I’ve heard from at least three different individuals that “Reefer Madness” is a real hoot and shouldn’t be missed. It’s interesting to me that the last few shows that I’ve picked up the most significant buzz about have been the so-called “edgiest:” “Little Dog Laughed” at Barksdale, “Veronica’s Room” at CAT, and now “Reefer” at the Firehouse. It prompts many questions: do edgy shows spur people to do better work? Do these shows seem better because they grab and hold your attention? Are they just more fun to talk about? Will the dust-ups about them spur more people to actually attend performances?
One thing that I think is pretty ironic is that, while some other companies are doing “edgy” material, Richmond Triangle Players is doing a downright tame show right now with “The Two Svengalis.” As was probably evident in my review, I wasn’t blown away by this show. I have enjoyed both Mr. Morton and Ms. McMahon in other productions in the past and they both had their moments to shine in this production. But I think the script saddled the production with a somewhat basic problem: the portrayal of a quick rise to stardom. In my opinion, a show like this works best the more convinced an audience is that the songs and / or the performances portrayed would blow people away, that audiences throughout New York would be enraptured and clamoring for more (I found myself thinking about Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand in the different versions of “A Star is Born”). While some of the songs were amusing, none was transcendent and, while delivered well by Nancy and Kirk, they never knocked one out of the house. Maybe I missed something and the show was supposed to be campy. If that was the case, I don’t think it was quite campy enough because I didn’t pick up on it.
The most enjoyable parts of the show for me involved Nancy’s acting-while-singing. She does an awesome job at projecting attitude and feeling through her inflections and mannerisms and other subtle means. I enjoyed them a lot more than the more obvious bits involving being a flustered young housewife or a jaded, fading film star; Nancy did a good job with them, too, but again this is a script problem: obvious is kind of boring, to me at least. Because of the extremes that Nancy’s character goes through, Kirk’s Ricky is bound to suffer in comparison. He is somewhat forlorn, bitter and sarcastic in the beginning and he ends up there at the end. In between, I didn’t get a whole lot of sense of his excitement / anxiety / interest in their growing fame or anything that diverted significantly from the forlorn, bitter or sarcastic.
This is all just my opinion, of course. As I said in the review, there are several enjoyable bits in the show. In fact, in contrast to Ms. H’s opinion as stated in the T-D, I liked the “Man” medley. Anyone else have an opinion they’d like to share?
My thoughts are pretty scattered right now but I’ll try to gather the “Rosemary” –related ones in the next day or two.