Month: January 2017

Titanic

titanic

Signature Theatre, Arlington VA
2017-01-28 • 20:00

There is very little to fault in this magnificent production of Titanic, except maybe the sound design, which doesn’t quite manage to overcome the challenges created by the unusual spatial configuration, with the audience sitting on all four sides of the stage.

Working with a set consisting of little more than four gangways, director Eric Schaeffer has imagined an immersive staging that is both fascinating to the eye and emotionally powerful. The gripping opening sequence has never been more potent, with the added bonus of almost flawless singing from a highly capable cast.

The song “I Give You My Hand”, which was cut in previews prior to the Broadway opening, has been reinstated. It is a nice example of Yeston’s writing talent and is beautifully performed by Iyona Blake and Chris Sizemore.

This is undoubtedly one of the best productions I’ve seen at Signature. For some reason, it caused me to reminisce about the very first production I saw at the old Signature Theatre in 2003, Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, already staged by Eric Schaeffer.

Lohengrin

lohengrin

Opéra-Bastille, Paris
2017-01-21 • 19:00

Une distribution de rêve ne se traduit pas toujours par une représentation inoubliable. On est heureux de retrouver un Kaufmann en pleine possession de ses moyens ; son sens de la nuance est bouleversant. Herlitzius, sans surprise, est une Ortrud magnifique.

Mais la magie n’a pas réellement opéré pour moi. Sans doute une combinaison de mon manque d’affinité pour Philippe Jordan et de l’acoustique peu chaleureuse de l’Opéra-Bastille, qui ne crée pas les conditions optimales d’une immersion musicale réussie.

Direction musicale : Philippe Jordan
Mise en scène : Claus Guth
Avec Jonas Kaufmann (Lohengrin), Martina Serafin (Elsa von Brabant), Evelyn Herlitzius (Ortrud), Wolfgang Koch (Friedrich von Telramund), René Pape (Heinrich der Vogler), …

Oliver Twist, le Musical

olivertwist

Salle Gaveau, Paris
2017-01-21 • 15:00

Once in a while, an original French musical comes along that feels like its creators know what they’re doing. I’m not sure why Shay Alon (music) and Christopher Delarue (book & lyrics) chose a property already equipped with a great musical adaptation, especially one as successful as Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, but they have managed to write a show that is both competent and quite satisfactory in places.

The biggest asset of this musical is its creative scenic design. The transformation of the venerable Salle Gaveau into a semblance of a proscenium theatre is quite remarkable, and there are beautiful images aplenty during the performance, in part thanks to nicely designed projections, as well as nifty stage lifts that help make transitions smooth and cinematic.

Vu du pont (A View From the Bridge)

aviewfromthebridge

Odéon / Ateliers Berthier, Paris
2017-01-18 • 20:00

Cette interprétation brute et percussive de la pièce d’Arthur Miller a vu le jour à Londres en 2014 avant d’être présentée à Broadway en 2015. Dans les deux cas, le succès public et critique fut considérable.

C’est une transposition à l’identique, mais en français, qu’a proposé l’Odéon la saison dernière au même moment que la création à Broadway avant de la reprendre cette année.

L’expérience est électrique. Ivo van Hove a dépouillé la pièce de toute distraction visuelle pour délivrer un concentré de tragédie d’une crudité et d’une violence révélatrices et captivantes. Distribution exemplaire menée par l’étonnant Charles Berling.

Difficile de reprendre ses esprits après le final coup-de-poing que nous réserve le metteur en scène belge, décidément l’une des forces créatrices les plus étonnantes du théâtre contemporain.

Texte français : Daniel Loayza.
Mise en scène : Ivo van Hove.
Avec Charles Berling (Eddie), Caroline Proust (Béatrice), Pauline Cheviller (Catherine), Laurent Papot (Marco), Nicolas Avinée (Rodolpho), Alain Fromager (Alfieri), …

She Loves Me

shelovesme

Menier Chocolate Factory, London
2017-01-15 • 15:30

The ability of the Menier Chocolate Factory to come up with delightful productions seems boundless. The treatment given to Bock & Harnick’s 1963 jewel of a musical is an endless source of wonder. In spite of my limited affinity with Ms. Strallen’s talents, this production thrilled me more than the recent New York revival.

A wonderful set by Paul Farnsworth and a generally likeable cast, much more homogeneous than the New York one, add up to an absolutely enchanting experience. Mark Umbers gives a particularly appealing performance as Georg Nowack.

Direction: Matthew White. Choreography: Rebecca Howell.
With Mark Umbers (Georg Nowack), Scarlett Strallen (Amalia Balash), Katherine Kingsley (Ilona Ritter), Peter Dukes (Steven Kodaly [u/s]), Les Dennis (Mr. Maraczek), Callum Howells (Arpad Lazslo), …

Annie Get Your Gun

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Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
2017-01-14 • 19:15

Everything she touches turns to gold. Once more, Anna-Jane Casey gives a shining, extraordinarily versatile performance in one of musical theatre’s most demanding parts, written for the legendary Ethel Merman. Contrary to Merman, Casey is not only a great singer, she’s also a hell of a dancer and a wonderfully warm and engaging comedian, and this production has wisely been designed to showcase all of her talents.

The leading lady is surrounded by a strong supporting cast and a highly likable ensemble. There are high points aplenty, like the outstanding vocal arrangements of “Moonshine Lullaby” or Alistair David’s wonderful choreography for “I Got the Sun in the Morning”, one of the classiest numbers I’ve seen, literally a moment of grace.

Kudos to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre for bringing such quality to its stage, under the ever inspired guidance of director Paul Foster, whose partnership with Casey goes back a long way. Too bad the sound design is so aggressive: either people are massively turning deaf, or this is a misguided attempt at masking the average size of the 12-strong band.