Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finian's Rainbow

I just got back from seeing the closing performance of "Finian's Rainbow", and it was FABULOUS.  This production was a big, old fashioned, MGM movie musical style show with a great score, bright costumes, and big, colorful sets.  It also reminded me what the golden age of theater was about ... why it was golden. While I think there is definitely a place for heavy, dramatic shows like "Billy Elliot" or "Sweeney Todd" or  others like them, there is definitely a great benefit to remembering and seeing lighter shows such as this one.

Jim Norton, as the Finian of the show's title, was passable, if not the best I've ever seen (though I must admit I'm spoiled in that the first production of "Finian's Rainbow" I ever saw was the movie, starring the wonderful Fred Astaire, for whom you could almost imagine the part was written).  The only true Irishman in the cast (that I am aware of, anyhow), Norton had the right feel for the part's particulars and energy (and, certainly, the accent), but was not the song-and-dance man I was expecting, nor did he have enough star presence for a show in which he is the title character.

Kate Baldwin, as Finian's daughter, Sharon, was great in the part.  She was charming and charismatic, and you could see the hopeful glint in her eye from the last row of the second balcony.  Though she doesn't have a big voice, making her hard to hear sometimes, she does have a strong voice that was able to deliver the classic songs, like "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "That Old Devil Moon", easily.

The other performer that I thought was of note was Terri White as Dottie, one of the black sharecroppers in the fictional land of Missitucky.  Though she had only one solo number and a handful of lines peppered throughout the show, she stole whatever scenes she had with her larger than life presence and great singing voice.  There is certainly a Tony nomination in her future.  Chuck Cooper and Christopher Fitzgerald, as a white senator turned black and an unfortunate leprechaun, respectively, also gave scene stealing supporting turns with a clear nomination coming down the pike for Fitzgerald, and one likely (but not a sure bet) for Cooper, who won a Tony in (I think) 1997 for "The Life".

Well, those are my thoughts for the moment.  I will discuss more of the politics and my thoughts when I arrive at my nominations prediction list later in the season.

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