Showstopper


I went with my family to see a performance of “Anything Goes” today. There’s a pretty good regional theater a few towns over that my folks have season tickets to. Apparently this show was getting rave reviews so they asked if we were interested in coming to see it with them and were able to get some extra tickets.

I once worked on a production of “Anything Goes” at a summerstock theatre in Virginia while I was still in college. I was in the costume department so I never got to see the whole show from the audience so this seemed like a good opportunity to catch up on the experience. And the show was quite good, but being an ex- theatre person and a current film person I don’t make a very good audience member because I’m extra critical of the details. The mike level was too low. The dress was hemmed too high. The wig needed resetting. The outburst of emotion was unmotivated. The set pieces were blocking eyelines ( to be fair, it is a theatre in the round so the obstruction was carefully planned, but still distracting).

It’s not that I want to nit pick: I really do want to just enjoy a good show. After all, theatre is a transcendent art form because it happens live and the moments, when real, are magical and fleeting. Knowing, even a little bit, what goes on behind the curtain makes the magic that much harder to conjure: shortcuts that might work as easy crowd pleasers for a regular audience fall short. This is especially true in comedy- and a lighthearted song-and- dance show like “Anything Goes” is built on comedic principles.

I’m certainly no expert on comedy ( as evidenced by my earlier post “The Laughs”) but I’m at least becoming more attuned to the principles that make it work most effectively and I’m starting to see when performances just try to go for cheap laughs instead of sticking to the craft. It might get laughs but cheap laughs don’t have anywhere to go and make the next laugh that much harder to get.

Anyway, that’s all that I’ve got for tonight.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 24, 2015.

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