Thursday, December 02, 2010
Stuff I've Seen
I took some pics of these exhibits, and notes, so perhaps more later.
Harps & Angels, the music of Randy Newman at the Taper
Interesting mix of styles, not necessarily what I would put together for a review. There are stunningly sad songs, pop songs, character pieces, and political monologues with musical backing. The cast was good, though for most of them the rock feel that Newman has in his own voice, as well as the dialect he writes into his songs, felt a little foreign on some of the performers. Of course, the range of styles is broad. Katey Segal and Michael McKean did a good job; as did a local rock singer Storm Large, who I was not familiar with. She had a strong voice, and has a big presence. Adriane Lenox was the big surprise to me. Her song about Louisiana and Katrina was the most effecting of the night to me, and having seen her in Doubt I didn't know she could sing. She has a great voice, and seemed most comfortable with Newman's New Orleans dialect songs. Michael McKean had a fun jaded country singer number, as well as a businessman trying to convince a stripper to come home with him.
Speaking of those, many of the songs were small dramatic moments, and those came across the best - Katey Segal had a great number about a woman mistreated by her husband. The lyrics are filled with beautiful images, and each feels like it could be the basis of a musical. They're poignant, and then they evanesce. I suppose that's what they're meant to do, but I was left wanting more.
Also, since there were six performers and it was a revue, I think I would have liked this more in a smaller space, like the Kirk Douglas, where I would have been pulled more into the action. I often feel that way at the Taper, though, so it's not the fault of this group or show. Nice job on a complicated group of work.
Loved it. Would see it again. Donna Murphy is brilliant in one of the best villainess roles in a while, and Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi do a great job as well. I was enchanted, and that's the point.
Oh boy. It was fun. Christina Aguilera has a great voice, but Cher is more galvanizing in her one number. The problem to me is that Christina just doesn't feel emotionally connected to her voice. It's an incredible instrument that she uses to its best ability, but it just doesn't feel connected to me. So, when she leaves the screen, she kind of leaves your mind. Fun movie, though, and fun numbers, so it is what it is.
I'd say it was melancholy and wistful, but that would be an understatement. Beautifully drawn, with some wonderful observations, in the end I was a little bored. Sorry to say it, and I know art film afficionados will throw their non-pariels at me for saying so, but it's true. It's slightly comedic, but in the end about the loss of a way of life in the theater and the people who are swept aside. Not a bad subject, but it just became bathetic.