The Siegel Column

5 Stars: The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone seems to be the most-discussed show on All That Chat. Given that it's a love letter to the ineffable charm of musical theater, it makes perfect sense that this show, more than any other this season, would speak to this website's readers. It doesn't mean, of course, that all of you like it, but it does mean that most of you are particularly passionate in your opinions. So are we. In any event, it would be silly for us to discuss this musical in a traditional review format because it isn't a review that you really want. What you really want is The Drowsy Chaperone to come to life in your apartment. More to the point, you want to believe in the redemptive love of musical theater; that it will be there for you just as you are literally there for it, night in and matinee out.

After all, if we're devoting so much of our lives to the musical theater, shouldn't we believe that it matters? Shouldn't we believe that the characters we love, in some fundamental way, truly exist? Don't you believe in Don Quixote when he rises from his deathbed to exclaim to his Dulcinea, "What matter wounds? For each time he falls he shall rise again! And woe to the wicked!" Of course you do, at least you do when Man of La Mancha is done right. And that's the issue for The Drowsy Chaperone. Clearly, for a great many people, it is being done right because they are laughing when they're supposed to laugh and crying when they are supposed to cry.

There is a great deal of theatrical magic in this production at the Marriott Marquis, not the least of which is in the superlative performances of the cast, the inventive set design, inspired choreography, and creative direction. Finally, though, the play turns on that single moment when imagination turns into reality; when, like in The Purple Rose of Cairo, fiction and fact become one. If you are transported by that moment, if that's when the sobbing starts after all the laughter, then you don't need a review, you need tissues. If that moment reads false to you, then we suspect you didn't clap for Tinkerbell, and no review in the world will convince you that this is the play that should win the Tony for Outstanding New Musical. But it will. Harvey said so. And we don't mean Harvey Fierstein.

0 Stars: Hot Feet

Let's not waste too much of your valuable time on Hot Feet. The simple truth is that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang had a more credible plot. The Red Shoes? Please! Also, there's a lot of complicated dancing in the show but there isn't the slightest bit of it with any character. As if anyone connected with the writing of this show has any idea of how to create a character. Clearly, the Devil created this musical.

4 ½ Stars: The Lieutenant of Inishmore

The Lieutenant of Inishmore has already been well-reviewed during its run Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater and it has not been changed so much that a new review is necessary. But the transfer of this frightfully violent and bloody play to Broadway is, at the very least, worthy of comment. Simply put, you'll find more warmth in a black hole than you'll find in Martin McDonagh's bleak and brilliant satire. There is no warmth here because there is no one to root for. Except the author. The first time you see the play you simply hope he knows what he's doing. Well, he does ...

It's hard to believe that a play this dark is actually on Broadway, but the upside is that the piece is so intensely bright, its ultimate metaphor so blazing with a keen understanding of the human condition, that you not only forgive its transgressions, you embrace their boldness. Or at least you should. You might either laugh your head off at the sheer outrageousness of the piece or you might sit through this play aghast at what you see and hear. But you may never witness a better play about the inherent futility of violence. There are times when this play appears as if it was (also) written by the Devil. But it's really quite the opposite.

-- Barbara and Scott Siegel

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