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Sunday, August 26, 2001

What is it with (the lack of) theater in Los Angeles? Of the last "big" shows I've seen in LA (Mamma-Mia! and Saturday Night Fever) both were so incredibly bad, it hurt. Ok, so (Mamma-Mia! wasn't quite as painful as Saturday Night Fever (which was heinous and I do mean that) but neither show really had a concrete story.

So when I found out that Kiss Me Kate was coming to town, you can surely understand my excitement at the prospect of a real Broadway show finally making it's way to LA. I (very happily) was given comp tix (thanks Emily!) to opening night and my friends (Curtis, Yami and Tianyi) accompanied me. Curtis had seen the show on Broadway and raved about it, so when the lights dimmed in the Shubert, we both grinned from ear to ear in anticipation.

Oh, but my anticipation turned into disappointment. Rex Smith was much too campy and played the role of Fred Graham/Petruchio like a sleazy, lounge singer. The man has a good voice, but...not appropriate for this role...well, he would if he had better direction. Rachel York made the role of Lilli Vanessi/Katharine her own and did indeed do a great job with I Hate Men. She overplayed it just a tad in that song, but it worked. Nancy Anderson (Lois Lane/Bianca) overplayed the role as well, and just didn't make her character very special at all. She was your typical dumb blonde and you never really felt much of anything for her...only that she was just one of a thousand other ditzy blondes. The audience sure seemed to like her performance of "Always True To You (In My Fashion)" but again, she overacted and oversang her range to the point that she cracked big time in the last line of the song. Overall, the show was like a bad, campy soap opera and all I wanted was to watch Brian Stokes Mitchell & Marin Mazzie in the lead roles.

I didn't quite understand why the entire show was overdone. Was it because it was opening night? Were they nervous? Was it LA? Do audiences in LA appreciate that type of acting? Do they need extreme acting in order to understand what is going on? Is this where the state of musical theater in LA is going? I certainly hope not. I haven't seen a decent musical in LA since Ragtime and that's quite a shame.


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