Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lucrezia Borgia (The SOB Overview)

Lucrezia Borgia (The SOB Overview) - Prairie Theatre Exchange, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Last weekend, I journeyed to beautiful Winnipeg where I took in a reading of Joseph Aragon's Lucrezia Borgia -- a budding new musical that's only partially complete -- during the Carol Shields Festival of New Works. Since the festival itself was billed as a showcase for "staged readings of new plays and works in progress," it would hardly be fair to judge what I saw with a formal review.

But I can tell you that this promising original musical offers intrigue aplenty. While only six full tunes have been completed, it offers a new twist on the original "material girl," who reputedly participated in murders carried out by her father (Pope Alexander XI) and brother (Cesare) and possibly engaged in incest with both of them.

The tuner is described as an exploration of "a side of her that history has chosen to ignore -- one that focuses on her strength, compassion and vitality for life, as well as her constant struggle between the desire to follow her own heart, and her loyalty to her family and the Borgia name."

If the misunderstood nature of Lucrezia Borgia sounds a bit like Wicked, then perhaps it's no surprise that author Gregory Maguire used Lucrezia for his inside-out "Mirror Mirror," which reimagined the tale of Snow White in Renaissance Italy; however, Lucrezia became the personification of the wicked stepmother. In Lucrezia Borgia, Aragon strives to make Lucrezia a sympathetic, mournful character, despite the fact she has indeed committed murder to preserve her family's prestige, privilege and reign.

While Andrea Houssin's characterization of Lucrezia as a tortured soul feels genuine, Aragon still has plenty of work to do to make this piece flow, particularly in winnowing down the number of paths he wants to pursue. One of the more intriguing elements of the entire work is that far from infallible, its pope is malevolent, corrupt and greedy and certainly didn't practice what he preached -- the allegory to contemporary religion could easily be amplified.

Having been impressed by several key elements of the reading, including the opening number and an entertaining tune centered on a Spanish cow, I'll certainly be tracking this work as it nears completion.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Flitting Around Square Winnipeg (May 25, 2007)

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At 07 June, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve. Thanks for the review. I belong to CMTDG (Canadian Musical Theatre Development Group) that is producing Joseph's musical in full at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival this year. Your article is great and really gets us excited even more about this production.
Thanks again!

At 11 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Annette, Appreciate the heads-up regarding the upcoming full-on production at this year's Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Please let me know the dates!


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