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LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review

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LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#0
Posted: 12/11/05 at 1:52pm
THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review

A dash of lore from Broadway's yesteryear and a spice of modern day pyrotechnics will certainly have audiences buzzing at the Marquis Theatre about Andrew Lloyd Webber's newest Musical, "The Woman In White." The piece has much to talk about; from the lush score, moving performances, crafty book, and video projection set - all of which have their memorable moments, but most of which have their blatant distractions as well.

Webber's score here is certainly one of his best. Throughout the evening, theatergoers will be reminded of several of his other works, and this score seems to be the epitome of a long and glorious career. Tones of "The Phantom of the Opera," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Jesus Christ Superstar," and most certainly "Aspects of Love" can all be heard melded together in the one work, but in a rich and refreshing way. "All for Laura," the most hummable and lush of melodies is certainly this works prize gem. While most of show is done is classical operatic sung dialogue, the shimmering solos, duets, and trios all have their place in what feels like a throwback to early 1980's Cameron MacIntosh produced musicals. But, what was ever-present in those works, still remains intact in "The Woman In White;" a sense of building tension that keeps its eye on the prize and the story fluently moving.

It is not hard when Charlotte Jones has adapted Wilkie Collins book, on a whole, at this heightened level. The framework for a suspense filled, epic climax is tied up in a bow with Jones' telling. However, the bow at times could very easily come unraveled at times and reveal the present way too early. Several of the story's secrets are easily figured out, while others near the end will certainly shock any not familiar with the book. But, the Mr. Fairlie (a serviceable Walter Charles) character seems to tie up one too many of those loose ends by just blurting out what otherwise could have been jaw-dropping climactic strokes of musical theatre genius. Instead they are left to melodramatic moments that stun, but not with any true gut wrenching shock. And instead of leaving the theatre going, WOW, what an ending; theatergoers are left feeling filled but still needing a snack because of the shows improper and forgettable closing scene.

There certainly is not much scenery for this truly gifted ensemble to chew. The video projection set by William Dadley, who is also responsible for the costumes here as well, is innovative and certainly age defining; however, still questionable as to what it honestly brought to the piece. Video projection has never been a good thing on Broadway. It regularly hurts every production that uses it. It certainly does nothing to hurt this outing, for the vast majority of the show is a projection. It is an easy whipping tool from one target to the next, but is the hurriedness it brings with it what Broadway audiences are longing for with so many gidget's of technology already being used before the opening curtain? Or is this what will brighten the lights of the Great White Way and having Box Offices booming for the next couple of decades? Only time will tell...

Time does have a way of standing still and making this work all come together with the inspired and gutsy cast that has been assembled. The already heightened dramatic tension is taken up a notch by Maria Friedman's harrowing and glorious trun as Marian Halcombe. Ms. Friedman certainly made this years Tony race more interesting in an already highly contested field of lead actresses with the likes of Patti Lupone and LaChanze. Her "All for Laura" is certainly a modern day "Roses Turn" and she misses not a single nuance. Michael Ball makes a triumphant Lloyd Webber return as Count Fosco, the play as gay, written as straight stock villan - and eats up every savory morsel of comic relief. Also worth mentioning are Jill Paice, as Marian's tragic sister and her one true love Walter Hartright (Adam Brazier.) Both portrayers make this heightened, epic romance seem as simple as walking. And Angela Christian, late of "Thoroughly Modern Millie," tackles her title character with sophisticated ease and aplomb.

Trevor Nunn directs this piece no differently than most of his other works, a fact that slightly hinders the new and fancy technical gimmickry side of the production. And there within is indeed the shows biggest flaw. However, it can be forgiven - but enough so to make "The Woman In White" enthusiastically remembered? Thinking so and knowing so, should be one in the same for musical theatre purists - but with "White," hoping so will have to suffice.

One thing is for certain on Broadway this season. On a whole, the color of purple is certainly more dangerous, daring, and in this case purer than the color of white. On a purely musical note, they both ring luxurious sounds of moving and artful work that will sell plenty of cast albums. Both slightly flawed, yet highly inspired works have not only rich names, but inspired performances behind them to keep their colorful banners soaring till they reach for the color of Tony silver!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#1
Posted: 12/11/05 at 2:01pm
That was a great review. BRAVO!!! I really wish I could go see it. re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review
"They're eating her and then they're going to eat me. OH MY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!" -Troll 2
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#2
Posted: 12/11/05 at 2:01pm
Wonderful review. ^__^ I can't wait to see it again
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#3
Posted: 12/11/05 at 2:19pm
I really enjoy reading LaCage's reviews. They are both insightful and well-written. Bravo!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#4
Posted: 12/11/05 at 2:34pm
Thanks for the great review. 15 days til I see it
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#5
Posted: 12/11/05 at 5:57pm
Thanks for sharing your impressions. I agree about your comments on how the exceptional performances, particularly by Maria and Michael, and ALWebber's sophisticated musical score are the show's strong points.

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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#6
Posted: 12/12/05 at 1:53pm
Thanks for the compliments guys...enjoy the show!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#7
Posted: 12/12/05 at 2:01pm
excellent review! i am seeing the show for the third time on December 22nd...so excited!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#8
Posted: 12/12/05 at 3:14pm
Thanks for the thoughtful and well-crafted review, LaCageAuxFollesFan2. Your reviews are always a pleasure to read.
"And the postman sighed as he scratched his head, you really rather thought she ought to be dead..."
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#9
Posted: 12/14/05 at 12:02am
Anyone see it this week yet? I'd love to see (but since I JUST saw it and its crazy holiday time right now, I doubt I'll get to) or hear how Lisa Brescia is doing in the role.

HATED the revival but LOVED her in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR @ the former Hilton Theatre.

And I thought she was the second best Amneris I saw in AIDA...nobody will EVER hold a candle or do with that role what Sherie Renee Scott did with that Bitch!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#10
Posted: 12/14/05 at 12:35am
I also complement you on a fabulous review; even though I don't agree with the part about video projection, I still think you have stated your case well.

I saw the show in London and am looking forward to seeing it on the 30th with great seats!
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#11
Posted: 12/14/05 at 1:02am
is there a show curtain for this show? just wondering.
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#12
Posted: 12/14/05 at 1:09am
like does a curtain go down or do they come out and bow... which one do you mean?
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#13
Posted: 12/14/05 at 1:56am
ha, i just mean is there a curtain? Like um for Wicked its a big map of Oz, or is the first thing you see when you walk into the theater the big panoramic projection set?
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#14
Posted: 12/14/05 at 7:54am
yeah, you see the outside of the panoramic set...

ummm spoiler ahead? Well, not really, but just in case...


and the show closes the same way that it begins (with that slide show projector thing spinning- the name of which i forgot-crap... but you get a "symbolic?" crashing wave thing happening)
So it spins closed and then opens again for them to come out and bow.
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#15
Posted: 12/14/05 at 8:51am
A tiny bit spoilerish I suppose.

The projection screens are closed facing the audience, with a nursery projected on them. When the show starts, it zooms in on a spinning childrens projection toy - a zoetrope - and then the screens open and revolve around to the back of the stage. As YayJudy says, it finishes with the process in reverse.

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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#16
Posted: 12/14/05 at 8:52am
I really didn't like this show, won't see it again. Performers are great, but it was kind of slow and boring for me and wife. Projections got me a bit ill at times.
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re: LaCageFan's THE WOMAN IN WHITE Review#17
Posted: 12/14/05 at 9:49am
Zeotrope!!! That's it! Thanks eastwickian
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