Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Minister's Wife **

The four new musicals that I have seen at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater over the last several years (the other three being "A Man of No Importance," "The Glorious Ones" and "Happiness") shared one thing in common:  they were just good enough that I wished they were better. The current one, in my opinion the least interesting of the four, is a musicalization of Shaw's "Candida.." It is a modest effort with five actors (the character of Candida's father has been dropped) and four musicians in one 95-minute act. The music and lyrics are by Joshua Schmidt and Jan Levy Tranen, respectively, and the book is by Austin Pendelton. Michael Halberstam is listed as conceiver/director. Marc Kudisch plays Morell and Bobby Steggert is Marchbanks. While I have enjoyed both in the past, I did not think they excelled here. Kate Fry impressed as Candida. Liz Baltes was lively as Morell's secretary, but Drew Gehling was not as the curate. I liked the Victorian clutter of Allen Moyer's set. My major complaint is that the music too rarely carried the emotional weight of the play, and when it did, I didn't find it very pleasant to listen to.

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