Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MONSTERS the musical

I went back to Boston, MA to see the world premiere of my friends' (G. Phaneuf book & E. Lijoi music) musical MONSTERS being performed. Now I've seen the show grow through two staged readings, several score changes up to and including this current incarnation of their story of a woman, who on her 40th birthday is confronted by her demons, er, monsters. Get it? Now I am going to try to be both fair and just in my review, but forgive me for any bias, as many of my friends from undergraduate school had lent their hands in many, many aspects this production.
First of all, although the story goes down the dangerous path of self exploration during a mid-life crisis it handles the topic with fast paced wit and charm. We meet our heroine "Samantha" & her mother on the morning of this monumental birthday. As the show moves forward, we meet Samantha's "monsters", "Apathy, Body & Fear." They're personified as characters. The show winds up with Samantha confronting her monsters and deciding that she can be the person she wants to be; or better yet - she IS the person she wants to be....inside. Now that is a gloss over of the storyline, but I don't want to go too far into it as I would spoil such a fun show for everyone who still wants to see it.
As for the production value of the show. I'm so proud of Gail & Ernie for pulling this together. The set was a great, multilevel thrust (3-sides) of a living room-kitchenette combo. Well done & thought out. The costumes were good, except for one character... "Fear" - Fear's costume stuck out like a sore thumb. It didn't work and pulled the eye. The direction of the show was decent. I found the blocking a little in-organic and little bit too much of "stand here because the director told me to stand here" happening on stage. At several points in the play I swear every character was standing around center stage just waiting to deliver their line(s). Now here is where I'm torn, shall I review the performances or shouldn't I? For the sake of brevity and keeping my friends I'll chose not to say anything bad. Lisa who played Samantha did so with the most flair and the best singing I've ever heard her do for this piece. I enjoyed her performance but I feel as though her "I can climb mountains" number was rushed and she didn't connect with the audience. However, she sang the song lovely. I wouldn't even have mentioned this except that this song is the turning point of the show. It's where Samantha goes from being haunted by these monsters to confronting them. Apathy, portrayed by Patti was the most energetic lazy person I've ever seen. She was full of life & laughs. A seasoned pro whose performance wheels are greased and ready. God I want to do a show again! Another highlight was the Mother, although I have to say I didn't know her, I sure would like to. She was the best I've seen play this Mother role in any of the incarnations so far. Super job. As for the other characters, Body - was fine as the decidedly sarcastic, uber-queen. Normally I love the high-camp characters in shows, but I felt that this one was playing gay, not being gay. There is a difference. Fear, well, first off I must say that her performance was the best of all the 'Fears' yet. The past two Fears that I've seen have come up short. This Fear was much better. However, this character, although important to the storyline, isn't quite fleshed out. Either the actress or the director needed to make some serious decisions and stick to them. Both Fear & Body had no obstacles to play against which means their stakes for acting were too low.
Overall, I think this show was great. I really enjoyed the 90 minute show (no intermission) and it was certainly a break from CATS. Gail & Ernie have put a lot into this piece. I highly recommend this. See it while you can. The show is playing at the Boston Center for the Arts Thursday through Sunday for the rest of the month of September. Go to the web site for tickets!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Yes! It's always great to support friends in the business!

I wish your friends a lot of luck!

7:50 PM  

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