The most amazing season, eh? A closer look at DPAC's new Broadway line-up | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Monday, March 4, 2013

The most amazing season, eh? A closer look at DPAC's new Broadway line-up

Posted by on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

The Book of Mormon comes to Durham Feb. 11-23, 2014.

To summarize the lineup of touring Broadway shows coming through the Durham Performing Arts Center’s new season as succinctly as possible: Hope you like Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sir Andrew’s work may be found in three of the seven new shows announced at DPAC’s SunTrust Broadway Preview Event on Friday, specifically the touring version of the recently-closed revival of Evita, the 2011 West End musical version of The Wizard of Oz film with new songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and a whole concert featuring songs from Lloyd Webber’s extensive oeuvre, including The Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

If you’re not a Lloyd Webber fan and you hold season tickets for DPAC’s Broadway series, you might be in trouble.

The other new shows are a strange mix. I’m most excited about the touring productions of two recent Tony winners, The Book of Mormon and the minimalist stage adaptation of the film Once. I’m less enthused by a musical of the Patrick Swayze film Ghost that flopped after 136 performances on Broadway last year, or by a new musical of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, though the Grinch costume shown to us is less trauma-inducing than the Jim Carrey film from a decade back.

Mind you, my cynicism wasn't shared by the DPAC members who swarmed the auditorium on Friday for the announcement (at least 1,200 were present, based on the number of raffle tickets submitted to the event organizers), who cheered loudly at the announcements. One patron told me that he was pleased that the lineup features shows with more “broad appeal,” claiming DPAC’s recent showing of Jekyll and Hyde with American Idol’s Constantine Maroulis was “too dark.")

OK, so not everyone's tastes are alike, but it still seems like overselling to brand this lineup as “The Most Amazing Season,” as DPAC does.

Coincidentally, this is also the title of a WTVD-11 special shown for attendees, whose host, professional reporter-turned-community affairs specialist Angela Hampton, repeats the phrase about a dozen times in 20 minutes. The producers explained how Ghost uses a unique LED set to create the illusion of a backdrop against a populous New York City; I’m just squirming at the thought of the Wall Street stock market number briefly displayed.

The Book of Mormon and Once are both aberrations in that they’re minimalist shows (Mormon uses just a few props for sets, while Once takes place on one set, with the cast members playing their own instruments). They're also the big critical hits on display for the series. Sure, Once was based on a film like many of the others here, but it was hardly a blockbuster with the name-brand recognition of the other productions.

A show like Ghost, which received mixed reviews and middling attendance, feels like it’s on this slate because it’s a known quantity and the producers wanted to recoup some of their investment, not because it’s the best musical available. The surfeit of Lloyd Webber is there because … well, Phantom still packs them in. It’s also why at the end of the show, a series of “encore” tours of previous hits are announced as coming through, including Beauty and the Beast, the Blue Man Group, American Idiot and Mamma Mia!.

To be fair, I don't know if there are that many shows currently on Broadway that I’d prefer over the SunTrust lineup. Many of the current hits are cut from the same cloth as what will play at DPAC, in terms of being revivals and adaptations. And, frankly, many of them have already passed through Durham, from War Horse to Billy Elliott to Wicked (twice already!). There are a few all-ages shows that have good buzz, including the hit Newsies (which we’ll likely see next season), Matilda: The Musical (the season after that) and the non-musical Peter and the Starcatcher (either next season or the season after).

But it’d be nice to see some edgier fare in Durham, like Fela, which is currently on tour, or Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (sadly, this was probably too edgy for New York, too, as it closed after 120 performances despite awards and critical buzz).

At the end of the evening at DPAC, Evita understudy Jessica Lea Patty came onstage in a plum-patterned dress to give an exuberant rendition of that musical’s “Buenos Aires” number to a pre-recorded music track. (However, Patty won't necessarily be in the role when Evita comes to Durham a year from now.)

Maybe some will be persuaded that this is “The Most Amazing Season.” Hell, even I’m excited about The Book of Mormon and Once. But that slogan may wear thin during the long intervals between these shows, particularly for those who aren’t crazy about Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Look, I liked the Evita movie in high school, OK? I’m just saying, tastes change. Stop looking at me like that.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

Just saw this last night. Did Rubin say that being around the Avetts would make life "matter" or just that …

by Drew Rhys on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Nice write up. Love the twists and turns and I hardily agree with the ultimate statement (and Camus since I …

by Perry on As the Durham Bulls Enter the Playoffs, We Wonder: What Exactly Is the Value of a Minor-League Championship? (Arts)

Just saw this last night. Did Rubin say that being around the Avetts would make life "matter" or just that …

by Drew Rhys on Full Frame: An Avetts Agnostic Finds Some Faith in May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (Arts)

She made me a peanut butter and banana sandwichwithout bread. Now that's art.

by Geoff Dunkak on ADF Review: Queering Objects and Decoding the Body in Cherdonna's Clock that Mug or Dusted (Arts)

Maybe the lack of young people in attendance is partly because of the way the NC Gay and Lesbian Film …

by Jonathan H on A Twenty-One-Year-Old Finds a Welcoming Space at the Twenty-Two-Year-Old N.C. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Arts)

I agree that the vocal work is incredible! And, I thought that the well-made and beautifully-designed set really supported the …

by Judy Dove on Theater Review: Dogfight's Regional Premiere at NRACT Is Rich in Emotion But Meager in Staging (Arts)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation