“There’s nothing like a show on Broadway,/“There’s nothing like a Broadway show…”
Overture from “The Producers,” by Mel Brooks
I’ve never been to a show on Broadway, (too financially embarrassed), but on rare occasions we pretend to be rich people and sneak off to a Broadway touring show.
It’s fun now and then to pretend to be F. Scott and Zelda.
Which is what happened last week when we zipped over to downtown Fort Worth, the South’s center of culture, enchiladas, and chicken fried steak, and watched the touring production of “Chicago!” at the neat-o Bass Theatre.
Holy fish net.
Here’s a first: We went upstairs and our tickets were in Box N so you open a door with an “N” on it (and just walk N). It was a little balcony box, room for six, with six chairs of varying heights so the people in the back of the box could see. It was sort of like being in a press box.
The show was good except for the co-lead character, the Velma Kelly role; the actor had sort of a cartoon-like singing voice that would work in a lot of roles, but not in this one. I’m seen my spousal unit play this role a dozen times and prefer her because she’s much better and has a richer voice (and sure I’m biased but I’m also, at least this once, right).
But the orchestra, the dancers, all the other characters were bravo. I didn’t “get” what the director was hoping to pull off in the way a couple of scenes were staged, but it was a fun 150 minutes in a packed house.
Live theatre is a lot like live ballgames, sometimes better and sometimes not. Either way, you can’t hit the back space button.
It’s a fun trip if you ever want to do it. Shows come to Dallas and Fort Worth and New Orleans all the time, and sometimes to The Strand in Shreveport. (Saw “42nd Street” there last year; might be my favorite.) Also, “On Golden Pond” starts Thursday at Shreveport Little Theatre; we have so much performing-arts talent in north Louisiana, you owe it to you to treat yourself to a night of it.
Some people like my dad are old school and won’t listen to musicals because “everybody sings everything to everybody.” (Sometimes I bring this subject up just to get him to say that because it makes me laugh. “Why does everybody SING everything to everybody!?”) But as the say in “Porgy and Bess,” that “Ain’t Necessarily So.”
If you want to start off with a tiny investment, see “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman, still on at theatres and available online. Critics are split in their reviews. One said this: “This ersatz portrait of American big-top tent impresario P.T. Barnum is all smoke and mirrors, no substance. It hammers pedestrian themes of family, friendship and inclusivity while neglecting the fundaments of character and story.”
I shared that because the word “ersatz” always makes me laugh. But in general, in musicals, there is just enough “story” to move the songs along. Not everything can be as stitched up as “Chicago!” or “Guys and Dolls.” Besides, the real critics, the paying public, have forked over about $400 million so far for a show that had a budget of $84 million.
So if my math’s right, somebody liked it. Including me. Somewhere, somebody has got to be working on making that movie into a Broadway musical.
Leaving the theatre, I spoke to one of my besties, who was taking her just-turned-teenager son to see it. He wasn’t too anxious to be mom’s date, but it turned out that he loved it. Good for him; I wish I’d gotten on board the Broadway train that early. He’s a good example that it’s never too early, and I’m a good example that it’s never too late.