Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Victor/Victoria"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

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note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"Victor/Victoria"

Based on the theatrical motion picture "Victor/Victoria"
Book by Blake Edwards
Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Additional Musical Material by Frank Wildhorn
Directed by Mark S. Hoebee
Choreographed by Dan Mojica
Music Direction & Additional Orchestrations by John Mezzio

Scenic Design by Robin Wagner
Sound Design by Scott Armstrong
Lighting Design by Diane Ferry Williams
Costume Design by Willa Kim
Hair Design by Bernie Ardia
Production Stage Manager Kimberly Fisk

Carroll Todd....................Jamie Ross
Victoria Grant..............Toni Tennille
King Marchan.................Dennis Cole
Norma Cassidy......Dana Lynn Mauro
Mr. Bernstein.....................A. J. Irvin
Andre Cassell.......John-Charles Kelly
Henri Labisse..........Dominic Kuskern
Street Singer....................Lisa Shaller
Miss Selmer/Woman Guest # 1.....Colleen Sudduth
Juke/Deviant Husband/Reporter/Choreographer.....Michael Bunce
Madame Roget/Chambermaid/Reporter/Woman Guest #2/Etc. ....Christine Ciccone
Simone Callisto/Etc. .....Ann Cooley
Sal/Piano Player/Waiter/Reporter.....Tom Herber
Gregor/Etc. .....Evan Marks
Cosmetic Company President/Reporter.....Karri Nussle
Clam/ Man Guest # 1/Stagehand.....Keithe Weirich
Richard DiNardo/Etc. .....Brek Williams
Etc. (i.e. Chorus)
Will Armstrong, Andrew Fitch, Danea Lee Polise, Chad D. Schiro, Kathleen Shields, Katrina Yaukey


"Victor/Victoria" is the kind of show that brings back the great old days of Broadway theater here in Boston; the sort of show that provokes conversation. I can see people on the way home turning to a date to exclaim "Be fair: this is a good idea for a musical and there's a lot of good stuff there! We should buy tickets for closing night, so we can see the rewrites; and by then the director will have a better idea of what to cut, after they decide which way the show should go. I wonder what it'll look like when it opens on Broadway."

But, of course, this isn't a still-fluid try-out, it's the beginning of a national tour for a long-run hit already headed by its third big-name star. A long-run hit still badly in need of a lot of rewrite.

Characters keep saying (but never demonstrating) that everyone plays roles, and that people believe what they expect to be true without regard for reality. Saying such things repeatedly and ponderously, rather than inventing situations and dialog that show these things to be true, isn't really convincing --- not when most of the show consists of a lot of lame, limp sex jokes that distance rather than amuse both the gay and the straight members of the audience indiscriminately. The fact that most of the "surprises" in the show are given away in the synopsis of the plot printed in the program doesn't help either. (Come to think of it, what good musical needs a plot-synopsis printed in the program?)

The good things are all details, not essentials. The sets are brilliant. Scenic Designer Robin Wagner seems to have had a better feel for the '30s period in Paris than Book writer Blake Edwards does for the gay world of transvestism. Willa Kim's costumes are dazzling, and the performances from everyone down to the hard-worked chorus dancers are fine. Jamie Ross is fine --- as anyone who had been to the Reagle Players this summer knows. Henry Mancini has contributed a lot of razzmatazz Broadway musical numbers, though most of them are faintly reminiscent of other tunes, and all of them are faintly reminiscent of each other. Leslie Bricusse and Mancini wrote a lyrically slow ballad ("Paris by Night") that starts the show, and a full-out rollicker ("Louis Says") to open the second act that would get appreciative applause from Cole Porter himself. The dancers are all spunky, sassy and frankly deserve more imaginative choreography than Dan Mojica provides. And everyone, although occasionally over the top, does their damnedest with what they're given to do.

It's the plot they are all peddling that is unconvincing: a woman pretends she's a gay (guy) female-impersonator in order to get a job singing, and a macho American falls so in love with her/him he's almost willing to turn gay to have him if he's really wrong about him really being a woman after all. All of this hinges on the possibility that when Toni Tennille comes offstage to change from costume into tuxedo everyone in Paris will believe she's a man until she proves she had boobs --- and that's not an easy illusion to create on the Colonial stage. Add the fact that all this is rushed to make room for the sex/gay jokes all of which cast a frosty pall on half the audience by turns, and no amounts of excellent performing or dazzling sets or costumes or two and a half great songs can possibly win the day.

Broadway run or no Broadway hit run, what "Victor/Victoria" badly needs is a two-week tryout run in Boston, and lots and lots of rewrites

Love,
===Anon.


"Victor/Victoria" (till 10 January)
COLONIAL THEATRE
106 Boylston Street, BOSTON
1(617)931-2787

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