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"Allegro"


beethoven
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Saw this last nite at Classic Stage Company on E. 13th St in NYC. I think this production, 90 minutes, with all the music and 85% of the original book, but minus all the Agnes de Mille ballets, approximates what R&H had in mind in their "failed" (only 315 performances) musical of 1947. Stephen Sondheim, who was an intern for the musical in 1947, has said that "Allegro" has influenced everything he has written.

Anyone see this production? Most enjoyable; unlike any other R&H musical I've seen. There was an elderly woman in the audience who saw it in 1947, the first American musical she saw after immigrating from the UK. Nice touch!

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I saw this last week, and interestingly, whereas I usually really enjoy most things, I found this pretty flat.

 

I subscribe to CSC because they're so innovative and intimate, and was really looking forward to Allegro having listened often to the LP of the cast album when I was a kid. I loved the songs The Gentleman is a Dope and One Foot, Other Foot.

 

My problem with this production is with the direction. Mr. Doyle used his trick of having the actors play instruments, and while that conceit worked for me a couple of times, most notably for Sweeney Todd...here it just added additional distance between me and the performers.

 

As an overview of a man's life, a la Our Town, I wanted to be drawn in...shown the ups and downs, but with none of the dancing, the cast literally holding their instruments as shields in front of them, and every iota of humor removed from the story, I found myself completely unmoved.

 

Not the fault of the performers...particularly Jessica Tyler Wright and Maggie Lakis playing the mother and adoring nurse who sang their numbers beautifully...even while having violins tucked under their chins while singing. Claybourne Elder, who is adorable and terrific was tough to watch as he stared aimlessly out into space.

 

I can understand Sondheim's fascination with the show. It's such an interesting idea, with some great songs...but executed here I found it a chore to sit there for the intermission-less ninety minutes.

 

I do think that for real musical nuts, this is a show to see...because when are we ever going to see it done again??? But for that reason alone...and discounts are prevalent.

 

As a subscriber I paid about $50 for my ticket, and had a super seat in the center section. (Another reason to subscribe at CSC, the side section seats have NO leg-room.)

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