Friday, April 21, 2006

GAY STORE PRO & CON: The Threepenny Opera

PRO: THE CAST.Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, Ana Gasteyer, Nellie McKay and CYNDI LAUPER. All on stage. Together. In the same show. Their supreme talents are reason enough to see this play. And for an added bonus, you get Carlos "Madonna's first baby-daddy" Leon giving the most stilted line readings this side of Joan Jett in The Rocky Horror Show while wearing matching purple pleather hooker boots and hot pants. Case closed.

CON: THE SHOW.A lot of people who like Brecht and Weill hate this show. I am not one of them. I have never seen The Threepenny Opera, and I don't think I'm missing anything. It is described as "a biting satire of political corruption set in a Victorian London ruled by beggars, thieves and prostitutes." Well this is the most tiresome satire I've ever seen. So at a certain point, I stopped paying attention to the play and concentrated on the actors and the sets. I think I ended up liking it a lot better that way.

PRO: ACT IIThis is where everything seems to come together - Cyndi Lauper finally appears and sings the most enjoyable songs of the night, especially her heartbreaking "Solomon's Song" which alone should garner her a Tony nomination if not win. Plus there's the delicious meeting between Ms. McKay and Brian Charles Rooney's Lucy Brown and Jim Dale's wonderfully zany Pee-Wee-Herman-inspired "What Do Human's Do?"

CON: ACT IThe first act starts off well enough with Cyndi Lauper singing the most recognizable song "Song of the Extraordinary Crimes of Mac the Knife" a capella. Then she disappears and there is a lot of Nellie McKay, Ana Gasteyer and Jim Dale, who all have better material in the second act anyway. Despite the fact that this might be Ms. McKay's star-making debut, most of her ballads (and there are several) seem to blend together. Plus there's some weird nostalgic song about Alan Cumming's army days that features strobe lights and seems to go on forever and you start to wonder when you're going to see more than just 5 minutes of Cyndi.

PRO: IT'S REALLY COOL.Neon billboards, Isaac Mizrahi costumes, industrial staging, onstage snow. This show is just plain cool to look at.


This show definitely delights in disregarding established theatrical norms, mostly in being as lewd as possible - there is a lot of swearing, some onstage sex, and even full-frontal trannie nudity. I have no problem with this to a certain point, but most of this seems superfluous. Most pointless is the fact that there is no curtain call at the end. When a show is too cool to allow Cyndi Lauper to receive her propers, something is wrong.

: Can a musical succeed through sheer style over substance? Absolutely.

: 3 out of a possible 4 Gay Pride Flags.


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