Saturday, February 6, 2010

Episode 31: Bland Ambition

Anybody been keeping an eye on the Ivory website? A whole shitload of musicals has turned up on their calendar, but with no indication of who's producing them. If Horror Show thinks she's going to mount a season that ambitious, there's even more hilarity ahead than I thought...

The shows listed for production at the Ivory, all this year, are:
Little Shop of Horrors
The Cotton Club
West Side Story
Altar Boyz
The World Goes Round
The Rocky Horror Picture Show [sic]
(Will someone please tell her that the stage show is called The Rocky Horror Show, and the movie is called The Rocky Horror Picture Show? How many times has this show been produced locally?)

How on earth does she think big shows like West Side Story and Annie are going to fit on that tiny stage? And seriously, seven musicals (in addition to the Patsy Cline debacle and something named A Country Christmas which is also on the list)...? Even The Muny doesn't do that many musicals in one season!

And if producing her own show is as big a clusterfuck as the illegal Sweet Dreams of Patsy has been, then trying to pull off large-scale Broadway shows is going to make her head explode.

Which can only be a good thing.

But why don't we get to see the hilariously bad musicals she has written??? Remember that disastrous backer's audition she dressed up as a variety show back when the theatre had first opened, when a few dozen unsuspecting strangers were treated -- I'm sorry, I mean subjected -- to scenes from the awful musicals she's written, While You Were Sleeping: The Musical, Equus: The Musical (I wish I was kidding), The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao: The Musical, and most bizarrely, an awkward and clumsy "jazz opera" of some sort... The whole point was supposed to be that Horror show would produce her own shows at the Ivory, and then rich folks would throw fistfuls of money at her to take her shows to Broadway. She really told people that.

Stay tuned...

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor

Monday, February 1, 2010

Episode 30: Hackneyed, Trite, and Implausible, Oh My!

The Sweet Dreams of Patsy review from KDHX has been posted. Sounds like the cast is good. But wait till you get to the third paragraph and the part about how awful Horror Show's unauthorized script is... and how she claims credit for arrangements that aren't hers...
There has never been anyone else quite like Patsy Cline. I've never met anyone who dislikes her, nor even anyone who claims to be ignorant of or indifferent to her legacy. If it seems dissonant to think of her as a "superstar," it may be because her persona was so wholesome, so much an Everywoman. So trying to present her on the stage for a present-day audience is obviously a challenging job. Kudos, then, to Irene Jones, whose memorable work in the title role of Sweet Dreams of Patsy, currently being presented by Perrino Productions at the Ivory Theatre, more than meets our suspension of disbelief and takes by itself nearly all the credit for making an audience very happy.

I hadn't known of Ms. Jones' work as a singer before this, and that's to my regret. Of course, if her singing could actually match that of Patsy Cline herself, she'd have left town for stardom long ago. But what Ms. Jones achieves is a surprisingly valid and compelling reproduction of Patsy Cline's interpretation: by turns subtle, energetic, contemplative, powerful, and vulnerable, always full of life, and always with a sense of ownership of whatever the song was. She hasn't quite the power at the bottom of her range or the control at the top as the real Pasty Cline had. That's a trivial observation, given how easy it is to forget about it as she channels that unique style and personality with such remarkable success.

Ms. Jones is also a talented actor, at least while she's singing. It would be enough that her physical type is comparable to Patsy Cline's, but in fact, part of what she delivers in the songs is a joy in singing that somehow seems to belong to the character rather than to the actor-singer, and that is a noteworthy acting accomplishment. But she's very poorly served by trite and implausible dialogue (written by producer Donna Perrino), and at least partly as a result of that, she comes off seeming to be less.

Steve Isom has a nice turn as Arthur Godfrey, and Judith MacDonald is entertaining as Minnie Pearl. Thom Crain, as the manager, Owen Bradley, has the burden of the dialogue and narration, and I think he does as well with it as anyone could, but again, it's too hackneyed to be acted well. The six-piece band (Justin Branum on fiddle; Tim Sullivan on piano; John Jump on guitar; Rich Smith on pedal steel; Jeremy Phieffer on bass, and KDHX's own Fred Gumear on percussion) makes the music feel effortless, which means, of course, that a lot of effort probably went into it, or a lot of talent, and the musicians' rapport with Ms. Jones seems very comfortable. The arrangements are credited to Ms. Perrino, though they mostly sound like decent by-ear reproductions of what's heard on the old Patsy Cline recordings. The sound engineering by Dan Kury is flawless. -- Daniel Higgins
Now maybe Horror Show will finally realize how profoundly untalented she is. Then again, who am I kidding -- just look who we're talking about here, a woman less connected to reality than Courtney Love. It'll be someone else's fault. Just watch.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!
An Ivory Survivor