Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Critics Assail The Pirate Queen

Critics Assail The Pirate Queen

Yesterday, I launched my SOB review of the new Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg musical The Pirate Queen. Apparently, Chicago critics had many of the same issues I did with the tuner, and they all agreed that Stephanie J. Block soared.

Calling the show "ill-ruddered and oft-cartoonish," Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune deems it "...too dull and dour for the Riverdance or the family crowd, yet too full of predictable archetypes to function as the kind of weighty but broadly accessible musical of which this Broadway season is in dire need....They lack both a coherent choreographic pallet and a central visual metaphor....And they are paying woefully insufficient attention to storytelling."

Steven Oxman of Variety laments that "...despite great singing, it fails fundamentally to create characters deep enough to engage an audience in its too-tepid love story....While one can hear plenty of sounds that immediately bring Les Miz [sic] to mind, particularly when the cast of 40 sing simultaneously, much of Schönberg's scoring is also reminiscent of James Horner's music for the film 'Titanic,' another enterprise that sold a few tickets. But the plotting and characterizations are sorely lacking."

Noting that "The droning tone is set from the start," Chicago Sun-Times critic Hedy Weiss proclaims, "Far too much of Les Misérables and not nearly enough of Riverdance. That may be the simplest, if not the fullest, way to explain the problems facing The Pirate Queen, the handsomely designed but drearily predictable quasi-operatic musical."

Even the most generous of critics Barbara Vitello of The Daily Herald says that The Pirate Queen "...lacks the ballast required for an ocean crossing....The sentiment feels forced and the show lacks a consistent tone (for some inexplicable reason, the scenes set in the English court border on camp)....It’s a mixed bag musically -- the score falters when it drifts away from the traditional, Irish-sounding melodies...into the dangerous waters of pop-schmaltz."

Clearly, the critics agree that this show needs major work if not an overhaul before it's ready for Broadway. But will the three-plus months between stagings be enough to avoid completely sinking the show? Only time will tell.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
The Pirate Queen (The SOB Review) – Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago, IL (October 30, 2006)
The Pirate Queen Sails Into Chicago Opening Tonight (October 29, 2006)
Pirate Queen to Sail Into Broadway's Hilton Theatre (July 27, 2006)
The Pirate Queen Musical to Sail Into Chicago This Fall (May 15, 2006)

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