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Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation - Page 4

Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation

Jarethan
#75Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/4/24 at 12:52pm

It sounds like Lady Chablis is the main character in this.   Clearly that was not the case with the movie (aI did not read the book).  Is she the lead role?  If so, what is the impact she n the original story?

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BalconyClub
#76Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/4/24 at 6:31pm

A few quickies from Wednesday night’s viewing:

  • Minerva’s enunciation of CHILDREN in the opening cemetery scene was different. Every time Minerva said “children” it was clearly “children”.
  • A better smoke effect has been added at the base of the shimmering silver drop at the start of the Shed nightclub number LET THERE BE LIGHT.
  • One change happened several performances ago: the minister had  displayed his gun tucked inside his small Bible, opening the Bible towards the audience like a LifeSavers holiday variety pack. Nowadays, we see his gun in the air, away from the Bible.
  • In the first few performances, I loved the sound of the sugar cubes being dropped into Sierra’s teacup. I reckon the sound effect has been removed, cause a classy preservationist would add sugar cubes into her tea, but never before.

 

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Menken Fan
#77Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/4/24 at 6:50pm

I very much like hearing about the tweaks they are making in this process.  However, I haven't really heard one change that would strengthen the story or focus, or address any of the primary criticisms people have had, even a little bit. I mean, no one was complaining about the method that Jim uses to smack Danny's ass.

I was hoping they be working on more substantial changes in advance of opening night in a few nights.

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RippedMan
#78Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/5/24 at 8:37am

I think in this day and age adding and deleting scenes and songs is just too costly and time consuming with the way tech and stuff goes. I think the issues here are 1. The Score needs to be stronger 2. The book needs to be focused. Those are pretty big things to switch around and I'm not even sure if JRB is in Chicago actively writing stuff for this show. So they might just be making little tweaks and will make the bigger changes in the move to Broadway or another workshop. 

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theatreguy
#79Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/6/24 at 11:31am

Most if not all of the creative team, including JRB, were at last night's performance.

Some random thoughs:

Other than the opening, which I agree needs to be cut, I really enjoyed this.

Ghee is so fantastic - my friend and I wondered if this was a Chenoweth in Wicked situation where The Lady Chablis started out as a key supporting character but over the course of readings and workshops the writers just kept adding more and more material so that the character is now a co-lead with Jim Williams.

Speaking of Jim Williams, Tom Hewitt was very good. I thought thought he looked appropriately mid-50s and his singing sounded fine. Perhaps not as vocally exciting as someone like Steven Pasquale could have been, but absolutely getting the job done.

I liked Sierra Boggess but couldn't help wondering what someone like Kristin Chenoweth would have done with this back in the day. Someone who could give Ghee a run for their money might balance out the central trio better.

The rest of the cast are all good and 4 or 5 of them get solo songs which they put over well. The song that's been stuck in my head is Shanel Bailey's "Clap on One and Three."

Overall I liked this way more than I was expecting based on reports from this thread. I'm sure they'll do more work (seriously, the opening needs to go immediately) but what they have is in good shape.

starlightexpress2
#80Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/6/24 at 12:29pm

I saw it last weekend and had a blast. The musical is a total mess though lmao. Would totally watch it again if I was in the Chicago area.

I don't know the source material at all.

A few potentially unpopular thoughts:

  • I really liked the opening and felt it set the environment really well. The issue is that the musical is like three different stories in one, where only one of them really utilizes this voodoo Savannah environment.
  • I really disliked Tom Hewitt and felt he was one of the primary downsides to the show. I'd like to see someone with far better acting and singing chops like Brian D'Arcy James play this role instead.
  • Ghee totally took the spotlight. I loved their character and they did a fabulous job.. with that said, this show needs to decide whether it's about Chablis or Jim. As it stands, it's about Jim and Chablis completely and utterly overshadows all of it.
  • Imo the Jim story needs to be beefed up and performed by a much better actor that can stand a chance against someone like Ghee.
  • I really loved the group numbers, I'd like to see more of them. The music was really good in these numbers.
  • Much of Jim's music was too mopey and whiney but I actually think this is a performance problem not a composer problem. This character needs a few years to really find.
  • I really hate to single someone out (in a smaller role) but Jessica Molaskey was genuinely bafflingly bad on the night I was there. Vocally very very thin and pitchy and constantly looking at people's feet as if to try to match their steps. I wonder if she had an off night. I didn't know her and while I watched I wondered if she was a last minute addition.
  • I really enjoyed the score but I do agree there wasn't a lot of musical cohesion. I also don't remember any of the music but that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
  • The audience participation was fun and I liked how they treated us as the author. I do think it needs to be tightened up quite a bit and probably reformatted. I'd like to see the audience interaction to be meaningful throughout rather than just gag after gag until the very end. Have people talk to us seriously.

This is a story about "restoration," about becoming new again. Getting rid of the rust, the things that are holding us back. And I love how this musical approaches that theme and shows it in a variety of different lights.

There is a strong message and beauty in the show that's often undercut by unfocused writing and uneven casting.

In my opinion, it needs to lean much more heavily into its core message, focus in on what it's trying to say, and double down on the community and culture of the town. There's too much random cruft in the musical right now. I'm afraid that they'll amp up the camp when I actually think they should amp up the drama and meaning. Keep the camp, it's pivotal to the message they're sending. But fix the drama and Jim story in order to make the camp worthwhile.

This show is not ready for Off-Broadway or Broadway but maybe in a year or two I'm pretty confident it'll become a success with the general public.


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Adeliciaboy
#81Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/7/24 at 3:53pm

Sorry folks.  This musical won't become a success with the general public until the producers decide what this show wants to be.   Those going in expecting a musical based on "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" will be sorely disappointed.  Those expecting a drag cabaret act may have a more enjoyable time depending on how much they like Ghee.

Regardless of which way this show goes, Jason Robert Brown needs to step it up on the musical score front.  The score, as it  stands, just has no real firepower.  Coupled with a confusing book, the music that's there now only  ensures this show will sink fast if the producers take it to Broadway without a substantial revamp.

That said, look for the Tribune review to be very -- ah -- supportive in its assessment of the jumbled material now on view.  Chicago is getting to be known as a place where troubled tryout productions come to be praised, only to be received much less enthusiastically in New York City..  It's not a good look for the city.

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The Distinctive Baritone
#82Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/7/24 at 4:09pm

Well, Chris Jones seems to very much see himself as a “show doctor” for pre-Broadway tryouts, and although he has showered a lot of praise on some of these productions over the years, he has written a few “constructive” reviews that are mixed or mostly negative.

That said, he gets attacked a lot in the Chicago theatre community for being a supposedly out-of-touch, old, straight white guy, and he may be afraid to be too critical of a show that is clearly jumping on the bandwagon of celebrating transness…even though the story is supposed to be about Jim Williams, not the minor character The Lady Chablis.

MidWestTheater
#83Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/7/24 at 8:14pm

Saw this last night and kinda of agree with a lot of the posts on here, this show is a mess....but a beautiful mess. To quote former critic Scott Brown "It's a Messterpiece" . You have a stunning score from Jason Robert Brown, a tremendous performance by J. Harrison Ghee, great set design, stunning lighting...But OMG what was Taylor Mac thinking. This show is all over the place, characters are introduce and never heard from again, the addressing the audience as the writer is a novel idea, but is kinda forgotten. The first act focuses more on Jim Williams and Danny Williams, with a little subplot of Lady Chablis trying to become part of society, then the second becomes more about Lady Chablis and her return to Savannah, and the Jim Williams story is kinda put on the back burner till the end. I did like the audience interaction, especially the drag brunch tour that opens the second act, but the ending curtain call with what the audience is told to do, while very cool, kinda doesn't make any sense to the show.  (also I feel for the people who have to clean that up) 

I'm not sure who this show is going to be for. If this show does have a future outside of this production, even if there is a ton of work done on it, I don't know who's going to see this. I feel this may have the same fate as Honeymoon in Vegas. But, I would love a recording of this score, just to hear clap on 1 and 3 again, my favourite number in the show. 

Also as Goodman subscriber for the past 2 years, I've never seen them go all out for a show like this. Yes, they had the pinball machines set up for Tommy, but here they have taken over the entire lobby with social media set-ups promoting the city of Savannah. They must be working with tourist board. 

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Broadway Flash
#84Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 12:06am

It also seems like it’s selling pretty well over there. I didn’t realize Rob Ashford wasn’t choreographing, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of hiring him?  

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MrsSallyAdams
#85Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 7:00am

Review: ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ at the Goodman Theatre is gutsy but needs a conflict worthy of its star

This show, evocatively designed by Christopher Oram, is something new, weird and gutsy enough to jettison most conventional expectations. Like many pre-Broadway tryouts, it has its strengths and weaknesses and a wildly uneven second half of a second act that suggests everyone simply ran out of enough time to fashion an ending that really satisfies...

The show’s fundamental weakness? It has taken a book written from an ironic, outsider perspective with all characters treated equally and so stacked the deck in favor of the anti-establishment outsiders, most notably The Lady Chablis, that A), the Southern white women of Savannah become unexplained, overwrought stereotypes good for only a couple of jokes and B), the transgressive characters thus have nothing credible to struggle against....

[I]t is as if the show were afeared of really revealing the darker side of Savannah culture, which is surprising, frankly, given that Mac does not typically shy away from humans struggling with control. The show really needs to add that tension

Review: 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' should let in the tension (chicagotribune.com)


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The Distinctive Baritone
#86Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 11:17am

Reading between the lines of the review - which, having become very familiar with Jones’ work over the past 20 years, I can say was obviously written to be as kind and supportive as possible - he’s basically saying what people in the board have: it’s a mess, and not ready for Broadway, but the score is interesting and Ghee is fantastic.

This link should have no paywall: Chris Jones Tribune review

Adeliciaboy
#87Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 1:33pm

Bravo Distinctive Baritone!!  You quite accurately deciphered Chris Jones'. typically "supportive" review.  Jones is  incapable of directly saying a show doesn't work, especially when it's supposedly a Broadway bound vehicle.

  I'm sorry.  But one great performance  rom Ghee does not a successful musical make.  And I'm doubly sorry but a merely serviceable score also does not make a show successful.  No matter how much Jones tries to suck up to Jason Robert Brown, the  "Midnight" score is not memorable. Jones doesn't even single out one song as special, and that should tell you a lot.  Yes, there's a lot of music but it doesn't add up to much.

What I found especially curious is how much Jones dwelt on the preservationist society ladies, as if transforming them into a darker force in the show would have made it better.  Clearly they were inserted into the show primarily to provide comic relief.  Even if they were made "darker" it would not make the show any better because of so many story lines battling for the viewer's attention.

But there's really no use in pondering the muddy review Jones produced.  If recent history is any indication, the producers of "Midnight" will toss reviews aside and continue on their march toward Broadway.  

The way the game is played in New York City now does not require producers to bing in a truly great musical. They will settle for mediocre or worse as long as they think the show is "fun" and "entertaining."   Yes, "death Becomes Her,"  I'm talking about you.

 

 

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MrsSallyAdams
#88Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 1:34pm

REVIEW: Broadwayworld.com

And while Ghee is the embodiment of a classic musical theater star, I was much less taken with Tom Hewitt’s portrayal of Jim. Hewitt has a raspy vocal tone that sounded unpolished next to his fellow cast members.... I thought his performance was sadly lackluster, and it lacked the dimension and theatrical flair of some of his co-stars.

Review: MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL WORLD PREMIERE MUSICAL at Goodman Theatre (broadwayworld.com)


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MrsSallyAdams
#89Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/9/24 at 9:58pm

Chicago Reader: I don’t remember the book or the movie being this funny. There are so many laughs throughout the production that the almost three-hour running time feels swift.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil brings a funny, juicy spin to the story - Chicago Reader

Variety: [I]t seems as if The Lady Chablis, Jim, and possibly Danny, are the only actual characters in a story that became so popular because of its population of eccentrics... for a story that aspires to some depth, the racism of the decaying southern aristocracy shouldn’t be dismissed as just comic relief.
'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' Review: New Musical Version (variety.com)


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MrsSallyAdams
#90Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/10/24 at 8:43am

Chicago Sun-Times: It needs some work…  the musical feels more like a series of sharply drawn character sketches than a complete, compelling, coherent narrative. 

The main characters could use some nuance. Hansford is a camped-up cartoon rendition of James Dean, scowling and snarling in a “Partridge Family” T-shirt (Toni-Leslie James’ costumes are an absolute delight throughout). Williams is largely defined by his molasses-thick drawl. There’s little chemistry between the two, rendering a supposedly volatile, passionate relationship bland.

Re Bogess: Playing white supremacy for yuks, even in song, is a choice. So is peppering the storyline with running gags about Nazi memorabilia. “The Producers” got away with it in 2001. But that was then.

 

https://chicago.suntimes.com/theater/2024/07/09/midnight-in-the-garden-of-good-and-evil-review-goodman-theatre-chicago


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RippedMan
#91Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/10/24 at 9:36am

I’m still curious why they went with Hewitt when the original idea was Pasquale? Why not get someone of Pasquale’s type? Think that dynamic would have added more. And also interesting to give this material to Ashford who is more known for dance-y musical comedy. 

DeNada
#92Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 12/31/99 at 7:32pm

Ashford did the excellent original London staging of Parade at the Donmar in the 2000s (and was dance captain on the original Broadway production); he has a long association with JRB as a result which presumably held some sway.

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MrsSallyAdams
#93Jason Robert Brown, Taylor Mac, Rob Ashford collaborating on MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL musical adaptation
Posted: 7/10/24 at 12:15pm

Third Coast Review: [F]ails to cohere as a unified theatrical narrative, instead dissipating its energy and dramatic force in a series of increasingly tangential misfires until, by the musical's end, it collapses under its own weight as plot resolution and character development are almost scooted off the stage in a bum's-rush. The incongruous 11 o'clock number seems to be tacked on from a completely different show.

Review: Goodman Theatre's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Needs Pruning | Third Coast Review


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