Friday, September 28, 2007

Backlash much, Heather?

I'm perplexed but also kind of amused to see that the rumblings of interest in promising but, yes, largely unproven new talent Stephen Costello have been met with the perhaps inevitable equal-and-opposite: comments sections on a blog near you are likely to contain some seed of a nascent backlash. Sic transit!

If it's worth justifying, I don't think anyone's enthusiasm is solely founded exclusively on his showing in Arturo's brief utterances, though he really did sound swell. Uh, especially in contrast, I'm afraid, to the more toughened up sound of the evening's leading gent, who needs to be singing Dick Johnson (or, I dunno, Ennis in Der Rucke-gebrechte Berg.) Nor is it based entirely on his "still pretending to shave with a plastic razor" boyish visage.

Where this is actually coming from: Costello's manager, Neil Funkhouser, seems to have made the smart, au courant decision agents are surely going to be making more and more: he put his singer on Youtube. It's from a school performance, so I can embed it here with no worries, I think.

So, in fact, a lot of us went in with high expectations--because seriously, just click on "play" up there--and, above all else, the question: how will it sound in The Barn? Is it a guarantee he's headed for the big time? Not at all. But if you're still wondering, with a sour look upon your face, what the fuss is about after a small-role debut, I say: you hatin'.


On a fortunately unrelated note, I believe you may have one more chance tomorrow to see Trevor Nunn's production of The Seagull which I will without particular reservation declare wrong, wrong, wrong from start to finish. Yeah, this is sort of season-related since isn't he doing the Peter Grimes later on? I'm hoping he'll harken back to his days as director of Starlight Express for that one and maybe put everyone on skates. They could do some kind of marketing tie-in with Xanadu, nu? Anyway Nunn's vision of Chekhov's play seems to be that every last character is the aesthetic equivalent of a pounding hangover, and as a result the play is extremely tiring. Sneaking a little humanity into three and half hours of tiresome sniveling is Monica Dolan as Masha. The thing about Chekhov characters is they all have a moment, at least, of being real beasts, though they may be more generally their own worst enemies, but this production reversed the proportions; Arkadina, for example, has exactly one scene of not being a screaming monster, when she changes Konstantin's bandage. The rest of the time she's like something out of Mel Brooks, not to knock Mel Brooks. I'd actually urge you to get in a time machine so you can go back and not see this for the entire run, rather than simply not seeing it tomorrow. (If you'd prefer a version of Chekhov whose humanism matches that of the playwright, hop on Netflix and queue up Louis Malle's Vanya on 42nd Street with a radiant, pre-famous Julianne Moore and the witty, angry, wrenchingly human Vanya of Wallace Shawn. The rest of the cast somehow matches their brilliance.)

ETA: Like the first robin of spring is Maury's first glaring mistake of the season, I like to think. It is pointed out by an anonymous commenter that Trevor Nunn's production of Peter Grimes has been scrapped, Met-wise, in favor of one by John Doyle, whose production of Company was downright brimming with humanity, so there is in fact no relevance whatsoever to my brief swipe at Trevor Nunn, above, except oh hey I went to the theater instead of the opera for a change.


Anonymous said...

Trevor Nunn is NOT doing Peter Grimes. His production, (from Salzburg has been scrapped) and a new one, directed by John Doyle (Bway's recent "Sweeny Todd" and "Company") is doing it. Met info here.

Anonymous said...

...and Jack O'Brien directed Il Trittico last season, I'm sorry to tell you. But you generally do sterling work, especially vis-a-vis the competition. Please keep it up!

Maury D'annato said...

Hilarious. It really wasn't intentional.

Buttermilk Sky said...

If Doyle's "Grimes" is anything like his Sondheims, expect Grimes to sing his mad scene while playing the tuba. Could be fun.

jondrytay said...

Haha, buttermilk sky, that made me laugh aloud. Speaking as an actor who sings, I deplore the current habit in musical theatre to dispense with the band, mainly because it means less work for me. Should have stuck to those clarinet lessons.

Opera has it right. Long live the tendency for Susanna to strum a mandolin unconvincingly during 'Sull'aria'. Having somehow picked it up during her career as an 18th century lady's maid.

Maury- Frances Barber is one of my favourite actors, and Romola Garai too. If they're not nailing those parts, then something has gone very badly wrong.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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