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The Music Man at Chichester

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Scripps2
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joined:1/19/08
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The Music Man at Chichester#1
Posted: 8/9/08 at 1:42pm
So this is the musical that beat West Side Story to the Tony Awards in 1957 but later flopped in London whilst West Side Story enjoyed greater success here than on Broadway. Having just seen it at Chichester I can understand why – this is a good production of a so-so musical.

I think the post WWII generation saw this show as representing aspects of the USA they didn’t like; if not over-sexed it represented over-confidence, conmanship and was over here. It will be interesting to see if now, in a society full of spin and salesmanship and Apprentice-type lie to achieve your own personal goals behaviour, it goes down any better.

The score contains a handful of nice songs but much that is mediocre as well. The characters aren’t well developed and though you understand why Marion comes to defend the title character you don’t understand why she falls in love with him. The sets and costumes are lovely in a period fantasy way but the real reason to see this show is the cast and *no surprises here* the best performances come from people surnamed Strallen. Scarlett, as the ingénue heroine, sounds and looks lovely whilst engaging our sympathy with regard to her younger brother and his speech impediment, as well as our support as the townsfolk alienate her due to her artistic and intellectual temperament. In the juvenile lead Zizi Strallen does all the things that Cassie gets told not to and gets away with it. What did Mother Strallen put in their Yorkshire Puddings? And what is in their genetic code? Please may I have an implant? Someone needs to think of a reason to get this lot together on stage with Summer and Aunt Bonnie very, very soon - whatever the excuse is it would be a phenomenal performance. It also needs to be observed that, as the male juvenile lead, Barnaby Thompson matches Zizi superbly and is super-talented and hot-to-trot himself. There are lots of other distinguished West End vets in the cast (Jenny Galloway, Nicola Blackman, Katy Secombe) but the show doesn’t demand much of them. There are also audience pleasing performances from Brian Conley and Andy Hockley – as I only watch Footballers Wives on ITV I have no idea who Brian Conley is and the programme bio only tells me he has trouble parking his car in Chichester – and he did exactly what was required of him.

But there was nothing revelatory or exceptional about this musical. I was glad to have had the opportunity to see it, but it can now go back on the shelf for another fifty years.


Updated On: 8/10/08 at 01:42 PM
Spotlight61
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#2
Posted: 8/9/08 at 4:49pm
I feel this is very true of the film. Really rather dull, never going anywhere and not really caring for the characters nor the music.

But it is good that these shows get an airing every once in a while and occasionally a little gem is unearthed but this one should be reintered.

Not a criticism of the performances which are largely charming just the overall book, music and lyrics.
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#2
Posted: 8/10/08 at 11:44pm
re: The Music Man at Chichester

This isnt thinking of town any more. Tey hoped to bring it in next April but plans have been put on the shelf as Mr Conley has a new TV series he's committed to 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'!'
Updated On: 8/10/08 at 11:44 PM
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#3
Posted: 8/11/08 at 2:32am
There was a particuarly whiny article in the Guardian recently (it's on their website, but I can't do the link thing!)from Geoffrey Wheatcroft about West Side Story, which ended by saying The Music Man was the only worthwhile show in the last 50 years (or more), having dissed everyone else!
It's a good show (we saw the Broadway revival six or seven years ago which was big, brash and fun), but not that good
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#4
Posted: 8/11/08 at 3:50am
re: The Music Man at Chichester

Chichester has presented a brilliant array of of productions in the last 30 or 40 years its been open, many being West End worthy and many more not. The ones that have moved to London normally come in for a set limited season and a lot of them have closed a great deal earlier than planned. The longest run I can think of off the top of my head was 'Underneath The Arches' at the Prince Of Wales back in 1982/83. The expense of bringing in such a big show like 'The Music Man' is no longer as safe as a few years ago. The reviews for this production weren't as hot as they expected and they now have the perfect excuse not to transfer as in MR Conely doing a new TV series.
Regarding Chichester, I have seen maybe 20 of the shows that came in and I must say some of them have been simply brilliant-'The Scarlet Pimpernel' 'Underneath The Arches' 'The Clandestine Marriage' 'tis Pity She's A Whore' -the list goes on. Its also sent in some really bad ones like Suzie Quatro in 'Annie Get Your Gun' (8 weeks), 'The Mitford Girls' (9 week) and others.

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'!'
exedore
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#5
Posted: 8/15/08 at 5:10pm
Saw this today and have to disagree with Scripps on almost everything. Loved the staging, and it moved at a great pace. A couple small quips here and there (Strallen's accent is anything but midwest American, they try a little too hard to channel the OBC, and they cheated with the drum on Rock Island) but I sat there with a huge smile on my face for most of the show and lapped the whole thing up.

A good friend of mine claims that The Music Man has never quite clicked with the British mindset, but the crowd (mostly OAP's) seemed into it enough. I'm a yank, though, and there was something comforting in this splash of Americana.
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re: The Music Man at Chichester#6
Posted: 8/15/08 at 5:38pm
I've always thought that its very strange that such a huge American musical with brilliant casting for amateur companies, is very rarely seen on am-dram calendars?
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: The Music Man at Chichester#7
Posted: 8/15/08 at 5:38pm
I've always thought that its very strange that such a huge American musical with brilliant casting for amateur companies, is very rarely seen on am-dram calendars?
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: The Music Man at Chichester#8
Posted: 8/16/08 at 7:19am
"Loved the staging, and it moved at a great pace."

I wasn't criticising the staging, just the book, music and lyrics which I felt were vastly inferior to West Side Story and much else.