Monday, December 10, 2007

Not Entirely Glorious

The Glorious Ones
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed and choreographed by Graciela Daniele

October 11, 2007 to January 6, 2008
Mitzi Newhouse Theater
150 West 65th Street

In the canon of musical-writing duo Ahrens and Flaherty (Ragtime, Seussical, Once on This Island), The Glorious Ones is strictly second-rate. Based on the book by Francine Prose, The Glorious Ones revives the commedia dell’arte tradition by dramatizing a 16th century Italian performance troupe’s glories and pratfalls.

At 90 minutes sans intermission, The Glorious Ones feels ingloriously incomplete, as if the authors have supplied the glossy outline of a musical without including any substantive conflict, characterization or comic relief. Indeed, the show’s humor primarily consists of double entendres and feeble winking and nodding to the audience. Too often, the able actors are reduced to mere muggers in the excessively long scenes of them practicing their “art”—and a little of that low-brow humor goes a very long way.

Graciela Daniele seems out of her element in the cramped space at the Mitzi Newhouse, since her staging and choreography are routine at best; likewise, the cast, led by strong-voiced Marc Kudish as the leader of this pack, has really very little to do. Finally, there is a small thrill at seeing a musical like this in such an intimate stage, but since there are no memorable songs, The Glorious Ones evaporates soon after ending.
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