Saturday, April 14, 2007
110 in the Shade
Christine Ebersole finally has some competition in the form of Audra McDonald, currently performing the second female musical theatre miracle of the season as Lizzie Curry in Jones and Schmidt's 110 in the Shade. If you had asked me last month--hell, last week--if the lithe, Juilliard trained soprano could pull of the role of a quick-witted and plainspoken Southern schoolteacher longing for love, I would have emphatically said no. But McDonald does it, and flawlessly so. From her first entrance, she commands the stage in a manner that is both wistful and tough, with every number shimmering out of her mouth and hanging in midair. Other aspects of the production still need work, especially Steve Kazee's Starbuck: Despite singing beautifully, he does not seem to understand the character. He's not playing Starbuck as a man that you love even though he's a con man; here, he is the guy you love just because he's so darn nice. Still, I'm sure he will get better with time, and his performance as it stands now is not enough to keep me from recommending the show. After a disappointing season, musical theatre lovers can now treat themselves to a lovely palate cleanser.