Every once in a while, I see a bunch of Broadway shows in rapid succession. This month is one of those onces.
A couple weeks ago I went with my family to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast, and Spelling Bee (which I had already seen off-Broadway).
Chitty was rather lousy except for the amazing flying car. You’ll seriously ask yourself, “How’d they do that?” Other than the car, though, expect a long show full of boring dialogue and painfully-simple songs. Thank goodness for Marc Kudisch’s spoiled-childish portrayal of the Baron of Vulgaria, which was the saving grace of Act II.
Beauty and the Beast was exactly what I expected, basically a staging of the movie, with some beautiful sets and some funny supporting roles, but overall unimpressive. The leads left something to be desired, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a show that’s been here for so long.
Spelling Bee, on the other hand, was just as hilarious as it was off-Broadway, and is definitely my favorite new musical this year. The music isn’t great, but the play is amazing, and it’s complemented by brilliant direction and acting. Also, Circle in the Square really is the perfect venue for this show; it feels like a school gymnasium.
This past weekend, I finally got to see Sweet Charity. Christina Applegate is not a singer, and that was painfully obvious, but her acting (and dancing) more than made up for it. Overall, the show was quirky, fun, and beautiful to behold. The dances were bizarre, as are the musical numbers in general, but it’s really the book that makes this musical great. Neil Simon’s script is perfect, and my favorite scene in the play (as it should be) was definitely the elevator scene between Charity and Oscar (played perfectly by Denis O’Hare). I actually didn’t care for O’Hare’s performance in Assassins last year, so I was pleased to see him redeem himself in another role.
Tonight I’m going to see The Light in the Piazza, which is one of the two remaining Best Musical nominees I haven’t seen. After this, I just need to get tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and I will have successfully seen all the contenders.