Sunday, May 19, 2013

Far from Heaven **

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Todd Haynes' 2002 film tribute to Douglas Sirk's lush melodramas of the 1950's must have seemed like suitable material for a musical, but the current adaptation with book by the ubiquitous Richard Greenberg, music by Scott Frankel and lyrics by Michael Korie does not make the case. Despite fine performances by Kelli O'Hara, Stephen Pasquale and Isaiah Johnson in the leading roles, this production, now in previews at Playwrights Horizons, falls flat. One hopes that paring down a screenplay to make room for songs that will amplify emotions and/or move the plot along will yield a net gain. In this instance, at least for me, the results diminish rather than enhance the film. I missed the film's gorgeous cinematography that went so far to create the feel of suburban Connecticut in 1957. The basic story of a seemingly perfect marriage destroyed by the husband's homosexuality and the wife's friendship with her black gardener is still there, but the weaknesses in the plot seem more nakedly exposed here. The music and lyrics are far from memorable. Allen Moyer's Mondrian-like set is complemented by Peter Nigrini's projections. Catherine Zuber's costumes are period-appropriate. Kenneth Posner's lighting is especially fine. I hoped that Frankel, Korie and director Michael Greif, the people who had a great success at Playwrights Horizons with another film adaptation, Grey Gardens, would strike gold twice. Unfortunately, they have not. Running time: two hours, 25 minutes including intermission.

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