Thursday, February 4, 2010

Musical Previews: American Idiot and Love Never Dies

As more shows prepare to open after a mid-season lull, there are a lot more opportunites to see samples of the newest, most anticipated shows.  Just this week, American Idiot probably got a huge shot in the arm between a Grammy win for Green Day's current album, 21st Century Breakdown, which contains some songs that are included in the show, such as "21 Guns," which the band and the Broadway cast of the musical performed on TV as part of the awards show.  In case you missed it, here it is:

I have to admit that this performance really whets my appetite for the show even more.  I mean I have always liked that particular song (and several others by Green Day), but I was concerned about how "Broadway" it would sound.  Granted, the Broadway version won't feature the band, but you can tell that great care has gone into selecting vocalists and vocal arrangements that compliment the original while making it a dramatic piece, too.

The good news is that the show had the biggest audience it's had in years, which should help initial ticket sales, beyond fans of the cast or Green Day. 

That same day, the commercial for the show debuted (and it also appears on the American Idiot website).  Here that is:

My thoughts on the commercial:

First, it does entice me to get to the Box Office and get tickets ASAP, and it is mainly because of the rest of my observations:

A.  The commercial soundtrack shows immediately, even without visuals that the music will be harder edged than your typical musical, making it appeal to a certain demographic, and pretty much eliminating another.  It also should put Green Day fans at ease.
B.  It has likely captured fans of Spring Awakening, as it clearly shows John Gallagher, Jr. in the thick of things, and even resembles the look of it - open stage, serious lighting, etc.  And it should also appeal to the Passing Strange fanbase, as well with the equal emphasis of Rebecca Naomi Jones from that show.
C.  The Spring Awakening crowd has grown up some, and the emphasis on the sex, and rebellious, even anti-Broadway, look of it should appeal to their growing sensibilities.
D.  Add in the group shots and close-ups of RENT-esque face mics and you instantly appeal to the RENTheads, who are looking for their next cause to support.
E.  But it is still a stage spectacle - they made sure to show some nifty acrobatics

In short, WOW!  Big success for the publicity machine behind American Idiot.

Another incoming show got a chance to preview its wares this week:  Love Never Dies, a show that, even though I am not a fan of The Phantom of the Opera, I have held some hope for with the slick website, the truly excellent instrumental track that sets the tone, mood and setting of Coney Island.  Now comes the "debut" of the title song, "Love Never Dies," as sung by the show's star, Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid), here accompanied by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself (and pianist Louise Hart).  Here is that video:

My thoughts on this:

A.  This is a retread of the song "The Heart is Slow to Learn," from another version of a Phantom sequel.
B.  The tune is lovely, but it takes a full three minutes before the song soars to any sort of height.
C.  The lyrics are rather esoteric - nothing new, deep or emotionally striking about love is revealed.
D.  They are also very very very repetitive... "Love Changes Everything" from his other love musical - Aspects of Love all over again.
E.  Thank God Sarah Brightman isn't Christine in this version.  Sierra Boggess has a lovely instrument, tons of stage presence and can actually act.  Standing still with a microphone, she still manages to sell this rather bland song.

In short, I'm still interested, but better start hearing more along the lines of the Coney Island instrumental, otherwise, I'm tempted to assume it is two more hours of the same old Phantom.  And I am wondering if this sequel, in spite of its title, will actually remember that the original novel was not just a love story, but a work of horror fiction as well.  How about a few chills and screams this time?
Countdown to Love Never Dies in New York: 280 Days...

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