Saturday, May 13, 2006

Never take a stranger's advice

Herewith, a quick and overdue post on the Cincinnati Music Theatre's production of Chess. (There's still time to see it tonight - half an hour! run! run! - and Sunday afternoon. I might actually see about seeing the Sunday show. That would be my third. I am a geek.) It's certainly not perfect. The American touring book is just godawful; the ending pretty much ruins the entire show. Nobody can possibly care about Freddie, even after "Pity the Child," and that leaves the Russian as protagonist, but he's too slight of a character to carry the show. Florence can't carry it either because she's obsessed with both of these men (it's not correct to say they're obsessed with her) and we have no idea why. So the whole thing ends up feeling a little pointless. But! These are problems with the book. The songs rock, and the woman playing Florence (one Allison Collins-Elfline) is amazing. Svetlana is pretty amazing too, but unfortunately, most of her singing lines have been omitted. Freddie and Anatoly are sung quite capably (by Michael Shawn Starks and Brian Anderson), but unfortunately, someone in the orchestra has been off-key pretty much the entire show on both the nights I've been. It wrecked Anthem and Endgame. Collins-Elfline's voice carries all her songs, though. I got goosebumps during the first-act "Florence Quits" scene. Oh, nobody knows what I'm talking about. I feel so alone. Anyway, the performers get an A for effort from me, and the orchestra gets a kick in the pants.

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