by Ashley Taylor
Thanks to Ashley Taylor, one of the former stars of our local stage who now lives in New York, we have a couple reviews of Tony nominated shows!
First update: I live in New York now
Second update: Because of current situations here, my husband and I see a LOT of shows. Like, all of them. It’s a lovely time we’re having.
I first saw A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder just a few nights before it opened. I went in knowing NOTHING about it. (Literally, nothing. I thought I was about to watch a play until I heard the orchestra tuning up. In my defense, I had not lived in New York very long).
Here’s what’s amazing about this show:
JEFFERSON MAYS– this man is INSANITY. He plays all 8(ish) members of a single family, (almost) all of whom are killed off one by one. The quick-changes are UNREAL. Half the fun of going back and seeing the show again and again is bringing theater friends and watching them FREAK OUT at these changes. My dream is to just hang out backstage one night and watch his dressers at work. I can’t even imagine the amazing insanity that must be happening.
THE MUSIC– ohhhhh my goodness these voices. Gorgeous, lush, classical voices in an absolutely delicious score. From the first notes, I was positively giddy, and left feeling like I had just gotten to play in the world’s greatest candy store.
THE COSTUMES– I brought a (costumer) friend to the show just to show her the pleats in the first scene. And then to show her the hats in Act 2. The fabric, the design, the trumpet skirts… ohhhhh my goodness. If I could play dress up in any Broadway closet, it would be this one.
On that note, I should mention– I take every theater person I know to this show. I take my music friends for the voices and score. I take my costume friends for the fabric, I take my designer friends for the set and the projections. I take my writer friends just for the lyrics. I take my actor friends so they’ll notice the details– Bryce Pinkham’s eyebrows, for example, or the incredible ensemble tracks. This show literally has something for everyone, because it is pitch perfect on every level.
I think what’s most amazing though is just the full umbrella of the show itself– it’s flawless. It’s witty and clever, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. It was nearly 11 years in the making, and you can tell. The style is perfect. The rhymes are perfect. (Literally– every single lyric is a perfect rhyme). You leave this show remembering what theater can be, and what it can do. Perfect theater is a beautiful thing, and everyone should be lucky enough to see it.
Why “The Bridges of Madison County” will Make You Weep, Fall in Love, and Weep Again
This show is beautiful.
It should be noted: I don’t cry in public. I do not like crying at the theater, and since I seldom do, I’m never prepared for it. There is a moment in “Bridges” where I started crying early on in a song, and by the middle, I realized I just needed to let myself weep. There are rare moments when art and music combine in ways that fill your soul to the brim and the only release is through tears. That’s what this show does.
I could talk about the design and the lights, which are beautiful and minimal and really heighten and highlight the performances, but at the end of the day, all you can talk about is Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale– connecting in a way as actors that is beyond words, and singing music in a way that makes your emotions explode.
The genius of the music hits on so many levels– it touches so many genres, and is able to just act as a tapestry to this beautiful piece of theater, especially in the first act, which ends on a whisper. What you don’t realize the first time you see the show is that the music is simmering under it all in Act 1– much like the relationship between the two characters. In Act 2, everything explodes– the relationship, the music, the orchestrations, the emotional connection to the audience.
The biggest tragedy on Broadway right now is how soon this show closed. So here is my advice, and my challenge to you. Download the music. And listen to it all at once– take it in as a full piece. And once you hear a cello solo in Act 2, sit down, and do nothing else but listen to the music until the album is finished. Let it fill you up, let it take you somewhere.
One of my favorite things to do in this crazy, bustling city is put this soundtrack on as I ride the subway or walk through some of the busiest, crowded places. Because when I do, I’m able to get lost in the music, and the emotion of the piece. I see the chaos of the world, but feel none of the stress or the frantic energy that comes with it.
As the song says, it all fades away. And I’m left seeing and hearing only the beauty, and the blessings. And it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.