Saturday, December 08, 2007

I wish to digress to the discussion about theater spaces for a moment.
Two comments will not leave my head and they must be addressed:

The first is from Andrew Hamm who wrote:
"The idea that theatre is only legitimate or significant if thousands of dollars are spent on tech drives me nuts".

Good for you Andrew, it should drive us all nuts. That idea certainly drives me nuts. Nowhere in my statements did I say that one needs to spend lots of money on anything to produce good, interesting, and/or thought provoking theatre. But I cannot stand by and have it implied that actors are the center of the theatrical universe. Theatre is a collaborative effort. Everyone does their part regardless of how many or few elements are part of the show. When each person does their job well then a good production comes forth. I have seen bad actors rise up to good under wonderful direction. I have seen great actors put in awful performances due to bad direction or a script that just won't work no matter what you do with it. I have witnessed poor tech quality that gummed up otherwise great shows to the point of no redemption.
Certainly you are correct that there is lots of big budget schlock out there - anything by Andrew Loyd Webber for example from "Cats" on. One of the WORST shows I ever had to sit through was the touring show of "Phantom" at the Kennedy Center Opera House. If I had had to pay for the tickets I would have demanded my money back. It, like most of Webber's stuff, is all about the wonderful effects. I can appreciate a good set as much as anyone since good set building put food on our table and paid our bills for five years but I would have preferred to have a twenty minute demonstration of the set and lights and a costume parade rather than have to endure that repetitive music and totally lame script. Sorry for the tangent there...
The point is that good or bad theater can happen on any stage or venue but it is about the harmony of the collaboration.

The second comment I can't get out of my head:

Rick said "I saw more bad theatre at the Shakespeare Theatre than just about any other theatre in the country."

Really? I am curious as to your definition of "bad theatre".
I have seen some of the best productions ever at the Shakespeare Theatre. "Cyrano" was amazing with the entire audience in tears. It made the wonderful Barksdale production look like a comedy in comparison - even though Bridgewater and everyone else put in fine performances it just couldn't touch the superior quality of the Shakespeare Theatre version. "Julius Ceaser" was phenomenal with its modern social commentary thrown in with the Rodney King staged references and mix of modern and traditional costumes. In your favor, Rick, I did see a horrible "Othello" in which I left at intermission but for the most part everything I have seen there was top notch. I will admit that I have not been in the last three years but it is difficult to imagine that Michael Kahn has allowed any major dip in quality. I will make a point to see some shows there this season to compare.
Rick also said "Studio is highly overrated". Hmmm. I had a season subscription at Studio last year and thought everything I saw to be at least as good as the best shows I see here in Richmond. Not the top shows I've seen in Richmond (Syringa Tree, I Am My Own Wife, Urinetown, The Full Monty) but definitely the upper level. Perhaps part of my love of DC theatre is the lack of anger I feel when I see a pretty full house with a seemingly socially and racially mixed audience in attendance. Who knows but I am interested in more details in regards to these comments.


Andrew Hamm said...

For the sake of argument I'm going to ask this question: How well would a play be produced with a gorgeous set, fantastic lighting, amazing costumes, but no actors at all? You could drape the costumes over the furniture, change the lighting every few minutes, have stage hands in blackouts change the costumes hanging on the set... Two hours of that with an intermission would be a unique experience for an audience.

Three things are at the center of the theatrical universe:

1) Scripts

2) Actors

3) Audience

That is in no way to imply that tecchnical elements of theatre are in any way inferior, undesirable, or unimportant, and I want to be very clear that I love and cherish the work that designers, technicians, and running crew do. Just ask Rebecca Cairns what I think about costumes! And my constant pain working for Richmond Shakespeare is that I can't manuipulate the lighting, which is my favorite technical element of all.

But you simply can't light and costume a script without actors to speak the lines and embody the ideas. That's just a fact. Heck, even the script isn't absolutely necessary for a show to be performed. The actors alone are the one thing that is not optional for a piece of theatre to exist. So I'm not going to imply "that actors are the center of the theatrical universe." I'm going to state it as demonstrably true.

On the other hand, I also think that Cats and The Phantom of the Opera are beautifully-composed shows full of wonderful spectacle and sublime music. I've seen each one in both the UK and USA, including a wonderful performance of Phantom at the Kennedy Center Opera House around 1990 and SPARC's delightful Cats last summer.

So that's where we get into the #3 item: audience. It's all about what they come to see, and in modern American theatre, especially since the 1930s, people want to see large and small, community and Broadway, innovative and predicable all. One man's shlock is another man's delight.

Anonymous said...

This summer's Hamlet, Richard III a few years ago, Peer Gynt, Henry V, Stacy Keach as MacBeth...what I see at the Shakespeare Theatre, almost everytime I go there, is the perfect definition of Peter Brook's "Deadly Theatre". It is beautiful and cold and lifeless and souless and most of the bad stuff I have seen has been directed by Michael Kahn, who I personally believe is perhaps the most overrated theatre practitioner ever. I actually think the Shakespeare Theatre does better work when their guest directors are directing: Joanne Akalitis's Trojan Women, I would argue (of course without seeing it cuz I am here in Kentucky) that Gayle Edward's Edward II will be vastly superior to Kahn's Tamburlaine.

What I see at the Shakespeare Theatre is the deadening of the art to reaffirm audience expectations...they want TV stars, pretty sets and costumes and now they have an $89 million building that will serve as their high art ghetto. No one is challenged, nothing is at stake. It's like Ferris Bueller's definition of Cameron's house: "It's very beautiful and very cold and you're not allowed to touch anything."

I also once heard Michael Kahn described as nothing more than "a certain TheatreVirginia artistic director with a bigger budget" and I would tend to agree with that assessment. (Insert your own former TVA AD here).

The theatre I am most sorry to see lose its way is Arena Stage. Arena was/is my alltime favorite theatre company, it's where I interned and it used to have this wonderful pluralistic international feel to it. Now it's become a community theatre with a major LORT theatre budget.

Also, as I sit at the alter of Brook, there are only 2 things at the center of my theatrical universe: the actor and the audience. You can strip away all other elements of design, direction, even playwrighting, but you cannot make due without the actor and the audience.

Finally, my rant about Shakespeare and Arena aside, given my druthers, I would rather be in DC than Richmond. I love Richmond and will always credit it with getting me my start in the business but there is far more going on in DC. Just look at the League of DC theatres website to see the variety and breadth of work being done. Of course, it should be that way, DC is the freakin' capital and it is a major city, Richmond is a state capital and a mid-sized city, in the south no less. There is a ton more stuff happening in Richmond than there is here in LexVegas so please don't everyone in Richmond get offended that I prefer DC and tell me to move there...

I'm going to get a Christmas tree...have a great day...

BTW, I don't hate on production values either, my multimedia production of Hamlet that closed here in Lexington last month is being featured in American Theatre magazine's production notebook section next sure to check it out...


Anonymous said...

Rick and Andrew are absolutely right. More than once have I sat in the Shakespeare Theatre's house (TST for short) and felt Brook's 'deadly theatre' passage quintessentially at play... and reinforcing unfortunate stereotypes. But not always. I have also loved their work, mostly due to Floyd King, TST's consummate clown---and a wonderful actor.

But Rick, yes! That Peer Gynt, great example. And do you mean the Harry Hamlin H5 and Patrick Stewart Othello?

I remember being especialy appalled by a Hamlet with Wallace Acton. The actor himself is likeable. However here was yet another gloomy Dane who never talked to us, wearing yet another puffy-shouldered white blouse, paired with a shrieking Gertrude whose humanity we could not access. I don't remember Ophelia at all. Great set, great lights, nobody cared. I believe it was Gale Edwards' production, whom I respect despite that Hamlet. TST's current Edward II is another Acton-Edwards pairing.

Contrast that with the same actor (Acton) as Gloucester in the Henry VI conflation--10 years ago now. He riveted audiences---with terrific use of direct address. He was fantastic, leaping off the Lansburgh stage, charging through the audience on his final exit, something I never thought I'd see them do. It was a great premonitory transformation into the Richard III to come.

Lastly, Michael Kahn's amazing "Lear," with Ted van Griethuysen in the 2000 season was a marvel. I remember being physically, palpably chilled heading into the intermission, though the theatre was comfortable; it's the only time that's ever happened to me in the theatre. That production also featured a deaf Cordelia, Monique Holt; the fool interpreted her signed lines. The only time she acutally spoke was to answer Lear's moment of reclamation, as he realizes Cordelia was his only truly loving daughter--Holt responded: "I am, I am," and the entire audience burst into tears. Something I'd never seen before and haven't since.

In the end, the effects of the Lear first-act climax were achieved by actors-and-director working with impressive design elements; the effects of the far more moving moment late in the same play a product of two great actors willing to risk, to allow themselves complete vulnerability, bolstered by a great script, and received by a great audience.

What a night in the theatre.

PS to Rick: (Congrats on the Am. Thtr. piece! Say hello to Jack.)

Anonymous said...

Mary, I'm so sorry you missed Shirlington Theatre's production of Urinetown. Yes, I saw the production you adored so much at the Mill...but you would have flipped 3x for Shirlington's version. Add them to your D.C. theatres to check out.
Rick, to me Arena is somewhat like your Shakespeare Theatre favorite productions at Arena tend to be directed by guest artists, not AD Molly Smith. Again, to each his own everyone, but please don't knock a 2 hour drive to treat yourself to some other theatre companies once in a while. Yes, there are some D.C. duds once in a while but c'mon, Richmond theatre has their misfires too.

Anonymous said...


I am a fan of Acton's but it was his Richard III a few years ago that I found to be completely featured at one point little Wally Acton throwing our buddy James Denvil across the stage in a moment of such ridiculous that my willing suspension of disbelief was permanently suspended! I will grant you the Van Griethuysen was pretty terrific. I didn't see the Stewart Othello but I was not a fan of the Hamlin Henry V, which was playing there when I was interning at Arena.

Anon, I think Molly Smith is problematic to say the least and I think she has steered Arena on a very narrow course, one that is an abject betrayal of the history of Arena Stage and the legacy of Zelda Fichandler.

Grant-Did you see the Hamlet this summer? Sigh...I will say hi to Parrish, I am seeing him tonight at a party. He was a terrific Polonius and Grave Digger and he is currently in rehearsals directing David Mamet's Boston Marriage for us. I am glad we got him out here...


Anonymous said...

Speaking of commenting on comments, can you translate this one for me a bit more:

"Perhaps part of my love of DC theatre is the lack of anger I feel when I see a pretty full house with a seemingly socially and racially mixed audience in attendance."

Do you feel anger when you go see shows in Richmond if the house is not full and racially mixed? I'm not sure I understand where that is coming from...I have friends who work at Arena and have been saying for years the audience there is getting older and whiter by the season...I know what I saw at the Shakespeare Theatre when I saw Hamlet this summer...alot of white folks! Who were significantly older than me! Of course that is one night at one show, I can't really generalize over that...

Please explain...


Anonymous said...

Rick, no the Hamlet I think was Acton in the 2001-02 season.

Stewart's Othello was good even though the Iago was weak, oddly enough.

Sidenote: Best Iago I've seen was Martin Kildaire in 2002 at Utah Shakes. Same quality of wrapping the audience around his little finger...and knowing it.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Just for sake of argument and for a little fun, because I find Andrew's passion to be incredible, I want to point out Albee's Box as a piece of theatre with no actors. There is a box. And a voiceover, which these days, really could be computer generated. Did Brecht do something with no actors? I seems that he would have. And I'm sure there had to be some avant garde stuff with no actors.

Point: Really the only requirement for theatre to occur is an audience and a stimulus?

Hmmm...maybe I'm just being wacky, could be the cold medicine talking. (This is veering way to far into the territory of "What is art?" Hmmm...'Art' by Yasmina Reza, anyone?

I just always run from putting theatre in a box(way to bring it back around, huh).

That's all.

Now I shall go plan my theatre trip to DC to check out some hopefully inspiring theatre.

Andrew Hamm said...

TLH, I didn't even think of Box. But the voice-over is still an actor, I suppose. Even if I grant the audience-stimulus premise, which I gladly do (I love avant garde theatre), you have to acknowledge that actors-with-no-tech theatre outnumbers tech-without-actors theatre by approximately ninety-five kazillion to one.

Hamilin was terrible in Henry V. I loved Fluellen and the Frenchmen with giant heels, though. David Leong choreographed!

hoosier steve said...

I have been a lighting designer my entire adult life, I have worked on close to 100 productions as a technician. I say this to stress the many reasons that I would never say tech is not important.
However I too must agree with Andrew, the actor is the center. When it comes down to it what we are doing is telling a story. The how we tell it is what changes from show to show. The person, or persons telling that story are the center of all that the rest of us do.
Mind you there have been many a time that I have been over heard "Man if only we could do this without the actors screwing it all up." The reality is that the rest of us usually do more to screw it all up.
I love avant garde theatre, but there is a difference between theatre and performance art. Don't ask me to explain it, but I know it when I see it.

Anonymous said...

RE - That Hamlin Henry V fight:

I was there (at Carter Baron) the day that Falstaff's page backed up too far as the French prepared to murder him and fell into the pit. Initially I thought it had been a great stunt....but then he started screaming.

He survived, but with (not sure) a broken leg and ribs.

Anonymous said...

If you consider the Phantom of the Opera "bad theatre", I sincerely pity you. (I, too, saw the touring production at the Kennedy Center last summer and absolutely loved it.) Phantom is one of the most beautifully-composed musicals I have ever seen.

It takes a very interesting person to say something like that about one of the most beloved musicals of all time....

Dave T said...

I love this kind of discussion, though I agree with TLH that it is too easy to veer into "what is art" territory (how about Beckett's "Breath" -- I guess the "breather" is an actor, too. Hmmm...) Andrew's "95 kazillion to one" resulted in me doing a lovely hot chocolate spit-take across my dining room table.

Not to get all 80s, but I tend to think holistically about this stuff. I loved the all-encompassing design of "Cats" when I saw it in NYC because I thought it really served the material well (such as it was/is) and resulted in a great theatrical experience. I guess that's always one of my primary questions: does the production -- from design, to acting, to venue -- serve the script well. Call me a Neanderthal, but the show I still love perhaps more than any other is "Les Mis," partially for the huge mechanical barricade, yes, but mostly for small moments within the outsized production -- the bishop giving Valjean the candlesticks, Eponine singing about the rain... But then one of the first shows I ever saw on Broadway was Frank Langella, Jill Clayburgh and Raul Julia in "Design for Living" and it was magic, all on a nearly bare set with just that smart script and three amazing actors.

I haven't seen a whole lotta outa town Shakespeare, unfortunately, except for one of the worst shows I ever saw in my life which was an appalling "Titus Andronicus" in Colorado Springs, of all places. I guess I should venture up to DC more often just to try to keep up with you guys...

Thespis' Little Helper said...

I thought I might leave Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber alone, but since he keeps cropping up, I really have to say that I find Phantom to be a spectacular pile of stinking commercial bull. Having never seen the show and only being appalled by the incredibly repetitive music (which goes far beyond a recurring "theme"), most if not all of which is mediocre, melodically speaking (like much, if not most of his work), elevetated occassionally by the superior lyricists with whom he works, along with production photos, and a few video clips, perhaps my evaluation is not as completely informed as it might be.

However, if beloved has come to translate as "commercial cash cow" so be it. Let's call Cats(however incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful makeup and costume wise) beloved and defend that. Hell, let's just call them great theatre.

To echo language here: if you find Phantom to be one of the most beautifully-composed musicals you have ever seen, then I sincerely pity you. See more musicals.

Les Mis for one, to tie in with Dave's recent comment. One could say also uses a melody more than a couple of times in the same score, but in a way that really tells the story and refers back to earlier in the telling of it.

Many other brilliant pieces of musical theatre lie waiting for you to hear something beautifully and perhaps brilliantly composed. Hello, Again by Michael John LaChiusa, The Last 5 Years by Jason Robert Brown, John and Jen by Andrew Lippa...oh, but none of those were cash cows or on Broadway, so maybe they don't count...

Andrew Hamm said...

Discussing The Phantom of the Opera in theatrical circles is often similar to discussing religion or politics. Everyone is married to their own perspective and no one's mind is going to be changed.

That said, I love The Phantom of the Opera, I have seen many musicals, I am a musician, and I have in fact written musicals. I hear a lot of the "just one theme repeated over and over again" argument against the show, and I'm afraid I just don't begin to see that argument. Listen to the Entr'acte of the show for evidence. There are fourteen or fifteen themes throughout the show, all referring to specific characters or situations, and all very specifically placed in the score. I never feel like I haven't heard enough melodic variety in a Webber score; instead I marvel at how well he guides the first-time audience member through complex story and character.

Don't hate the playa just because he's successful. Mamma Mia is a cash cow. Phantom is a piece of art.

That doesn't mean you have to like it, of course. Maybe this is more a matter of the difference between "I don't like this" and "This is poor art," a distinction we artists often have a very difficult time with. I'm not crazy about Sondheim, but I recognize his impact and don't try to denigrate his work because it doesn't resonate with me.

Andrew Hamm said...

One final thing about the score of Phantom. It is my experience that most people who love the show saw it before they heard the music, and most people who hate it heard it first and then saw it, or never saw it. (Because why would you spend a hundred bucks to see a show you hate, right?)

For me, every time I listen to the show I am brought back to the summer of 1988, being 16 years old in London and watching this glorious music swirl around the most amazing theatrical spectacle I had ever seen. And when the Phantom cries, "You alone can make my heart take flight / It's over now, the music of the night," I just cry and cry. But I don't hear the awful Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman (who always sounds like she's swallowing a small egg when she sings) in my mind's ear, I head the amazing Dave Willetts and Claire Moore, far superior voices from the '88 London show. Willetts came to Phantom from playing Valjean in Les Mis - which I'll grant is a superior score in many ways - and Moore went on to play Mary Magdalene in London's revival of Superstar.

I went back to London in spring of 1989 with my friend Jenny King, and we saw the show again. Then I brought my girlfriend Tracy to see it at the Kennedy Center a year later. Nothing will ever compare to that first experience, going in completely cold the way I did, at such a formative age artistically.

I'd really love to hear a Phantom CD without Crawford and Brightman. I know there are some out there, I need to get one. I just really don't like their voices.

So here I am arguing the merits of a show that is all about the tech! Ha ha ha ha ha! Try putting this show up in street clothes on a bare stage!!

(Though I maintain Evita or Chess could be done with less than 10 actors and no set...)

Anonymous said...

Well, then, I suppose you must pity me, thespis' little helper, as I find "The Phantom of the Opera" to be one of the most emotionally moving and soul changing theaterical experiences of my life. :)

I have seen the show 3 times - once in Canada, once on tour, and once on Broadway. Each time, I have sat on the edge of my seat, and sobbed my way through the ending. Partially because I identify with the character and it touches something in my soul, but also because it is a well-crafted show both dramatically and musically. The show, despite popular belief, is not all special effects. These elements add to the dramatic storytelling, but at the core, the show is about the story and the characters.

As for being appalled at the incredibly repetitive music, well, that's kind of what happens in opera - a "theme", or variation on a "theme." It's also what helps imprint the melody in people's heads. People leave the theater remembering the beautiful music, because they've heard it several times throughout the evening. With today's contemporary musical "schlock", you get one jab at a melody that's often all over the place, and hope that you can remember how it goes.

Is the music Sondheim, or Michael John LaChiusa, or Andrew Lippa? Absolutely not. Frankly, LaChiusa's work does nothing for me - I find no substance and great melody in his work. That's simply my opinion - if you enjoy his work, great! I don't judge what touches you, and ask that you don't judge what touches others. All I know is that a show such as "Phantom" must be doing something right, and must have some sparkle of something meaningful if it's lasted nearly 20 years on the Great White Way.

Is it a "cash cow?" I suppose, figuratively. But they recouped their investment years ago, and the show could very well have closed ages ago. People still come see it; families bring their children; and people find the story of a man who can only express himself through music life-changing.

Part of the problem with contemporary musical theater is that the music is simply not written well and tries to be too many things at once, hence being fairly unmemorable. I enjoy certain composers - I like Andrew Lippa's work, I enjoy some of Jason Robert Brown (love "Parade") - but look at all the shows that end up in NYC, running for only months at a time. These shows don't last because the source material (script) is bad, and the music is awful. I'm waiting to see what movies people want to turn into musicals next...."Jurrasic Park The Musical"; "Kindergarten Cop The Musical", and of course, lest we forget, "Turner & Hooch - THE MUSICAL!"

Again, these are MY views. I am simply sharing them. Not everyone loves Andrew Lloyd Webber. I don't find him to be a God or anything of musical theater. I can't stand "Jesus Christ Superstar." But "Phantom" touches me emotionally. That's all I can say.

So, before you call something a "stinking pile of commercial bull", give it a chance and go see it for yourself. It might change your life as well!

Anonymous said...

Andrew - if you want to hear the way the Phantom has always meant to be sung, purchase and invest in the Australian cast recording with Anthony Warlow in the title role. Perhaps one of the greatest living baritone voices ever to sing the part, hearing him sing the part will bring you back to those great memories you have.

Thespis' Little Helper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thespis' Little Helper said...

"- but look at all the shows that end up in NYC, running for only months at a time. These shows don't last because the source material (script) is bad, and the music is awful."

This is such an absurd comment that I feel that pointing it out is enough.

"give it a chance and go see it for yourself"

Andrew stated it best when he wrote
"(Because why would you spend a hundred bucks to see a show you hate, right?)"

One last point of contention:
"[I] ask that you don't judge what touches others."

Ummm...did you just ask someone to not express their opinion about theatre on a theatre blog?

Andrew, it seems interesting that there is another show of note that people (the ones that I have encountered, at least) that really love the show all saw the original production before the soundtrack was released. A Little Night Music. I adore Sondheim's work, but this one falls rather flat with me (his score, as well as the book, perhaps especially the book) and I've encountered several people as of late that really love it, but all, so far, saw the original.

So I can't dispute the moving nature of the production (of Phantom, of the theatricality and it's effectiveness.

But then, it seems kind of like liking Grease when you're in the theatre watching it and experiencing it. But perhaps if it had been attempted as just a recording...who knows? (Talk about bad books of musicals! haha)

Last thing:
Anthony Warlow = God
anything you can get your hands on him singing, do so. Generally imports, so more expensive, but wow...what a voice.
Great concept album of Jekyll & Hyde with Carolee Carmello (Tony-nominated for Jason Robert Brown's aforementioned Parade) and Linda Eder.
Yeah...he's good stuff.

( more...Sarah Brightman, Michael Crawford=blech. Andrew, your description of her voice was...yeah...I laughed and frowned at the same time because it's so true.)


Anonymous said...

TLH, Jason wasn't asking you not to express your opinions. He was asking you not to judge his. See the difference?

It should be okay that TLH doesn't like something. And that Jason does. God, if we all had the SAME opinion of everything then I guess this blog wouldn't even exist.

As for my opinion of "Phantom" (which I know you've all been dying to hear, LOL)....

It's okay. hahahahahaaaaaaaaa. Some of the music is quite lovely. Some of it is so-so. The story--which is not Webber's--has been around forever, has been retold in many different ways, each one always touching. Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, well, those are the only two I can think of but I'm sure that there are more. Which I guess goes to show that any GOOD story is always worth repeating. And worth making into a musical (?). Just kidding.

Thespis' Little Helper said... to clear up the bitchy part of

My initial comment was intended for anonymous who wrote
'If you consider the Phantom of the Opera "bad theatre", I sincerely pity you.'

My lashing out ended up being more broadly poking that I had intended.

And Jason and I, I think, just cleared the air via email, so all is right with the world! (fun comment, not sarcasm)

I'll try to breath before commenting next time! ;)

Le Synge Bleu said...

oh my god- that richard III at the shakespeare theatre was PAINFULLY horrific! thanks slick, for bringing back one of my worst theatrical memories, though i do disagree, i think the actor who played richard (who i actually think might have been wallace acton ?) was wonderful- it was just the over the top direction of the entire piece as well as piss poor casting in all other roles (especially the female roles) and such masturbatory conceptualization that was half assedly realized that ruined the show.

i'm not a fan of phantom, but i am also generally moved less by a musical than a play. however, the interesting thing is that everyone is hooked by a different lure. that's fine and dandy. my personal opinion is there was a reason aristotle put spectacle so low on the totem pole.

i think the original i am my own wife is an excellent example of what great theatre can be and how little is needed to make oftentimes the simpler the better, it was beautifully moving and highly effective theatre with very little extraneous distractions. and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Anonymous said...

Sara J...

I like Wallace Acton as an actor, I just didn't care for that production at all...

Sorry, we started talking about Phantom and my eyes glazed over and I checked out a bit...Great, it's been running for 20+ years, lots of people go see it...that describes McDonalds as well but the food there ain't any good...However, what do I know? I love The Secret Garden, who am I to judge...

I will say this about Phantom, it is vastly superior to Legally Blonde, starring Lexington's own Laura Bell Bundy, who we hear about repeatedly ad nauseum in our beautiful little town...

I think the real problem with Webber is the people who came after him. Kinda like how Jaws and Star Wars begot (is that a word?) crap like Independence Day, the success of Lloyd Webber gave us Frank Wildhorn and I would have to believe, David Leong not withstanding, we can all agree he sucks..."This is the moment!"

Speaking of musicals, She Loves Me plays for two more weeks here at AGL...does that title bring back memories for anyone in Richmond??


Thespis' Little Helper said...

Love the McDonald's reference.

Love The Secret Garden.

Enjoy Legally Blonde the Musical way too much, while also acknowledging that the score and the book are really very atrocious. But I really really really like Laura Bell Bundy- perhaps more so for her charm than her talent.

Frank Wildhorn...hmmm...kind of a fan when he teamed with the fantastic Mr. Bricusse for Jekyll and Hyde, but...other than that, I can go there with ya.

I think I should bow out of this thread for a while for fear of being a bit too obsessed with how much I love this blog. hahaha

hoosier steve said...

Speaking of powerful theatre, I recall a show in late 2001, Sara J on stage sitting at a table for quite awhile (1/2 hour if I recall). The lighting was simple, the stage was the Little Theatre, the show bash by Niel Labute. I know that not many of you saw it, we had some horrible timing with that production, but it was powerful. The point being that powerful theatre has nothing to do with the budget or the space (wasn't that what started this whole discussion). The power came from a wonderful actor telling a story. This also stresses the central quality of the actor.
I am not a huge Webber fan, actually really hate most of his music, but I can acknowledge the importance and place for what he does. More people will see that show and Cat and Lion King, etc etc etc than will see a show about Mormons killing their kids and beating up gay people. But there is room for both.
I freaking loved She Loves Me (at Barksdale, no fly space). Again I am no more of a musical fan than Rick or Sara, but that show was a lot of fun, and did reach me on an emotional level.

blogva said...

Really great discussion! I am enjoying all of it. Sorry I don't get on during the day because this looks like so much fun!

Grant- I saw the Hamlet with Hamlin and was not so crazy about him but loved the concepts behing the production ie: he newscasters and he crazy costumes on the French. I missed Patrick Stewart in Othello. I don't even remember who was in the production I saw but I do remember just wanting to vomit.

Anonymous- Signature is the company I think you are referring to in Shirlington. I used to live in Fairlington and could walk to Signature in good weather. My husband and I had season tickets and enjoyed it a great deal. I have neglected it in the last several years, I confess. The last show I saw there was On the Twentieth Century, I think. I would happily take a road trip to see a show there if anyone is interested.

Rick- Ditto on the congrats on your ATM coverage!

Andrew- loved your summary of your 9:47 am blog about different types of theatre existing to suit different tastes. I am not a McDonald's fan which might explain my aversion to Webber.

Anyway, Have a great night everyone.
Chat soon.

Andrew Hamm said...

Andrew Lloyd Webber = McDonald's.

That's the kind of high-quality thinking we do around this blog. Who says Richmond is a small-time theatre town?!

Anonymous said...

raises hand

Andrew Hamm said...

rhetorical question
a question asked solely to produce an effect or to make an assertion and not to elicit a reply, as “What is so rare as a day in June?”

Anonymous said...



3. making an exaggerated outward show; ostentatious, as see above.

Andrew Hamm said...

Aaaaand thank you so very much for proving everything I've ever said about anonymous web posting.

Robinitaface said...

I leave you guys alone for - not even - 2 weeks, and look what happens!

Looks like you've been busy in here, Andrew!

Anonymous said...

no disagreement you offer to the comment

work essential for survival

free speech, no consequences= a fantasy

my protector=my glass house