Saturday, November 13, 2004

Musings On Two Musicals

So today I saw two musicals; perhaps not an ideal thing to do on the first day of an international trip, but London theaters are dark on Sundays and seeing shows was a major reason I wanted to get to London again. I saw Jerry Springer: The Opera, which isn't really an opera but a musical based on (more like spoofing) The Jerry Springer Show. I have no idea who the composer was; it starred David Soul of Starsky & Hutch fame, but has he been seen anywhere since?; plus there was an understudy for one of the main characters, whose normal actor won the British equivalent of the Tony. I also saw The Woman In White, a new musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by David Zippel, who happens to be the lyricist for the first show I saw in London 12 years ago, City of Angels, which I loved for it's wordplay. The star was Michael Crawford, the legendary original Phantom of the Opera. And , it's based on a classic novel, though I've never read it nor even heard of it.

So guess which one I liked more.

Wrong. Somewhat shockingly, even to myself -- despite Jerry Springer being delightfully profane, at times laugh-out-loud hilarious, well acted & sung, with genuinely tuneful and funny songs ... and despite Michael Crawford being unrecognizable in a fat suit and not even the main character, despite the fact that I recently saw and disliked "Phantom" and think Webber is likely overrated, despite Zippel's lyrics at times being painfully too clever (huh, what's that?), despite the lack of many songs that seemed truly wonderful and despite the fact that Woman In White used video imagery instead of physical set pieces, for the most part -- I have to say I think I enjoyed The Woman In White more. Though it was 3 hours, and perhaps didn't need to be, it was engaging, story-wise and music-wise; with great performances from Crawford and all the leads. I have to hear the music more (likewise with Jerry, which I also went into cold) to make a comparitive judgment, but I certainly liked Woman In White more than Phantom, and that's still running here after 18 years.

I gotta go, but just need to add that I did like Jerry, but after awhile it seemed like a one-joke-pony (albeit told in a variety of mostly funny ways).

I don't know that I could call either show must see, but am glad to have seen both. Of course, I'm seeing The Producers on Monday night, which despite having seen 5 times already, will still be better than either of these shows.

Jerry Springer: The Opera @@@1/2
The Woman In White @@@@

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