Sunday, September 16, 2007

Caroline Makes Change

"WALMARTOPIA" at the Minetta Lane Theatre, September 15, 2007

What was well-received at the 2006 NYFringe Festival has suffered seems to have suffered at the hands of [title of show] vampires who have spent the last year "improving" this musical. Rather than finding the "Urinetown" track to commercial success, they seem to have lost their way and fallen into a trap of mediocrity. I didn't see the Fringe production and I'm sorry for that. I went to see the new commercial production running at the Minetta Lane Theatre, and I'm sorry for that, too.

There were hints and flashes of some potentially biting humor and well-sharpened barbs that have gotten edited down to dullness and disinterest. If the goal is to create a satirical and political jab at the powers and abuses of multinational corporations, choose a style and stick with it. Within the first four numbers we saw farce, musical comedy and a drama of emotional struggle. Shoved together, none of them work.

The cast have impressive credits and experience. At least half of them have appeared on Broadway.

Cheryl Freeman as Vicki Latrell sounds stuck in her Acid Queen/Tina Turner mode, singing every note through her nose. As her daughter Maia, Nikki M. James fares much better vocally.
The rest of the ensemble give fully committed performances, Stephen DeRosa is a standout, but the overall result was that I left at intermission.

Die, Vampire. Die!

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