Located on a small expansion shelf about midway between the Third and Fourth Circles, Musical Hell is presided over by Diva, a minor demon charged with passing judgement on the worst musicals ever committed to film. (She still hasn't figured out if this is their punishment or hers.) Take a seat on the bench and have your earplugs ready, because court is now in session.

New videos posted on the first Monday of the month. Other viewpoints, news, and general ramblings posted when they crop up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tony Performance Report Card

It's pretty much a given that you can't judge a musical by it's five-minute Tony performance anymore thank you can judge a book by its cover. However, a book with an eye-catching cover is more likely to get read, and a show with a good Tony performance is more likely to draw an audience. So, how well did last night's shows succeed at making me want to see them? Let's find out!

Newsies: Pleasantly amusing, but not spectacular—which, come to think of it, was pretty much my reaction to the movie. Got a little giggle every time the “crippled” newsie obviously put weight on his gimp leg (take some movement tips from Norm Lewis in Porgy and Bess, please!). Grade: C+

Jesus Christ Superstar: The title song for this musical asks a question that has plagued Christians and non-Christians alike—just who is this Jesus guy, anyway?--but Josh Young doesn't convey the confrontational, challenging subtext to what he's singing. He could be performing a number for a Vegas revue for all the depth he provides. The sight of Jesus delivering the “love your enemies” speech on the big screen is a nice touch, but otherwise there's no there there. Grade: D

Follies: I'm not a Follies fan, and this number isn't doing a whole lot to convert me. The patter is as crisp and clever as you might expect from Stephen Sondheim, but it's pretty much a one-joke song--”I love you when you don't love me, I don't love you when you do”--that doesn't take me anywhere special. Grade: C-

Ghost: *sigh* If there's one thing that bothers me in music theater scores, it's when you can't understand what anybody is singing, let alone why (it pretty much killed the American Idiot cast recording for me). This trio is a good example why—it just degenerates into random pop wailing; how am I supposed to care about the characters like that? Grade: D+

Nice Work If You Can Get It: Liked this one more than I expected to. Matthew Broderick phones it in, but an energetic chorus and the amusing image of Kelli O'Hara crooning “Someone to Watch Over Me” while packing a rifle more than make up for it. Grade: B+

Porgy and Bess: It was a good evening for Gershwin, I guess. The cast performs a solid medley of the score's highlights, creating a nice sampler platter of a presentation. Grade: A

Once: I've watched this a few times, and I love it more each time I see it. It has the simple, stirring quality of folk music at its best. Other musicals have done the “actors-are-the-orchestra” thing before, but never this effectively. Easily my favorite performance of the evening. Grade: A

Evita: I'd seen this performance on YouTube before and it didn't to much for me, but this time it worked much better. Ricky Martin is charming and sexy while still tapping into the cynicism behind the song. Grade: B

Hairspray: Pretty much an ad for Royal Caribbean, and they need to find a Tracy who is actually fat rather than curvy. Still, the music is fun as always, and it's nice to see a cruise ship doing something beyond a bunch of Up With People graduates dancing along to "YMCA." Grade: C

Godspell: Not a whole lot to recommend it, unfortunately. The cast tries its darndest with the old dancing-in-the-aisles-with-the-audience trick, but it doesn't do a thing for me. Grade: D-

Leap of Faith: I was impressed with the cast's energy and enthusiasm—you'd never know this was a show that had already closed from watching them Still, like a lot of musicals-from-movies, the score never rises up above servicable. Grade: C

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