Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Part Harmony, Part Two

Speaking of harmony, if you ever listen to the NPR radio show “Sound Check,” you may have heard about their songwriting contest. And you might have heard that the winning lyrics will be set to music by “Brooklyn-based” band One Ring Zero. And, if you’ve lived in Richmond for a while, you may remember that One Ring Zero actually was born at VCU with when cofounders Michael Hearst and Joshua Camp were going to school there. And this all ties into theater because ORZ really came to the forefront (OK, maybe just in my mind…) when they started accompanying Clay MacLoed Chapman’s Pumpkin Pie Show performances. So if you really want to bring this story full circle, you should submit some really good lyrics so a Richmond resident would WIN this contest. Go for it – what do you have to lose?

So furthermore on Side Show, here are a couple of things I really liked: during the Hilton sisters “coming out” number, Brett Ambler (as Buddy) was mouthing the words as the girls sang them. Similarly, when Violet’s wedding engagement is announced, Dustin Faltz (as Jake) was seething in the background. I think that kind of active engagement by players in the background really cements a good theatrical experience. (I can still remember being fairly aghast when the reverse has happened, like the second time I saw “Les Miz” on Broadway and there were several bit players whose attentions were clearly wandering in some scenes.)

Though I enjoyed Side Show overall, I had mixed feelings about several aspects. Dustin Faltz has a very, very distinctive voice and there were times I loved it and times I didn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many words to express that feeling in my review. Essentially, the times I didn’t love his voice, I wasn’t sure if he was actually off-key (which is what it sounded like) or if I was just reacting to the specific nature of his voice. Maybe it’s not a technical-enough criticism but it’s how I felt.

I was also a bit confused by the characters of Terry and Buddy, maybe because they are essentially confused characters faced with mixed feelings in a truly unique situation (I don’t think even Savage Love has had a question about wooing conjoined twins…). Michael Hawke did a great job with Terry, though I was hoping for something that felt more like love in his feelings for Daisy. Mostly, I was getting lust – mixed in with that confusion stuff. And I would have liked to see a little more nuance with Buddy, maybe something more nakedly ambitious. Brett is so darn likeable on stage without even trying; a little more of the dark side would have made his character more interesting, in my opinion. I guess I’m saying I wanted Buddy to be meaner and Terry to be nicer. Whether the results with both of these characters has more to do with the show, the portrayals or the direction is hard for me to say; I can only say how it came across to me.

I wish Katrinah Lewis (as the Fortune Teller) had more to do during this show. She’s someone who really lights up the stage when she’s on it. And while we’re on the subject: I think Mr. Doran did his usual excellent job with the lighting design.

I could go on (and on and on…) but I’m sure that’s more than you ever wanted to know about how I felt about “Side Show” already. Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Katrinah Lewis has "it" - that certain magic and sparkle that always lights up the stage when she's on it, even as a background character. She knows how to command whatever she's doing, and is a true up and coming star to watch for.

One person whom I wish you had mentioned was Jason Marks, who played the Boss. I thought it was incredible to see Mr. Marks, who is known for his terrific singing voice and impeccable comedic timing, show a totally different and dark side of himself as an actor - something not many in this business get to do!

Hats off to the Mill for continuing to do brave, daring and new works. It's truly enriching and wonderful to see on the Richmond stage.

Thespis' Little Helper said...

Only barely related, but thought it was funny that you had a similar story about the second time you saw Les Miz on Broadway and I had the exact opposite experience the second time I saw it on tour.

During some HUGE company number (the stage was probably revolving or some huge Cameron Mackintosh craziness)...suffice it to say that there was a TON of stuff going on.

Madame Thenardier was upstage right (apparently my favorite place for my eyes to graze during big numbers, since I also have a fond memory of Judy Kaye upstage right in the Sweeney revival...anyway...), I just happened to look that way (I think her name was Amy or Aimee or something) -and not because she was drawing focus, just because I was looking around- and I literally laughed out loud! She was being absolutely HYSTERICAL! And nowhere close to being the focus of the scene. But being completely in character and investing her comic genius on what many would see as wasted, but it added so much to the fabric of the whole!

She rocked my world in that moment. I wish I remembered her name now so I could hunt her down and drop her a note...I'll work on that.