Wednesday, December 29, 2004

My Review of a Review

I have a theatre friend who complains quite a bit about a certain proclivity of reviewers: to review the piece itself, rather than the production of the piece. IOW, he would rather hear how the performers pulled off a particular play or musical, than about the some long, pretentious piece of dramaturgy analyzing the piece.

I can't say I'm in full agreement, especially if it's a new work of art. How can you review the new Arthur Miller play or Sondheim musical without commenting on the work itself? But I do hope they don't send a musical hater to review musicals. And, I do hope that a reviewer will at least give a passing nod to talking about a specific production and the work of the individuals involved.

I read a review of "Mattress" this morning, though that will give my aforementioned friend and I a whole new debate: do you care what a reviewer thinks of past performances by a particular actor? The entire first quarter of the review is the reviewer's review of everything he has ever seen Lea in. Is it just me, or does it just seem like he is not name-dropping, exactly, but at the very least making sure we know just how well-traveled and clued into culture he is?

I'm trying to think back over reviews I've written, and I suppose I'll say "I've always loved this performer" or "I've never gotten the appeal of this performer", but I don't think I've ever gone into a show-by-show "loved it" "hated it" litany. It seems gratuitous and, more to the point, irrelevant, since most audience members won't have the same reference points.

He loved the show and Lea's performance, and I found the opening part kind of annoying. Not sure if it's because I'm biased, though? What do you think?

I thought the review was interesting, well-written and clearly conveyed the triumph of the production and Lea Delaria as Princess Winnifred. I also found his background on Lea's roles (successful and not so successful) in New York fascinating, partly because it confirms what I've felt about her.

I used to see her during her San Francisco "lesbian comic" days in the 1980s and didn't much care for her style (Marga Gomez was my particular goddess) so I was unprepared for how good she was as Hildy in "On The Town" in the Public Theatre production in Central Park. Part of what was so magical about that production WAS being in Central Park and seeing the city loom over the trees as a perfect backdrop to a musical about New York City. The cast was varied in quality, but Lea was astonishing, picking up the energy everytime she appeared onstage.

I'd read a few unkind remarks about her appearances in "Rocky Horror" and the "Cinderella" at New York City Opera, so again it was a real pleasure to encounter her in a role and a production where her energy really shined as it did in "Once Upon A Mattress." Plus, the acoustical dead spots that the writer was complaining about (he's right) ceased to exist when she was onstage. Something about outsized Broadway clown roles brings out something wonderful in her.

So please, 42nd Street Moon, bring her back in whatever else she wants to do because she really is a transplanted local treasure.

As for this post being anonymous, your blogging mechanism makes registering a pain in the ass and it was just easier to Publish My Comment as Anonymous.
I know Blogger's commenting method is a pain...the first time you do it anyway, so feel free to be anonymous.

But it does prevent the bane of blogging's existence right now: comment spam. I spend a lot of time deleting spam from one of my other blogs that is not on Blogger, so I appreciate the hurdles they present, in a way.

Thanks for your views. Apparently it IS just me :)
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