A number of things have been making me cranky lately. Not sure if it's just my mood, or if these items are genuinely annoying. So, rather than addressing each item separately, I figured I'd just get them all out of the way in one peevish post.
Bye Bye Birdie - The New York Daily News reports that the star of the upcoming Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie, Gina Gershon, won't be performing the show's iconic Shriner's Ballet. The article quotes Gershon as saying the dance was cut because it was too "gang rape-y." As other commentators have pointed out, that's never seemed to be a problem before, despite being Tams-Witmark's number-one show for decades. The more likely explanation: Gershon can't handle the dance. If they're so concerned about modern sensibilities, will Gershon be performing the regressive and sexist "An English Teacher"? Will the chorus girls still be fawning and fainting to the salacious sight of Conrad Birdie's gyrating hips? The show is a period piece. If you don't like the period, don't do the piece.
Peeve Factor: 7 out of 10. If you want to see a real pro in action, click here to watch Chita Rivera perform the Shriner's Ballet.
West Side Story - According to the New York Times, the current smash-hit Broadway revival of West Side Story has changed back much of the show's much-touted Spanish to the original English lyrics and text. As you may know, director Arthur Laurents brought in Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) to translate huge chunks of the show into Spanish. The article quotes Laurents as saying the Spanish was "an experiment." Yeah, a failed experiment. As I've written about in my reviews of the show itself and of the CD, I wasn't a fan of the Spanish text. I found it alienating and thought it robbed two terrific songs ("I Feel Pretty" and "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love") of their humor, pathos, and drama. But I also thought that Miranda's lyrics didn't match the quality of Sondheim's original work.
Peeve Factor: 5 out of 10, mitigated by the fact that they've, for the most part, reverted to the infinitely preferable original words.
"Nine" - The more I hear about Rob Marshall's forthcoming film version of Nine, the less excited I become. First, the delectable Javier Bardem dropped out, replaced by the talented but IMHO considerably less sexy Daniel Day Lewis. Now, according to Playbill, Maury Yeston has provided three new songs for the movie: "Guarda la Luna," "Cinema Italiano," and "Take it All." Which is fine, but to make room, they're cutting at least five of the original songs: "Simple," "Be On Your Own," "Grand Canal," "Nine," "The Bells of St. Sebastian's." Boo and grrr. (For a detailed discussion of the cut and added songs, check out a post by my friend Kevin at Theatre Aficionado at Large.)
Peeve Factor: 9 out of 10. Pun intended. I'm not a knee-jerk purist, but the movie is going to need to be pretty spectacular to make up for the butchering of the score. Of course, the "Sweeney Todd" film involved a tremendous amount of cutting as well, and I raved about that movie in my review. So, the jury's still out, despite my current annoyance.
Ragtime - The press folk for the upcoming Broadway revival of Ragtime have recently been touting the new visual identity for the production. (See left) Apparently, it's the work of some famous Italian illustrator. Whatever, it's washed-out, flat, and unmemorable. Plus, the physical arrangement seems borrowed from the logo to The Secret Garden. Of course, I was also nonplussed by the logos for Hair and A Catered Affair, and impressed by that of Cry-Baby. So there's no necessary connection between the quality of an individual show and that of its marketing materials.
Peeve Factor: 2 out of 10. Like many of you, I'm simply thrilled that Ragtime is getting another chance on Broadway. During its original run, it was overshadowed by The Lion King and hampered by irresponsible -- and now felonious -- producing.