Sunday, May 28, 2006

Pie anyone?

My brother, who hails from plebian Philly, was in dire need of a cultural shot in his arm and so I took him and this other dude I know from high school to a show on the Great White Way. Like the paranoid obsesser that I am, the first thing I did on Saturday morning was to wake my ass up and head over directly to the place where they put all this tamasha up.

Naturally, the Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick (of recent The Producers 'the movie' apathy) production of Niel Simon's The Odd couple was my first choice. But since I had unfortunately left my corporate card behind and therefore could not get discounts, I decided it was probably not worth the $100 ticket on the regular price. Hence, we gave the illustrious duo a miss and went to the next hottest thing playing -- to wit, Broadway's revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeny Todd.

It was witty, wicked and disturbing in parts and Sondheim's lyrics are incredible. And at $40 odd for almost first row tickets, it was a deal. The music was a bit of a letdown -- thou"...and a coffin...resurrected, in turn, as a judge's bench, a juliet balcony, a bar counter and a mountebank's stump"gh I should imagine it would be hard to set soulful tunes to that kind of verbal jugglery. But nevertheless, I like to come out a show humming a ditty -- nd Sweeny Todd does not really offer that. It has more of an operatic exchange -- high soprano squeaks riffing off short bursts of the leading man's baritone.

And I was surprised that they could do so much with a minimal set of 6 chairs, a piano and a coffin. The last was resurrected, in turn, as a judge's bench, a juliet balcony, a bar counter and a mountebank's stump.

What keeps bringing me back to Broadway is how professionally run these things are. It is not difficult to imagine how smarmy a rhyme-and-song play can quickly become. Especially one without the customarily elaborate production ensembles to distract and delight audiences with colour and glitter (Oooh look. Shiny beads on that bra!)