Thursday, July 16, 2009

Broadway in Egypt?! Are You Kidding Me!

Thursday, July 16, 2009 0

I have a very special play in my heart for both “Grease” and “West Side Story”, being two of the first Broadway musical adaptations to the big screen I’ve ever seen in my life, so when I was passing by the Opera House couple of weeks ago and saw that big fat ad about “Broadway comes to Egypt!” featuring songs from both plays, I simply couldn’t believe my eyes.

Now, I’ve never been to New York, let alone Broadway, but I consider myself well educated in the musicals, as I follow up with the latest and greatest of the Broadway shows, I don’t miss a single screen adaptation, and I – secretly and shamefully – know all famous Broadway songs by heart.

Thinking that the tickets are going to be super expansive, I didn’t even bother going to the Opera House to ask about it, but my well-informed network of friends told me that the tickets actually are in the range between 25LE and 10LE, and I thought to myself: Hell Yeah, and went to buy couple of tickets, still not totally believing that I’m actually going to see a Broadway production, and I considered myself lucky when the guy at the Opera ticket booth told me that I got the last two tickets for the Saturday show, while the Sunday show was fully booked.

Going there all dressed up was a pain, but I kept my spirit up by singing “You’re The One I Want” from “Grease” with my date, and got in the Opera House feeling slightly bad because of the bad seats I got, but who cares! I’m watching B’way.

At the door, they gave us a booklet with the names of people working on the show, and I was kinda relieved when I saw the name “Michael Parks Masterson” as the choreographer and stage director of the show, knowing that the guy worked in Broadway before, and played some major roles in different plays in the United States and Japan, I had the feeling that the show is not going to disappoint me, now that was a mistake, and the show did disappoint me.

The show turned out to be an end-of-the-year production for some drama club in AUC, expect for the times when this Michael guy and the Opera dancers were on stage, the rest of the show was a major Blah in the world of Broadway.

Most of the songs they choose to play from both “West Side Story” and “Grease” were the ballads, sang by the Opera singers, admitingly, some of them have incredible rage of voices, but Broadway is not about singing, Broadway is about the Showbiz, who cares if WSS’s Tony has an amazing voice if he can’t pull three dancing steps together, who gives a damn if Grease’s Danny can sing “Summer Nights” if he doesn’t have the ability to do some basic dancing steps.

Knowing what in his hands, the director of the show had to cancel some of the most amazing songs from both shows, and working by himself on the stage to give the Broadway show to one of the songs only, as he played the DJ Kenicke character, giving an amazing performance to the song “Greased Lightening”, but his efforts were lost in the long boring ballads and nonstop silly semi-dancing movements of his team.

The shocker was that some of the singers can’t actually pronounce English properly , giving the whole show a feeling of unprofessionalism to it, forcing you to disregard the big names on the cover of the booklet; American Embassy in Cairo, American Voices, Cairo Opera Company and – of course – Broadway.

A problem you can always put your fingers on whenever you see such a show in Egypt, they always seems like they ran out of time, they always work like they started preparing for this show the day before yesterday, and this show didn’t take enough time to prepare, giving it a feeling of a high school production rather than a Broadway show.

Let’s be honest here, having a Broadway show in Egypt is a dream long awaited, but to pull such a good idea you need to organize it, to work on it and sweat for it, to bring actual production to Egypt, not just have the logo of Broadway on your booklet.

I expect to be uplifted and entertained, which I had whenever real professionals took the stage, referring to the Opera House dancers and the American director, but whenever the show falls in the hands of the AUC kids, I just felt like falling asleep in my seat.

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