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LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
By Miriam Colin
Somewhere, my love,
There will be songs to sing
Although the snow
Covers the hope of spring.
— Opening lyric from Lara's much recorded theme song.
David Lean's film adaptation of Boris Pasternak's Nobel prize winning novel Doctor Zhivago, stirred millions of hearts. The bittersweet romance of Lara and Yuri against a backdrop of decades of Russian history resulted in many girls named Lara (I don't think Yuri had the same result for boy babies).
Tam Mutu (Dr. Zhivago), Kelli Barrett (Lara Guishar
Now the hopeful opening line of Lara's lovely and much recorded theme song — "Somewhere, my love, there will be songs, my love"— has been actualized in Doctor Zhivago the Musical, with some twenty songs composed by Lucy Simon and with lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers. Despite some soaring ballads, none match the emotional power of that heart stirring theme song so Director Des McAnuff has cleverly threaded strains of it throughout this wintry and somber musical epic. It's actually sung once, but by a group of nurses, not Lara.
I suppose director McAnuff and book writer Michael Weller deserve praise for wrestling all the events of this long highbrow historic romance down to come in at just under three hours (the adapters of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall needed twice that time even without songs). Their difficult task of covering so much ground was greatly eased by Sean Nieuwenhuis's time establishing projections.
However, though I was never bored or weary sitting through the two parts of Wolf Hall (
Editor Elyse Sommer's review ), I found Doctor Zhivago more tiring than inspiring . This also goes for Les Miserables, a similarly epic musical with a long and successful life that the Zhivago producers obviously hope to emulate. I've seen and loved Les Miz, as it's come to be known, several times and, though Pasternak's Russian story has plenty of revolutionary sweep, it didn't sweep me away. It's simply too bleak and bland. Having much of the story narrated by the lyricists doesn't help to draw us into the plot, or intensify our emotional involvement with the characters.
All this is not to say that Doctor Zhivago doesn't have its good points. The cast features some fine singing, most notably by the five actors in the key roles: Yurii Zhivago (Tam Mutu), the middle-class doctor-poet. . .his wife Tonia (Lora Lee Gayer). . ., Lara Guishar (Kelli Barrett), the love of his live. . . Pasha Antipov (Paul Alexander Nolan), Lara's revolutionary husband. . . . Viktor Komarovsky (Tom Hewitt), who is also passionately obsessed with Lara.
The most outstanding design element was provided by Paul TazewellI's costumes. The most annoying element was the excessive, ear assaulting gunfire. If I had to sum it all up in a single sentence: Singers who often make easily forgotten songs soar — but it's a bore.
Musical adaptation of the 1958 Nobel Prize-winning novel by Boris Pasternak
Book by Michael Weller
Music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers.
Directed by Des McAnuff
Choreographer Kelly Devine
Cast: am Mutu (Yurii Zhivago), Kelli Barrett (Lara Guishar), Tom Hewitt (Viktor Komarovsky), Paul Alexander Nolan (Pasha Antipov/Strelnikov), Lora Lee Gayer (Tonia Gromeko), Jamie Jackson (Alexander Gromeko), Jacqueline Antaramian (Anna Gromeko), Jonah Halperin (Young Yurii/Sasha), Sophia Gennusa (Young Lara/Katarina) and Ava-Riley Miles (Young Tonia).
Scenic design by Michael Scott-Mitchell
Costume design by Paul Tazewell
Lighting design by Howell Binkley
Sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy
Projection design by Sean Nieuwenhuis
Music arrangements by Eric Stern
Musical supervision by Ron Melrose
Hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe
Special effects design by Greg Meeh
Fight director: Steve Rankin
Makeup design by Joe Dulude II
Aerial effects design by Paul Rubin
Stage Manager: James Harker
Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes includes 1 intermission
Broadway Theatre 1681 Broadway
From 3/27/15; opening 4/21/15.
Reviewed by Miriam Colin
Two Worlds /All
Komarovsky's Toast /Komarovsky, Tonia, Alexander, Anna and Guests
Who Is She?/ Yurii
It's a Godsend /Pasha and Students
When the Music Played /Lara
Who Is She? (Reprise)/ Yurii
Watch the Moon /Yurii and Tonia
Forward March /Gints, Pasha, Liberius, Yanko and Soldiers
Somewhere My love /Nurses
Now/ Yurii and Lara
Forward March (Reprise) / Gints
Blood on the Snow /Pasha, Soldiers and Nurses
Komarovsky's Lament/ Komarovsky
Yurii's Decision /Yurii
In This House /Alexander, Tonia, Yurii and All
Women and Little Children-He's/ There Lara and Women
No Mercy at All/ Strelnikov
In This House (Reprise) /Alexander
Love Finds You /Yurii, Lara, Komarovsky, Strelnikov and Tonia
Nowehere to Hide /Liberius and Partisans
It Comes as No Surprise/ Tonia and Lara
Ashes and Tears/ Yurii, Liberius and Partisans
Watch the Moon /(Reprise) Tonia
On the Edge of Time/ Lara and Yurii
Now (Reprise) /Yurii
Blood on the Snow (Reprise) / Soldiers
Finale /Katarina, Lara, Yurii and All
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