Giant was one of the shows we were most looking forward to seeing during our extended stay in New York City, and it also ended up being one of our biggest letdowns.
They can't all be winners!
The musical, a stage adaptation of the iconic film/book, is currently playing at The Public Theater. It has music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa, whose Wild Party is one of our favorite musicals. Unfortunately, the songs are the Achilles heel of Giant. They are mediocre and meander. Barely memorable and not specific.
Set in Texas during the early 20th century, the musical fails to capture the sonic landscape of that era and area. What could have been a rich tapestry of Mexican, American, Mexican-American and Tejano songs instead was very average musical theater filler. Generic and uninspired.
And LaChiusa's lackluster score was not helped by the bookwriter Sybille Pearson's script. The show was long and it FELT long!
There were too many distractions and too many puzzling moments. "Why did they feel the need to do that?," we kept asking ourselves. Like when the protagonist's sister dies and then comes back in Act 2 to sing a duet with him.
That did not happen in the movie or book - and it didn't need to happen in the musical!
The one saving grace Giant has is its female lead. Kate Baldwin delivers a masterful and MUST-see performance in the Elizabeth Taylor role. Kate Baldwin is a superstar!!!!
We have literally seen AT LEAST over 40 shows since we've been in New York City, and Kate Baldwin in Giant delivers the most spectacular performance we have seen in anything - musical or play. She is not acting in this role. She is being. She is more than present! She's living and giving and transcending the tepid source material. If this were on Broadway, she would win the Tony!
And her voice! Oh, that voice! So exquisite! Soaring! Angelic! With bottom! And soul! STUNNING!
We recommend seeing Giant just for her performance alone! Baldwin is so good, in fact, that she makes everybody else look bad! No one rises to her level - or anywhere near!