You were right, Namo

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MasterLcZ
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You were right, Namo#0
Posted: 11/30/03 at 9:21pm
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE seems to have hit written all over it, especially after Brantley's rave (though I do like the fact he lets AVENUE Q off the hook)!
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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Corine2
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re: You were right, Namo#1
Posted: 11/30/03 at 10:53pm
It was wonderful, Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori have a hit! I saw it in previews.
Congratulations to Jeanine Tesori a very talented woman.
Some of Jeanine's other work:
Violet-
Millie
Updated On: 11/30/03 at 10:53 PM
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re: re: You were right, Namo#2
Posted: 11/30/03 at 11:03pm
Michael Kushwara, AP Drama Critic calls it "sombre, earnest show."

Late in the second act there is one number that Perkins sings which take the show to another level, he says.

"...Nothing else in this musical, which opened Sunday at off-Broadway's Public Theater, quite equals Pinkins' haunting display of emotion. And that's a puzzlement, not to mention a disappointment.

...Director George C. Wolfe does his best to keep all this moving, but "Caroline, or Change," the season's most awkward title mostly sinks under the weight of its own solemnity. "

I've not seen it myself. Bulldog.
MusicMan
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re: re: re: You were right, Namo#3
Posted: 12/1/03 at 12:15am
"Resists... opportunities to work its audiences into a
lather..."
"distanced compassion..."
"You may find you appreciate the show more in retrospect than
while you're watching it"
"too good to be good..." (THAT old canard: this one is
particularly telling AND nonsensical)
"the brooding person's HAIRSPRAY..."

Brantley couldn't write less of a money review if he tried. He damns with faint praise all throughout and bends over backwards to be kind. This show is D.O.A.
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 12:15 AM
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MasterLcZ
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re: re: re: re: You were right, Namo#4
Posted: 12/1/03 at 6:51am
Actually, MM, Brantley's description of it makes me want to see it even more.

It sounds strange, thoughtful and compelling.
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 06:51 AM
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re: re: re: re: re: You were right, Namo#5
Posted: 12/1/03 at 8:31am
Brantley's rave? I don't think so. Music Man nailed it. Brantley clearly didn't enjoy himself for a minute, but I think felt compelled to support this project (penned by the Times' former critics darling, Kushner--freshly annointed only a couple of weeks ago by Rich, re ANGELS, fairly in my estimation). Kushner certainly deserves respect. But the review feels like one stall after another until he gets to the end and tell us how bored he was. Saying it's the best thing this season is a back door pat on the head, since he's loathed everything not written by Shakespeare or Bernstein. I salute his embrace of an imperfect work, but there's no real suggestion that for him this material succeeds.

But he made me want to see it, too. As always, I plan to decide for myself.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 08:31 AM
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re: You were right, Namo#6
Posted: 12/1/03 at 8:35am
I saw this 2 weeks ago in previews. I'd agree with any critic who gives it a rave. The show was terrific. I'd compare the music and feel to Tesori's "Violet." It was a low-key show with powerful, restrained performances, especially from Tonya Pinkins.

Kushner's book is also interesting. The show gives you a feel for the 60's at the time of the Kennedy assassination. The characters all seem to be confused and uneasy during this turbulent time. If you're expecting "Millie" because of Tesort, you'll be very surprised. If you're expecting "Angels" because of Kushner, you'll also be surprised. The show is accessible and entertaining.

It is a little strange, what with the singing washing machine, dryer and bus. But, it works in the context of the show. I stayed after the show for a discussion with the cast and found out they were still making significant changes at that time, including adding a new song at the next performance and cutting a scene involving a statue that is referenced in the story.

Wish I could get back to see it again.
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MasterLcZ
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Aha, Auggie! But he made you want to see it. That's the key.

And if enough people feel as you or I and go to see it, it's a hit - whether we are subsequently entertained or bored. :)



"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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Yes,Master, he sends me to the box office, that Ben. He made me think this really is my kind of show.

I confess that I'm a big ol' hypocrite re Brantley. I bitch about him and what I perceive to be his play for power/shaping a season (e.g. Donna in WT), and then race to read his reaction on line the night of an opening.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
MusicMan
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CAROLINE, OR CHANGE is the perfect example of a term coined by Ethan Mordden: The Dreary Musical. Everything about it, particularly the music, is dreary, dreary, dreary, as is everything to date from the pen of Tesori. (For the authors to claim, as is mentioned above, that they were "adding a new song" is a particularly hilarious bit of overstatement as there isn't a single song--in any sense of the word---in the score but the laziest kind of musical theatre writing--endless, undistinguished recitative.
I'll be curious to hear your reaction, Auggie. For me, this show was "dramatically inert" (Variety's assessment) from Curtain Up (trust me, MasterLCZ the show is as far from compelling as you can get). Better hurry cuz it won't be around for long.
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 09:48 AM
FindingNamo
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Wow, MusicMan, you resisted the urge to say "Nuff said," at the end of your post. A minor miracle.

It's funny how the perspective we bring to an article colors what we take away from it. For instance, the sentence fragment MM pulls out to demonstrate a criticism:

"Resists... opportunities to work its audiences into a
lather..." I agree that the show does this. AND THAT IS A GREAT THING! I believe that Brantley meant this as a compliment. That's what makes this a small, Off-Broadway, creative show. It resists the urge to use ham-fisted devices to make an audience love it. It tells a story and lets you decide whether you like it or not. No mega-mix at the end to trick the audience into dancing and giving it a standing ovation.

Brantley praises the show for not sentimentalizing all the issues that push the buttons of NY theatergoers. This too is a good thing. Just when I thought it was going to use the death of JFK as a manipulative emotion-getter, it smartly did something else with the topic.

The show is most decidedly not D.O.A., but it is a delicate off-Broadway offering. I recommend it to anybody who cares about good theater, great writers and really talented actors. MM, obviously, needs not apply. And sure, it won't run 18 years, but fortunately, most of us are smart enough to know that that is not a measure of success as an artistic achievement.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
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For once, I'm going to have to disagree with Namo. I wholeheartedly agree with everything MM said about the show and I also thought Brantley's review was far from a "rave." Yes, there was talent on the stage but the songs/lyrics were horrendous to put it bluntly. I was painfully bored out of my mind. None of what was supposed to so heavy-handedly tug at my heartstrings, did anything close. If anything, I felt manipulated, above all. I have to agree that it is D.O.A and if they go so far as to bring it to B'way, it won't last a month. Also, there were no other "raves", across the board. Quite the opposite.
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Oh, I don't think they should bring it to Broadway. I think it's fine right where it is in an open-ended run.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
MusicMan
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FindingNamo, I only tag my comments "Nuff 'said" when I feel I've said everything I have to say on the subject. Others, including yourself, are welcome to argue their position as they see fit.
As a theatre professional myself, I can tell you Brantley's review is the worst kind of write-up you can get next to an out-and-out pan. One has only to read in between the lines to get the full gist of what he's saying:
"Resists...oppotunities to work the audience into a lather..." (it's dull and untheatrical)
"...distanced compassion..." (you don't care)
"You appreciate the show more in retrospect than while you're watching it..." ('cause it's boring as hell)
"too good to be good" (= bad)
"the brooding person's HAIRSPRAY" (they should be so lucky)

It's not a question of "devices" to spoonfeed the audience. Effective dramaturgy and decent music would have been sufficient. But despite Kushner's track record and obvious talent, the actors have been given nothing to play and the less said about the risible "non-score," the better.
As far as doing "something else" with the death of JFK, a little manipulatiion of emotion would have been preferable to the absurd (talk about ham-fisted!) manner in which the scene is handled in every respect. First off, Kennedy was shot at noon, the maid is presented as listening to the radio all day and she doesn't hear about the news till evening? And neither does her companion? And then it's relayed by a "character" in which we have no investment at all, A SINGING BUS! (yeah, yeah, I know: bus=civil rights + integration + Kennedy). If hilarity was the authors' "smart" intention on this topic, they succeeded admirably. Part of the problem is the extremely poor staging by Wolfe and the abysmally cheap-looking physical production. But even so, this is an unsuccessful piece of musical theater in every respect.
' Nuff said.
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Ugh. It's brilliant the way you suggest that "reading between the lines" is not an act of personal interpretation. Which was my whole point.

Also, you just nailed the single most irksome phrase after "'Nuff said," (which really should never be used outside the Marvel Comics letter page): "As a [theater professional]." People who begin sentences with "as a" drive me up the wall. It's so Entertainment Weekly letters column and meant to stifle less "qualified" opinions.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
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MasterLcZ
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For what it's worth, John Lahr wets himself with enthusiasm over CorC.

But as usual with Lahr, his NEW YORKER review is loaded with spoilers, so read at your own discretion.
John Lahr on CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
"Christ, Bette Davis?!?!"
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I fully agree with Lahr's analysis. If he wrote one sentence that captures the whole thing for me, it's: "Caroline, like the show, pulls no punches." This sort of show is not everybody's cup of tea, as my friend Al has pointed out. It's in the same league as "Passion," not "Hairspray. It's largely a musical that engages the head first, and the heart second, which is why it's atypical in its All-Happy-All-Dancy-All-Smiles-And-Winks world of contemporary musicals.

It's instructive that MusicMan, in his effort "as a theater professional" to read Brantley's review as a "between the lines" pan, uses his ellipses to drop only one word in ["Resists...oppotunities to work the audience into a lather..." (it's dull and untheatrical)] The phrase, as written, reads: "...resists EASY (emphasis mine) opportunities to work the audience into a lather." Of course, quoting the entire text means that MM's parenthetical comment would make no sense and would require something more along the lines of "(unlike 85% of the crap that audiences get sold on a nightly basis uptown)." And it would be a little less easy for him to argue that it was a bad review (with the worst parts having been written in invisible ink).
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 05:03 PM
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As a theatre professional, I like granny smith apples.

I hope this clears everything up.
"I'm so looking forward to a time when all the Reagan Democrats are dead."
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I stand by my statements, FN. There is an expansive middle ground between pandering to an audience ("easy opportunities") and rendering the audience comatose with boredom, as COC does. As I stated above, effective dramaturgy, a decent score and some savvy showmanship could have made for a potentially interesting show but that is not what is on display at the Public.
Pacem, John Lahr, would that COC pulled no punches. As it is, it can't even make a fist.
And that's what makes horse races (you probably won't like THAT phrase either, FN. Oh, well...)
Updated On: 12/1/03 at 05:52 PM
FindingNamo
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When you write of "rendering the audience comatose" were you generalizing based on your own experience or just taking it upon yourself to speak for everybody who sees the show? Because I was moved by it. If you were rendered comatose, it explains a lot.

By the way, I notice that as a theater professional yourself you failed to mention your choice of dropping the one word "easy" from a sentence fragment you used to bolster your argument. As an editor myself I find that curious. As a student of human psychology myself I find that instructive. Nuff said.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
MusicMan
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I was speaking for myself AND the audience around me whose response was tepid, unenthusiastic and wholly disengaged.
I didn't need to comment on my omission of the word "easy" from the quote for reasons I made clear above. "Easy" opportunities or not, the audience never even begins to work itself into a lather. Which was my point.
Finally, for someone who is a self-proclaimed student of human psychology, perhaps you need to examine your motivation for picking a fight with a total stranger on-line and undercutting your own argument with ad hominem insinuations.
Good luck to you.
FindingNamo
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My point was that Brantley was praising the show for not taking the easy route of whipping the audience into a lather like 90% of the musicals on this board that people say "rock." Given that you seem to have come to Brantley's words with an ability to see other words that are not actually *there*, I'l' just assume that the comatose state you are describing was about you, and not about the people around you. Let's just say you've proven yourself an unreliable narrator, which, as a reader, I am familiar with.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
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Well Namo, I will say that the performance I attended, the audience seemed extremely unenthusiastic and moreover, confused. They were practically, "glazed over." The other problem I had with act 2 was that the show seemed to end about 4 different times. And I know, you know what I mean by that.
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re: You were right, Namo#23
Posted: 12/4/03 at 10:41pm
Hey MusicMan, as a theater professional you should get in touch with Variety because they seem to have come away with the same take on Brantley's review that I did and tell them they missed the "between the lines" part you were sensitive enough to see. As a theater professional.

Their headline: 'Change' reaps Rich rave
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re: re: You were right, Namo#24
Posted: 12/4/03 at 10:50pm
I agree with Namo.
re:  re: You were right, Namo