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Desperately Seeking Susan reviews

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Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#1
Posted: 11/16/07 at 8:10am



Theatre
Desperately Seeking Susan


** Novello, London

Michael Billington
Friday November 16, 2007
The Guardian

This is cheekily described as "a new musical with the songs of Blondie". It would be more truthful to call it an adaptation of the 1985 movie into which Blondie songs have been inserted. As such, it has a mechanical efficiency that makes one pine for the distant days when composers and lyricists came up with original ideas for musicals.

Peter Michael Morino, to whom we owe the book and concept, has played fair with the movie's identity-switch plot. We see Roberta, the bored wife of a New Jersey hot-tub salesman, mistaken for punkish, freewheeling Susan whose footsteps she has faithfully dogged through the personal ads.

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Once she dons Susan's pyramid-adorned leather jacket, the hapless Roberta is pursued by the Mob, slung in the slammer as a prostitute, and sawn in half as a magician's assistant. She even finds true love with a movie-buff, while Susan is finally reunited with her rock-band lover.

While the show fuels fantasies of escape, it would be much wittier if it followed the identity-swap to its logical conclusion: I'd love to see Susan settling down in the suburbs and proving that inside every punkette lurked a domestic goddess.

The real interest lies in seeing how well the Blondie songs dovetail into the story. Some work deftly such as the use of Dreaming to express Roberta's secret yearnings, and One Way or Another to depict the Mafia villain's frenzied pursuit of the life-swapping heroine.

But unlike Mamma Mia where the book was invented to cue the Abba songs, here you sense the strain of constantly fitting the numbers into a pre-existing plot. Instead of rising organically from the story, the songs feel grafted onto it.

What the show finally lacks is heart. Angus Jackson's production literally keeps the action moving with the aid of a travelator. Tim Hatley's swiftly-sliding sets neatly evoke the shifting locales. Kelly Price's Roberta also reveals a demure sexiness, while Steven Houghton's dark-shirted, silvery-haired baddie looks like a dead ringer for Richard Eyre. But Emma Williams's laid-back Susan can't displace movie memories of Madonna, and there is no chance for the dancers to achieve true lift-off. The show feels like a business product calculatedly tailored to appeal to Blondie fans. What it never acquires is the ecstasy that is the musical's justification.
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
Updated On: 11/16/07 at 08:10 AM
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#2
Posted: 11/16/07 at 8:15am
First Night: Desperately Seeking Susan, Novello Theatre
Lacklustre Madonna rehash fails to get into the groove
By Paul Taylor-Independent
Published: 16 November 2007

A group of seats in the centre of my row remained thrillingly empty as we waited for curtain-up at last night's premiere of the stage musical makeover of the mid-Eighties Madonna-starring movie. I was all but fainting at the heady prospect of Madge suddenly arriving with entourage. As she clambered over my computer case, I looked forward to telling her how flattered I was she had taken the advice I gave her in my review of Up For Grabs. Well, she's never appeared in a West End show since.

And I wanted to tell her about the high hopes I had had for her career when I first saw her sexy, elusive performance in this film before she dwindled into a world dominatrix. But the lights went down and that was the exciting part of my evening over.

The selling point of this lustreless extravaganza is that the screwball plot, unfolding in New York in the 198Os has been allegedly amplified by the insertion of Blondie's greatest hits. This kind of thing can work. Look at Mamma Mia! But that musical has everything that Desperately Seeking Susan lacks. The former demonstrates a genuinely cheeky flair for finding droll or moving dramatic context for the songs. It offers the giddy pleasure of anticipating where they are going to have the nerve to stick the next number. And – the only reason for these glorified juke-box jobs – Mamma Mia! generates a wonderfully happy party atmosphere. Also, it comes up with an original plot.

Here, a delightful film has been adapted with clunky literalism (by Peter Michael Marino) and the resulting mess has been pumped with phoney energy by the uninspired direction (from Angus Jackson) and by the well-executed but terminally banal choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler).

Easing with finesse into Madonna's ripped tights, Emma Williams is in strong voice but fails to tantalise as a SoHo vamp. She and Kelly Price as the housewife from Squaresville who assumes Susan's identity are swamped by the idiocies of the adaptation.

Take the glorious bit in the movie where Madonna dries her armpits using an upturned hand dryer in the toilets. Williams is allowed to raise her arm for all of three seconds in the vague direction of an unmodified machine. The moment does not work either as an allusion to the film or in its own right. If the housewife starts off singing like Debbie Harry, how can there be any dramatic development musically? In the supposedly blissed-out post-coital languor, Price and Alec Newman's Dez sing as if they are about to embark on the New York Marathon.

Frantically seeking profit, this is a show that may have to be renamed "Desperately Avoiding Closure".

http://arts.independent.co.uk/theatre/reviews/article3167140.ece
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#2
Posted: 11/16/07 at 8:27am
Well at this point i can only find 2 (i think the critics must have been washing their hair that night).It would seem that its a clunker

As i said in my reviews its just a very average musical which never takes off and has a very mis cast Emma William in the Madonna role who cant match Madonnas performance.

The novello will be free again soon and hopefully the talented cast can move on to better things
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#3
Posted: 11/16/07 at 12:00pm
We saw this coming didnt we!!! or is that saw it going?
I remember sitting there (twice i sat thru this!) and thinking that i wouldnt mind sitting and watching just the straight play version of this because after a while, as much as i like Blondie it started to annoy me as the songs do nothing to the plot!
Thanks for them SADM2 x
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
Updated On: 11/16/07 at 12:00 PM
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#4
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:50pm
# Michael Coveney on Whatsonstage.com (two stars)

- “The only way to enjoy the show is to submit to the songs, which makes for a totally passive experience … Heavy on base, pulsating with sexiness and full of good harmonic progressions, these songs bring back an era even if they don’t make a musical … Kelly Price and Emma Williams belt out their songs with balls and dedication, but it is impossible to differentiate between them, really, apart from in their hairstyles. Perhaps that’s the point. Roberta’s Jacuzzi-selling husband is fleshed out, just about, by Jonathan Wrather, and Alec Newman is Dez the boy chasing the surrogate Susan through her adventures as a prostitute, prisoner and magician’s assistant. There are some feisty dance numbers choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, but nothing to get too over-excited about, and Tim Hatley has designed sets and costumes that suggest the market aimed at by the show is not one for musical theatre but the retro-punk concert-going crowd. It’s the very sense of calculation in this that gives the game away: the show’s got no soul.”
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#5
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:52pm
# Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph -

“Watching this lamentable musical, in which the immaculate pop songs of Blondie have been pressed into the service of a plodding dramatisation of a so-so caper movie from the 1980s, I began to imagine what further horrors might lurk over the horizon … Unfortunately, wonderful though Blondie's hits are, they have absolutely nothing to do with the movie's plot in which a respectable but bored New Jersey housewife finds herself mistaken for a streetwise punk urchin on the run from a Mafia hitman … Andy Blankenbuehler, the choreographer, hasn't come up with a single exciting dance number, while the director, Angus Jackson, has no idea what to do with the ensemble in what is essentially a chamber piece. The songs meanwhile, including such classics as ‘Atomic’, ‘Call Me’ and ‘Heart of Glass’, are performed at maximum volume with a brutal, bludgeoning efficiency that is entirely devoid of either soul or affection … I fear that Desperately Seeking Susan will leave most discerning theatregoers desperately seeking the nearest exit.”
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#6
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:53pm
# Nicholas de Jongh in the Evening Standard (three stars)

– “I do not know whether Blondie's songs were even reasonably suited to the action. The seven-strong band ran to such a volume of sound that they drowned out the singers with cruel efficiency. The chorus never seemed much more than redundant … Still, the musical breaks free of familiar, romantic territory … Angus Jackson's ingenious production, which steers a slick, speedy passage through all the hokum, makes this musical version of the film less a romantic comedy and more of a film noir send-up, shading into Hugh Vanstone's stylised bursts of purple lighting. (Against) Tim Hatley's atmospheric design … Jackson stages the chases with a stylised brilliance on a circular revolve and on the gallery walkway where the harder you run the less progress you make … When Roberta abandons marriage to risk all with Dez, she finally achieves an exhilarating, feminist victory - love over materialism.”
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#7
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:54pm
Simon Edge in the Daily Express (two stars) –

“It’s a cut above the normal boy-meets-girl pap of this genre and the principals are competent. Kelly Price is an enthusiastic Roberta and Alec Newman is likeable as her lover Dez, even if Emma Williams struggles to get near the effortless danger that Madonna brought to Susan on film. Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography is also enjoyably moody, but Angus Jackson’s production is undermined by some odd design decisions. Most of the decor has been relocated to the mid-Seventies, while Susan’s outfit remains resolutely 1985. And some of the supporting acting is pretty lacklustre, depending on the goodwill of a laugh-at-anything audience. But the biggest problem is the music, a deafening irritant that gets in the way of the action and actively undercuts the tale of contrasting worlds, inasmuch as the Blondie tempo remains constant whatever the mood or scene. The programme boasts that the lyrics have not been altered because they are such a perfect fit. I’ll have to take that on trust: I could barely decipher an over-amplified word.”
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#8
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:55pm
Paul Taylor in the Independent –

“Here, a delightful film has been adapted with clunky literalism (by Peter Michael Marino) and the resulting mess has been pumped with phoney energy by the uninspired direction (from Angus Jackson) and by the well-executed but terminally banal choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler). Easing with finesse into Madonna's ripped tights, Emma Williams is in strong voice but fails to tantalise as a SoHo vamp. She and Kelly Price as the housewife from Squaresville who assumes Susan's identity are swamped by the idiocies of the adaptation. Take the glorious bit in the movie where Madonna dries her armpits using an upturned hand dryer in the toilets. Williams is allowed to raise her arm for all of three seconds in the vague direction of an unmodified machine. The moment does not work either as an allusion to the film or in its own right … Frantically seeking profit, this is a show that may have to be renamed ‘Desperately Avoiding Closure’.”
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#9
Posted: 11/16/07 at 3:55pm
Ouch
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#10
Posted: 11/16/07 at 4:20pm
here is some footage from the show if you haven't seen it

http://www.seeking-susan.com/
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#11
Posted: 11/16/07 at 6:24pm
Shame it may be too late to get a panto into the Novello! Last one there was Marti caine in 'Snow White' one of Londons most successful pantos!
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#12
Posted: 11/17/07 at 12:36pm
How long do we think this will hold on

The reviews are terrible and attendance is low, surely they must be in crisis talks now
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#13
Posted: 11/17/07 at 1:07pm
I reckon 3 to 4 weeks! Thats kind of the norm when a show gets this kind of reaction. I have visitors here this weekend and they were seeing it 2nite (Sat) and asked me to arrange another show! - they are at 'Spamalot' now.
A young actress with Noel coward after a dreadful opening night performance said to him 'Well, i knew my lines backwards this morning!'' Noels fast reply was ''Yes dear, and thats exactly how you said them tonight'!'
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re: Desperately Seeking Susan reviews#14
Posted: 11/17/07 at 1:24pm
lol, i have to go and watch it again grrr, im meeting up with some of my old Fame cast members in London and one of them has got us tickets to DSS grrrr
Namo i love u but we get it already....you don't like Madonna