Friday, July 30, 2004

4 Snouts Up for NYC
I can attest that New York has still got it. While everyone else in the world was in Boston this week, Bill and I were in Manhattan. Among many other diversions, we saw two plays: Bug and Caroline, or Change.

(:)(:)(:)(:) 4 Snouts up for Bug
Very dark twisted minds created this stunningly well-acted and well-written play set entirely in a rundown residential hotel on the outskirts of Oklahoma City. Bug "off-Broadway" at the Barrow Street Theater in the west village is for you if you love a good paranoid schizophrenic naked violent comedy. If you're tired of that genre, go see Cats for the 3rd time, see if I care.

(:)(:)(:)(; 3 and a half Snouts up for Caroline, or Change
Still far from the Cats set but squarely on Broadway (well, the Eugene O'Neal on 49th, but who's counting) is the new Tony Kushner play Caroline, or Change.

This one is a musical set in 1963 Louisiana centered around a black maid working for a white Jewish family. Tony Kushner's story and Jeanine Tesori's music are fabulous, compelling, perfectly and unpretentiously staged and acted. I absolutely love Tony Kushner's writing in the two-part critically acclaimed Angels in America (which, if you haven't seen the made for HBO movie of, you must).

The only weakness, and for me, it is a biggy, is that so far I sense no particular talent in Kushner as a lyricist, and he wrote all the lyrics. The lyrics tell the story well and vaguely go with the music, but that's the end of it. Now I'm not lookin' for Cole Porter here; I know that era is sadly long gone. No. I'd settle for Webber or Rice (whichever one does the lyrics)--despite the great story, bouncy enjoyable early 60's rock 'n' roll and R&B score, there is not a single memorable song in the show. I hummed nothin'. And that says to me, why bother? Stick to the straight show, Tony.

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