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Paradise Square: talk about second act trouble... (spoilers)
Last Edit: mikem 10:49 am EDT 05/16/22
Posted by: mikem 10:47 am EDT 05/16/22

Thanks to kieran, I found out The Skin of Our Teeth was canceled in time to get a TKTS ticket to Paradise Square for the Saturday matinee. I was surprised to find they had nothing in the orchestra and nothing at the higher price point (I paid something like $62). So maybe its box office is improving. I got a perfectly fine full-view front mezzanine seat.

Joaquina Kalukango sings the big 11 o'clock number, "Let It Burn," with passion and rage and tears. She got a mid-show standing ovation, and she is giving a Tony-worthy performance. Unfortunately, in order to get there, you have to sit through a largely incomprehensible second act.

The book of the first act is bland but fine, although there are too many characters being introduced so too many of them are only superficially sketched. But the second act falls apart. Sidney DuPont plays the escaped slave, whom the audience is supposed to root for. But despite being told clearly what will happen to the people helping him if he shows up, he shows up anyway, and he doesn't seem to care that the predicted bad things happen to the people helping him. And he shows up because he wants to . . . be in a dance-off. A dance-off?!? Did this serious musical suddenly become Grease 3? But for some reason, even though the dance-off is over, he gets to participate. And for some reason, AJ Shively has to dance again in front of the same people he just danced for. The bookwriters even have him say, "I just danced already," which I thought was bold of them to point out how idiotic the book is. No one contradicts him or gives a reason why he has to dance again. And both Shively and DuPont participate in the dance-off by. . . singing?!?!

Then DuPont leaves and COMES BACK AGAIN for no apparent reason other than to have him be in the final number. I guess once his way to Canada got blocked, he somehow found it better to come all the way back to NYC rather than return to the safehouse that was closer. And then the riot is over and the draft gets canceled?!? (That did not happen in real life, although the number of people who ended up being drafted was less than had been feared.)

Much of the music seems to be various people holding notes for a really long time.

The cast is talented and giving their all. And I appreciate that this is an original musical with many good elements. But I'm not sure how it went through three or four iterations and this is what the book is like.
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