Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Illyria from Prospect Theater

This last weekend a friend had tickets to see Illyria, a new musical version of Twelfth Night being presented by Prospect Theater Company, an Off-Off-Broadway theater company.  It was the second Prospect production I have seen, the first being The Iron Curtain, which I judged for the NYITA.

Prospect put on shows I would never produce for Untitled Theater Company - old style musicals written today, done straight.  Watching Iron Curtain I felt like I was seeing a new musical from the 50's or early 60's, and  Illyria felt more like the 70's. 

That being said, it was good.  Really good.  Very, very good.  And this is not the first time - their Iron Curtain was also remarkably well done.  The performers were amazing - I particularly enjoyed Jimmy Ray Bennett as Malvolio and Jessica Grove as Viola, but they were incredible all around, skilled singers and actors all with impressive credentials.  The choreography (Christine O'Grady) was always well done, perhaps not as flashy as Iron Curtain (which had a full out tap number!), but always appropriate.  The direction (Cara Reichel) was on target, the music was enjoyable, and the lyrics were often clever (both music and lyrics were by Peter Mills).

Yes, I could have some dramaturgical qualms with it.  My friend pointed out some questions about the second act, and I agreed the ending could be improved upon.  And, as I said, it wasn't the style of theater I am usually drawn to creating myself.

But good work is good work, regardless of whether it is the same style in which I work in, and this was excellent.  I know how hard it is to put together a musical that holds together that well, and I was impressed.  So I just want to acknowledge my colleagues.  I know none of you personally. I don't know if you may stumble across this blog while googling yourself (something I would do), but if you do - well done.  I have happened into your theater twice, I have seen two shows, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.  Thanks.

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