Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Broken heart

Do you remember my last experience of seeing Little Women: The Musical? It was mostly positive, right? (despite my complaints about Jo, but that was mostly jealousy) I thought, despite being a lowly city-run show, it was fantastic on the grounds that it was Little Women. No one can destroy or dismantle the musical completely, right?

Wrong.

Here in the Salt Lake Valley, Hale Center Theatre is a huge thing. The shows are expensive, and rightly so. I've been to several shows there (Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret Garden, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Civil War, The Miracle Worker) and have been blown away every time. The effects, the acting, and the singing are all very professional. I have never walked away from a Hale Center show disappointed.

Which is why, when I saw that Hale Center Theatre-Orem was doing Little Women, I called my friend Hilary and told her that we simply must go on an excursion there. The tickets were a reasonable price, so I ordered them and we drove there Saturday night. I prepared myself to cry (I've cried all 4 times I've seen it previously) and laugh and enjoy myself.

I laughed. I enjoyed myself reasonably. But. I. Did. Not. Cry. I know that seems like a small thing for those of you who aren't well acquainted with Little Women, but it's huge. One of the most captivating things about Little Women anything (the movie, the musical, the novel) is that it manages to balance the humor and drama perfectly. We wouldn't love Jo as much if she didn't make us laugh; inversely, it wouldn't touch us so deeply if it didn't make us cry or ache.

The director played the humor card too much and didn't leave the audience any time to really connect with the characters. The last time, my only complaint was against Jo; this performance left me with complaints about almost every character except John Brooke (he's not a very round character anyway). Criticizing time.

Let's start with Jo. She had very good comedic timing, I'll give her that. The playbill said that she played Rita in Lucky Stiff, and I honestly think she would have shone in that role. It took me until halfway through the first act to realize who she reminded me of. Idina Menzel. She had the same kind of nasally style as Idina in Enchanted. Don't get me wrong; I loved Idina in Enchanted. She busted me up every time she took the screen. I love Idina. Just not as Jo. There was a certain lack in energy. I couldn't really differentiate between her vivacity before Beth died and afterwards. She just felt wrong.

Beth. She was very Beth-looking and a sweetheart to boot. Also, I've never seen a Beth in the musical cradle dolls like this Beth did, which I thought was an excellent idea. But she kept cradling this stuffed monkey, and I snorted with laughter every time I saw it. Did they have stuffed monkeys during the Civil War? Also, I know she was dying during "Some Things Are Meant to Be," but she could have sang a little louder and clearer.

Meg. Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh. She had a good voice........ But, erm, you know how Meg is supposed to be the beauty of the family? Well, uh, this Meg...was rather large and...not...pretty... That's all I'm gonna say...

Amy. I think Amy was probably the one I liked the most. She, too, was rather large (almost bigger than Jo), but she was a good enough actress that I forgot about that.

I wasn't really supremely bugged by any other players. Not enough to give them their own paragraph anyway. Mr. Laurence had a fruity voice and expressions, Laurie handled Jo's rejection all wrong, and Professor Bhaer had an inconsistent accent and was boring. Small Umbrella put me to sleep. They didn't even do the umbrella kiss.

And you know the dream sequence in Fiddler on the Roof? How it's a total drug trip? "Weekly Volcano Press" was about five times worse. It's supposed to be slightly surreal, but this was ridiculous. The hag (as played by Marmee, who I felt apathetic towards) was this huge thing with bulging eyes and a protruding mouth. I looked at Hilary, who was stifling giggles, and said, "What on earth IS that?"

Well, I've ranted long enough. Hopefully my next experience with Little Women will bring rave reviews. And as long as I'm hoping, I might as well hope that I can be in the next show. Right, right?

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