Yoshimi and the Pink Robots Still Happening

sundayclothes2
Featured Actor
joined:4/10/09
I saw the show last night and really enjoyed it.

First, I should say that those who go to the show expecting a Flaming Lips concert will undoubtedly leave disappointed. The Flaming Lips have gone on record saying numerous times that they view their concerts as a giant birthday party, full of costumes, confetti, and fun - which is quite ironic considering the actual content of their music. The Lips tackle pretty big issues in their songs, mostly dealing with death and mortality, but distract from their actual meaning with the spectacle of their shows.

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (the musical) takes a much more direct approach to their music. The story is about a young girl dying of cancer (the pink robots represent the cancer cells), and so songs like "Vein of Stars," "Goin' On," "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate," "It's Summertime, "All We Have is Now" and "Do You Realize?" all take on a much more literal meaning. I think it is wise that McAnuff chose not to incorporate elements from the Lips show as it is a very different experience. McAnuff did not stage a big birthday party with confetti and colorful costumes. He staged a very serious and intimate drama that directly addresses and explores the issues raised by the Lips lyrics. Had he incorporated more elements from the Lips, I feel like it would have detracted from the story the musical tells.

With that said, the show could benefit from a book writer - some of the "dialogue" is cringeworthy and some of the cast is grossly underused (*cough* Tom Hewitt *cough*) But I thought the show was a bold experiment in showing what a "jukebox musical" can be. If he perfected the concept album production with Tommy, and the Vh1 documentary with Jersey Boys, he is on his way to redefining what a jukebox musical can be with Yoshimi. The songs are not carelessly thrown together to highlight the music or the talents of the cast. But are rather meticulously placed in a way that tells a complete story with a dramatic arch.

Those who go into Yoshimi expecting a new musical inspired by the music of the Flaming Lips (not their aesthetic) will undoubtedly leave pleased.
sundayclothes2
Featured Actor
joined:4/10/09
someone.else's.story2
Leading Actor
joined:3/18/07
Yay! Happy to hear the good review and I'm also glad that I know it's not going to be the usual lips party. I actually tend to prefer dark musicals so I a, hopeful still about this. Can't wait to see it on Saturday :)
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ``oscar wilde``
someone.else's.story2
Leading Actor
joined:3/18/07
I really enjoyed the show. I'm glad that I came not expecting a lips-esque type concert and feel like Des McAnuff was able to weave together an interesting and plausible storyline using almost exclusively Wayne's songs.

The performances were uniformly good, especially Paul Nolan. I enjoyed Kimiko Glenn much more than expected (having seen her in the Spring Awakening tour a few years ago and finding her quite annoying). The character of Booker seems a bit underwritten and thankless and I hope they will continue to work on the book, but I found it a moving story and visually stunning.

There were some tech glitches (seemed like a sound issue) a minute or so in and they had to stop the show and just started over a few minutes later. Always interesting when stuff like that happens, but the restart came with applause so I don't think the audience minded.

I'll be interested to see what others think about it.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ``oscar wilde``
Idiot
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/10
Saw this on Friday and it is truly bad. Ya can't connect to a story about the struggle of a character who is completely void of dimension. The least deserved standing o I've ever sat through. But hey, at least Des got to exercise his ADD!

Updated On: 12/17/12 at 12:20 AM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
That's a shame to hear, because on paper this sounds like it could've been truly inventive, daring, and fun.
Idiot
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/10
Well... I suppose it was daring to dive into a show without developing ANY characters... but that's the peril of these 'jukebox' scenarios. Maybe of you're a big Flaming Lips fan, it would work for you because you're pre-endeared to the music? I don't know. Neither me nor my companion could find a way in to the piece -- and the audience did not seem engaged until it came time to stand, applaud and justify the ticket price.
mlsheehan
Leading Actor
joined:1/10/05
Well, I can't say that I've ever heard a Flaming Lips song before seeing the show, but I thought the show was very strong. Yes, it needs some tweaking, but I was very interested in the story - mainly because of how the music is required to carry most of the story (along with some very good staging). Some of the songs are, or course, metaphorical and do not directly address the plot per se. However, I really liked the music and lyrics to the show, and I would definitely buy a cast recording (if it were available).

I agree that the characters are a bit thin, but I believe they could be developed more in future productions. Specifically, Yoshimi and Booker need more depth.

The staging is probably the most interesting that I've seen Des McAnuff do in many productions – lots of stage tricks and interesting visuals. A lot of it was almost like watching a music video. There is a bit of coldness to the show, which doesn't allow one to exactly cozy up to the characters (even the singing is given a metallic tone). This does seem to be a specific choice, and, to me, it seemed in keeping with some of the themes and inspiration of the piece - humanity lost in machinery, anime, game playing, etc.

I could see this show being very successful; however, I’m not sure it would find a mainstream audience on Broadway. Although, the five in my group all liked it to varying degrees (men and women from 50s up), but we all see quite a few shows a year so we are probably not typical of the “tourist” crowd.
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
I mean, the issue of these sort of affairs is taking a body of songs and retroactively make them relevant to a story. I would've thought this would have been better since there's already a sort of "story" to the album (a clearer one than American Idiot, at least).
sundayclothes2
Featured Actor
joined:4/10/09
^Not really though...

The album of American Idiot tells a clear story with characters from beginning to end. The album of Yoshimi implies that there is a love triangle which involves a character named Yoshimi who is battling pink robots, and that is dropped after the fourth song...
mlsheehan
Leading Actor
joined:1/10/05
There is a definite story to the show.

A few songs seemed squeezed in, perhaps. There really isn't much book - most of the show is sung. The little bit of book that there is deals mostly with Yoshimi's illness and treatment options. As a previous poster mentioned, the book is weak. A revised book would help the proceedings and could definitely be used to strength character.

A lot of the show goes from one song to the next with no dialogue - similiar to Tommy. However, Tommy had character defining songs and songs that directly moved the plot along. Some of the song choices here are a bit more oblique. My understanding is that they took songs from several albums (not just one). Again, I'm not familiar with the catalogue. However, it seemed that way from the concession stand, at least.
someone.else's.story2
Leading Actor
joined:3/18/07
I agree with mlsheehan, in that Yoshimi absolutely told a story and myself (early 30's) as well as my companion (50) both enjoyed the show. I was previously familiar with the lips and my companion wasn't. We were both very engaged in the story and the show as a whole.

I believe that this show used songs from The Soft Bulletin (most of the songs) and from another EP. Des McAnuff changed the order even from the album that had most of the songs.

I agree that it may not have as much mainstream appeal, but I could see it being successful if they flesh out the book and add more backstory for Booker and maybe the parents.

But, I really enjoyed the show. And, the majority of the audience on the evening is saw it did as well.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ``oscar wilde``
little_sally
Broadway Legend
joined:1/15/04
I just worry that there won't be an audience for this. Yes, I am a big Flaming Lips fan but I don't know many others who would buy tickets to a musical using their music. They're also not a household name, so that doesn't appeal to the general population.
A little swash, a bit of buckle - you'll love it more than bread.
egghumor
Broadway Legend
joined:3/9/11
Based on what I've read and seen thus far, Yoshimi and the Pink Robots seems to me to be the most exciting new musical around at the moment. Much more so than Matilda, Kinky Boots, or Hands on a Hardbody. Hope this one succeeds big time!
sundayclothes2
Featured Actor
joined:4/10/09
Oh, I wasn't saying that the show Yoshimi doesn't have a story -- it absolutely does. I was arguing that Michael Mayer had more of a story to draw from with American Idiot than Des did with Yoshimi.  The play American Idiot virtually tells the same story as the 2004 Green Day album, while the musical adaptation of Yoshimi only had a vague notion of a story that is carried out in four songs of an album to pull from.   Des was forced to create much of the story as unlike Idiot, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robot is not a concept album. 

Updated On: 12/18/12 at 12:32 AM
Idiot
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/10
Guys & Gals, when you forgive a professional show for having a 'thin' title / central character and no warmth when it's about a girl battling cancer, you are being FAR too generous -- and I'd like to figure out why.
faithzilla
Featured Actor
joined:1/3/09
Wow. I'm so intrigued by this. I'm a big Flaming Lips fan and have seen them live multiple times, and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is of course my favorite album.

I definitely agree there are issues with having an audience for this. Especially because Lips fans are definitely going to expect a concert-like spectacle. I would, had I not read this.

I feel like there's a slim chance that this will make it to Broadway, simply because it's not really a crowd pleaser.

How involved has the band been in the process?
someone.else's.story2
Leading Actor
joined:3/18/07
Trannie, I think this show has somewhat limited appeal, which is pretty much what has been said in the other posts. I loved it and i'm happy that some other people did as well. I did not find it cold, it a tally made me cry.


That said, the book needs some help and it is not going to appeal to people who like traditional musical theater or those who don't like somewhat depressing musicals (though I didn't find it totally depressing but it is about cancer which will automatically turn some off).

The why? Different tastes, I'd say. I hope the show moves forward but I can agree that it's appeal won't be as wide reaching as other shows. Other than th spectacle, I feel like this one would play better in NYC in a venue like Playwrights Horizon or off Broadway.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” ``oscar wilde``
WSStory
Stand-by
joined:2/5/05
Saw the last performance on Sunday night. I loved it!!! I had no idea who The Flaming Lips were. The music was just gorgeous. I loved the staging. Going in, I was afraid that it would be dominated by the tech (robots) but it had just the right amount. The big robot was beautifully done. The night was full of stage images I won't forget.
I do hope this makes it to Broadway.
http://homepage.mac.com/gilsan1/broadwayart/

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