I realize that my blog has been shifting in focus esp in the last few months – it’s virtually turned into a theater (Jersey Boys?) blog. It’s not always going to remain like this – it’s just that I didn’t even get to finish blogging about the shows that I saw in my second to last trip to NY. On top of that, nothing big is happening at work – experiments are slow, and hopefully with a bit of luck I’ll finish my qualifying exam by the end of summer. Maybe I’m doing all this theater talk to forget about work??
Anyways. Some thoughts on Coram Boy. I had wanted to see this play since I read about it in the NY Times, but in general, it got canned by critics. My feeling is that people were afraid to like it b/c it was so overly dramatic, predictable… From the very premise of it, it’s very dramatic – the program was one of the most full program I had ever held in my hand, with a cast of 40+ actors, and even the orchestra in the pit were dressed up in baroque powdered wigs and costumes. On top of amazing sweeping effects, the play ends in a rousing rendition of the huge cast in the chorus of Handel Messiah’s “Hallelujah” chorus. But despite its predictability and its melodrama, there was something about the show that touched a childlike desire in my heart that was fully satisfied by this play and I fell for it, completely. This is what theater was meant to do – this is what it means to be theatrical.
My favorite scene is pictured above – showing two boys being drowned, with Meshak at the bottom of the ocean, saving their lives by pushing them back up to the surface. My jaw just dropped. I know it’s melodramatic, and over the top, but I lapped it up with my eyes wide open.
Some standouts in the play – Xanthe Elbrick’s Tony nomination is very well deserved. Her portrayal of two different boys was amazing to watch so closeup from the front row. Jan Maxwell’s portrayal of a jaded accomplice was so natural. Another standout for me was Charlotte Parry’s portrayal of the young Thomas Ledbury, the energetic lower class boy who is out of place in the upper class world of the Ashbrooks. One note on Brad Fleischer as Meshak – I realize that his character was supposed to be simple, but from the very opening of the play, the direction of his character seemed misguided, and had me confused and put off from the very start of the show. I was glad to see though, that he graduated from UCSD.
Sadly it closed this weekend. The Tony Awards management committee, I think, was afraid to nominate this show for its melodrama (a quote from Michael Riedel’s column: “As for Coram Boy, the only people who despise it more than the critics are the Tony nominators.”) And with the show barely selling at half capacity, it really had no reason to stay open until June 10. I’m glad it sold out for the last show though, and glad I got to experience it before it closed. It was a piece of classic, entertaining theater. As someone mentioned, it was nice to have a play that didn’t hurt your cerebrum as much as the other plays that are currently on Broadway. I love Journey’s End, which would be under this category of a cerebrum hurting play, but it was fun to get lost in the world of the Coram Boy.