Saturday, October 6, 2018

[MANHATTAN] Broadway Barrage Season 3

Perfect Crime is the longest-running show on Broadway, predating The Phantom of the Opera by a few months. The lead actress has been playing the same role for more than three decades now, missing just four performances for personal reasons and holding the Guinness World record for most performances as a character in a play. With tickets selling at just $32 on Todaytix, it is considered as a bargain too. And so, I decided to finally watch it. We’re already on Season 3 of Broadway Barrage. We better do this now.

When Mean Girls came out in 2004, it carved a special place in the heart of pop culture thanks to Tina Fey’s sharp and witty satire of a screenplay that had an entire generation quoting it until today. Coming back to pen the onstage adaptation, she makes sure that what you’ll see onstage is still the same old material you enjoyed onscreen yet with the necessary adjustments to accommodate the most notable developments of the last decade. What you get is a mix of the movie that you loved and a musical that looks and sounds just as fresh. It’s not just a familiar modern theater retelling. It’s a totally different experience.

The set is grandiose without having to be expensive. The in thing on Broadway nowadays seems to be their reliance of hologram images flashed through a projector to serve as the backdrop for the scenes. I don’t know how they do it but it allows quick transitions without sacrificing production values. For Anastasia, those backgrounds can give you a convincingly imperial Russia or a believably impoverished Leningrad. It is cool like that. Accompanied by three rotating floor panels, the cast can move with ease.

While Wicked relies on gravity-defying mechanics to let its message soar, Frozen depends on a combo of light and sound effects that can be a bit underwhelming. There is this one epic scene where shards of giant ice emerge from the castle walls, but it appears to be the only instance. It would have been fun to see a giant ice castle emerging from the ground as seen in the film. Perhaps a giant revolving trapdoor and lots of fiber glass could do the trick. But Frozen is just one long light show. And since it appears that people haven’t really let their fascination with this narrative go just yet, it works to everyone’s delight.

Musicals have the luxury of music and choreography. That’s why it’s harder to elicit an impassioned reaction from an audience when the theater piece in question is a straight play. The Lifespan of a Fact has several moments in which the audience just erupts in applause. At this point we don’t know whether it’s just because the actors are famous. Regardless, there must be something with their delivery to merit such response. Whatever it is, this play gets it right and debunks any speculation that it’s going to be a boring piece.

Don’t fall in love with a fuckboi unless you want to turn into a tree. This seems to be the lesson that Once on This Island is trying to give its audience, at least if you disregard the story within a story’s premise as part of the island’s contemporary folklore and take everything at face value. I’m not saying that this musical is not fun because it hella is, and even then that would still be an understatement. Even so, the themes tackled by the material just seem so completely out of touch with modernity.

And so here we are back in Manhattan for the third consecutive year of Broadway Barrage. I can't be any happier that I get to keep this annual tradition after losing most of my travel perks. Stay tuned for Season 4 next year. Hopefully, Moulin Rouge will already be on Broadway by then!
[MANHATTAN] Broadway Barrage Season 3

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