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Marie Christine / Wild Party

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Sally Durant Plummer
Featured Actor
joined:8/15/13
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 12:49am
Having only recently discovered these wonderful cast recordings, I am intrigued by the original productions. I have been able to track down a "naughty" audio of MC, and was so upset to discover that much of the beautiful score was not recorded. However these scores are so incredibly different, yet both ravishing (and splendidly orchestrated). I am wondering how these productions played out onstage, considering they got, to be polite, an unimpressed reception. Did anyone see these productions? It amazes me that one composer wrote two breathtaking scores for Broadway the same year.
"I know what a show-stopping song is. I know what you get a Tony for. Neither of those songs were it. And Sheryl Lee Ralph didn't even get nominated. Even with the new material. You know as an artist when somebody's giving you material that will stop a show. Give me the material. I know how to stop a show." - Tonya Pinkins Blocked: mjohnson2
mjohnson2 Profile Photo
mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 01:00am
Michael John LaChiusa, no matter what your opinion on him is (I think he is a genius), is capable of writing scores that vary so differently it doesn't even seem like he could compose all of them. I saw both productions (though I think I was a little too young to see the Wild Party, my parents let me go) and I thought that both of them work better as albums then they do on stage, but for different reasons. From reading the script years later, LaChiusa really should not have written the book to Marie Christine, as pretty much all of the show's flaws come from it. It has a lot of potential if somebody else were to rewrite it, but at the moment it lacks enough dramatic tension or enough intrigue. Audra was, from what I remember, Audra was phenomenal, but sounded a bit strained. The Wild Party is a different story. The book and lyrics (which can be bought on Amazon in "The New American Musical") are flawless in every way. George C. Wolfe was the perfect choice to write the book to the show, but wasn't the best choice to direct it. You can watch almost the whole show on youtube if you look up "Marie is tricky" on YT, and it is clearly visible that the direction that he took it in, while flawlessly executed, was the wrong idea (he presented it as a vaudeville, with intentionally cheesy movement and direction, that seems like it would work in theory, but doesn't allow for any real dramatic moments). Somebody else directing it could make the show amazing, as the score is, in my opinion, the 3rd best score written for the theatre (behind Merrily We Roll Along and Anything Goes) and could be handled much better by audiences today than it could 14 years ago (much like Chicago). I would kill to see a revival.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 07:18am
I saw both of these shows.

It would be hard to pronounce which was more unendurable. When you get to the bottom of the barrel where these two lie, what difference does it make, anyway?

Both shows were absolute stinkers: boring, painful, hideously ugly in every way, both book and scores. In both cases, the audience was relentlessly bludgeoned into a stupor. Many at Marie Christine countered the assault by escaping at intermission, or drifting into the benevolent arms of Morpheus. I didn't leave, foolishly, and was kept awake by the horrible music. To prevent the audience's escape, The Wild Party didn't provide an intermission. Yet the audience was resolute, and people walked out in a steady stream during the performance. Audiences are a feisty lot, when provoked, and boy, were they ever provoked by this loser! And I say good for them!




Updated On: 7/11/14 at 07:18 AM
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 07:33am
"as the score is, in my opinion, the 3rd best score written for the theatre (behind Merrily We Roll Along and Anything Goes) "

Have you heard the scores to The Red Mill, Show Boat, Good News, Porgy and Bess, Kiss Me, Kate, South Pacific, My Fair Lady....., First Impressions, Maggie Flynn, La Strada. ........?
newintown Profile Photo
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 09:04am
I saw both, in workshops and final productions. My personal opinion on LaChiusa's work is informed by his personal neuroses; there was once a joke going around that he wrote a show a month, but never re-wrote. It's not true, but there is the feeling that he often settles for his first draft - the lyrics are frequently unclear, sometimes unnecessarily vulgar, awkwardly structured, or just strange coming from the characters assigned to them. As a composer, he seems to shy away from structure again, preferring a pretty (or, to some, "beautiful") flowing recitative.

When he overcomes these things, he succeeds well as a songwriter; however, he always sabotages himself with his books. Sometimes he is credited solely, sometimes another writer is - but his hand is visible in the collaboration. One aspect all his shows share is a leaden, repetitive, unsurprising approach to storytelling (again, as in everything in this post, in my opinion).

It's very telling that, in more than 30 years of theatre writing, he hasn't had a financial success yet.

About the two shows mentioned above in particular: I found Marie Christine slightly more effective in workshop than in production; the workshop featured much more dance, and some actual fun; by the time it became a production, it was an almost-unrelieved evening of gloom and screaming.

The Wild Party was a sad evening of fascinating moments with nothing to hold them together; all the characters are either loathsome or grotesque, each one more awful and self-involved and stupid than the last. There's no one to root for in the show. Who cares if Queenie and Black get it on? Who cares if Dolores cons the producers into putting her in a show? Who cares if Burrs has another trademarked Patinkin manic moment? It all eventually amounted to a long trip to nothing.

Updated On: 7/11/14 at 09:04 AM
temms
Broadway Star
joined:7/21/04
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 10:22am
What newintown said. I saw both, was very excited to see both, and left extremely disappointed. This line about MC:

"it was an almost-unrelieved evening of gloom and screaming. "

Thank you for succinctly summarizing my impressions. And I saw it twice, once with Audra and once with Sherry Boone, her alternate (who actually sounded better in some sections, which I blame on the composer for not effectively writing for his star.) It could have been so interesting with the New Orleans setting and the Voodoo overtones (I still remember the Mother's song about "Miracles and Mysteries" or something and wished the whole show had been more like that) but it was a tough sit.

But for the record, I would not rank the pedestrian "Maggie Flynn" as any better than either of LaChiusa's back-to-back Broadway scores, flawed though they may be. I'll admit I've never gotten around to "First Impressions".
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:00am
Temms,

The point is not whether Maggie Flynn, First Impressions and La Strada are superior to these two wretched scores, though they most certainly are, which, to be sure, is no great achievement. Hell, the scores to Got To Go Disco and Fearless Frank were superior to these two lemons.

The point is that the poster stated that the score to WP was the "3rd best score written for the theatre." For such a statement to hold water means one would have had to know every score ever written for the theatre.
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Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:15am
Wow, someone said something nice about a show and After Eight and newintown pounce on it…what a shock.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:20am
Wow, I expressed an opinion with reasoning and one of the Matts pounced on it, rather than adding anything substantive...what a shock.

Updated On: 7/11/14 at 11:20 AM
tazber Profile Photo
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:21am
I'm not a LaChuisa fan. I enjoy some of his work however and the score for Marie Christine is one of the most beautiful scores I've ever heard.

I do disagree with mrjohnson though. To me his work sounds very much the same in all his shows. That's not a bad thing necessarily though, it just means he has an inimitable style.


But as newintown said, a lot of what he writes feels unfinished or at least unpolished.
....but the world goes 'round
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dreaming
Broadway Legend
joined:4/24/09
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:29am
Typically I'm not a LaChiusa fan. (I did see Marie Christine and Audra was out. Her understudy was fine but the show was not to my liking. I listened to The Wild Party one time and put it away. It just didn't do it for me.)

The only LaChiusa piece I liked was "Queen of the Mist". That was where I thought he really broke through. The characters were really well written and I loved the performances.
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Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 11:51am
"Wow, I expressed an opinion with reasoning and one of the Matts pounced on it, rather than adding anything substantive...what a shock."

I would if I thought there was anything of substance worth adding to your typical near-caricature pessimism.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
Updated On: 7/11/14 at 11:51 AM
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 12:40pm
What I found odd about MC was, you take a Greek drama, deconstruct it and set it in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, and then stage it like a Greek drama. Maybe Graciela Daniele just wasn't the right director for the piece.
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Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 12:51pm
"What I found odd about MC was, you take a Greek drama, deconstruct it and set it in New Orleans at the end of the 19th century, and then stage it like a Greek drama."

What you call odd, sir, I call fascinating.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
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Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 01:35pm
I saw Marie Christine because any show starring Audra MacDonald was going to have something great to offer. Sadly I agree with other posters that that was a LONG dull evening to slog through. I have no other memories about the score per se, which tells me all I need to know.

LaChiusa's THE WILD PARTY, on the other hand, was for me one of the great nights of theater that year! I was thrilled by the staging, loved the design choices, was completely taken in with Toni Collette's performance as Queenie and utterly cared about what happened to her character in the end. The score is one of those I enjoy on a regular basis-- when after all the hubbub of the first half, Queenie and Blackie take a breather to sing PEOPLE LIKE US I'm in musical theater heaven.

Updated On: 7/11/14 at 01:35 PM
tazber Profile Photo
tazber
Broadway Legend
joined:5/10/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 01:40pm
People Like Us is undoubtedly my favorite LaChuisa song.
....but the world goes 'round
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Mr. Nowack
Broadway Star
joined:2/2/14
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 02:43pm
I agree "People Like Us" is a truly glorious musical theater moment.

I love THE WILD PARTY a lot. I've never had a chance to see MARIE CHRISTINE, but I have very mixed feelings about the score. Some parts of it are really great, but a lot of the rest blends together and just goes on and on.
I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 02:47pm
Mattbrain, you are truly a ridiculous and ignorant waste of toilet paper. The day you have an interesting idea in your tiny head, the windows of all Manhattan will explosively shatter from the overwhelming and universal cries of disbelief and astonishment.
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Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 02:50pm
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 03:12pm
Wow, these are some really varied opinions. But I get why people don't like either of these shows. My opinion still stands, and I will rephrase my original statement about THE WILD PARTY's score and say that of the many scores for the theatre that I've heard, it is my 3rd favorite. I didn't mean to sound obnoxious by stating that it was actually greater than any other score because we all have our opinions, and mine is that THE WILD PARTY's score is incredible.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 05:39pm
As Matt has alluded to, we've discussed both shows at some length, and I know I always say the same things, but I have to add a few comments...

I find both scores on CD thrilling. Marie Christine is maybe my favorite score of the past 20 years, music wise. I think especially the first act from Beautiful to I Will Give is just thrilling both in its variety and drama--I got a few mean PMs from someone on here because i compared it to parts of Porgy and Bess. It's let down a bit by the actual end of Act I--I would have ended with I Will Give, and I don't think Act II ever quite hits the peaks of that entire, long sequence of music.

I have seen a bootleg of the production, and I sorta get why maybe it didn't work in its staging. I still wish I could have seen it live.

The Wild Party is also incredible. But again, seeing a live recording where, as presented in one increasingly disturbing act, audiences were maybe too uncomfortable for it to work on Broadway. Still, anyone who says LaChiusa writes tuneless music needs to listen to People Like Us which is one of the most perfect songs from any Broadway score ever.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 06:01pm
"Wow, someone said something nice about a show and After Eight and newintown pounce on it…what a shock."

Apples and oranges. To his credit, even if I don't agree, newintown explained what he thought worked with the music and shows and why he thought ultimately they failed. He also was clear that it was his opinion and that people who thought otherwise were not automatically wrong. That's the point of this forum--to discuss and argue opinions. I appreciated reading his thoughts.

After8 merely likes to reiterate that they aren't as good as Sally, and nothing ever ever ever will be.
Updated On: 7/11/14 at 06:01 PM
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 06:05pm
"The only LaChiusa piece I liked was "Queen of the Mist". That was where I thought he really broke through. The characters were really well written and I loved the performances. "

Interesting, as this seems to be, perhaps, his least talked about show, even among his fans. I have to admit, it's his one CD I have played the least so I'm not very familiar with it... I'll have to change that this weekend.
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mjohnson2
Broadway Star
joined:11/2/13
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 06:37pm
QUEEN OF THE MIST was a good show in an absolutely disastrous production. A better production would highlight the quality of the show.
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
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Mattbrain
Broadway Legend
joined:11/23/05
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 07:29pm
"Mattbrain, you are truly a ridiculous and ignorant waste of toilet paper. The day you have an interesting idea in your tiny head, the windows of all Manhattan will explosively shatter from the overwhelming and universal cries of disbelief and astonishment."

Sticks and stones, bitch.
Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you. --Cartman: South Park ATTENTION FANS: I will be played by James Barbour in the upcoming musical, "BroadwayWorld: The Musical."
EricMontreal22 Profile Photo
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Marie Christine / Wild Party
Posted: 7/11/14 at 09:07pm
"QUEEN OF THE MIST was a good show in an absolutely disastrous production. A better production would highlight the quality of the show."

It sounds like a lot of LaChiusa's musicals have that fate. I have emailed with him about the Japanese Nutcracker he did and have only had cryptic remarks back (he talks about it on one of his blogs.)


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