Thursday night saw the opening of the last new show of the current Broadway season, Kander & Ebb's long-in-the-works The Visit.
The show was originally supposed to reach Broadway in 2001 as a starring vehicle for Angela Lansbury. Life happened. Lansbury dropped out. Chita Rivera stepped in. And 14 years later it finally debuts in New York!
The Visit reteams the iconic composing duo of Kander & Ebb with frequent collaborator Rivera and playwright Terrence McNally, both of whom worked on Kiss Of The Spider Woman with them.
Like many Kander & Ebb shows (Cabaret, Chicago), The Visitexplores dark themes.
A rich old woman comes back to her hometown after being gone a lifetime to avenge her past!
That rich old woman is the rich in talent Rivera, who at 82 years old may be making her final appearance on Broadway. And it is quite the star turn for her!
We last saw her on the stage in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, which was not a good vehicle for her. The Visit, after many revisions throughout the years and finally being (smartly) trimmed down to it's current state of performed without intermission, is custom-tailored for Rivera.
This is Chita at her best! There's even a little dancing!
This old broad's still got it!
The production is on the smaller scale of Broadway musicals, but it is beautifully done by director John Doyle.
The show is a lot like Chicago in that it lives in an alternate world. It's based on reality but the whole affair is rather surreal. We kept waiting for the end and a reveal that it was all a dream, which never happened.
In addition to Rivera, the real star of the show is the music.
Fred Ebb may no longer be with us but John Kander is - he was at the opening! - and these songs they have left behind are of the highest quality.
Oftentimes the later work of composers isn't as good as their younger output. Thankfully, The Visitis not that case! These songs are some of their best!
The cast is mostly great, though we wish they would have chosen a better vocalist as Rivera's main love interest.
And kudos to newcomer John Riddle, who has a bright future ahead of him - and not just because he was so pretty to look at. He was captivating!
EXQUISITE vocal arrangements by music director/supervisor Ron Melrose!
GORGEOUS orchestrations by Danny Troob to really show it off!
And, unfortunately, THE WORST book of the new Broadway season.
This musical would have worked sooooo much better as an opera - without any dialogue. Or maybe with heavy narration and minimal dialogue.
Michael Weller had the merciless task of condensing the long book/film (both long) into a long and hard-to-follow musical. And as if that weren't daunting enough, he was also faced with not just editing down but also creating…. lots of cheese!
This love story is so melodramatic that it's hard to find any of it believable and even harder to not audibly laugh at some of this campy dialogue.
It's a shame because many of the songs - with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie & Amy Powers - are quite beautiful and really good.
It doesn't help either that director Des McAnuff has loaded the show with so many guns going off continually. It's incredibly loud and distracting!
Kelly Barrett as Zhivago's love interest is a revelation in this role and absolutely spectacular! And Paul Alexander Nolan, whom we've seen in previous productions, delivers the best performance we've ever seen him give in Doctor Zhivago.
As for the title character, Tam Mutu would have been served far better if - like we said - this were an opera!
The music legend's denial contradicts the tweets of a few audience members who claimed they saw the 56-year-old chatting up a storm during the second act. Even a star of the show allegedly complained about Madonna's lack of phone etiquette.
Hmmm, this is one tricky story!! It's definitely a case of he said/she said.
If you're a fan of Renée Fleming, then you will love Living On Love, the new Broadway play about an aging opera singer starring the real life opera singer.
Fleming is making her Broadway debut with the comedy, which seems to have been created as a starring vehicle for her. Unfortunately, this is no Master Class.
Fleming's singing voice, which she gifts the audience in snippets throughout the play, is a force of nature. Unfortunately, this show fails to come anywhere near her brilliance as a vocalist.
And, since she's not given the best material to work with, Fleming does not shine the way she should!
She's funny and endearing, but playwright Joe DiPietro paints her character so broad and cartoonish that she's too over-the-top and the audience doesn't root for her. The same could be said of her husband in the show, the usually superb Douglass Sills, who in Living On Loveis trying so hard! Too hard! He's overcompensating for a fine but far from great script.
There are moments of greatness - and truly funny insider jokes - but those are not enough to make this overly familiar and rather generic show feel as special as it needs to be!
So, Mama June either wants back on TV or she wants her money!
The matriarch's lawyer explained that June and the whole family are ready to fire up the show again, and if TLC doesn't give them the same treatment as the Duggars, then they think they'll have no problem getting $1 million in court.
They gave the demand on Friday and will wait a week to see what happens.
Are U interested in watching either of these shows anymore???