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'GIANT' first preview

WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel Profile Photo
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/4/12 at 08:10pm
I like his song a lot too, and he wasn't featured much more in DC than he is now.

I forgot to say I do think the book is much stronger now. The dialogue was better and it supported the songs more. Maybe with the tighter book the cut songs felt extraneous, but they were so good and added to the epic feel.

"A Stranger" really has a nice melody and lyric. It is a shame it's gone.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
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egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/4/12 at 09:09pm
I know it's probably a dumb question at this point, but why (or why do you think) is Aaron Lazar no longer in the production?
jaxel614
Featured Actor
joined:4/12/09
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/4/12 at 10:59pm
I saw the show both last night and tonight with the free tickets offered. Really an incredible production.

I know this is early in its Public run, but does anyone think this has the potential to transfer to Broadway? It would be great to have it seen by larger audiences.
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Yero my Hero
Broadway Legend
joined:3/27/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/4/12 at 11:28pm
I know it's probably a dumb question at this point, but why (or why do you think) is Aaron Lazar no longer in the production?

Because he is currently starring in MAMMA MIA on Broadway. I don't know if he tried to negotiate time off to do GIANT or not. Maybe with his new growing family, he decided a steady Broadway paycheck was more important right now. I certainly would not blame him.
Nothing matters but knowing nothing matters. ~ Wicked
Everything in life is only for now. ~ Avenue Q
There is no future, there is no past. I live this moment as my last. ~ Rent

"He's a tramp, but I love him."
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/4/12 at 11:29pm
I had heard Lazar wasn't offered the part again, so I'm assuming his take on the character wasn't what was wanted.

And Giant has always been intended for an eventual Broadway transfer. We'll see if the notices enable it.
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thevolleyballer
Broadway Legend
joined:9/29/04
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/6/12 at 12:03pm
I saw last nightís preview (which was delayed by an hour because of technical difficulties, which they later explained had to do with the setís turntable).

The show is slow ó itís not a fast-moving, swift night at the theatre. Itís definitely not OKLAHOMA, if you thought it was going to be. Not that it should be, of course, but there were a number of lulls when the show really could have benefitted from a high-energy number. (Miguel Cervantes sings the showís only memorable number, ďJump,Ē which doesnít happen until Act 2 and is easily the best part.) I donít understand why the show isnít more fun, considering that the first half is about celebrating Texas and the ranch.

The performances were strong, particularly from PJ Griffith, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert. Unfortunately theyíre saddled with a book that creeps along slowly and a score thatís too heavy-handed with its forgettable, homogenous ballads. That said, the lyrics are damn beautiful.

The set isÖ odd. Itís mainly a cloud-painted half scrim that occasionally covers the orchestra. There are moments when itís beautiful, and moments when it just looks cheap.

Also, should the show transfer, they need to re-cast a few roles. Michele Pawk and Mackenzie Mauzy are both totally ineffective as Luz and Luz II.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/6/12 at 12:33pm
I was there last night, as well. I liked the show well enough. Although it's long, I didn't find it dragging too much- though in an attempt to cram an epic novel into a palatable theatre length, things sort of happen quickly without believable build up in the first act.

The score is very sweeping. Which sounds great at first, but then... it seems every other song is a sweeping ballad. And although LaChiusa indulges in some different styles, it's all sung the same way, making everything sort of sound similar. The few uptempo numbers ("My Texas" and "Jump" in particular) are much appreciated.

That being said: Kate Baldwin is fantastic and looks stunning in those really beautiful period dresses from the 20s, 40s, and 50s.

The rest of the cast is pretty swell, too- Natalie Cortez makes the most of a small role, as does Bobby Steggert. Katie Thompson as Vashti makes a good impression- even if I feel her first act solo is completely unnecessary despite being one of the best songs in the show (it reminded me of "Doatsy Mae"). PJ Griffith, though no James Dean, is fine. Brian D'Arcy James sounds great, but for me was outshone by Baldwin and many around him.

Although this is, I suppose, LaChiusa's most "accessible" score and show, it still won't find mainstream success. It's too long and lacks memorable numbers.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/6/12 at 01:41pm
Baldwin is terrific in this; and the music is very... pretty. But, as in all LaChiusa scores, he can't tell a story to save his life. One gets the impression that LaChiusa assumed that the story tells itself (as he usually does), leaving him free to focus on churning out a series of lovely ballads.

Darcy James sounds gorgeous as always, and still has an acting range of A to B. Steggart continues to overact, perhaps hoping to make up for Darcy James' blandness.

It's a "pretty" evening, but one that also never comes to life.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/6/12 at 01:58pm
Whizzer--thanks for your review, and everyone else's. I'm still very excited to hear this score (the fact that LaChiusa's work has been regularly recorded in the past few years, makes me suspect we will get a CD). I was on a Ferber kick after reading Show Boat a couple of years back--and I think Giant *does* suit three acts more than two. But perhaps the three act musical curse made them condense it to two.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/6/12 at 02:04pm
I have no doubt this will be recorded, considering the cast. If Queen of the Mist could get one, I'm sure this will.
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little_sally
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/04
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 09:50am
I thought this was god-awful, and I consider myself a pretty big fan of LaChiusa. There are some great melodies in the score, and the acting is wonderful but it was far too long. There are so many unnecessary songs, and yet, I didn't feel like anything was resolved or really fleshed out. Such a disappointment.
A little swash, a bit of buckle - you'll love it more than bread.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 09:59am
It really does feel endless. And the story-telling is just terrible - Pearson and LaChiusa don't seem to have any idea if the story is actually about anything, or which characters should receive focus. Rambling and incoherent. Polite, sporadic applause and lots of walk-outs at intermission (after more than 90 minutes).

What's particularly mystifying is that the show is still so bad after a lengthy development period and two full productions. I was reminded of other shows (Chaplin, Scandalous) that have been around forever, had full productions, yet receive continued financial support despite the fact that they're just plain no good.



Updated On: 11/9/12 at 09:59 AM
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little_sally
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/04
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 10:22am
I just couldn't figure out what they wanted us to get out of it. newintown is right; there is no focus.
A little swash, a bit of buckle - you'll love it more than bread.
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michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 03:23pm
I agree with everyone else that there is no true focus, but where I seem to disagree is that I liked that. There certainly is no "point" to this show- you don't come out having learned a lesson, watched a character complete a particular arc, seen a plot come to its natural end. What it is instead is a look at the lives of one family over two generations; it's a look at the people and the characters and how they interact. Some don't ever grow and some change more than they should, but that's how it is with real people.

Do I think some of it was rushed? Yes, and I mentioned before, I think that's probably due to the cuts, which after having seen it I wish they wouldn't have done. The music is grand and sweeping and epic, and I'm fairly certain there's more complexity and interweaving than I could pick upon during the first listen (it IS LaChiusa, after all).

I will sit through almost any plot as long as the characters are engaging, and I found them to be so in this production. It's been pointed out to me that most people want to feel as though there's some sort of revelation or growth or point at the end of a work, so I can see why others didn't enjoy the sort of meandering aspect, though I don't tend to need one for a story to work for me.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 03:43pm
I think one of the main issues is that LaChiusa treats the story as if it's a true ensemble piece. We have minor characters given major songs shortly after they're introduced. But really, the piece focuses on Kate Baldwin, PJ Griffith and Brian D'Arcy James. I think of those three, Kate Baldwin's character is the richest and clearest- she's real 'giant' here. Brian D'Arcy James goes from a stubborn traditionalist to... a stubborn traditionalist. Griffith's character should have an arc, but doesn't. We don't learn much of him except "he got rich". So we've got three characters, two of which are as fleshed out as any of the supporting ones.

Katie Thompson's Vashti has one of the best songs of the show in her introductory solo, "He Wanted a Girl".

It is also one of the most irrelevant moments in the show.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 03:49pm
Agreed about Vashti's song - what does this negligible character have such a big song? If she were going to become an important figure in the story, it might make sense, but she immediately moves to the back row of the chorus after this big number.

Also, as is usual with LaChiusa's work, the lyrics, although pretty, don't advance the story or enlighten us about the characters, so they end up as rather static pieces that inhibit the show's progress and prevent any exploration of the characters or story past the most superficial level.

The orchestra, I should say, is terrific - it's rare to hear this kind of gorgeous string-filled sound on Broadway now, let alone off.
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michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 03:52pm
I agree that Bick doesn't really change at all...but that is completely within his character. That's how Bick is, and that's how he always will be.

Jett got the short end of the stick, definitely, though whether it's because the role was underwritten from the start of a victim of the cuts, I don't know.

I think there was a need to introduce that Vashti was hopelessly in love with Bick, otherwise her marriage to Pinky would have been way way way out of left field. At least this way, I can see why she would feel the need to jump on the first man she could, though we could have benefited from a little more space separating "He Wanted a Girl" and the wedding announcement.
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Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 03:57pm
Part of me was expecting Other Lady Friend (I don't remember her name because we get it once, over an hour before, and she's in a total of three scenes) to have a song about her having cancer.

We got that Vashti was in love with Bick the second she starts crying when she's introduced. I'd excuse the song more if something came of her character... . Instead, she turns over to Kate Baldwin and becomes her friend seconds after the applause of her song. Then she marries Pinky. And it's completely dropped, and she's basically an ensemble member until "Midnight Blues" in the second act. And then we don't care.
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michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:01pm
Yeah, I would have cut Other Lady Friend out of "Midnight Blues" altogether.

Vashti would have been better served had her storyline been more spread out, yeah. I think it's interesting fodder for a plot, but they crammed it all into about 10 minutes, which was a little foolish. I might have even moved "He Wanted a Girl" to later in the show, after Vashti marries Pinky.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:03pm
Exactly, kad - it's been set up quite clearly that everyone expected Bick to marry Vashti, and that she was in love with him. The song, as I noted above about most of the score, is completely redundant (although it's a pretty good song).
Kad Profile Photo
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:09pm
I get why they won't cut it- and I think it's been with the show since the beginning. It's a great song. At my performance, it was a crowd-pleaser. But sometimes you have to knife the baby.

I'm all for a musical ensemble piece, and that song would fit in a different version of this show very well, I think.

But, as it is now, that's not the show I feel Giant is. It's pretty heavily weighted toward the Benedicts... and by extension, Jett. The lack of focus must be a remnant from its three-act incarnation, which could take time to say, "Here's some other people that live in this world, let's get to know them! Because it's four hours and you know that, so let's take our time!" But now it's been restructured to Standard Two-Act Musical Drama, and it can't afford that leisure anymore.
michellek45 Profile Photo
michellek45
Leading Actor
joined:5/20/11
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:15pm
I certainly agree that in the four-hour incarnation a lot of things both you and I didn't like would have been less of an issue, but I think where we differ is that I like the meandering, focus-less, ensemble way of storytelling.
Kad Profile Photo
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:20pm
I generally like it, too- but in this sense, I don't think it was done successfully.

I keep comparing this show, stylistically, to Best Little Whorehouse in Texas... oddly enough.

Whorehouse can afford to have songs sung by secondary and tertiary characters because A) its story is simpler and B) the main characters are largely explored in its book. So while Miss Mona has a few songs, most of her action is in book scenes- leaving us with time to hear "The Sidestep", "Doatsy Mae", "24 Hours of Lovin'", "The Aggie Song", etc.

But Giant has a large story to tell, and one that is focused on a set of characters. So it can't really afford time to say, "Meanwhile, here's what someone irrelevant thinks!" anymore.
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:24pm
I think a big difference between Whorehouse and Giant also is that the events in the former happen onstage, often during the songs, whereas in the latter, most of the real events happen offstage or between scenes, with stage time devoted to static numbers.
Kad Profile Photo
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/9/12 at 04:29pm
That's true, too. Whorehouse is able to take advantage of its time in a better way, which lets it do more.

While I think Giant is a more complex and ultimately different piece than Whorehouse, it could certainly benefit from the latter's structure.
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jv92
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/05
'GIANT' first preview
Posted: 11/10/12 at 08:50pm
Not much of a review but...

I went today and found it wonderful. I have been warming up to La Chiusa this year with QUEEN OF THE MIST, which was wonderful, and now this, which is probably his best score to date. The score is melodic and soaring.

The book was also very impressively constructed, and despite a 400+ page source material, it crammed everything necessary in there in a little more than three hours. I thought the three hours flew by.

The cast is wonderful, and the final musical scene between Kate Baldwin and Brian D'Arcy James is gorgeous musical theater writing and performing. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed myself.


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