Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2014’
ROAD SHOW: Musical. Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Book by John Weidman. Directed by John Fisher. Musical Direction by Dave Dobrusky. A Theatre Rhinoceros Production at the Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street (between Front & Battery Streets), in San Francisco. 1-800-838-3006 or www.therhino.org. January 2 – 19, 2014
Sondheim and Weidman’s ROAD SHOW a ‘should see’ at The Eureka
If you are a Sondheim aficionado Theatre Rhino’s production of Road Show is a must see show and for the others it is truly a ‘should see’ show. It is the only musical Sondheim has written in collaboration with John Weidman since the very successful Passion in 1994. This time around they have resurrected the lives ofthe Misner brothers who pursued the Great American Dream for wealth and social standing in the late 1800 and 1900s only to end in total disaster.
The use of the term resurrected is very appropriate since the show begins with the semi-intellectual younger Addison Misner (charming Bill Fahrner) coming out of a coffin to be chastised for the life he has led by the entire company including the wastrel brother Wilson (powerful Rudy Guerrero) in song and dance with “What a Waste.” Fahrner and Guerrero are terrific and are ably supported by seven other cast members playing prominent roles and doubling as the ensemble.
After the opening number, there is a time shift to the brother’s youthful days with Papa’s (Kim Larsen) dying words and Mama’s (Kathryn Wood) concurrence in “It’s in Your Hands Now” to go into the world and make your fortune. This starts the show on the road.
The first stop is Alaska to search for the elusive “Gold” and the ensemble belts the song with gusto. Sondheim and Weidman deftly shift the tenure with a touch of incest defining the “Brotherly Love” that will be Addison’s undoing when Wilson’s true nature is defined in “The Game.”
And then “Addison’s Trip” is a masterpiece of dark humor as every world wide venture he invests in is a total disaster and he ends up with an armful of useless souvenirs. Even though “That Was a Year” to be forgotten but remembered as an expensive lesson Addison moves on to share in the “Land Boom” taking place in Florida. On the way he meets Hollis Bessemer (handsome dulcet voiced Michael Doppe) and the sexual/love affair begins (“You” and “The Best Thing That Ever Happened”).
The authors give Addison the major portion of the middle of the show and Fahrner nails the part and his duets with Kathryn Wood are memorable. When Wilson returns in various sections of the play he energizes the auditorium even while he is assigned a soft shoe routine complete with cane. He is the dominate force in Sondheim’s most dynamic song “Boca Raton” that young Bessemer reminds him means “mouth of the rat.” All this leads to a powerful ending with “Get Out” and “Go.”
Full endorsement cannot be given to entire production since the staging and directing are both clever and cumbersome. There are many memorable scenes by individuals and the ensemble that earn accolades. However the central moveable 7 long 4 foot high rectangle that is constantly being rotated by the cast to depict various locales is distracting. Running time is a tight 1 hour and 40 minutes without intermission.
Note from the director: “We have not just chosen any Sondheim musical usually done by regional theatres, but the obscure ROAD SHOW. This musical has had many incarnations (previously titled Bounce, and before that Wise Guys and Gold!), but the few people who have seen it may not have seen this version being presented by Theatre Rhino. This Sondheim’s first new musical since his Tony Award-winning Passion in 1994, reunited the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer with book writer Weidman (Assassins, Pacific Overtures) and Tony Award-winning director John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company). The production played an extended run Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2008, but beyond a 2011 London remounting at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the musical has remained unseen by audiences until now.”
Production Crew: Stage Manager, Colin Johnson; Accompaniment, Dave Dobrusky; Scenic Designer, Gilbert Johnson; Costume Designer, Scarlett Kellum; Lighting/Sound Design, Colin Johnson; Graphics-Ads, Christine U’Ren: Videography, Mister WA
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com