By New Times Staff
By Claire Lawton
By Robrt L. Pela
By Robrt L. Pela
By Robrt L. Pela
By Robrt L. Pela
By Benjamin Leatherman
By By Kathleen Vanesian
7701 W. Paradise Lane
Peoria, AZ 85382
Category: Performing Arts Venues
I'm writing to apologize for having taken you to a dinner theater production of My Fair Lady. To be fair, you did agree to go with me to Arizona Broadway Theatre. And we were both excited to see Jeannie Shubitz in the lead — that's why we were so keen on going, remember? And she was awfully nice in the role, wasn't she? Not to put too fine a point on it, but I can't be held entirely responsible for everything else that transpired, either on or off stage, that night. Just a reminder.
You do remember my saying the word "Peoria" to you when I told you where the theater was located, don't you? And my explanation about how a good theater critic can't just go to Equity houses every weekend — one must swing out and head toward the suburbs, hoping for the best. We lucked out, I promise you: Remind me to tell you about the time I sat through The House of Bernarda Alba in a Maryvale strip mall.
And we did get to watch Jacqueline Gaston as Mrs. Higgins; that part was nice. Her performance proves that even a tiny role like this one can stand out if the actor is worth her salt. No one in our town plays moneyed outrage like Miss Gaston.
The band was in fine form, too, weren't they? It's too bad that the performers were so badly miked, and that the acoustics in that giant room were so dreadful. I thought Philip Peterson's vocals were quite good; it isn't easy to sell "Why Can't the English," but he did, thanks to that big, booming voice and nice comic timing — very important in any Professor Higgins. And when I overlooked the tinny amplification of his nice, warm vocals, I found I could even like "I'm an Ordinary Man," one of Lerner and Loewe's weaker tunes in this celebrated musical.
The costuming was top-notch, wouldn't you agree? Especially the black and white daywear for the Ascot sequence. And Laurie Trygg's choreography made everyone look like a hoofer, which can't have been easy to do with a cast this large. It's too bad that Jimmy Ferraro's direction didn't keep a brisker pace. All those double takes! All that extra hamming!
I am sorry about that annoying woman who sat immediately behind us and talked straight through both acts. I know you'll forgive me for telling her to "shut the fuck up" halfway through "The Servants' Chorus"; perhaps you can find it in your heart to understand why it was also necessary for me to throw my programme at her and to call her that dreadful name. She had it coming. We may have been in Peoria, but this was not karaoke night at Fat Tuesday's.
Still, nothing could detract from Jeannie Shubitz's performance as Liza. Isn't that what we were there for? Try to remember that, and her especially engaging coming-out scene at Ascot. If you find yourself thinking about how we were sitting way, way in the back of the house (I'm guessing ABT doesn't get a lot of theater critics to visit; they probably don't realize that we like to sit close enough to the stage to actually see the performers) or that the first act lasted two full hours (it isn't supposed to have), just remember Jeannie Shubitz. And remind yourself that you finally have seen and heard one of the epic scores in the history of the American musical. It could have been worse. Trust me.
P.S. I promise you, that fart smell in the theater was the Brussels sprouts that were served just before we arrived.
First of all, being snide about "Peoria" is very cliche. Also, how was it ABT's fault that the woman near you had no theater manners?
Did you let the theater know that you are a theater critic and did you ask for special seats? I think you can request specific seats, so maybe next time you can ask.
So the music was good, the acting was good, the costuming was good, the choreography was good. The direction was slow, and the miking was poor. Overall, it seems that you came out ahead.
“New Times Theater Critic”? More like a jilted prom date. If you’re going to call yourself a critic you need to learn how to write and communicate like one. This comes off like something written by the pretentious, privileged, dullard nephew of the editor. Douche!
Well, apart from the fact that it's really not necessary to be a dick about the west side, I kind of agree with this...
Upon re-reading, dude, do you expect to be upgraded automatically to first class on airlines, too? Get a grip on yourself. Theater critic for the Phoenix New Times isn't exactly Ben freaking Brantley, and if you can take a little time out from being cutesy and expecting constant special treatment, you might actually write reviews worth reading, instead of just worth a once-over and some eye-rolling.
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