Well, this day has totally gotten away from me. I wanted to delve further into “Something Intangible” but won’t have much time. So I’ll talk briefly about the negatives in my review, since those always seem to be what people want to talk about.
1. Disney specificity. So obviously the plot of the play follows the development of “Fantasia” at Disney. The brothers are surrogates for Ray and Walt. You can imagine Wistonville becoming Disneyland. “Grandioso” is the analog for “Fantasia.” Even the curly script of Disney’s autograph are mimicked on the water tower.
But this play seems to want to be more than just a pseudo-biography of the Disney brothers. The playwright talks about Theo and Vincent Van Gogh in his notes on the show. And the interplay of envy and love are wonderfully explored during the course of the show. This created a weird tension for me. After a point, every detail borrowed from the Disney’s story diluted the generalizability of the deeper themes, in my opinion. It made it easier to think, “this is just a story about the Disneys” instead of “this is a story exploring fundamental dynamics that might exist between all brothers / siblings.”
2. Creasy’s von Meyerhoff. My mention of Mr. Creasy’s performance led to a very interesting and edifying conversation between Frank and I. Among the things Frank related to me: “The stage direction for [von Meyerhoff’s] first entrance describes him as a man who is ‘theatrical even when standing still’. Clearly, he's …a man who stands out even amongst crazy artistic Hollywood types.
“…beyond that, in the context of the play, I believe (my opinion alone) that there's a reason Bruce Graham had one actor double in these supporting roles as opposed to having a sixth actor: Bartelli and Von Meyerhoff are even more extreme examples of the distinctions between Dale and Tony. Bartelli is even less attuned to creative matters than Dale, while Von Meyerhoff "out-Wistons" Tony's extreme behavior! The duality of the brothers is emphasized and underscored through the supported role doubling.”
This is all great background and perceptive analysis and I appreciate Frank sharing it with me. As I told him, the von Meyerhoff character didn't work for me because I could imagine all of the other characters as being real, even Tony (who just seems like a calmer version of Charlie Sheen, ya know?) But von Meyerhoff just seemed a bit cartoony to me; I didn’t quite believe in von Meyerhoff like I did the other characters. I don’t necessarily mean that Mr. Creasy was bad in the role; he may have been doing exactly what the playwright intended or what his director guided him toward. But because I didn’t believe in him, the scenes with von Meyerhoff took me out of me suspension of disbelief.
So that’s the quick ‘n dirty on “Something Intangible.” I could heap some more praise on Mr. Maupin or Mr. Reider but that’ll have to wait for another day. If you want another take on the show, here’s Matthew Miller’s review at GayRVA.
Did you hear that the Oscar-winning director of “The King’s Speech” is in talks to direct a musical film adaptation of “Les Mis?” I don’t know whether to be excited or scared by this.
Also, both “Quilters” and “Devil Boys from Beyond” open this weekend. Another pair perfect for a mash-up. Can you imagine “Devil Quilters from Beyond…the Prairie” or something… Could be funny.