How much Peter Pan is too much Peter Pan? We’ve been inundated for decades. The Mary Martin Peter Pan was later followed by Cathy Rigby in the same show. Then came Peter and The Starcatcher, “a grown-up’s prequel to Peter Pan.” This past holiday season Peter Pan was performed live on television. Somewhere in there was the movie of Finding Neverland and now —the Broadway musical based on that movie.
his program, divided into three sections, showed the company in very different lights. Up first, Show. Girl, with choreography by Rosie Herrera, costumes by Diana Ruettiger and lighting by Joshua Preston, uses the "Cuban cabaret ethic" to put forth dances that don't have much relationship to each other. Show. Girl opens with a line of women in columnar pink dresses with deep slits on both sides, moving rhythmically to silence other than the occasional slaps they give themselves. It's a bit unsettling. After a time, they sing a banal song about a turtle and move in the creamy light, posing for one another and the audience.
It begins with a funeral. It ends with a funeral. In between are jarring gun shots, explosions, fire, war, revolution, murder, suicide, blood, death—and everywhere passion, passion for a loved one, passion for a cause, passion for a home. The story of Doctor Zhivago, adapted from the movie based on the novel by Boris Pasternak, is huge, sweeping in scope. Even with a few lovely musical moments and some fine performances, this is a heavy, heavy evening in the theater.
You’ll get a kick out of Something Rotten if you brush up your Shakespeare once you decide whether you want to be or not to be in attendance. If you get what’s going on in the previous sentences, then Something Rotten may be a show for you. It is packed with inside jokes — Shakespearean jokes, musical theatre jokes, gay jokes, feminist jokes, Jewish jokes, Puritan jokes, rock star jokes, star-crossed lover jokes and some just plain jokes. More than any show in recent memory your enjoyment of Something Rotten depends on where you’re coming from.
It could have been created during the Golden Age of Broadway, so seamlessly integrated is the extraordinary, ballet-driven musical An American in Paris. The George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin score would have been enough by itself. Add to that the dancing, singing, acting, lighting, costumes and scenery (which seems to dance as well) all built on the vision of the newest brilliant choreographer-director, and the effect is overwhelmingly thrilling. Welcome to the age of Christopher Wheeldon on Broadway.