Saturday, November 13, 2021

[MANHATTAN] Broadway Barrage Season 5

Diana: The Musical is perky. Perhaps that is the best adjective to describe it. Unlike the seemingly somber and serious tone The Crown and Spencer opted for, this musical is more tongue-and-cheek, rather irreverent, and somehow weird. Perhaps it has something to do with its very nature as a musical. The song and dance numbers have to be vivacious. The costumes need to be flashy. The dialogues must be attention-grabbing, the banter between Diana and Camilla, sassy. Maybe that’s where absurdity enters the picture. The creative license is taken advantage of, probably a little bit too much.

This play is a timely material, what with the ongoing clamor nowadays on the Great White Way for more diversity and inclusion as far as narratives are involved. Sure, we see more and more people of color taking on roles that are traditionally not theirs but in order to overhaul the systemic racism rooted deep in the industry, we also need stories that cater to the experience of that very demographic. Trouble in Mind tackles just that. And the fact that it has been optioned for Broadway since the 50’s but has only come through now is already considered a triumph and a vital first step forward to further this cause.

As the lights turned back on, I realized that I was in a sea of grey and white-haired folks. I. See. Old. People. I have to say, though, that I Ain’t Too Proud to admit that this experience wouldn’t have been complete without them. While the actors and the musical itself brought me back to witness the ascent of The Temptations through the Billboard charts and gave me a rundown of their discography, it was this septua-/octogenarian crowd that offered me a glimpse of the audience impact this band had on their fans back in the day. Seeing them enjoying themselves so much was a legit showcase of fanbase dedication.

At its core, Mrs. Doubtfire is still a story about divorce, and divorce is never a fun topic to either discuss, go through or devise a musical about. It is in this regard that the musical numbers help, but without losing the aspects that made the 1993 film version so memorable and entertaining primarily thanks to Robin Williams’ brilliant portrayal and hilarious one-liners. Mrs. Doubtfire the musical retains many of those factors, and then adds some more in order to distinguish itself from the onscreen version. And it works!

As for the writing, the dialogues are dripping in what is unmistakably Diablo Cody’s sarcasm. Sure, she has had her hits and misses in Hollywood, but this book she has written for Jagged Little Pill is definitely a hit. Now she has writing wins in both the Oscars and the Tonys that she can brag about, and rightfully so because she has earned it. Her dry wit evident in the one-liners just mesh so well with the angst of Morissette’ lyrics, breathed new life with the enviable vocals of the cast. Yes, we are all-raves here.

As for the script, you get to appreciate how Disney can be a little bit meta poking fun at itself, but the dialogues do not veer away that much from the original. There are some funny ad libs here and there and they mostly work. However, The Lion King’s appeal relies more on its inter-generational draw as a Broadway show. You get the adults who are basking in the nostalgia of their childhood as well as their children who have not seen the original 1994 film but effectively being introduced to it now.

And that’s Broadway Barrage Season 5, folks. Originally slated for 2020, we had to cancel for reasons we are all familiar with. It sucked, but what could we do, Broadway was closed for a year and a half. And so as soon as it reopened, I found myself booking a flight to the Big Apple for my much-needed Broadway fix. But it doesn’t end here, guys. We have two seasons back-to-back this year! Watch out for Season 6, the one intended for 2021, beginning this Monday after my Buffalo break!

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