Friday, March 23, 2007

I dreamed a dream... or depressing times on Broadway.

I dreamed a dream... Last night I saw the revival (i.e. resuscitation) of Les Miserables last night over on Broadway, and I have to say the theater ain't what it used to be. Call me a crotchety old lady, but since when does everyone in the theater show up in jeans?

When I was a kid, my parents would take us to New York for weekends, and we would get dressed up and go see a show. We saw Showboat, Sunset Boulevard, Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis (back when it was awesome). People put on their Sunday best, or at least something business casual, and head to the theater.

There weren't lines down the block like you were waiting for your turn on Space Mountain.

Sure, there were the unfortunate actor-wannabees who were hawking programs and T-shirts at a booth in the lobby, but I can't help but feel that some of the grandeur of Broadway has been lost with the Disney-fication of Times Square. Back when the Hard Rock Cafe was on 57th St. and there weren't giant M&Ms hanging off the sides of buildings.

Am I being old fashioned and nostalgic for something that didn't exist? I don't think so. The NY Times had an article a while back about how Broadway has lost its luster. The shows might be excellent, but it's become a tourist trap - something people with fanny packs do at the end of the day. While that may make me a New York snob, wearing my business attire yesterday I was quite over-dressed for the show.

The other remarkable thing - I saw Les Miserables twice when I was in high school. It was dramatic. It was sentimental, and it totally made me cry. This time, it just had this campy pseudo-sentiment thing going on that depressed me even more than the play used to. Jean Valjean was wicked melodramatic, throwing himself prostrate on the baricade when he realizes that Marius has been wounded.

The main problem with the show is this: they cut it by about half an hour. They cut lines, they cut a few little songs, but most uncomfortably, they just sang really, really fast as if to squeeze it all in.

As my companion last night said - when they sing that fast it's like they're ashamed of what they're doing. And we blame the director. Don't let the Disney vibe of Times Square make you rush through what could be a really powerful show.

Entertainment tally for this week:

Indigo Girls show at Town Hall Theater: A++
Les Miserables: B-
Dinner at Hell's Kitchen cuban restaurant: A-
Dinner at portugese tapas restaurant in Times Square: B+

Next weekend we'll have a Julliard School dance performance, a Catholic school performance of Aladdin and a trip to the tax man to report on. In the meantime, I'm off to Texas to buy me some cowgirl boots.

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