LEMPICKA Previews

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GilmoreGirlO2
#50LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 11:38am

As a huge fan of the show when I saw it at Williamstown, I can’t help but feel like the (significant!) changes they have made, unfortunately, have done the show a disservice. It feels like they went in the wrong direction – making the characters broader and not as nuanced, making things less clear (both plot-wise and motivations/feelings of characters), and seeming to be concerned with adding in more comedic moments.

Many beautiful songs that felt very necessary for the story and character development (“Burn it Up,” “Stillness,” and “The Exchange”) have been cut and the majority of the songs (although not all) that have been added since Williamstown are far less superior, in my opinion.

It also felt like there was so much movement/business happening in the background of scenes that was both distracting and confusing. It sometimes came off to me like an attempt to fill the space.

The second act is far and away better than the first act – which also happens to be the act that is more intact from the Williamstown production.

It didn’t feel particularly clear that Tamara and Rafaela’s relationship was emotionally real until about half way through act two – which I previously was able to feel from the beginning.

I still felt emotional at the end, but definitely didn’t experience the same connection and awe that I felt for the show in its previous incarnation.

It feels like this show has been worked almost too much and the creatives have lost sight of the core of the storytelling and characters that make the show so special. I must admit, this is something I feel like is becoming a trend for Chavkin – between this and “Hadestown” (especially with the insights provided in Anais’ Mitchell’s “Working on a Song”), I feel like Chavkin’s initial direction/shaping of a new piece is often her best work – not the final products.

This was the most excited I have been for a show in years and I walked out last night feeling so disappointed. It’s hard to know what the show could be and has been (not saying it didn’t need any work from Williamstown – just not the amount of changes or the choice of changes they made) and knowing that, unless major changes are made during this preview period, I won’t get to see a version of this show again that I felt as passionate about as I did before.

I have tickets for a few weeks from now and am looking forward to seeing what changes they make. (Is it too much to hope for “Burn it Up” and “Stillness” to be reinstated?)

All So Ozmopolitan
#51LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 11:46am

I was at first preview. I’ve only heard the amazing things, so I guess I’ll be the bad guy. This was the show I was looking forward to most this season, but I’m quite disappointed...

While the design itself is fairly innovative, there is nothing remarkable about Rachel Chavkin’s direction. It’s conventional and formulaic: scene, song, scene, song. Set piece on, set piece off. It doesn’t hold a finger to Chavkin’s other work. “Our Time”, the opening number, is all over the place and begins as a book scene (?) which then transitions into a 10-minute song (?). My eyebrows were furrowed in question the entire number. Throughout the show, the music is a little choppy and you can’t always tell when one song ends and the next starts. It gets repetitive sonically, but there are a handful of excellent numbers.

I found Raja Feather Kelly’s choreography awkward and rigid with very little connection to the text. Lots of quick movements are placed into a single note of music. As of last night, the lyrics are still displayed onstage towards the end of “Perfection” and I’m shocked Chavkin approved that...

The cast is mixed. For me, the highlights are Amber Iman (what a star!) and Andrew Samonsky (what a voice!) Beth Leavel has very little to do as The Baroness. Her Act 2 duet “Just This Way” with Tamara wants to be the emotional climax of the story, but we hardly know who The Baroness is, so it just feels wasted. George Abud is doing an over-the-top caricature of a villain as Marinetti. He could’ve been twisting a long handlebar mustache while snickering “mwahaha”. I admire Eden Espinosa as much as the next Wicked fan, but she struggles vocally with the higher, beltier moments. I worry how sustainable this material is for her voice and hope they will use previews to toy around with the key and alternate notes.

But the biggest problem for me was the lack of investment I felt in the story. I wanted mega-musical melodrama and crazy high stakes, but this show is basically a love triangle with tidbits of political turmoil. Weirdly enough, it left me with a very similar feeling as The Great Gatsby did at Paper Mill. All flash with little depth. I manage to cry in almost every musical I see, but Lempicka left me dry-eyed.

I sat on the left side of the rear mezzanine. The view was fine, but missed some far side-upstage moments and projections. I’d say this show is best experienced from center orchestra and/or front mezzanine. (The code LPFAN22 reduces some premium seats too!)

From what I’ve seen on social media and know of the fanbase, I imagine the show will do well with younger Gen Z audiences, social media influencers, and the super-fans who’ve been following its development. I was incredibly (and maybe foolishly) optimistic in my hope that Lempicka would be our next Hamilton - a critical and commercial success guaranteed a lengthy run. But based on what I saw last night, I'm sad to say I don’t think either the critics or the general public will take fondly to this.

Critiques aside, I’m THRILLED to see this type of work on Broadway - especially during this season. No stunt casting, no page-to-screen-to-stage adapting, a queer love story, original music, diverse casting. Ironically and unfortunately, we’ve seen these traits be the exact reason(s) for a show’s closure in recent years so I hope Lempicka can prove otherwise. Regardless, I do plan to revisit post Opening as I believe this is a show that could greatly benefit from its preview period.

Updated On: 3/20/24 at 11:46 AM

hearthemsing22
#52LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 11:48am

wpetinaudjr2 said: "Broadway Flash said: "Yes, and since seeing those clips, I’ve actually soured even more on this show. They were probably betteroff hiding the product and focusing on better marketing."

I appreciate a good cynic, every now and then but friend your takewill age like milk. It's objectively a phenomenal show and it's getting better night over night. They already made adjustments from invited dress to last nights preview.

You would have to see things in context to make sense of it.This is not a drill. Something very special is happening there.

 


W"

 

And once they see it, if they still feel the same that's okay too 

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jkcohen626
#53LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 11:48am

SO excited for this one and glad to hear all the great reports. I'm sad though because my Mom is also excited for this one, so i'll have to wait until May for it. 

I'm curious, were there any other merch items besides what's on the website

GilmoreGirlO2 Profile Photo
GilmoreGirlO2
#54LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 11:53am

If I recall correctly, just a pin and the windowcard were the only other merch available not listed on the website.

All So Ozmapolitan, I agree with every thing you said. The "mega-musical melodrama and high stakes" was exactly what I felt seeing the Williamstown production, but not at all last night.

bigbelterbaby
#55LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 12:40pm

Lempicka First Preview Song List

 


Hesione Hushabye thinks it tastes like ashes.
Updated On: 3/20/24 at 12:40 PM

magicfingers
#56LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 1:08pm

Considering Araca is also a producer and a huge merchandising company I'm kinda shocked they haven't upped the merch game for this. 4 items all in white or gray with super small logos on a 75$ shirt. With all the time and energy spent on TikTok and social media they need to catch up with some awesome bling. this IS a show about art, after all!

Updated On: 3/20/24 at 01:08 PM

bigbelterbaby
#57LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 1:19pm

If they were smart they would develop the character of the Baroness more and give Beth Leavel more to do. Money on the table ! 


Hesione Hushabye thinks it tastes like ashes.

MsPiety&Rectitude
#58LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 1:37pm

GilmoreGirlO2 said: "Many beautiful songs that felt very necessary for the story and character development (“Burn it Up,” “Stillness,” and “The Exchange&rdquoLEMPICKA Previews have been cut and the majority of the songs (although not all) that have been added since Williamstown are far less superior, in my opinion...

I have tickets for a few weeks from now and am looking forward to seeing what changes they make. (Is it too much to hope for “Burn it Up” and “Stillness” to be reinstated?)"

I was also shocked to see that Stillness and The Exchange were cut. Both were reliably great numbers in both Williamstown and La Jolla. But then watching the show in its current iteration, I felt that the plotting worked better without both of these numbers.

 
Click Here To Toggle Spoiler Content

In terms of "Stillness," the timeline of Tamara & Rafaela's relationship has shifted so that their first private time spent together is the night that ends in "Woman Is," which to me was more dramatically satisfying than having two separate encounters in the studio. And for "The Exchange," I think this had to go because it is now a plot point that Tadeusz is unemployed for a long period of time, as opposed to in previous versions where he begrudgingly takes a bank job earlier in the story. I think the story benefits from his protracted unemployment and Tamara being the only breadwinner -- but I will say I miss The Exchange and I don't think his new song "Wake Up" is as satisfying.

As for "Burn It Up"... this was such a fun and exciting song, but IMO it really added nothing, did not progress the plot, said almost nothing, and was unnecessarily taxing on Eden's voice. This song hasn't been in the show since Williamstown, which -- fun as it is musically -- is a good choice IMO and not going to change back.

What I find myself missing most is the expanded version of "Starting Over" that was performed in La Jolla. I absolutely loooved how this song worked in La Jolla, but now the middle section which was new for that production (and was far and away one of my favorite parts of the score), has been greatly reduced, making it more similar to the original Williamstown version.

 

Updated On: 3/20/24 at 01:37 PM

GilmoreGirlO2 Profile Photo
GilmoreGirlO2
#59LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/20/24 at 2:56pm

For me, "Burn It Up" was the moment when we see Tamara's path move onto the trajectory she is on for the rest of the show. It's her realization moment when we see her drive and will to survive merge with her passion for painting. We see her make sacrifices for her (and her husband's) survival before this - "Burn It Up" felt like such a revelatory moment for her that she can fulfill a joyful passion while still ensuring her survival. For me, it felt like such a necessary moment that fuels her motivation for the rest of the show. (I also feel like it would give a bit of a grounding moment amid the constant movement of the first half the act.) Its absence in the show last night made it clear for me just how integral a part of the storytelling I feel like it is.

For me, cutting "Stillness" feels like cutting really important character and relationship building (I don't feel like in cutting this song that there were any other moments that were then added that fulfilled this very necessary need). More in the spoiler toggle:

 
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For me, "Stillness" provided such insight into who both Rafaela and Tamara are, as well as how they feel about each other. We see how Rafaela feels seen (maybe for the first time) and actually get a little insight into her life and mindset. For Tamara, we see how the feelings Rafaela is bringing up in her are more than just an extension of excitement about her work. Having that tension made the payoff of "Woman Is" much better and more emotionally connected for me (as it was last night, their first night together almost felt like a culmination of Tamara being obsessed with the idea of Rafaela and it being more of a casual hookup for Rafaela - which then made "Woman Is" not as emotionally driven). As the show currently is, like I said before, I had honestly thought they might have changed the Rafaela/Tamara relationship to more of a sexual, rather than also deeply emotional, one. It wasn't until maybe a quarter or half way through the second act that I realized they do still want us to see their relationship as very real and emotionally connected. I wish I still felt that from the beginning.

And, yes, I see that "The Exchange" technically wouldn't work now with the timeline of Tadeausz's employment...but "Wake Up" leaves so much to be desired, it was hard to not miss his old song.

bwayphreak234 Profile Photo
bwayphreak234
#60LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/21/24 at 12:09am

I was very impressed with this for the most part. This is a show that grabbed me right from the first note and didn’t let go until the final curtain.

Eden Espinosa. The woman is a force on that stage. Strong acting and astounding vocals. I have to wonder if she will do all eight shows a week throughout the run or have an alternate post-opening. The role is very demanding, but she executes it flawlessly and effortlessly.

The supporting cast is also excellent. Amber Iman and Natalie Joy Johnson both get some fun moments to shine. I also really enjoyed Andrew Somansky and George Abud. Once again, Beth Leavel is in a role in which she gets barely anything of note to do.

The show is very tech heavy, and there was a tech hold during the second act due to an automation issue. There are tons of really cool lighting moments and the projections are used effectively. I loved the scaffolding and staircases that filled the upstage space.

The score worked for me. It has a pretty unique sound that I really enjoyed. The book is a tad clunky. The character of the Baroness is extremely underdeveloped and then shoehorned in at the last minute with an important scene and song which was a little confusing. The ending felt a little abrupt and sudden.

This was my most anticipated new musical this season, and I wasn’t let down. However, I would definitely recommend going later in previews or post opening if possible as I think this will get significantly tighter over the new few weeks of previews.


"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "

jen_in_toronto
#61LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/21/24 at 8:42am

I was at the 2nd preview performance as well...I haven't seen any other iterations of the show but I'm a fan of Lempicka's work so I was excited to see it. I'm only in town this week so I'm unlikely to see the show after it officially opens. I wanted to love it, but I didn't. I didn't feel any emotional investment in the characters or the music. There are some great performances/voices in it for sure, and I enjoyed the innovation of the set and the Madonna-influenced dancer costumes. The bawdiness reminded me of Cabaret. But it was just missing something for me unfortunately. Also the story seems to be highly fictionalized...I don't think much is known about Rafaela at all except for Tamara's brief recounting of meeting her, and it was actually Suzy that she had the affair with. And she became the Baron's mistress while still married to her husband and he was with his wife.

Updated On: 3/21/24 at 08:42 AM

Auggie27 Profile Photo
Auggie27
#62LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/21/24 at 10:00am

Comments surfacing elsewhere in social media, not on theater boards, are, um, less glowing. Two that I read this morning were 180 in the other direction. Perhaps it's that sort of niche material. Still seems to be a show that might've benefitted from a star above the title, to give its profile in a crowded spring some juice and attract a wider audience beyond the merely curious/musical theater aficionados. Searching for a comparable, I'm remembering War Paint's arrival, with two of the biggest Broadway musical theater stars in tow, and it couldn't sustain.  


"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling

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FANtomFollies
#63LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/21/24 at 4:41pm

I just saw the first 8 or 9 minutes of the show on a certain website and......yikes. This looks like an absolute hot mess. 

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TheatreFan4
#64LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/21/24 at 9:34pm

I'm at intermission and I'm liking it a lot, but the casting choices in the opening number is confusing as hell. Three of your principles playing different roles than they will for the rest of the show? Doesn't work. 

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Jordan Catalano
#65LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/22/24 at 11:33pm

This was a complete “Tale of Two Flops” for me in the sense that act one was pure camp. People were laughing at the serious moments and iterations of “Oh my God” throughout the people around me. Chavkin is one of my favorite directors working today so I’m really shocked this is her work. A lot of the staging and choreography here is straight out of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video with choreography from early Janet Jackson but with WAY too many people onstage dancing in a way that completely overcrowds everything. All those numbers felt like a high school show where everyone gets to participate and they just fit the whole class up there.  But again, a lot of it was (unintentionally) hilarious and we had a great time with our jaws dropped for a lot of it. 

Then act two. That was mostly just boring and i was checking the time a lot. A complete shift in tone from act one.

I will say that Amber Iman is the real standout in the cast but she’s in a totally different show than everyone else. I think I have a lot of thoughts on this one but I need to go listen to “Express Yourself” and sleep on it. 

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veronicamae
#66LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 12:36am

Well, I enjoyed it. It was far from perfect - but I enjoyed it.

orlikethecolorpurple
#67LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 9:15am

I convinced my boyfriend’s family of 6 to see this. Jordan, you’ve got me terrified that I’ve ruined their trip lol 

PipingHotPiccolo
#68LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 11:54am

The weight of a Jordan review-- so many of us with tickets now all reevauating our enthusiasm. 

binau Profile Photo
binau
#69LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 11:56am

So it doesn’t seem like the next Sunday? Hehe. 
 

in any case, how is ‘woman is’ live? I find the recording stunning. 


"You can't overrate Bernadette Peters. She is such a genius. There's a moment in "Too Many Mornings" and Bernadette doing 'I wore green the last time' - It's a voice that is just already given up - it is so sorrowful. Tragic. You can see from that moment the show is going to be headed into such dark territory and it hinges on this tiny throwaway moment of the voice." - Ben Brantley (2022) "Bernadette's whole, stunning performance [as Rose in Gypsy] galvanized the actors capable of letting loose with her. Bernadette's Rose did take its rightful place, but too late, and unseen by too many who should have seen it" Arthur Laurents (2009) "Sondheim's own favorite star performances? [Bernadette] Peters in ''Sunday in the Park,'' Lansbury in ''Sweeney Todd'' and ''obviously, Ethel was thrilling in 'Gypsy.'' Nytimes, 2000

Jordan Catalano Profile Photo
Jordan Catalano
#70LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 12:00pm

PipingHotPiccolo said: "The weight of a Jordan review-- so many of us with tickets now all reevauating our enthusiasm."

I hope everyone else comes out of it loving it and tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I’ve spent the morning texting and messaging with multiple people who thought even less of it than I did and pointing out things i had forgotten about. I’ll go back in a few weeks to see the frozen version but if it’s been around for a decade, i can’t imagine too much else will be done to it. 

bwayphreak234 Profile Photo
bwayphreak234
#71LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 12:04pm

binau said: "in any case, how is ‘woman is’ live? I find the recording stunning."

Eden Espinosa sang the hell out of "Woman Is" on Wednesday night. It was thrilling.

Yes, the show has flaws, but I still really enjoyed it. The performances are great and the design elements are beautiful. Those two things alone made it worth the time and money (at least to me).


"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "

TheatreFan4 Profile Photo
TheatreFan4
#72LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 1:40pm

I enjoyed the set design and the lighting, but I wish there was more movement within it. There's only one piece that just goes back and forth the whole time. I feel the trap doors are wholly unnecessary and a waste of money. 

2
#73LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 4:54pm

Strong choices – wrong choices. It is not the worst musical of the season, but that bar is low.

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Rumpelstiltskin
#74LEMPICKA Previews
Posted: 3/23/24 at 10:50pm

Jordan - Are you sure you're not still suffering from BTSD* when Eden Espinosa appears on the stage?

(*Brooklyn Traumatic Stress Disorder of course.)


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