Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Cast That Is A-Changin': Sign Of The Times?

A Cast That Is A-Changin': Sign Of The Times?

Late yesterday came word from the new Twyla Tharp musical The Times They Are A-Changin' that lead actress Caren Lyn Manuel was out and understudy Lisa Brescia is suddenly in. It's not necessarily unusual for shows to undergo cast changes en route to the Great White Way. Indeed, Jenn Colella (who's now part of Broadway-bound High Fidelity) was dropped from the show in favor of Manuel after its San Diego tryouts.

However, the fact that it's occurred after the Bob Dylan-based tuner has already begun previews on Broadway doesn't appear to be a good harbinger of things to come. Indeed, even the iconic folk singer himself is reportedly keeping his distance.

Critics in San Diego were not terribly kind when reviewing the February tryout there. The San Diego Union Tribune's George Varga lamented, "Rather than employ the wonderful complexity of Dylan's metaphor-rich songs as a starting point, or even as a final destination, Tharp's visually arresting but muddled production reduces his rich body of work to a simplistic, plot-challenged exercise in warm, fuzzy nostalgia."

It's been reported that many substantial changes have been made since San Diego. The show's leading man Michael Arden is quoted on saying, "[T]he show feels more whimsical now. It's the same song list and order, but some of the tones and textures have changed, and given it more depth."

Will that be enough to save a show that's not enjoying terribly positive buzz? Can director / choreographer Twyla Tharp pull off a pleasant October surprise? We'll find out when the musical finally opens on October 26 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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