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re: NYT: Hugh Jackman Is Having Fun Playing as ‘Arrogant as You Possibly Can’
Posted by: aleck 11:54 am EDT 05/25/22
In reply to: NYT: Hugh Jackman Is Having Fun Playing as ‘Arrogant as You Possibly Can’ - MockingbirdGirl 03:22 pm EDT 05/24/22

I saw this. Hugh Jackman does not allow himself for a single second to be anything other than a cheerful Hugh Jackman. There is absolutely no attempt to present Harold Hill as a true con man, which he is at the beginning, and then evolve into something else by the end.

Here we have Jackman jumping around the stage in an athletic manner being Hugh Jackman. And Foster reprises her Reno Sweeney persona. It was an interesting interpretation of the role. But all in all, it's not the Music Man. It was an entertainment that the audience loved -- especially with the phony breaking of character in the second act to all Foster to supposedly start laughing because of some goof Jackman did. So cheap. So low. The audience loved it. And then all of a sudden there's tap dancing? Where did that come from? Again, an entertainment but not the Music Man, a tightly written book musical.

I thought it was ironic that it was being performed in the Winter Garden where in the 1920s Al Jolson would ditch the book of his musical vehicles and just throw himself into himself to perform his greatest hits, night after night. And to the delight of audiences.

So, we've circled back to that. First, we saw it with Bette Midler's Hello Dolly, which was a phenomena without being phenomenal. Now this. Jerry Zaks knows what the audience wants. The day of the coherent book and performances that grow organically from it are, it seems, sadly over. Jackman and Midler have been closer to Al Jolson than they have been to the acting standards of Robert Preston and Carol Channing.

The other night at the Performing Arts library Jason Robert Brown gave an terrific review of his career, with lots of clips from original performances as well as live performance. At one point he considered that as a protégé of Hal Prince he looked around at all the show posters on Prince's office walls of shows Prince had done in one way or another and realized that Prince had trained Brown in a theatre that no longer exists. So true. This production of Music Man really drove that home to me.
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