Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Just in case you thought it was all milk and honey


Not visual arts related but hilarious none the less. Last Thursday the New York Times ran a review of a musical called Good Vibrations. For anybody who thinks I'm harsh on the art reviewers here in town, check out these lines:
Even those who believe everything on this planet is here for a purpose may at first have trouble justifying the existence of "Good Vibrations," the singing headache that opened last night at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.

But audience members strong enough to sit through this rickety jukebox of a show, which manages to purge all catchiness from the surpassingly catchy hits of the Beach Boys, will discover that the production does have a reason to be, and a noble one: "Good Vibrations" sacrifices itself, night after night and with considerable anguish, to make all other musicals on Broadway look good.


But it isn't just songs that have been borrowed (and mutilated) for this production, which features a blockheaded comic strip of a book by Richard Dresser, a respectable playwright who should know better. Every element in the show appears to have been cribbed in haste, as if on the morning of a final exam, from other, more agreeable musicals of the jukebox/pop pastiche genre, which is gradually devouring all of Broadway.


But while "Good Vibrations" dutifully culls from its hot-ticket predecessors, the sum effect is of a lumbering, brainless Frankenstein's monster, stitched together from stolen body parts and stuffed into a wild bikini. From its cutely clich├ęd script (which begins, "Once upon a time there was a far-off land called California") to its haphazard choreography, the show feels as if it simply gave up on trying to figure out the balance of nostalgia and satire that can make this kind of show-biz exercise profitable.
I don't know if I should try and emulate Ben Brantley more or less, but he does write really well.

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