Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Almost Revisit a Classic

It is considered poor form to review a workshop, unless of course the review is a rave. So I am not going to post a formal Musicals101 review of the current New York Musical Theatre Festival production of Main Travelled Roads, but I cannot resist offering a thought here on my blog.

If you are going to create any sort of artwork, it is a wise to avoid ideas that echo previous masterworks. Some years ago, the Broadway musical Copperfield had a song where the title character pleaded, “Mama, Don’t Get Married.” Set in 2/4, this charming number led a number of critics to compare it unfavorably to Gypsy’s 3/4 time “If Mama Was Married,” even though the two songs bore no resemblance to one another aside from two common words in the title.

Now imagine a musical that starts out with a farm girl deciding who will take her to a fair – the handsome hunk she loves, or the more aggressive man who won’t take no for an answer. While Main Travelled Roads is no Oklahoma, the vague resemblance was enough to make one person sitting near me audibly ask when the DeMille dream ballet would begin.

My friendly advice to the authors of Main Travelled Roads is to take whatever they have learned from this project and apply it to something else. The inescapable ghosts of Laurey, Curly and Judd (and Eller too) hang over Main Travelled Roads, and I suspect it will be impossible to escape them.

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