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Encores! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


edjames
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Good reviews in today's NY papers:

 

http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/theater/reviews/gentlemen-prefer-blondes-with-megan-hilty-at-city-center.html?ref=theater

 

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/theater/sweet_as_strawberry_blondes_xWrOfQdmG607SrU13KwgpL

 

Limited run. Closes Sunday evening. At City Center on West 55th St.

 

Starring Smash star Megan Hiltey, who plays a young actress seeking to star in a musical about Marilyn on Bway on TV, and here she is starring in a musical made into a hit film starring Marilyn. Does this girl have a Marilyn connection or what?

 

I have tickets for Sunday evening's performance.

 

ED

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Gentlemen Prefer Blonds

 

I am also seeing Gentlemen Prefer Blonds on Sunday Night. And I actually have a great seat--a friend gave me the ticket months ago when she realized it was Mothers Day.

 

It took me a while to really like Smash, but it's became one of the four or five TV shows that I watch every week. More important, Smash has renewed my interest in Broadway.

 

Ed, It will be interesting to find out if we agree on the musical when we post late this weekend or Monday.

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I'm actually surprised that it's taken Encores so many years to get to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - it's classic material for them - a great score with a fun but rather creaky old-style book (i.e. the show is more likely to be heard in this context than revived otherwise too often). Outside of a revival done at Goodspeed back in the 90's, I'm not aware of any other major revivals of the show. The score, however, has always been a classic. The reviews for this production have been very enthusiastic - I'm not sure if this would be a candidate for a Broadway transfer, but it would be interesting to see that happen.

 

As far as Smash goes - I have a love/hate feeling about the show that has been getting more and more negative as the weeks go on. The writing is just so laughably bad, as are the many gaffes in the way they're presenting the inside of the theatre world (I'm well aware this is not meant to be reality, but still...). The Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman songs are generally a highlight, though I think some of them have been rather awkward (the angular-sounding lyric of "Lexington and 52nd Street" just stuck out like a sore thumb to me), and when the songs get used in a more MTV/"Glee" approach outside of the Marilyn musical itself, it seems cheap to me. BUT - it's fun to see all the Broadway actors involved (some, like the stage manager played by Ann Harada of Avenue Q fame need much more to do, IMO), and I actually know 3 of the actors on the show (met the guy playing the skanky assistant Ellis, and worked with both Sean Dugan and yes, Debra Messing when they were students at Brandeis), so it's fun to watch them for sure.

 

But I wish the writing were better. I very nearly threw something at my TV set last week when the answer to a marriage proposal was "I can't - I'm in tech." WOW.

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A fun and entertaining evening. Megan Hilty was amazing. Two almost-showstopping numbers in the Second Act. Once again, the Encores! audience roared and applauded like crazy for this revivial. It should have run in extra perfromancces rather than the series opener "Merrily We Roll Along." I could see this production attracting a large audience and running to sold-out audiences for a few weeks.

 

ED

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Megan Hilty

 

I expected more from Megan Hilty. I enjoyed her singing and acting, but I did not see much first-rate comic timing, essential for all the one-line gems her character has in both acts. I did not see Carol Channing in the original cast of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, but my guess is she hit a home run with each of those comic one liners.

 

The 1990s revival with KT Sullivan made Gentleman Prefer Blonds seem an unlikely revival candidate. Encores added some superb dancing and kept the wonderful song arrangements by Hugh Martin. So it might do well in a short summer run at City Center.

 

Megan Hilty is my favorite performer on Smash, right up there with Christian Borle. After seeing Borle in Peter and the Starcatcher, I can see a bright future for Borle as a character actor, if not a leading man. I do not see that same kind of promise in Hilty last night, except perhaps in dramatic roles. I hope I am wrong about her.

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I saw this Sunday as well and it was the perfect cap for a nice weekend. I laughed and laughed. I thought Ms. Hilty did a great job, and caught most of the laughs on the lines that were positively creaking with age. Brantley's review raved about her, and I concur. But wish he'd have mentioned more about the rest of the cast. I loved Rachel York as Dorothy whose songs were terrific, (although both the classics from the show belong to Lorelei, Little Girl from Little Rock and Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.) And Megan Sikora stopped the show with her tapping, especially with her two men in the specialty number at the top of Act II.

 

I have been a fan of Aaron Lazar since Light in the Piazza and Les Mis. And it was fun to see him here playing the antithesis of everything he's done previously on stage.

 

But the real star of the show for me was Randy Skinner whose choreography was different, and appropriate for each number. From the previously mentioned tap spots, to the Latin flavored It's Delightful Down in Chile, to the (thankfully) gratuitous I Love What I'm Doing with the five shirtless "Olympians" the dancing was pure Broadway.

 

I hear they are recording it, which will perhaps bring it more exposure to the regional markets. I will certainly listen to this show again, Hugh Martin's choral arrangements were lovely. And it was fun to see the classic use of the singing and dancing choruses, which undoubtedly made any producers in the audience squirm thinking about payroll. LOL

 

I am sorry I was out of town for the weekend and saw it at the closing...had I seen it on Wednesday or Thursday, I most certainly would have gone again.

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Hugh Martin's choral arrangements were lovely.

 

More than lovely - he was simply one of the best of the early Broadway vocal arrangers. In fact, he was pretty much the first such arranger, bringing his jazz-oriented vocal arrangements first to Rodgers "Sing For Your Supper" (from The Boys From Syracuse) a decade earlier. Innovative for Broadway at the time - and his skilled work on Blondes is one of the best things about the score, IMO.

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Columnist Ben Brantley writes in the NY Times about "ovation inflation," the tendency of an audience to be on their feet so soon after a show ends. The standing ovaation, it is thought, should be reserved for shows that or performances that are far above the norm. He cites this show as an example of a mature theater audience who stayed seated to give their hearty applause...http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/theater-talkback-against-ovation-inflation/?hpw

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