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Act One Previews

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blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/20/14 at 10:47pm
Would love to hear about this, any BWWers going tonight?
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/20/14 at 11:48pm
I hope the lack of response is all because it ran late and not because nobody went.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
dave1606
Broadway Star
joined:12/8/07
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/20/14 at 11:59pm
The good: This play has the best set of any play this season. Jaw-droppingly massive, on a giant turntable, and very serviceable for the story. Unfortunately this adaption seems to have decided the only way to put this onstage was to just have characters take turns reading the book. Not quite, but Tony Shaloub and Stantino Fontana stand and narrate much of the show. The storytelling is just plain lazy, and as a result, the play just simply has very little dramatic tension.

The cast almost all double up roles which I was grateful that Andrea Martin a few more roles t play. She is rather miscast in an unsympathetic role as Moss's aunt. Unfortunately none of the roles quite give her the right way to show off her comedic talents here.

The show is WAY too long. It ran till almost 11:10pm tonight and you could feel the audience getting restless. In fact much of the second act deals with how you fix a play that isn't connecting with an audience. If only they had listened!

Overall the production looks great, the acting is fine, but it is all very mediocre and just plain dull.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel Profile Photo
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:00am
Sitting through Act One was very, very trying, but it also provided me with one of the most meta experiences I've had in the theater.

The play ran 3 hours and 10 minutes, which I believe makes it the longest show of the season so far, surpassing both All the Way and Les Miserables.

Now stick with me here, but act one of Act One reminded me of A Free Man of Color. The writing style wasn't similar, but they were each overstuffed with too many characters and plotlines and basically were too ambitious for their own good. Both were lovely to look at, and the MASSIVE turntable set is a stunner here.

Three actors play Moss Hart, and Tony Shalhoub is takes with playing Moss, his father Bernard AND Kaufman!!

Act one meanders and rambles while telling the story of the early years of Hart's life. You could honestly condense the entire first 90 minutes into a 15 minute prologue and get all the information you needed. There's a ton of narration right to the audience that reminded me of lazy voiceover in a film. Act one ends with Hart finally meeting Kaufman, and trust me I couldn't have cared less about what was going to happen in act two.

Act two began more promisingly because Kaufman was 100% more interesting of a character than Hart ever was going to be. Shalhoub played him very well and it was fun (at first) to see the two of them try to fix the first draft of Once In a Lifetime. But here's where the meta crept in...during one scene Kaufman took a pen and began crossing out entire pages of the play claiming this character didn't need a backstory and this joke goes on for too long AFTER WE HAD JUST PUT UP WITH UNNECESSARY BACKSTORY AND JOKES THAT WENT ON TOO LONG!!!

Then we went from out of town tryout to out of town tryout with the characters yammering on and on about how troubled the play was and how it was falling about in the second half of the show, just as Lapine was unraveling this play as each line was spoken.

The evil trick was as Once In a Lifetime got better with revisions and changes, Act One only proceeded to get worse. After four scenes belaboring the third act trouble that was all too ironic to handle, we were treated to false ending after false ending after false ending.

I've got to hand it to the actors for sticking with it and get us to the end, but just as the actors in Once In a Lifetime kept complaining about having to learn new lines every night, I suspect this group will be doing the same thing.

Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
blaxx Profile Photo
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:01am
Well, that sounds disappointing.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
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oncemorewithfeeling2
Featured Actor
joined:4/25/13
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:09am
Thanks for the honest rundown, Whizzer. Truthfully, this was one of the shows I was most excited about seeing this spring, but this was one preview. Hopefully they can tighten up the length...3 hours is a long show. Happy to hear Shalhoub is solid.
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WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:23am
I was very excited for this because the casting is great. Golden Boy was my favorite show all last season and I was thrilled that Shalhoub was returing so quickly to the stage.

Andrea Martin seemed to play more characters than Uncle Jocko in Baby It's You, and she has some funny one-liners, but there's a lot of her material that could be cut. Lapine needs to take the advice Hart gives Kaufman when he tells him that they have to cut this big expensive set piece in the third act. Kaufman replies that they spent too much money on it to cut it now, and it gets a big laugh to boot. Hart tells him all of that doesn't matter, and painful as it may be they need to junk the set- plus, he adds, the future audiences will never know what they missed.

Lapine did write and direct, so it's all up to him with how much he wants or is able to fix this.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
blaxx Profile Photo
blaxx
Broadway Legend
joined:6/28/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:31am
I had really high hopes for this one, I hope he can fix it. Three hours is way too long.
Listen, I don't take my clothes off for anyone, even if it is "artistic". - JANICE
oasisjeff
Broadway Star
joined:11/15/07
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:34am
Rylance's Twelfth Night was 3 hours long and it flew by in an exhilarating rush. A 75-minute show without a point is too long...
Now t/d/b/a haterobics on here.
brdway411
Broadway Star
joined:2/24/14
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:34am
Ouch, seeing Act One on Wednesday, Holy cow, 3 hours. Looking forward to seeing Andrea Martin again.
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perfectlymarvelous
Broadway Legend
joined:5/21/07
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 12:57am
I hope Lapine is able to tighten this up through previews...this was one of the things I was most excited about seeing this spring.

For those who went, how is Santino Fontana? I'm a fan of his and he's one of the main reasons I was excited about this.
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RippedMan
Broadway Legend
joined:8/14/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 01:49am
Hm.... I kind of want to see it before they cut the expensive set piece though... ha.
Fan123
Stand-by
joined:8/30/08
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 05:38am
Veering off-topic, has anybody seen 'One In A Lifetime' itself performed? How was it? I read it ages ago after reading 'Act One' (the book, which I enjoyed); can't remember much except being mystified as to why OIAL was a success. I found very little of it funny. In fact, I think I recall not even comprehending why certain parts of it were (presumably) intended to be funny. Maybe its style is too much of its time for my taste. Maybe it needs to be seen performed, not just read.
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JayG 2
Stand-by
joined:12/19/12
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 07:25am
Good God! If sitting through a show that is three hours is so torturous, stay the hell home!
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel Profile Photo
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 07:28am
RippedMan, They can't cut any part of the set. It is all one massive unit, with some sections being three stories tall. Most of the rooms don't have back walls so you can see the entire set the whole show. It's very impressive.

PM, Santino was good. He ends up playing the straight man to Shalhoub's wacky Kaufman, so despite his ample stage time it is a less showy role than some of the others. I like that he has a nice, easy presence and he doesn't try to force charisma or affability. It's simply there.

OJ, Yes, a short show can feel longer than an epic; The Anarchist stretched 75 minutes into oblivion and back again! I'm not opposed to three hour shows on principle, but they need justify their run times. Act One was so exasperating because the characters are discussing overlong and problematic plays. They are so adept at show doctoring, but the man writing this play desperately needed his characters to start fixing the dialogue in the play they were appearing, not the one they were writing.

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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bjh2114
Broadway Legend
joined:4/19/06
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:06am
Whizzer, where were your seats? Because the set is so massive, do you think you can see the entire thing from the side sections of the the theatre, or is everything set forward enough on the thrust that it's visible from everywhere?
oasisjeff
Broadway Star
joined:11/15/07
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:10am
"The Anarchist stretched 75 minutes into oblivion and back again! "

I agree. I think I saw the second preview of Anarchist, and had Mamet sign a book afterwards for me. I thought it was a train wreck and he said "Wow! Didn't they do a great job tonight!" I knew it was doomed at that point, since he seemed to have no sense what we were experiencing, hehe.
Now t/d/b/a haterobics on here.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel Profile Photo
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:33am
bjh, I was in the mezz and it was a perfect view. The center orchestra would work too, but I think you would miss the full effect sitting in the far side orchestra sections.

Many of the scenes are played downstage on the thrust, but you get to see the entire world all at once when looking dead on.

OJ, I wish I hadn't brought up The Anarchist because the memories are triggering a PTSD like reaction. Both Patti and the audience got to play the role of incarcerated prisoner with that one!
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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henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:42am
"since [Mame] seemed to have no sense what we were experiencing,"

Like his politics.
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macnyc
Broadway Legend
joined:7/26/08
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:57am
I'm getting the feeling I should turn in my Act One tickets and try to see Aladdin instead!
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 09:08am
Maybe a case of "stay home and read the book?" (I love the book.)
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel Profile Photo
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 09:16am
I admit I've never read the book so I can't say. It did make me want to find out more about Kaufman, who was portrayed as a truly fascinating man.

How much of Hart's life does the book cover? The play stops at opening night of Once In a Lifetime so we don't get to see Hart's later triumphs with Kaufman nor his successes as a director.

Did the two of them remain friends? (Were they ever "friends" or merely collaborators? Was Kaufman friends with anyone?)
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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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 09:29am
Lord, it's been years since I read it, and I don't have it near at hand at the moment, but my recollection is that it only goes up to the success of Once In A Lifetime.

I suppose that explains the title - I imagine that he must have considered writing sequels, like Coward did to his first book of memoirs.
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MarkBearSF
Understudy
joined:1/25/11
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 04:22pm
Saw Once in a Lifetime at ACT in SF a couple of years ago. There were some funny bits and I got an idea of what must've been fresh back then, but mostly it was long and just didn't work for me.
BroadwayBaby2012
Swing
joined:10/23/12
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/21/14 at 08:21pm
I can't argue with the work that needs to be done on the play. But I disagree about some of the posts about Andrea Martin. What I loved about her was actually her non-comedic characters - the aunt and Kaufman's wife. I thought it was a huge departure for her from her previous shows and that she had very touching scenes in both roles. I don't think it is miscasting because she isn't playing big comedy stuff. I found her a refreshing casting choice and a strong asset to the production.
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Sophiia
Understudy
joined:3/13/11
Act One Previews
Posted: 3/22/14 at 12:46am
Saw the first preview as well and have to agree with everything that has been said - this was way too long and very slow/unnecessarily detailed. I never felt invested in the success of the show within a show (Once In A Lifetime), especially because the bits they did show (of the rehearsal process, etc.) did not seem engaging or funny :/ I did think Shaloub was wonderful, though. He transitions between characters and accents flawlessly, playing three completely different roles (the father, Kaufman, and older Moss Hart). I'm a big Santino fan and enjoyed him. Definitely an easy presence. I feel like this one is a case of flawed material, not performance or anything else. And just because it bears repeating, this set is perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen. I would honestly recommend going to see the show just for the set. The cast maneuvers all the staircases flawlessly and the rooms are just gorgeous. Andrea was great, but I felt like the material was stifling her humor a bit. She's funnier than that. I will say, though, there were a number of lines that got me really laughing. So perhaps if they cut a lot (and I mean a LOT), this will improve? I am sort of interested in reading the book! Heard lots of audience members saying the book is a lot better.

BTW I sat in the side orchestra and thought the view was great! I can imagine that the view of that set from the mezzanine is nice, but I could see everything and loved being so close to the actors. No complaints on that front! (Except that the seats are so tight...my poor knees!)

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