Society" or "High Anxiety"?
The 2004 Season
of The Production Company has commenced with the lacklustre stage
version of "High Society". The all-star 1956 movie with
Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong
and those great Cole Porter songs, has to date not been the greatest
success as a stage musical. (See "High Society" review
the weakness of The Production Company's method of presentation
is apparent in this short season of five performances. Here was
an opportunity to take a mediocre stage production and turn it into
a musical theatre entertainment for both the performers and the
audience. Unfortunately what we ended up with was a musical theatre
diorama, a small scenic representation using three-dimensional figures,
seen from a distance in an illuminated setting.
and poorly conceived tradition of presenting full musical theatre
productions with two weeks of intensive rehearsals and no scripts
in hands at performances detracts from what could be a thrilling
event for both performers and audience. While all of the performers
who have ever participated in a Production Company musical to date
are to be applauded for their skill and talent in rising to these
performance demands, they and the audience have missed out on the
opportunity of just enjoying the experience because of these demands.
The stress of memorising the complete dialogue in addition to preparing
the songs, blocking scenes and learning choreography in just two
weeks is no way to put on a show. The actors appreciate the work,
but they do not enjoy the experience.
such limited rehearsal time the key to success is Keep It Simple.
audience sharing the joy of an actor's smile on stage because they
are truly enjoying the evening, not just acting a part. Spend less
on costumes and scenery and give more rehearsal time to the cast
with the orchestra. Ask any seasoned professional and they will
tell you it is a nerve-racking experience to rehearse a complete
full-length "Broadway" musical in two weeks. (It doesn't
happen that way on Broadway.) We're not talking about an actor who
has to do a crash course as an understudy for the opening night
of major show with the expectation of a long run or last minute
revisions and re-writes of a new work. We're talking about seasoned
performers who love the repertoire, love to perform, and want to
share that love with the audience the best way possible.
to be an enjoyment factor, in rehearsing and performing pre-existing
material "in concert". Without it, what is the point of
the exercise in creating the event? There is no justification for
actors to have to work under such pressure. Even if the audience
knows and understands the pressure the actors and production team
are under, its empathy and understanding for the production schedule
is not what theatre is about.
is a living, kinetic art form, not a museum piece to be observed
you at the theatre!”