Posts Tagged ‘Richard Fleeshman’

Review – Urinetown – St James Theater

February 26, 2014

It’s tempting for me to write this review using as many tasteless puns as I can fit in. But I think I’ll hold off on that for now. Instead, I’ll share what was going through my mind as I watched Urinetown at the St James Theater …

“Right, so, okay, we’ve got a dystopian future here. Water shortage. Major tragedy as people are being extorted to use toilets as it’s no longer legal to have them at home. Um, but wait … nobody’s heard of a chamber pot? Oh god, this must have been written by Americans, right? Americans who believe in the God-given right to pee into huge quantities of water?

“Oh, look, now they’re ironically/post-modernically addressing the audience, actually talking about how to plot a musical and what they’re going to reveal in the second act. Pity they can’t get anywhere near the levels of irony of Starlight‘s ‘Poppa’s Blues.’ Oh, wait, God, so people are being brutalized by the police, so it’s supposed to be grim and funny and post-ironic? 1984 meets Thoroughly Modern Millie?

“But who would ever have wanted to see this thing? It’s not like it’s got really good songs or anything. Wait, is this actually a modern-day Springtime for Hitler? This show obviously was designed to be a flop! Who would want to pay to see a show that features people pissing on stage! It’s all a big joke!

“But wait, maybe it’s a big joke on me. I’m the one who paid full price for the ticket. On the other hand, I only paid 20 quid to sit here in the back row and I’m not really feeling bothered that I can’t see the heads of the people on the upper half of the set. Man, I can’t believe this was the same price I paid to see Finian’s Rainbow. Now there’s a show with some music.

“Heh, they got the joke about Urine Good Company. Hard not to make that one. But how come they missed making a joke about spending a penny? Oh yeah, American. And I can’t really say the producers pissed their money away because they certainly got in some talent to do this show. Rosanna Hyland, now she’s got some voice, great choice for the heroine. Jenna Russell, wow, I remember her from Merrily We Roll Along, she’s got pipes and is quite an actress, nice to see her again. And Richard Fleeshman? Is there really no reason for his character to take off his shirt? It would probably add another star to this show … Oh wait, interval, I bet there’s going to be a line for the toilets.”

“Right, somehow I made it back. It’s not wretched, right, I just am bored. Oh wait! Finally, a good song! And another one, one right after another! It almost makes up for … well, no it doesn’t. And people are really, really cheering. I guess they were desperate for something to like.

“Oh, god, finally, it’s all over. I guess the writers never read anything about composting toilets, either. Man, considering the way the utility companies screw over the citizens with the government’s blessing – saying they ought to “make less tea” or “share showers” to save energy, like staying warm in your house in the winter isn’t a matter of human rights – you’d think they could have made a really crisp, poignant show about corporate greed and government by the plutocracy. Instead, this show just feels stale and boring. But hey, at least I didn’t spend much on it, and I can get out the door quickly and go home.”

(This review is for a preview performance that took place on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014. Urinetown continues through May.)

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Spoiler-free review – Ghost the Musical – Picadilly Theater

July 5, 2011

I was sure I was the only person in London who had not seen Ghost, and while I’m sure that’s not exactly true, I think it’s important that I write a review for those people out there who have not seen the movie, so that they can approach it with the kind of open-mindedness that I had when I went to the show. I therefore pledge that in this review I will give away no plot points you can’t figure out just from looking at the poster, because I believe it’s fun to go to a show and not know what is going to happen already. (I’ll do a more detailed review with plenty of info about the plot later for you aficionados.)

Right. So … Ghost is a musical … love is very important in it … and there is a ghost! (I don’t want to say who the ghost is because I didn’t even know THAT much when I went.) It’s set in New York, and while the movie was in 1990, the stage version seems pretty appropriate to now, with mild updating such as people using cell phones and digital cameras all of the time. I had some problems with some of the office scenes as the costuming was too London-like, but the subways and streets of Brooklyn were all done really well. I also didn’t have a single accent bobble, probably the first time I’ve seen a show set in America played by a (partially) English cast where I didn’t cringe at misprounounced vowels.

While I found the musical part of this show not really my cup of tea (the lyrics were just terribly simplistic and the tunes were all forgettable – a great vice like Caissie Levy has cannot fix this problem), the story itself was actually very compelling. I was actually on the edge of my seat during the first act and found myself really wondering what act two was going to bring – something which very rarely happens to me. The themes of love, sadness, revenge, loneliness, and regret transcended the “this is a movie adaptation that we can now convince people to pay people to watch on stage” and made for something which I think was much more universally appealing. In addition, there were GREAT special effects, which left me and my group of friends scratching our heads in a “how did they do it kind of way.” While I would never want to see a show for the effects, the important thing for this is that they were all done so quietly and seamlessly that it allowed the “magic” to happen and for you/me (“the audience”) to just enjoy the story that was happening without having that grumbly let-down of “did you see the mirror under the land speeder just then.” In fact, though, the special effects were SO good that I’m recommending it to two lighting designers as an excellent example of state-of-the-art design.

While I would have voted for stronger songs, I can’t deny that this show was enjoyable and that the audience seemed to have a really fantastic time – crying (for real!) at the sad parts, standing and cheering at the end. And I thought it was a good night out. Overall I’m predicting this show will be successful, and if you’re looking for a good evening with your girlfriends or out of town guests, this is a very good example of what you can do with a solid budget and a top quality cast. It’ll be running for a long time, I’m sure. Enjoy!

(This review is for a preview that took place on Monday, July fourth, 2011. Official opening is July 19th.)