Review: BEYOND BEAUTIFUL (THE HEDY LAMAR MUSICAL) at Green Room 42

A Concert Performance

By: Nov. 24, 2023
Review: BEYOND BEAUTIFUL (THE HEDY LAMAR MUSICAL) at Green Room 42
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Hedy Lamarr, the most beautiful and glamorous woman in Hollywood’s studio heyday had a REMARKABLE life.  Robert and Cristina Farruggia’s new musical “Beyond Beautiful,” which enjoyed a superb concert reading at Green Room 42, tells her story in loving fashion.  The sibling team assembled a first-rate cast for the concert, with Cristina Farruggia playing the title role.  Director Tommy J. Dose did double duty, directing and providing a first-rate fill-in for an indisposed Mark Aldrich as Emil Kiesler, Hedy’s father. 

Review: BEYOND BEAUTIFUL (THE HEDY LAMAR MUSICAL) at Green Room 42
Cristina Farruggia as Hedy Lamarr

Born the daughter of a prosperous Viennese banker, by the time she was 10, Hedy was the dictionary definition of a prodigy:  a proficient pianist and dancer and could speak four languages.  She made her motion picture debut in 1930 and immediately achieved great notoriety.   The first half of the concert dealt with Hedy’s youth; her struggles with a family that did not approve of her choices, then a husband who also did not approve of her choices.  A standout number in the first half was the delightfully “Sondheim-esc,” “In Time” sung by Kim Lindsay Grutman, as Trude, Hedy’s mother. 

Farruggia’s score was the focus of the concert as fourteen songs, duets and ensemble were performed with intermittent stage direction read by actor, Brady Lynch – who also played Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.   Farruggia’s score was a total revelation; absolutely ravishing, with virtually every number ripe with a full-bodied melody.   It is appropriately and unabashedly lush and romantic, as bespeaking the times, full of soaring melodies, and the capacity audience totally ate them up.

Review: BEYOND BEAUTIFUL (THE HEDY LAMAR MUSICAL) at Green Room 42
Brady Lynch and Kim Lindsay Grutman

It’s difficult to discuss the book of a show from a concert presentation but the story seems to follow the star’s career in fairly chronological order.  (Something a lot of modern directors shy away from, but it served the material well.)  It is always difficult to know just how much of a real-life character’s life story the audience is familiar with, so the challenge is what to include and what to leave out.  This show focuses more on Lamarr’s unknown side – her incredible inventions!  (who knew she practically invented modern wifi, among other things???)

Briefly, Lamarr’s skyrocketing career was stalled by her 1933 marriage to Austrian weapons manufacturer Fritz Mandl, (sung by Brandon Schraml) who did not view her stage and screen appearances favorably.   No spoilers here, but…. she went to Hollywood in 1937, where she appeared became an overnight sensation.  But once again, an over-controlling man, in this case Louis B. Mayer, (also played great zest by Schraml) tried to contain and control her (we know how that went…)

Review: BEYOND BEAUTIFUL (THE HEDY LAMAR MUSICAL) at Green Room 42
Composer Robert Farruggia and Cristina Farrugia

Finally, Hedy’s chance meeting with inventor/composer George Antheil (sung by the composer) provided Hedy with the opportunity to put her true genius to work.   Hedy’s 11th hour number “This Face” is a tour-de-force, a marvelous number which (this critic predicts) sopranos will be using as an audition number for years to come.  And Ms. Farruggia’s sublime, crystalline, soprano delivered the perfect combination of power and tenderness to put it across and had the entire room on their feet at its conclusion. 

There is an undeniable “Girl-Power” aspect to the show, as Hedy overcomes all obstacles placed in her way.  The “strong female character” is something that’s been sadly lacking on Broadway in recent years and Hedy is a refreshing persona, but even that welcome aspect can get a little bit tired, quickly, if it’s the only point to the show - again, difficult to tell in a concert setting.  But the story is certainly a compelling and seriously interesting one, which whether you know the whole story or not will have you cheering for Hedy; and Mr. Farruggia’s score contains more beautiful melodies than any show currently on Broadway, hands down.   Can’t wait to see a full reading of this promising new show very soon!

Peter Danish


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