Monday, November 06, 2006

Did Critics Think This Sister Had Its Act Together?

Did Critics Think This Sister Had Its Act Together?

Given all the other movies-turned-musicals, we shouldn't be surprised that Sister Act would eventually make its debut somewhere.

Indeed, the stage incarnation of that 90s film enjoyed its world premiere just to the north of filmdom's de facto capital at the Pasadena Playhouse. But the transformation of the story to a decidedly 70s vintage, complete with disco vibe, opened over the weekend to mixed reviews.

Proclaiming that this Sister Act "has Broadway blockbuster written all over it," Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times nevertheless manages to damn the show with faint praise saying, "[T]here's certainly a good deal for an audience to enjoy. Yet who wouldn't wish this movie-to-musical transplant delivered sharper delight? For that to happen, it will have to take more risks in its next incarnation....The problem in a nutshell is this: Sister Act: The Musical can't figure out if it wants to be slightly louche like Hairspray or crowd-pleasing like Beauty and the Beast. Original instincts keep getting diverted down clichéd pathways....It's mostly fun to watch, though it's not as funny as the film."

Variety's Robert Verini balks: "[T]he movie's very essence has been simplified and distorted to the point of character incoherence and dubious taste. Whatever disco-era soul Sister Act has gained, it has lost an equal amount of the spiritual variety....Scenes, lines, even entire performances are carbon copies of the original. What's been jettisoned is the heart."

Yet, one of my favorite Left Coast bloggers, Ted Green of ImTedGreen sounds perhaps the most effusive note saying, "I loved every minute of it and I'm confident it will find it's way to Broadway and be a big success....For me, knowing the story made the musical that much more fun....Get a ticket if you can."

Calling Sister Act "in remarkably good shape musically," Sharon Perlmutter of Talkin' Broadway is critical of the lead: "What is missing is a monstrous talent at the center -- someone who can legitimately sing lead over the combined strength of the nun ensemble. Unfortunately, Dawnn Lewis isn't quite there yet....Will Sister Act run on Broadway? In its current state, absolutely. If it's tweaked a bit, it'll run for years."

Finally, a friend of mine -- also on the West Coast -- has been sending me e-mail after e-mail in support of the show with one similar note of caution: "I have heard from several people that Dawnn Lewis is miscast as the lead, and I'm sure that there are several actresses who are already planning to try out for the role when and if the show hits Broadway (probably in '08 since this production is going to Atlanta next)."

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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4 Comments:

At 06 November, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

I would not be surprised if the entire show gets re-cast before Broadway. The show did not hold NY auditions and as a result, the entire cast consists of local LA actors. With all respect to the fine LA actors, I would expect the show to be re-cast with actors with recent Broadway credits.

 
At 06 November, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks as always for sharing your insights -- I know I can always count on you to make a salient point!

 
At 07 November, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Au contrer, mon frere. NY auditions were held, that's why there is NY talent in the show. The show is full of current talents who have Broadway creds. My question is, "Has Broadwaybaby seen the show?" I have and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

 
At 08 November, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

Firstly, Dawnn Lewis, David Jennings, Elizabeth Ward Land, Henry Polic, just to name a few, are LA based actors.

Secondly, my point about re-casting has nothing to do with how good the LA talent is. The producers will recast the Broadway staging with NY talent because they want to get good reviews from the NY critics and good buzz from the internet.

The show is much more likely to get a good or at least a pssable review from the NYT with someone like Lilias White or Anika Noni Rose in the title role, a Norm Lewis instead of a David Jennings, etc.

I'm in no way claiming that someone with recent Broadway credits is necessarily better than someone with no or "old" Broadway credits. I'm just pointing out the realities of Broadway casting....

 

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