When I was a kid, the first big Broadway production that my mom took me to was Cats. I don't think that I moved a muscle or took a breath during the entire show. It was downright magical. Cats was the show that turned me into a musical theatre junkie. It was the one and only production that I've ever seen of Cats. I'm certain that if I saw the show now, it wouldn't be nearly as magical. Sadly, it probably would be quite as good as I remembered it.
Dan's first show was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which he saw as a child in England. It was magical for him. I've seen most of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows ( with and without Tim Rice), but I had never seen a production of Joseph. Many months ago, we saw that it was coming to the Pantages Theatre and we bought tickets.
I watch a lot of reality TV, but I don't watch American Idol. I'd heard of former contestants, Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, only because you have to be living under a rock to not at least hear the names of the most popular contestants. DeGarmo and Young, a real-life married couple, star as the Narrator and Joseph respectively. This production really feels like it's a vehicle to promote the two stars and that the whole production is riding on their name. However, as I walked around the lobby, I didn't see anyone who was talking about American Idol or the two leads, so this may have been lost on the crowd.
I can't compare it to other productions, although Dan did and declared it to be rubbish. Just going off of this, I'm inclined to agree. The choreography and vibe from the performers is that of a Disneyland Parade. It's overdone and phoned in. Dan observed that it was like watching a stage show at the El Capitan, which is awesome there, but you expect much more out of a major show. There is little in the way of genuine emotions. DeGarmo and Young have lovely voices, but little stage presence and they struggle to carry the show. The rest of the cast was overdoing it for laughs and pandering to the audience. I felt like I was constantly being goaded to clap for the show, even though it wasn't very good. Most of the people sitting near us, were equally unenthused.
The costumes and set were low budget. This isn't to say minimalistic. I'm a fan of minimalistic. No, everything just looked like it was purchased from a local costume shop and thrown up there. They did attempt some visual effects with the use of projections. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't. The worst was when they were projecting images on performers in white costumes and the images didn't hit their mark. They didn't pull it off. They also were totally off beat when using colored lighting to punctuate the lyrics when singing about Joseph's coat of many colors. Maybe they were having an off night? In any case, the missteps really showed and made it look amateur.
I think the primary fault lies with the director, as the overall vision for this production missed the mark. I cannot recommend it and we nearly walked out at the intermission. It was that bad.
Now, I'm going to climb on my soapbox for a minute to complain about one of the rudest groups of people that I've ever had the "pleasure" to be seated next to at a show. We were next to and in front of a family of five. I loved going to the theatre as a kid and I love seeing children at shows, knowing how excited I was at their age, makes me get excited for them, hoping that they will love it as much as I did. It's a special thing.
This was my first time seeing a child act out at the theatre and the blame lies squarely with her parents for encouraging her. They were just as loud and obnoxious as she was, encouraging their entire family to sing their hearts out along with the show. Naturally, the two older kids were too embarrassed to do so, but I was seated next to the youngest daughter and the mom, who sang off key for the entire performance. I should have said something, but I kept with a passive-aggressive move of giving them the evil eye and complaining to Dan during the intermission.
It's okay to get excited and sing before the show/during intermission/after the show, but unless the show has an audience participation section, it's NEVER okay to sing along during the production. It's also not okay to talk about the show during the show, which they also did. If you're going to dare talk, don't loudly shush the people in front of you when they make one measly comment. It also isn't okay to constantly kick the seat in front of you, which the kid did the entire evening. And, it's not okay to repeatedly kick and bump the person next to you, especially if you don't apologize. My beautiful cream colored dress has a shoe print on it. Thanks.
Yep, I was pretty darn annoyed with this family. The only thing missing was they didn't sneak in food in a loud crinkly wrapper or have a cellphone ring.
A nice moment happened with a mother in front of us went to get a booster seat for her daughter and asked if we minded, since her child was now a lot taller. My view wasn't blocked, but even if it had been, I would have been okay with it, since they were kind enough to ask if I was okay. They were quiet throughout the performance, but when the well-behaved child leaned over to ask her mom a question (quietly), this was when the monster sitting next to me made the loud shushing sound. Yep.
Theatre etiquette = learn it, live it, pass it on.
Climbing off my soap-box now.