Saturday, January 13, 2007

All About Eve...and Adam and the Snake

Last review for NYC immersion, also workshopped with Alex Ross:

“The Apple Tree” could be renamed “All About Kristin.” Kristin Chenoweth plays four roles in the revival of this 1966 musical comedy, and makes full use of her shtick as a diminutive yet curvaceous diva with a big voice. It is her name on the marquee, but the show wouldn’t be successful without two dynamic male co-stars, Brian d’Arcy James and Marc Kudisch, whose comedic timing and vocal prowess match hers.

“The Apple Tree” opened on Dec. 14 and is playing at Studio 54 until March 11. Aside from a 2005 Encores! concert production, this is the first revival of the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick musical because the right cast has finally come along to reprise the roles originated by Barbara Harris, Alan Alda, and Larry Blyden.

The three-part show is based on short stories that explore the relationship between man and woman—“The Diary of Adam and Eve” by Mark Twain, “The Lady or the Tiger?” by Frank R. Stockton, and “Passionella” by Jules Feiffer. The Twain episode is by far the most compelling of the three. Chenoweth and James are hilarious as the first humans trying to make sense of the world and their feelings for each other. There are also moments of tenderness as when Chenoweth sings “What Makes Me Love Him,” a moving song about the illogical nature of love. But it is Kudisch who does the most with his one scene. As the Snake in Eden, he combines slithery mannerisms with sex appeal as he tempts Eve.

The tacky and over the top “The Lady or the Tiger?,” a tale about a doomed romance with a choose-your-own ending, feels the most dated, especially with Jess Goldstein’s turquoise and gold-encrusted costumes and John Lee Beatty’s bright colored sets, equally hideous.

“Passionella,” a Cinderella story set in Hollywood in the ‘60s, would also feel stale were it not for acting choices, such as a dead-on Liverpudlian accent by James as rock star, Flip the Prince Charming.

Bock and Harnick’s score is catchy, but it does not challenge the actors. Chenoweth, famed for her high notes, has only one high D and James is also restricted to his middle register.

The trio may work together again in the upcoming “Young Frankenstein.” Perhaps Mel Brooks will write some songs that will better showcase their undeniable talents.

1 comment:

854141 said...

very nice blog! My name is Franco Di Giacomo Would it make fun for you, to make money in the Internet ? (Income for Life!) Yes? NEW Business, see my web