Snapshots from Green Victoria (tedwords) wrote,
Snapshots from Green Victoria
tedwords

Personal emails that probably should remain just that.

About this time last year I made the decision that I would no longer be directing Eldredge Players productions. Tony, my music director, made the decision to jump in December, when they offered to pay him half of his usual salary and only give him eight musicians. Their production this year was Oliver, and the show just completed its run. I wanted to post this...mostly for myself...as a remembrance that I am glad I made the decision I did to move on. Associating myself with this show would have been embarrassing.

Ted,

What was your opinion if Oliver in detail? There's no doubt in my mind that you would have done a better job than the director they had. I wanted it to go well because I love Judee and everyone else! I must say they were honest with me by saying first that they were having a lot of fun! I must Agree to that!

Tony

:::

Mr. T,

I just thought it was awful. It was no better than a middle school production, which I guess makes sense since it was produced by middle school teachers and featured middle school kids, i couldn't understand most of what was said and I was in the third row...but I am not sure that's a flaw, frankly. The whole thing was just so amateurish. Among my favorite things:

The set. Pete is not usually the best set designer but this time he outdid himself in awfulness. Keep in mind, Oliver is set in London during start of the Industrial revolution. It was written as a serial decrying child labor. So why in the name of all that is holy is London represented as three small houses that kind of look like the same three lousy houses Pete tried to build me for Guys and Dolls. No tenements? One of them had the words "ye olde book store" on it? What is this, the dark ages and Oliver is working for the apothecary? By the way, the word olde didn't exist until the 20th century...it is modern word attempting to approximate an Old English word. Oliver was not set in Old English times.

The costumes. Again, this is England at the start of the Industrial revolution. So why did the outfits look like this was set in Colonial America? Is this a production of 1776? And don't even get me started on the velcro shoes or the fact that I had to watch Oliver in moccasins during the entire show. I mean, couldn't the lead character at least wear something that wasn't so glaringly out of place?

The music: First off, I am sure that Oliver and the Artful Dodger are really cute kids. But, their voices are thin and soft and the songs in Oliver were written for music hall England in the late fifties. This is supposed to be stuff you can sing along with! Grab it by the balls and get everyone's toes tapping! Honestly, I couldn't hear half of it (even with the mere skeleton of a band) and everything I heard was so tentative it was just joyless. Oom Pa Pa came closest, but really, English music hall is not that easy a feel to simulate.

The accents: why does Esme insist on having the group do shows involving English accents? This is a major hindrance to audibility. Only Heather is a natural, but that's because she's actually British! The rest vary in stages of awfulness. Even Esme started out with one and by As Long As He Needs Me was singing with an American accent.

The set crew: We spent one scene watching one of the set dads standing right outside of the door in plain sight, in modern dress, while a scene went on. At one point, Pete left through the door and the two actually bumped into each other. Then they had a conversation! It was beyond amateur.

The direction: I mean, was there any? I don't understand this show at all. Why does Nancy stay with Bill Sykes? There has to be some reason. Not in this show. There was no chemistry between Esme and Brendan, they were both in their own little worlds. He was intent on playing Snidely Whiplash and she was busy posing and getting ready to belt out her next big number (ps: next show she picks for the group, she needs to make sure her lead role doesn't have many big blasting high notes...her ending to "As long as he needs me" was really thin and strained.) Shouldn't there be something...anything? That we see that links her to him and we say, oh, I see why she fancies him. Nope! Just a slap and I am belting out my big number! And the set changes while she sang were really distracting. And a bigger slap in the face than what Bill gave her.

But that's just the beginning. Why was John D. given a big role, when he's so wooden? Who was Joanne supposed to be playing? No idea. Why did Heather and Anne get placed front and center in group numbers when we had just seen them in solo parts? Why were the villagers of London standing in the water in front of the London bridge at the end of the play? Wouldn't they be drowning? For that matter, why were the same sixteen people hanging around London Bridge at midnight in the first place? Had they been having a pint at Ye Olde Drinking Place and were dying to croak out yet another group number?

None of this made sense or had any scrap of thought put into it. It was just, "get this shit up."

This is not even close to the level of professionalism we had been striving for. This was worse than their musical revues...worse by far because I paid 50 bucks to see it! This was embarrassing and makes me wonder why I spent nine years with his group. It is a distinct drop in quality from Drowsy, thats for sure.

But other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Tags: theater
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