Tag Archives: murder

Nr 462: American Psycho (2013)

13 Jan

American Psycho
London 2013
Broadway 2016
Sydney 2019

Music & Lyrics: Duncan Sheik
Book: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis

Based on the best-selling novel by Bret Easton Ellis, and set in the epicenter of excess: 1980s Manhattan, American Psycho tells the story of 26-year-old Wall Street investment banker Patrick Bateman, young and handsome with impeccable taste and unquenchable desires. Patrick and his elite group of friends spend their days in chic restaurants, exclusive clubs and designer labels. It’s a world where appearance trumps substance, greed is good, and one’s purpose in life is to crush the competition at all costs. But underneath his smooth and suave exterior lies a psychopath with bottomless blood-lust for getting what he wants and wanting what he can’t get.
When he finds out that one of his coworkers, Paul Owen, not only has secured the exclusive and highly sought after Fisher account, but also has managed to get a reservation at the new elite restaurant Dorsia, AND has a better looking business card, the inner monster flashes his teeth. 
Patrick invites Paul to his apartment before a party. Patrick spikes Owen’s drink, puts on a raincoat and begins a long one-sided analysis of the artistic and commercial merits of the band Huey Lewis and the News. After stating that ”the world is better off with some people gone”, Patrick slaughters Owen with an ax.
Afterwards, he lets himself into Paul’s apartment and stages his disappearance by resetting his voicemail and packing many of his possessions into a suitcase.
Months pass. Having made sure to make people believe that Paul is in London Patrick appropriates Paul’s apartment as a place to host and kill more victims, beginning with 2 hookers…

 This is a rather uneven show. I found the first act to be laugh out funny, sharp, edgy, witty, a little scary, and at the same time a little nostalgic since I lived through that era, and with a perfect first act finale: the bloody murder of Paul Owens. I really couldn’t wait for the second act to begin but… I didn’t really like that act. The music was still good, some numbers amazing but the murdering got a bit tedious and the piece didn’t really go anywhere. And I hated the end of the musical which has him marrying his girlfriend and resigning himself to a pointless existence in which the punishment and notoriety that he craves will forever be denied him. While the book ends as it began, with Bateman and his colleagues at a new club on a Friday night, engaging in banal conversation. A much more cynical and frightening end, I think.

The music is, of course, for the most part synth music, and quite hard synth I might add, which I love. I think mr Sheik has done a brilliant jobb in giving us a batch of new synth hits. There are also some covers of 80s hits like Hip to Be Square, Don’t You Love Me Baby and In the Air Tonight all performed in new exiting versions that differ quite a lot from the originals.
All in all, I like the cast album a lot, the show itself… well, it isn’t bad but there could be improvements made…


And speaking of American psychos… Patrick Bateman and his friends idolize Donald Trump…

Duncan Sheik is perhaps best known for writing the music to the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening (2006).

In London the part of Patrick Bateman was played by Matt Smith, maybe most famous for being the youngest actor ever to portray the title character in the BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who and he also portrayed Prince Philip in the two first seasons of the Netflix series The Crown.

The Broadway version of the show won 3 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Lighting Design, Projection Design and Sound Design in a musical.
And 2 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Lighting Design and Projection Design.
It was nominated for two Tony Awards but didn’t win.

Press:
Though it is spattered with stage blood from beginning to end and features the sort of carnage associated with Eli Roth movies, “American Psycho” turns out to be one of those musicals that send your thoughts awandering, even as you watch them. So while this show’s title character takes a gleaming ax or chain saw to his co-stars, you may find yourself fixating on the following questions: Collectively, how many hours   of gym time per week does the incredibly buff cast embody? … Did those auditioning for “American Psycho” have to submit ab shots instead of head shots? And before they set foot onstage each night, are they required to pass a body mass index test?
If such queries do indeed fill your head during the long and decoratively gory duration of “American Psycho,” … then it could be argued that the show’s creators have done their job.

Of course, it could be argued that the “American Psycho” team has done its job too well, since you’re also likely to identify with Patrick when, shortly before he crucifies a young woman with a nail gun, he concludes solemnly that there’s “not one clear, identifiable emotion within me.”

Characters snort cocaine in dance clubs; have meaningless sex; order silly-sounding, elaborately named fusion dishes at overpriced restaurants; and recite designer clothing labels as if they were holy mantras, and make fun of those who are less of-the-minute than they are.
In other words, New York hasn’t changed all that much. Yet “American Psycho” treats the ’80s with the condescending nostalgia associated with decade-defining clip-compilation shows on lesser cable channels. And with a couple of signal exceptions, this musical treats its inhabitants as shrill cartoons (to laugh at) and sculpted sides of meat (to ogle).

Mostly, though, this psycho is neither scary nor sexy, nor is the show in which he appears. This may be good news for concerned citizens who feared the musical might present a nastily irresistible role model to impressionable young ’uns. Not to worry. In “American Psycho,” there’s little that’s lusty in blood lust.
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times

If you can resign yourself to the story’s innate ambiguity, you’re in for a perversely enjoyable experience.

The music is totally ’80s as well: Sheik’s bizarrely catchy, entirely electronic score – far from the usual Broadway fare….

And as for the violence – it’s simply part of the story, usually a joke, and often part of a stunning stage picture.
– Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly

The second act flags…but the score is strong…Duncan Sheik’s synthesizer-heavy music – radical by Broadway standards…finally delivers a worthy follow-up to his ”Spring Awakening.” A comic ”American Psycho” you can dance to? Somehow, it works.
– Elisabeth Vincentelli, The New York Post

Videos:
Selling Out
You Are What You Wear
Cards
Hip To Be Square
Killing Spree
Trailer

Nr 452: Street Scene (1946)

21 Sep

51KrayFf03L
Street Scene (1946)

Produktioner i urval:
1947: Broadway, 148 föreställningar
1989: English National Opera (ENO)
1990: New York City Opera

Music: Kurt Weill
Lyrics: Langston Hughes
Book: Elmer Rice, baserad på hans pjäs med samma namn från 1929

The opera takes place on the doorstep of a tenement on the East Side of Manhattan on two brutally hot days in 1946. The story focuses on two plotlines: the romance between Rose Maurrant and her neighbor Sam Kaplan; and on the extramarital affair of Rose’s mother, Anna, which is eventually discovered by Rose’s irritable father, Frank. The show portrays the ordinary romances, squabbles and gossips of the neighbors, as the mounting tensions involving the Maurrant family eventually build into a tragedy of epic proportions.

Skvaller, lekande barn, vardag, examensfest, kärlekspar, barnafödande, spirande romanser, förförelse, passionerad kärlek, otrohet, besvikelser och slutligen mord. Kontrasterna är många och det är tvära kast mellan de olika små berättelserna som samsas och utspelar sig framför några hyreshus i New York i denna opera/musikal.  
Weill kallade själv verket för en amerikansk opera och med det menade han att den innehöll element både från traditionell europeisk opera och amerikansk musikal. 
Det är en skickligt skriven berättelse som trots den fragmenterade berättarstilen lyckas skapa spänning och begripliga handlingsbågar för alla intriger som ska samsas. 

Musiken pendlar mellan Pucciniliknande arior, duetter, sextetter och ensembler och blues, jazz och ett par rena Broadwaynummer varav den ena även innehåller verkets enda riktiga dansnummer. Just det numret Moon-faced, Starry-eyed är ett kul nummer men sticker ut lite för mycket från alla andra nummer och känns nästan mer ditlagd för oss musikalare som inte är operafrälsta. Fast å andra sidan så är väl just den livsglädje, sexualitet och humor som det paret visar upp en bra kontrast mot den gråare, tråkigare vardag som de andra i huset lever i, så den har en funktion att fylla.

Jag personligen är inte helt förtjust i musikaler som behöver framföras av operasolister men tycker ändå att musiken i just denna opera – för ja, den bör ses mer som opera än musikal och den sätts numera endast upp av operahus – är ovanligt dynamisk, melodiös och intressant och fungerar även för en sån som mig.

Kommer kanske inte att återvända till detta verk så ofta men om och när jag gör det så kommer jag nog gå direkt till favoriter som What Good Would the Moon Be, Ice Cream Sextett, I Got a Marble and a Star, Wouldn’t You Like To Be on Broadway, Lonely House, Moon faced – Starry eyed och… Woops, det finns visst rätt mycket musik som jag gillar här så kanske att jag kommer lyssna igenom hela verket ett par gånger till i alla fall.

Har varit dålig på att lyssna på Weills verk hitintills men har plötsligt börjat plöja igenom både hans tidiga tyska sceniska verk och hans amerikanska musikaler och upptäckt en mirakulöst bra och varierad kompositör.
Hur jag inte har kunnat förstå hans storhet förrän nu är lite förbluffande för mig.
Men nu när jag har upptäckt honom så kan jag bara konstatera att han genast har placerat sig bland mina absoluta favorit kompositörer.
Vill ni höra bra och spännande scenisk musik? Då kan jag numera säga att ni kan aldrig gå fel med Weill!
Så är det och om ni inte känner till honom så har ni en fantastisk och fantastiskt varierad kompositör att upptäcka!

Kuriosa:
Den första Tony Awardsgalan hölls 1947 och Kurt Weill var den första kompositör som fick priset för Best Original Score. Street Scene vann även en Tony för bästa kostym.

Kurt skrev alltid orkestreringarna till sina verk själv. Något som var väldigt ovanligt för en kompositör att göra på Broadway på denna tid.

Press:
Add to the text of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene a fresh and eloquent score by Kurt Weill and you have a musical play of magnificence and glory. 


Now, Mr Weill, the foremost music maker in the American theatre, has found notes to express the myriad impulses of Mr. Rice’s poem and transmuted it into a sidewalk opera.

In these songs, and in the omninous orchestrations (by Weill) that accent the basic moods of the drama, Mr Weill is writing serious music enkindled by the excitement of New York.
– Brooks Atkinson, Times

From Elmer Rice’s bitter and compassionate dram, Mr. Rice, Langston Hughes, and Kurt Weill have made a moving, remarable opera – a work of great individuality which makes no compromise with the Broadway formula. The authors call their work a dramatic musical, but it may well be called a metropolitan opera…

Street Scene is a far from ordinary event in the theatre, and I salute the courage, imagination, and skill of those who have made it.
– John Chapman, Daily News

Curiously enough, though the evening is in general a success, Mr. Weill’s music, judged by its precise intentions, is partly a failure.

Some of it is rather pretentious, and some of it as facilely florid as movie music. Moreover, Mr Weill has given musical expression to a good deal of fairly casual dialogue … Going by results, Street Scene, would have been better off had some things that are sung been spoken.
– Louis Kronenberger, PM

Elmer Rice’s famous play, Street Scene, represented a kind of historic peak in the drama of sheer, meticulous realism. There can certainly be no question of the musical version’s fidelity. It may, as a matter of fact, be too faithful for its own good. At least, the current Street Scene is certainly at its best when it forgets about its loftier ambitions and gets around to being a good Broadway musical show, proud and unashamed.
– Richard Watts Jr., Post

Video:
Lonely House
What Good Would the Moon Be?
Moon-faced, Starry-eyed
Ice Cream Sextet

 

Nr 411: Sweet Smell of Success

11 Apr

81nawWi12lL._SL1500_
Sweet Smell of Success (2002)

Broadway, 109 föreställningar

Music:
Marvin Hamlisch

Lyrics: Craig Carnelia
Book: John Guare, baserad på filmen med samma namn från 1957 som hade ett manus skrivet av Clifford Odets och Ernest Lehman i sin tur baserad på Lehmans novell Tell Me About It Tomorrow! från 1950.

A certain actress is learning that girls get minks the same way minks get minks…
– J. J. Hunsecker

It’s New York, 1952.
Welcome to Broadway, the glamour and power capital of the universe. J.J. Hunsecker rules it all with his daily gossip column in the New York Globe, syndicated to sixty million readers across America. J.J. has the goods on everyone, from the President to the latest starlet. And everyone feeds J.J. scandal, from J. Edgar Hoover and Senator Joe McCarthy down to a battalion of hungry press agents who attach their news to a client that J.J. might plug.
The show concerns sleazy press agent Sidney Falcone and his willingness to do anything to get ahead. Sidney manages to capture the attention and patronage of  J.J. Hunsecker.
With JJ’s help, Sidney becomes one of the hottest agents in New York.
However, catering to JJ’s egotistical desires is dangerous business. When Sidney fails to keep JJ’s sister Susan from running off with a jazz musician, JJ arranges for Sidney to be murdered.

En otroligt svängig, jazzig musikal. Det här är den sortens musik som jag kan gå igång på på direkten. Hård, vass, melodiös och totalt medryckande. Fötterna kan inte hålla sig stilla utan stampar takten som små galningar och hela kroppen rör på sig och digger med den också.
Jag tycker att det här är Hamlich bästa musik sen A Chorus Line.
Det känns 50-tal om musiken och det gjorde det om danserna också, även de hårda, sexiga och explosiva och inte så lite inspirerade av Jerome Robbins koreografier till West Side Story.
Det är inte så många roller i den här showen, de viktiga är JJ, hans syster Susan, hennes älskare pianisten Dallas, den framgångshungrige Sidney, hans flickvän Rita och så finns där ensemblen som nästan måste räknas som en roll för de är med på scenen under stora delar av föreställningen och agerar som nått som närmast kan beskrivas som en grekisk kör. De kommenterar skeenden, verbaliserar rollfigurers tankar, argumenterar för och emot val som görs etc etc. De sjunger tajta harmonier och så dansar de, mycket och ofta.

Jag är väldigt förtjust i den här showen även om jag kan tycka att den tappade en hel del fart under andra akten. Men helheten är jazzig, svettig, rolig och underhållande.
Enda sången/scenen jag faktiskt tyckte blev helt fel var JJ’s sång/vaudevillnummer under en insamlingsgala. John Lithgow är inte den bästa sångaren eller dansaren och här framkom det med all tydlighet, förutom det faktum att låten var trist. I övrigt var Lithgow helt lysande.

Kuriosa:
Föreställningen blev nominerad till 7 Tony Awards men vann bara 1, den för bästa manliga huvudroll som tillföll John Lithgow.
Showen fick även 11 Drama Desk Award nomineringar och här blev det enda priset Outstanding Actor in a Musical som gick till John Lithgow.

Novellen Tell Me About It Tomorrow! som både filmen och musikalen är baserade på skulle hetat The Sweet Smell of Success redan när den publicerades i Cosmopolitan 1950 men chefsredaktören ansåg att ordet ”smell” inte var ett lämpligt ord att publicera i tidningen och därför ändrades namnet.

J. J. Hunsecker sägs vara baserad på skvallerjournalisten Walter Winchell (1887-1972) en man som var känd för att förstöra livet och karriären för personer han ogillade. Och precis som JJ i musikalen så erbjöd han folk att bli omnämnda (och därmed uppmärksammade) i hans krönika i utbyte mot information, skvaller och annan ”ammunition” som han kunde använda mot sina fiender.
Han blev väldigt fruktad men även kritiserad för sina metoder.
Han sympatiserade med Senator Joseph McCarthy och hans kommunistjakt och var snabb på att anklaga folk för att vara ”commies”, speciellt om de försökte attackera honom på nått sätt.
Hans populäritet dalade fort i och med att McCarthy tappade inflytande.

Två klassiska Winchell citat: ”Nothing recedes like success” och ”I usually get my stuff from people who promised somebody else that they would keep it a secret.”
Winchell anses vara den som först etablerade ordet frienemy.
Hans karriär varade länge och redan 1930 skrev Cole Porter så här i sången Let’s Fly Away i musikalen The New Yorkers:
Let’s fly away And find a land that’s so provincial, We’ll never hear what Walter Winchell Might be forced to say

Press:
Sweet Smell of Success, which opened tonight at the Martin Beck Theatre, will go down in the record books as a real heartbreaker; one of those fabulous sounding new musicals with an impeccable pedigree which never quite comes together and ultimately only disappoints. John Guare’s book is intelligently adapted from the film of the same name, but never manages to make the right points at the right time. The music, by Marvin Hamlisch, oozes period swank and jazzy themes, but is sabotaged at every turn by Craig Carnelia’s less than perfect lyrics. Nicholas Hynter, with the dubious help of moribund choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, seems never in control of the events on stage long enough to make anything captivating and entertaining from the incongruous elements. 

The evening would be a total loss were it not for the amazing performances of John Lithgow and Brian d’Arcy James.
– Thomas Burke, Talking Broadway


Listen, all ye sinners, to the Lorelei call of Manhattan after dark, a world of glitter and grime, of illicit, electrified promise. Harken to the whispers of the famous and the infamous as they do the dirty things they do when the lights are low. Hear the cries of the . . . zzzzzzzz.

Sorry. Did I nod off there? It’s true that Sweet Smell of Success, the new musical at the Martin Beck Theater, works really hard at conveying that titillating, biblical sense of nocturnal New York as a hive of glamorous nastiness.
But somehow this siren song insists on translating itself into the rhythms of a sideshow hypnotist, the kind who keeps saying, ”Your eyelids are getting heavy . . .” The bitch-goddess Success may be the presiding deity of record in the production that opened last night. But its real spirit-in-residence is Morpheus, the yawning god of dream time.
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Videosar:
From the Tony Awards
At the Fountain från Rosie O’Donnell Show
Opening Night on Broadway
High Lights från en Konsertversion
One Track Mind
Rita’s Tune
Trailer till filmen

%d bloggare gillar detta: