Monday, February 29, 2016

Weird Romance

This summer Ellen Greene reprised her signature role at the Encores concert of Little Shop of Horrors. The role of Audrey had been written for Faith Prince but a television contract prevented her from performing in the scheduled premiere. The role went to Ellen and history was made.

Ellen had already originated roles in several Off-Broadway musicals and would again. After co-starring in the Little Shop film she reunited with Alan Menken to play contrasting roles in Weird Romance. Both women were trapped inside machines and the shows emphasized ensemble rather than the star. Critics dismissed the show but there are some interesting ballads and comic numbers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Grey Gardens

The Fantasticks, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George are just a few musicals to make drastic changes in tone or setting between acts. It's a risky gamble that often invites audiences and critics to pick a side. When Grey Gardens transfered to Broadway in 2006 the critics hated act the original 1940's farce Act One. However they loved the second act which was based on the 1970's documentary, and bowed down to worship the star at the center: Christine Ebersole.

Watching this performance is the best argument I can think of for the survival of the American musical. ~ Ben Brantley, New York Times

When the show was revived in Sag Harbor in 2015 the praise went from a starring role to a supporting role played by Betty Buckley. They were still ambivalent about the show itself.

This summer Chicago's Goodman Theatre will premiere War Paint, a new musical by the same creative team. Once again the plot will focus on a feud between two real world figures (Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden) and once again there will be great star power (Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone). Time will tell whether the book and score win as much praise as the featured divas.