|Photo credit: lucetg.com|
Or “Schwartz’s The Musical: The Musical Review”
by Robi Halecs
The lobby of Centaur Theatre. March 31, 2011. An ensemble of Montreal’s most famous theatre-goers are waiting outside the auditorium. Suddenly the THEATRE CRITIC enters. The Ensemble surrounds him.
DON’T SPEAK TO US OF LIBYA OR THE CRISIS IN IRAQ
DON’T SAY JAPAN’S REACTORS HAVE HAD ANOTHER CRACK
DON’T TALK ABOUT ELECTIONS OR OF HARPER IN CONTEMPT
A NEW MUSICAL HAS OPENED – AND THAT’S THE MAIN EVENT!
JEREMY HECHTMAN: (spoken)
Is it true it’s based on a book by Bill Brownstein?
PAUL VAN DYCK: (spoken)
Is it true there’s a dancing pickle on stage?
ALEX HABER: (spoken)
Is it true the show’s written by Bowser and Blue?
UNION LEADER (spoken)
Is it true the actors get minimum wage?
TELL US ALREADY, WE’RE ALL DESPERATE TO HEAR
NOW THAT YOU’VE COME FROM THE SHOW’S WORLD PREMIERE
DON’T JUST LIST THE ACTORS AND EXPLAIN TO US THE PLOT
SCHWARTZ’S: THE MUSICAL: IS IT ANY GOOD OR NOT?
Silence. The THEATRE CRITIC takes a breath and then sings
THEATRE CRITIC (singing)
ALL ME TO APOLOGIZE FOR HAVING BRIEFLY HESITATED
I WAS ENJOYING MY RELIEF FOR HAVING JUST BEEN LIBERATED
I’M AFRAID THE SHOW IS NOT A SHOW THAT SHOULD BE CELEBRATED
BUT I’M SURE YOU WOULD APPRECIATE IF I NOW PONTIFICATED
JOEL FISHBANE (spoken)
I might, if I knew what pontificate meant.
ALISON DARCY (spoken)
Stop trying to impress us with your fifty cent words. Just tell us about the show.
THEATRE CRITC (sings)
IT’S A VAUDEVILLE, IT’S A CABARET
BUT A MUSICAL, IT AIN’T
IT’S A STRIKE-OUT, IT’S A FOUL PLAY
BUT A MUSICAL IT AIN’T
TO NOT BE VERY CRUEL
WILL TAKE SOME SELF-RESTRAINT
IT’S A BURLESQUE, IT’S A QU’EST QUE C’EST?
BUT A MUSICAL, IT AIN’T
IT’S A CORNUCOPIA OF PUNS
BUT A MUSICAL IT’S NOT
IT’S GOT CAMEOS, IT’S GOT NUNS
IT DOESN’T HAVE A PLOT
THERE IS SOME SORT OF STORY, THOUGH IT’S A SLOPPY AT BEST
JOHN DINNING’S SET IS WINNING AND THE ACTORS DID IMPRESS
BUT EACH TIME SOMEONE SINGS, THE STORY BREAKS INTO A CRAWL
MISS SUGARPUSS STRIPTEASES, THOUGH WHY I CAN’T RECALL
THE CHARACTERS ARE CARDBOARD, UNLESS THEY’RE OUT OF LUCK
IN THAT CASE, THEY’RE A STEREOTYPE - WHICH MEANS THEY PLAY A SHMUCK
FOR DRESSING LIKE A CAN OF COLA, FELICIA SCHULMAN IS A SAINT
IT’S A TRAIN WRECK, IT’S A STAGE WRECK
BUT A MUSICAL IT AIN’T
ALLOW ME, IF YOU WILL, AN EDUCATIONAL REFRAIN
IT TAKES MORE THEN DANCING MUSTARD TO MAKE THINGS THAT ENTERTAIN
YES, JEW-JOKES AND QUIPS WILL PLEASE YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC
BUT THOSE WHO LOVE THEATRE WOULD RATHER PLAY IN TRAFFIC
THEN WATCH A SHOW WHERE THERE’S NO CONFLICT PUSHING THINGS ALONG
A SCRIPT IS MORE THAN JUST A CLEVER LEAD-UP TO A SONG
BOWSER AND BLUE ARE TALENTED, BUT IF YOU WANT TO SAVE THE DAY
NEXT TIME INVOLVE A PERSON WHO KNOWS HOW TO WRITE A PLAY
|Photo credit: lucetg.com|
AT LAST WE KNOW, AT LAST WE’VE HEARD
THE THEATRE CRITIC HAS GIVEN HIS WORD
OF COURSE IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT ANYONE THINKS
SO WHAT IF THE SMOKED MEAT AND RYE REALLY STINKS?
THERE’S HARDLY REASON FOR CENTAUR TO POUT
SINCE MOST OF THE SHOWS ARE ALREADY SOLD OUT!
JOEL FISHBANE (spoken)
I still don’t know what pontificate means.
And the curtain falls.
Schwartz’s The Musical by George Bowser and Rick Blue continues at Centaur Theatre until April 24. For tickets call 514.288.3161
Who is this cunt? Ah, the democracy of blogs..a Theatre critic it ain't... Roy Surette ;-)ReplyDelete
Sounds like Poop du Jour to me. You want Les Mis, go somewhere else. Iconically Montrealish but with a witty pride and hutspa. Reviewer is a transplanted Morontonian probably.ReplyDelete
WTF! How is this a review? It stopped being even marginally entertaining after the first stanza. Then, he refused, failed or otherwise neglected to explain the elements he found lacking. This coot has waisted two minutes of my time, all because he was given a forum to spout nonsense. This is the slippery slope, CharPo. The work of a Critic handed over to people who haven't a serious interest in the job.ReplyDelete
I thought this person was a one-off stand-in for Barbara when she was busy with grants. His blog entry, as I remember, was creepily prurient and lacked any real insight on the subject of nudity on stage. Furthermore, the image he created, of him and his wife loudly chattering away in audience about which actor was going to get naked, switched me off totally. This guy is at least 5 of the 10 Things I Hate About Theatre.
Wow, people are fiercely protective of Centaur (understandable when coming from roy of course). But personal attacks on someone who wrote a review including what he thought the musical should have looked like? Is what he highlights in the review null and void by the assumption that he's a "transplanted Morontonian" or " 5 of the 10 Things I Hate About Theatre"?ReplyDelete
A theatre critic you ain't. Just a pompous prick with a chip on your shoulder.ReplyDelete
"Look how cleverly I can shit on someone else's work! I am a theatre critic!"ReplyDelete
If you didn't like it - fine. That's your right. But when you say "A musical it ain't" you are not a theatre critic. You are a liar.
I expected that any person claiming to write a review for the CharPo would possess the basic skills and sensibilities required. This guy's entry, however, is a hack job of the worst order.ReplyDelete
Regarding the facebook posting accompanying this review, I suspect that if there were to be a chorus of bad reviews to follow this so-called reviewer's crappy, decidedly uninspired blither, he would proudly claim vindication.
However, the fact remains that he didn't write a review at all. He is an obvious dilettante with marginal writing skills who has been allowed to sully the nascent, if not precarious reputation, of the Charpo.
To be clear, I not being protective of the Centaur. In fact, I haven't mentioned the theatre, the actors or play once in this thread of comments. If anything, I am attempting to raise the level of the debate about English theatre on this blog space beyond that of middle-school.
I found this to be an entertaining commentary of the play. Which is more than I can say for any review in say the Gazette. At least this is more than basic plot summary.ReplyDelete
Clearly, Robi has hit a nerve. It is a clear review, IMHO, and much more interesting to read than if he had said: "Lord this was crap and rule one of musicals: get someone to write the book."ReplyDelete
A review like this, of a piece of theatre that is already 80% sold out two days after opening, goes to show how distanced this reviewer is from the real world.ReplyDelete
It hits a nerve of anyone who has to practice the art of theatre for a living. Which I'll bet this reviewer doesn't.
This reviewer, like so many, is a distant cousin of the drunken heckler at a bar who shouts out "You're not funny!" Yes, his language skills might be more developed, but the essence is the same. Our reviewer shouts out "A musical it ain't!" Like the drunken heckler he is only interested in attracting attention to himself.
To learn how much performers hate hecklers and critics who are simply more literate hecklers watch "Heckler" by Jaime Kennedy:
Maybe you'll learn something. But somehow I doubt it.
Oh! Puh-leeeeeze. Popularity=good?! What kind of half-witted specious argument is that. What's worse is this: Halecs SAW the show, unlike many people commenting here and the crowds who have bought their tickets and have yet to see it. Buying a ticket is no guarantee it's good - ask the people who lined up the first day of Star Wars Episode One. Buying a ticket is simply a sign of hope. The actual discussion of the piece begins after they all see it. Meanwhile to dismiss one man's (highly informed), written opinion by saying it is mere heckling is also an argument that doesn't hold water. Jamie Kennedy? Really? Really! And one more thing: there are two kinds of artists: those who work WITH media to advance the cause and those who treat them with suspicion and hatred - guess which kind generally fails to "make it." I know, I've worked both sides of the fence. So enough with the frustrated platitudes and let's bring the discussion back to the realm of the living.ReplyDelete
Wow. This is one bizarre review. One piece of advice: leave the writing to the writers.ReplyDelete
Oh and by the way, all these lines that were given to real people, did you get their permission? Had you put me in there, and I had I not known about it, it would not have been pleasant for anybody.
sorry I could not figure our how to comment as myself, I'm not anonymous I am Steve Galluccio and by my bitchy comment, Gaetan can verify that.ReplyDelete
Can everyone stop focusing on the reviewer? Let's discuss the show. What did you think about it? I think that's the important thing here. Let's discuss our art rather than the people who write reviews.ReplyDelete
No, it's more fun talking about the reviewer.ReplyDelete
"Oh! Puh-leeeeeze. Popularity=good?! What kind of half-witted specious argument is that."ReplyDelete
Like the critic you defend you don't think things through.
Popularity = people go to the theatre to enjoy themselves = box office success = local theatre becomes viable = local actors find work = local set designers and stage managers find work = local playwrights and producers take risks = a healthy theatre scene develops, not one based on grants decided by committees of professors only interested in lectures disguised as plays = everybody in the theatre community wins = good.
"Work with media to advance the cause"? Everyone who works in the local theatre wants to do this. That's why we despise this review. And that's why we have so little respect for anyone who calls the equation "popularity - good" "half witted".
its brassy brisket and hamReplyDelete
On a strictly technical level, while it's proper form for songs in a musical to push the story forward, song cycles are generally accepted as a valid type of musical theatre and they don't have any stories at all. (Not to mention Juke-box musicals) All descriptions I've heard of Schwartz’s so far give me the impression that it's somewhere between a traditional musical and a song-cycle. This would still qualify it as a musical, would it not?ReplyDelete
Go see the show and judge for yourself; In my view, OPINIONS MATTER!ReplyDelete
In a situation like this where a critic uses the platform he or she is given to critique the work of others to showcase their own perceived wit and cleverness, the point is and always will be one of fairness. Thousands of hours of effort on the part of dozens of talented professionals no doubt went into this show and that commitment deserves the same in kind. ALWAYS. If this man earned his living by his craft he'd GET that. Love it or hate it, but take the time and the care to explain how and why. In other words: Dude it ain't about YOU.ReplyDelete
Whoa! Go AFK for a few hours and look what happens! In the sense you state, yes, popularity does indeed = good. But the danger of appealing (ie; pandering) to a political "crowd" is the stifling of growth. I do not, do not, do not accuse Centaur of this, but a hit has never equaled quality (have you SEEN Cats?) Shayne, I know approximately what I'm going to getin the case of book-musicals, song-cycles and revues. All different one from the other. In the case of a storyline, a book writer seems essential even if, in the case of Les Miz, say, there is no spoken text (the British lyricist of Les Miz said he had to work to pull the strands of a followable book from the piece created in France). And yes IT IS ABOUT ME and every single member of the audience. Try and dissociate local productions from the locale, for a second. Ask yourself if, honestly, when you see a terrible touring production or even a hideous movie YOU, for one motherfucking minute, are weeping for the man-hours spent or, rather, for the $10-120 you will never see again. It is crucial we get it into our heads that the only judgement we can pass is by comparison and not just with the theatre company up the street, but with the major houses worldwide. If we sit here all satisfied with ourselves while turning out mediocre works which begin, progress and end here with no hope of an afterlife in the future, just how small-town is that? MELT, if you'll allow me, does not and should not have big-fish-small-pond asperations.ReplyDelete
Above: "political crowd" should be "particular"ReplyDelete
It's a musicalReplyDelete
It might not be one you like
But its a musical
It might not reach your psych
But its a musical
So you can take a hike
'Cause it's a musical
Some jokes are old
Some jokes are young
But a story is told
And songs are sung
So it's a musical
A couple fall in love
History is spoken of
And a lesson is learned
The public is happy
And so are the actors
For their salary is earned
They sing, they dance
And why, perchance?
Because it's a musical
It's a musical
On song and dance it does rely
It's a musical
It's not difficult to see why
It's a musical
Only an idiot would deny
That it's a musical
Charpo - "political" - "particular" ... You weren't so far off the mark... In any case, I saw Cats when it played at PDA some years back and I thought it was damn terrible. For all intents and purposes, Cats is a song-cycle, but it's billed as a musical and nobody really had a problem with that. (There were enough other things to complain about.) I'm not defending the quality of Schwartz's, as I have yet to see it (but if you're talking smoked meat, I'll steer you to The Main) but by all descriptions, I don't see calling it a 'musical' as being misleading.ReplyDelete
To the Anonymous who posted: "If this man earned his living by his craft he'd GET that." Earning a living at ones craft does not imply that one is necessarily good at it. There are many professional theatre critics who take every review as an opportunity to try to show off their wit and cleverness, usually with antithetical results. (Do you see what I did there? I used a big word to make myself sound clever! Irony FTW!)
I actually liked this guy's review. I'm not crazy about the fact that he dropped my name in it but I thought it was a fun read. I don't understand what everyone's problem is with this guy.ReplyDelete
As for the ongoing debates; no, popularity does not equal good, but it does equal bums in seats and that is the first rule of theatre.
Yes the show pandered to it's audience. And the Centaur crowd ate it up. I've pandered. Lord knows I've pandered. And when I do, my shows have received crap ass reviews and played to full houses. What works with the MainLine audiences does not always go over well with the Centaur crowd and vice versa. I didn't particularly like the show, my parents, who have hated every show I have done, loved it.
The actual review in question, I thought was cute and clever. I am far more offended by The Gazette's kiss ass review saying the "show is easily the most impressive original creation within the musical comedy genre that has emerged from within Montreal’s anglophone theatre community in decades". What a load of hooey.
The "show is easily the most impressive original creation within the musical comedy genre that has emerged from within Montreal’s anglophone theatre community in decades"ReplyDelete
Now that's more like it!!
To answer a previous lingering question - no, I was no consulted before my name was used in this article. And incidentally, I wasn't even at the opening. I haven't even seen the show yet. I'm just relieved I wasn't characterized as being slightly mean or dumb like some of my other less-fortunate 'quoted' colleagues.ReplyDelete
This review made me laugh.ReplyDelete
To be honest, I am much more likely to see a show that receives a clever review (whether good or bad) than a review that reads like the critic copy/pasted the play synopsis off of Wikipedia. At least in this case, we know the reviewer was awake!
Critics should have an opinion. Once again, a bad review has drummed up a lot of discussion about a show. Isn't this the point? To be talking about it? Perhaps these discussions will force us as audience members and theatre practitioners to be more critical of the theatre scene in Montreal.
One can only hope.
There was a plot! Yes, there certainly were a lot of puns (and--much to the reviewer's chagrin--an entertaining number with dancing condiments), but there was a plot. I don't know what this guy is talking about.ReplyDelete
Here are the facts: Montrealers are delighted with "Schwartz's - the musical" so they are coming out in droves. The Centaur is delighted with it because they will be able to pay down their debt. The actors and musicians involved are delighted because they can practice their art, and pay all their bills.ReplyDelete
It is what people who make their living in the theatre call "a success".
It matters little what some poser writes on this blog. Or indeed what some bitter old Queen wrote in The Globe and Mail.
It matters little whether they think it is a "real" musical. Or even "real" theatre. They don't understand it. They don't know why audiences like it. They don't have to. They don't make their living in the theatre.
We who work in the theatre know that theatre without an audience is not theatre. It is a class. And that is where these people belong.
We say: Leave the real theatre to the adults. Those of us who know that you have to please an audience. Those of us who bother to get to know our audience so that we can please them. Those of us who take the trouble to please them. Those of us who enjoy it when we do.
I am not bitter.ReplyDelete
stop with the anonymous posts.
Especially when they go and sign it after, right?ReplyDelete
I don't think that accusations of "pandering" hold water when you consider that Instructions to Any Future Socialist Gov't... was playing across the hall from Schwartz's last week. Centaur has to program plays like Schwartz's in order to afford to showcase plays like Instructions - a highly challenging, current work with little audience appeal. Also, who gets to dictate the dividing line between pandering and a genuine and a credible attempt to appeal to audience tastes?ReplyDelete
People keep saying "pandering" as if it's a bad thing.ReplyDelete
Today I recieved an announcement in my inbox from the New York Times that I can go and see "Mama Mia" in NYC at a reduced price. It is described as "The Smash Hit Musical based on songs by Abba."ReplyDelete
A musical? Really? Does the New York Times not know what a "real" musical is? I suggest that they talk to Robi Halecs to find out.
Mamma Mia is a lazy show in which producers crafted a weak story around a series of songs - but at least their songs explored character and / or progressed the plot. The NY Times most certainly does know what a real musical is. I suggest, Mr. Blue, that you talk to them to find out.ReplyDelete
Ha ha - touche!ReplyDelete
So much to learn from you. Where can I see some of your work?