QOTD: "It's tough to be the newspaper reporter son of a Martian detective." - SPY magazine headline on the 1988 TV season
Reading: Mary Morris (editor), Maiden Voyages
Listening to: nothing
Decluttering accomplishments: filed a few papers away
I went downtown today to see The Full Monty at the Ahmanson. The traffic on the 10 was amazingly light and, even with a slight slowdown on the 110, it still took me barely 15 minutes. It took nearly as long to park as it had to drive to the Music Center.
The show had a few very funny moments, but I wouldn't categorize it as a great musical by any means. The score was at its best in the sappy romantic ballads. Unfortunately, the lyrics for those were embarrassingly amateurish. The big dance production numbers were way too disco-influenced for my taste. The really annoying thing was the overuse of falsetto singing to show heightened emotion. The music wasn't completely horrible, but there was nothing memorable about it either. Certainly nothing I'd go out of my way to listen to.
The book was also not horrible, but not memorable. The first act needed some editing as it ran long. And there were a few peculiarities in the adaptation from the movie. My understanding is that the phrase "the full monty" was real British slang, even before the movie. While it would never have been used that way among steelworkers in Buffalo. The phrase "fat bastard" also has different connotations in British English than in American English, so was misused.
On the plus side, there were some fine performances and the dancing was particularly notable. The song "Big-Ass Rock" is hysterically funny. Carol Woods did a fine job, playing the same sort of raunchy scene stealing hot mama sort that she has in other shows. My favorite performance was by Robert Westenberg, who I'd liked before in Into the Woods and The Secret Garden. He may well be on his way to being another John Cullum.
Another small minus - no chest hair! But the biggest flaw was the usual one at the Ahmanson. Namely, the poor manners of Los Angeles theatre going audiences. There was so much coughing I might have thought I was in the tuberculosis ward at Harbor General, for example. If I could teach people one lesson, though, it would be that you are obliged to stop talking the instant the orchestra plays a single note. I don't care how rough a divorce Jane and Peter are going through, how sad it is that Carol has stopped taking her meds and is having scary manic periods again, or how long Steven has been out of work. In the first place, you shouldn't be talking about these things so loudly that I can hear you from four rows away. But if you must talk about them in public (and it seems you must), at least shut up when the music starts. The worst was this group of women in front of me who seem to have been under the impression that the theatre is their living room and they can, therefore, shout out commentary about the play just like they yell at their television sets.
It's really not so difficult. Lights down, people on stage talking or singing or orchestra playing means people in audience should be listening. Listening is done with ears, not mouths.
Then there was the horror of the obligatory standing ovation. I am under the opinion that a standing ovation is a special thing, used to highlight a performance of particular note. The notion of giving a standing ovation to a reasonably good performance of a somewhat better than mediocre show cheapens the whole concept. My suspicion is that a lot of these standing ovations are really just a way for people to gather their belongings together just those few minutes earlier so they can get out to the parking lot faster. Still, it really has to stop. I firmly keep my seat (unless I mean it) and if that means that a few people get to the 110 southbound before I do, so be it.
Copyright 2002 Miriam H. Nadel