Friday, February 18, 2005

First review from last night's Preview

Got a report back from a little bird who went to see last night's free Preview of "Sweeney":

"I liked it (what I could see and hear of it, anyway). It was a packed house (lots of students and cheapskates like me), and I didn't arrive until just a few minutes before curtain. Hence, I ended up with a bad seat in the front row way house right. [snip] The voices were great, the acting good, and the trick barber chair worked every time! My only big complaint (and I had this with "Candide" too) is that these scores demand full orchestras, not combos."

So, it sounds like the lesson here is to buy your tickets early enough to have good seats. Remember this is being played in the small Foothill Playhouse, so a) not that many seats and b) when the full cast is on stage you might not have full visibility from the front row, since there's no rise.

The comment about orchestras is a valid one. Actually with "Candide" Foothill used a recorded track for the Overture only, since there's no singing, it's just staged business. The tough part of trying to use a recording for the rest of the show is that it really removes some of the spontaneity and doesn't allow singers to be as individual with their songs as they might like to be.

It's a problem not just for little spaces like Foothill. Many, many tours that go out on the road can't afford to do with the big, full orchestras you have on Broadway. You do often end up with synthesized strings rather than the real deal, even for National Tours.

I look at this as the essential give and take when you take works and give them a new spin in a more intimate space. You may lose on having a big orchestra or some really extravagant stage craft. But you win in other ways...certainly you are more a part of the action, more involved than when you've got that distancing proscenium between you and the story.

Well, we'll see if I agree or disagree with my Preview reviewer when I see the show in 2 weeks.

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