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.


Aaron Riccio said...

I haven't seen "Gray Gardens," but I just saw "110," and I wasn't blown away by Ms. McDonald's voice. For me, that's because Jones and Schmidt's music doesn't do much for "The Rainmaker" -- and I can't help thinking it works better as a drama than a musical. No catchy numbers, barely any use for the chorus, and that climax (not the rain, which is all too staid) is one of the worst closing songs ever. However, Audra's acting was fantastic; her, Jimmy, and (occasionally) H.C., were the only things worth noting in this bland musical. For me. I'd rather see "The Fantastiks" again. Ultimately, I'm agreeing with you: we just have different values for a "palate cleanser."

Cameron said...

Our differing opinions here probably come with the ways we approached the show: you are familiar with and enjoy the play; I was familiar with the musical first and have only seen bits and pieces of the film version. So, I was more inclined to enjoy the production because this is a show that I do know and do love. Maybe I'm viewing the production with rose-colored glasses, but I saw a magical spark on that stage that I haven't seen in any other musical on or off Broadway all season, and I've already booked a ticket to see it again.

Jennifer said...

i think "palate cleanser" is the perfect description of this show. something so refreshing about this show.