing out Daddy Warbucks’s bathtubs with her head. It was stunning for all the wrong reasons.

We’ve all seen shows like that, those high school or community theatre productions that take a musical that thrived on Broadway for years and turn it into something, well, something stunning, shall we say.

A high school in my area that has presented many magnificent productions of great shows was the first place where I saw Camelot. It was boring, static, unexciting. It wasn’t until I saw the show at a professional theatre that I saw Camelot in all its magnificence. It really is a magnificent show. Or make that, it really can be a magnificent show.

I’ve heard many young people mention on Broadway Space or on message boards, that they saw a production of Hello, Dolly! or The Music Man and don’t like the show. It wasn’t funny, engaging, moved at a snail’s pace, whatever. But the problem is perhaps not the topic but the canvas. Surely there are certain plays that simply will never speak to a particular person—South Pacific and West Side Story are shows like that for me (please hold all stones until the end)—but until you see a production on Broadway, professionally, or at a theatre whose work you generally enjoy, it’s really hard to determine if the show is at fault or if it’s the production.

During intermission of the above described production of Annie, I actually heard one person (no doubt related or otherwise connected to the actor) described this Daddy Warbucks as powerful. Actually, the word I was looking for was . . . stunning.

the Broadway Mouth
November 3, 2008


Anonymous said...

"Camelot" and "...Forum" are particularly deadly in community theater. In different ways, they both rely on pacing, which most amateurs just don't understand. I find Annie is usually foolproof. Sorry you found a dud.

Broadway Mouth Blog said...

Just an update . . . I have since seen the Broadway tour of SOUTH PACIFIC and the Broadway production of WEST SIDE STORY and loved them both tremendously. It's all about the canvas.