Stage Door: Far From Heaven...THE MUSICAL!!!
Monday,May 20,2013 at 3:09PM
abstew in Broadway and Stage,Far From Heaven,Kelli O'Hara,Stage Door,Steven Pasquale,musicals

Since we're in the heat of Tony season,you get TWO screen-to-stage posts this week.Here's the first one (though perversely both shows are not on Broadway and are thus ineligible for those awards)

abstewhere.Although often cited as one of the reasons for the death of originality in American Theatre,the musicalization of popular films to stage is hardly new.After all,two Best Picture Oscar winners (All About EveandThe Apartment)were turned into musicals (1970'sApplauseand 1968'sPromises,Promises,respectively) long beforeBring It Onwas cheering it's way to a Best "New"Musical Tony Nomination.(I,myself,am still waiting for the musical version ofDeath Becomes Her.It already has amusical number! Someone,please,make this happen!) The latest film getting the song & dance treatment ( & walking around) is one that I'm sure TFE readers are familiar with,Todd Haynes' gloriousFar From Heaven(2002).more...

The film,for those who need a refresher -- and if you do,pretend otherwise!--  is an homage to the 1950s melodramas of the great Douglas Sirk.Cathy Whitaker,the perfect 50s housewife,suddenly finds her life in shambles when her alcoholic husband turns out to be gay.She forms a friendship with her black gardener,but the social mores of the time frown upon the attachment.It was nominated for four Academy Awards including a Best Actress nomination for Julianne Moore.(Julie's performance also recently made our poll as one of the10 Best Actress performances not to win the Oscar.) The film,while inspired by the acting and style of Sirk films,never seemed like a replica,but a new work that had something fresh to say.Unfortunately,the same can not be said of its scene-for-scene transfer to the musical stage.

Far From Heaven...The Musical!(It's very important when stating the name of a musical that used to be a film to briefly pause after the title and then announce with a flourish of jazz hands: The Musical !!!So as not to confuse the two),first began in a two week preview run last summer atThe Williamstown Theatre Festival. (This year they're doing a musical version ofBridges of Madison County -they won't rest until every Best Actress nominated performance is a musical!).Far From Heaven is currently doing a limited run at NYC'sPlaywrights Horizons.The show is still in previews for a June 2nd Opening,so it could still change between the show I saw last Sunday night and the final one.While not abadshow per se and maybe even a good one if you had never seen the movie (but,then why would you be there?),I just kept wondering what the reasoning was for turning it into a musical.

The book,written by Richard Greenberg (currently represented on Broadway with the Tony nominatedThe Assembled Parties),is a faithful to a faul adaption.All the dialogue is taken,word for word,directly from the film which is a disservice to the actors as I kept hearing Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid in my head.And the songs,written by composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie,while pleasant enough,do nothing to enhance the story.In the film,the repression of the era is exemplified by all that is left unsaid--the emotions hidden under the surface.But,this being a musical,the songs are used to voice the characters thoughts and feeling which is exactly the opposite of what should be happening.The major problem is with the lyrics,their obvious rhyme schemes are so childlike in their simplicity that it becomes cloying having everything spelled out for you.

Four-time Tony nominee Kelli O'Hara as Cathy,has a beautiful singing voice,but comes across as a little bland.Whenever Julianne Moore said something in the film,it seemed like she was adapting to a certain style of acting from the 50s.When O'Hara spoke I just thought,'oh,I'm watching a musical theatre performance'.Isaiah Johnson,who plays the gardener,Raymond Deagan,still seems to be trying to find his character and even went up on one of his lyrics prompting the conductor to whisper it to him when I saw it.Steven Pasquale (who,my friend reminded me,was the lead in that NBC show,Do No Harm,which was cancelled after 2 episodes and whose voice makes Nathaniel's swoon) plays Cathy's husband,Frank.His character is the showiest part,so he benefits from being able to shout and break-down,giving a little life to the show.But,he still kinda seems like he's going through the motions.

Ultimately,it just doesn't make much sense to take a film that is so cinematic in its construction and identity and try to make it fit the stage without major changes.It would be like taking a play,defined by its theatricality,and making a painting of it–something gets lost in the translation.The lush cinematography,another characteristic of the Sirk films and Haynes's beloved homage,is replaced by a stark black stage with projections on the back wall.And as I kept looking at those screens with their stock photos of fall leaves,I wondered: if they were already so enamored with the film,why not just use actual shots of the movie?Which led me to think: Man,I can't wait to go home and watch thefilmall over again.

Article originally appeared on The Film Experience (//亚博主页
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