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GUILTY SECRETS -- AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
2 October 2009
Every once in awhile you come across questions that ask what your "guilty secret" movie is. I can never think of one, but yesterday I did.
I really like both versions of Legally Blonde. Something just very endearing about Reese Witherspoon's character as she morphs from sorority airhead into a surprising effective attorney, without losing her addiction to the color pink, her obsession with fashion and hair products and, of course, little Bruiser, the dog who is the star of Legally Blonde 2.
When they made the movie into a big Broadway musical, I had my misgivings, and from rumors I'd heard from the theatrical cognoscenti my misgivings were well founded.
Unfortunately, we are in an age without writers like Rodgers and Hammerstein or any of the teams who gave us the golden age of the Broadway musical. Now it seems that the new shows are reworking of movies, with Disney dominating the scene. Or Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has his moments, but despite his fame, can't match the Masters. (Sondheim is an acquired taste for many.)
So I wasn't really excited to be going to review the touring production of the stage show last night. Walt was at a meeting, so I went with my colleague, Jeff, who would be writing a review for another publication.
Neither of us was really very excited about being there. Jeff wondered if, given the type of show that it was, the Sacramento audience would be the same type that we usually saw for other musicals.
That question was answered pretty quickly when a woman sat down next to me, reeking of cheap perfume (I know it was cheap because I recognized it from the days long, long ago when I used to wear scents) and hauled a huge box of licorice red vines out of her purse and began to share them with her companion. Fortunately she got the cellophane on the box all opened before the overture started. And at least she didn't have popcorn in her purse!
As for the show...well, let's just say that if Jeff and I weren't conscientious, principled critics, we would have gladly left at intermission. I sent Walt a text message saying "You bettah off..." A group meeting was probably more enjoyable than this production.
Jeff said he was going to call it "Forgettably Blonde," and I described it in Gertrude Stein's terms: "There's no there there."
Oh, I won't say it wasn't terrible. The performances were quite good and the audience seemed to really be liking it (but then my seat mate was eating red vines by the handful--what can you expect?) but the songs were distinctly forgettable, with one or two exceptions. As I said in my review, it's like they got all the scenes of the movie into the stage show, but left out the heart. And the two dogs in the show were like afterthoughts. "Oh we need to have the dog in here somewhere. Let's have him run on here..."
There were also what I found to be offensive gay stereotypes and the expected jokes as a result. The audience laughed uproariously, but I was distinctly uncomfortable (and said so in my review).
Whenever anybody tells me how lucky I am to have this job, I tell them that the plus side of being a critic is that you get to see all the shows that come to town. The negative side is that you have to see every show that comes to town! I could easily have passed on this one. I'm sure there is an audience out there for it, but I'd rather watch the movie, thank you.
However, we are going to have another theatre experience in New York next month. We have been debating whether or not to go to the opening night of Jimmy's Zero Hour next month. It's not like we haven't already seen the show several times...but this is New York for heaven's sake, so I finally bit the bullet and sent money for tickets.
And as we will probably never have a reason to go to New York during the holiday season ever, ever again, I also paid a king's ransom and got tickets for the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall. Everyone tells me you should see this show at least once in your life.
Jimmy is coming off a successful run of Zero Hour in Washington, DC, where he seems to have had universally outstanding reviews. One can only hope he will take New York by storm as well. I have every expectation that he will.
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