A Tale of Two Musicals

The production at the lyric opera was technically brilliant and full of beautiful scenery and those memorable songs. The female cast, specifically Mikaela Bennett as Maria and Amanda Castro as Anita, stole the show, and fully inhabited their parts in a way that male leads failed to do. The jets came off as beefy straining for squeaky.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for proximity and being in the second row of a storefront show gave me the intimacy I was missing from West Side Story. What was missing was a comprehensible story. The wackier elements of the book never landed for me because I was too busy trying to piece together from the spoken scenes who the main character was and why she wanted to be abducted so badly. The show is definitely not lacking a worldview, the world it paints is thick with pseudoscience, corporate greed and absurd, broken institutions. I got a good sense of what the playwright thinks about our current predicament, I never got much of a sense how the main character felt about her world, and without that, the absurdity and facetious humor fell mostly flat. That’s not to say the actors didn’t perform admirably, just that they were given a lot to do without a clear sense of why they were doing it. Musicals are founded on breaking out into song for almost any reason, but the lack of character motivation left me earthbound.

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