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Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please

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TEACHEROFTHEATER
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Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please#0
Posted: 9/12/03 at 2:52pm
I was dismayed to learn that the upcoming Broadway production of Wonderful Town, will in fact be a "concertlike" version, based on the Encores series performance, as was Chicago.

I think it is great that, if there is no other way, for a musical to play in a concert version. There are certain rare cases where stripping the costumes and scenery away could make for a better show. I'm not sure what those cases are, but I am sure it is very cool to say that we can enjoy a show without scenery and costumes. Whatever. But gimme a break.

I think there is a chance that were Bob Fosse alive, he might say "ok, now that we have safely assured a big profit, can we kindly put the scenery, costumes and stagecraft back into CHICAGO?"

There have been people desperately disappointed when seeing a "blackbox" or "concert version" of a show. For lots of folks the theater razzle dazzle enriched by exciting effects, scenery and costumes is very important.

I would hope that advertisements would let potential buyers know they are seeing a stripped down version of a show.....that was certainly not intended by its creators. This is not to say it may not be wonderful and all that, but folks should clearly know.
"MAY YOUR LIFE BE AS BRIGHT AS BROADWAY AT NIGHT"
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re: Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please#1
Posted: 9/12/03 at 3:00pm
i agree with your post saying chicago was bare. i saw the new tour, and i have footage of the original chicago with gwen and chita, it was colorful and vibrant, i liked that look. it was very vaudeville-esque and rob marshall tried for that feel again, especially in all i care about is love, almost just like the 70's version where billy is in his underwear!

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yes handsomerob,

in the original production when Billy was in his underwear, he walked over to his tailor, as I recall when All I Care About is Love was finished.

The set and costumes of the original Chicago were great:)
"MAY YOUR LIFE BE AS BRIGHT AS BROADWAY AT NIGHT"
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i liked the shimmery jail-stripped outfits for "cell block tango"
the outfits for the overall show were seady and sleezy just the way fosse remembered as he grew up in the burlesque days. if gwen and chita could wear two peice outfits when they were in their 40's and 50's so can everyone else!
Updated On: 9/12/03 at 03:04 PM
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true true.
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i also think that the costumes for the revival of chicago are too classy. they aren't sleezy and seedy enough for the characters and ensemble. in the 70's it was very seedy yet it was more comical that it is today.

how did that work?
70's more seedy costumes but more comical
90's more classy sleek costumes a little darker tone, not too mention EVERYTHING in black. how did that happen?
WOSQ
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The play's the thing.

Wonderful Town worked so well in its Encores staging because it wasn't a stage full of scenery. We could concentrate on the show and the actors without having the "ooohh!" factor.

Chicago is very much the same thing. Less is more.

The production will be fine.
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ofcourse the play is the thing is the truth. some shows NEED the razzle dazzle effects to overcompinsate for a bad show, some shows NEED the razzle dazzle to support and underscore the show. When there's a show with a song that goes "give em the old razzle dazzle" you expect a little more than sequins dropping from the ceiling. i may be wrong, but my opinion.
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Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please#8
Posted: 9/12/03 at 3:40pm
Having seen both the original and revival productions of CHICAGO, I have to say I like the revival costumes more. Did we really need the silly clown costumes in Razzle Dazzle or to see Jerry Orbach got up like Clarence Darrow? I miss Tony Walton's set more. And without a table for the women to play poker, one of the best scenes got cut. Gwen & Chita only wore the two piece costumes out of town. They were changed to costumes more like what they wore on Broadway's Lost Treasures for NY.

I think it has been said the only way WONDERFUL TOWN would have been revived on Broadway was in a bare production. After the flops of BELLS ARE RINGING and ON THE TOWN, I guess it would have been hard to get the money for a full, elaborate production. And as Ken Mandelbaum pointed out, it will need a rave from Brantley to run and he loved the concert version.
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re: Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please#9
Posted: 9/12/03 at 3:43pm
i guess a better way of putting it is when i saw the revival i didnt feel that i was in the 30's. i felt here are some actors in black costumes slinking around to great songs and choreography. the costumes weren't time period, but rather in some suspended reality...?

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Well, one of the things that was mentioned about the CHICAGO revival was that the show was, in many ways, more relevant today. We live in the age of the glorified, infamous celebrity. Paring down the production makes us deal with the material and it's message.

The 'Razzle Dazzle' you speak of comes from those fabulous songs and the movement of those bodies through space. The performers (when great) make up for any lack of scenery or costumes.
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The original costumes weren't all "period" either. Verdon ripped off a robe after she was wheeled out from "the doctor's office" and got up in black tights similar to Ann Reinking's costume to dance Me & My Baby. Only Mama, Billy, Amos and Mary Sunshine had more realistic costumes than the revival. The chorus costumes in the original reminded me of PIPPIN. But I do see your point that the revival costumes distanced you a bit from the material. Many of the costumes in the original did that for me as well. It was the first Broadway show I saw and I expected more realisitc costumes like what you might have seen in DOLLY or MAME.
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Personally, I like the less is more concert version of Chicago. I think it allows you to focus on the talent in the cast (which with the exception of Melanie, the cast is SUPER talented!!!!) rather than flashy scenery or costumes. Just my 2c re: re: re: Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please
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Though I have never seen the revival or original productions, based on what I know, I would enjoy the revival more. You don't need sets and effects to have a great show.
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the great world of brilliant scenic and costume designers have had a longstanding tradition in the theater. When in doubt, I prefer to see a show
as the original authors intended...

with a fully designed set and costumes....I saw the production of Dreamgirls that played Broadway just about two years after the original closed. For me, having virtually no sets, costumes, etc. didn't add much to the show. I loved it, but I also loved the full blown original production.

Robactorguy, the current revival of Chicago is based on the Encores Series presentation. The shows in the Encores Series are done in concert. That explains the costumes and stuff in the Chicago revival.

One guesses that the Wonderful Town revival will "look" much like Chicago.
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Is there any site that would have pictures (color) of the original Chicago production?
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Double post...
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Updated On: 9/12/03 at 06:07 PM
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Is there any site that would have pictures (color) of the original Chicago production?
I'm as jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo!
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Double post...
I'm as jumpy as a virgin at a prison rodeo!
Updated On: 9/12/03 at 06:08 PM
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Costumes & Scenery On Broadway Please#19
Posted: 9/12/03 at 6:24pm
The Encores production of Wonderful Town looked NOTHING like Chicago. The bandstand was very Art Deco and scenery flew in (the barest of scenery) but it looked just right for the show.
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My sketches for set and costumes for the

Fondly, as ever, Max
Updated On: 9/12/03 at 06:36 PM
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Comes down to...

do you want to see a revival of Wonderful own or not. With it's numerous sets and characters (as Ken M said in his column), it would be large investment on an "ify" show (meaing- not as many communitty theaters do "WT" as opssoed to "Annie" or "Fiddler" so less know it outside the theater world).

By stripping this down, at least we get a chance to hear the music and book.
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I agree with you WOSQ. Arguments are not well supported with generalizations like, "There have been people desperately disappointed when seeing a 'blackbox' or 'concert version' of a show." Really? What are their names? Maybe we could all send them a little note.
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Plus, if you think about it, the locales for "wonderful Town" could probably bear with a skeletal or minimalistic approach. The sisters' Greenwich Village apartment is a spartan, subterranean cave. Other scenes are set in some mundane locales, like a street corner, the Navy yard, a Police station, an outdoor patio, a publishers' office and a beatnik nightclub. Not anything like the Harmonia Gardens or the Paris Opera House. From what I've seen of photos of the original production of "Wonderful Town" (and the glorious kinescope of Roz Russell in action), the show had lots of flats and wagons. I'd much rather they have a spare set and spend their money to give us the full orchestrations.
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