Monday, July 16, 2007

You either got it or you ain't

Will you allow me one more Patti LuPost, now that Gypsy is officially open? I just want to comment on an interesting phenomenon: although Ben Brantley and I differ on most of the particulars, our general impression of Gypsy at Encores! — namely, that Patti-as-Rose is less than thrilling — is just about the same.

I especially admired this sentence from Brantley's review:
Ms. LuPone, in contrast [to other famous Roses], seems to slide in her purposeful focus, the way her voice — more trombone than trumpet — famously slides around on notes.
Very descriptive of her musical style, and insightful, I think, when it comes to her dramatic style. And although on the surface, his summary ("...She seems to be still fiddling with the gears and looking over her shoulder when she needs to be plowing full speed ahead with blinders on") sounds like the opposite of mine ("LuPone's Rose goes full steam ahead until she breaks down, not because it's dramatically inevitable but because it's time to end the show"), I think the problem we're identifying is basically the same. It's just that, for me, it wasn't Lupone's focus as Rose that was shaky, it was her focus on Rose. And Brantley zeroes in on that:
She can’t resist playing jokes for jokes’ sake, giving lines a Mae West-style spin that, however amusing, puts a distance between star and character. And in singing Jule Styne’s adrenaline-stirring melodies, she never pursues a straight line, so that the great Act 1 finale, "Everything’s Coming Up Roses," has a feeling of distracting, internalized restlessness.
And so we come out in pretty much the same place, even though I disagree with his take on most of the details of this production: he sensed sexual chemistry between Boyd and Patti where I felt only a void, and we even depart on which stripper was the best (I thought Marilyn Caskey cribbed her gimmick from Julie Halston, so wonderful in the 2003 Broadway revival, and turned it up past the point of effectiveness). But of course, he certainly had a better seat, and most likely saw a more solid performance than I did. (He couldn't have been there the night I was, because for him the orchestra "gives life to that score with a fullness that itself justifies the price of a ticket," and nobody would say that walking away from the performance I heard.) But enough about Ben. What about you? Did you see it, will you see it? Loved it, hated it, I want to hear about it.

No comments: