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Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season

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NYfanfromCA
#25Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 5/18/24 at 1:18pm

Here are a couple of other reviews:

"Spellbinding yet problematic"

https://www.kqed.org/arts/13958082/galileo-review-theater-berkeley-rep

"But the Galileo creators are certainly a talented bunch who created a gorgeous production"

https://www.berkeleyside.org/2024/05/17/does-berkeley-reps-world-premiere-of-galileo-live-up-to-the-hype

 

MezzA101
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Auggie27
#27Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 5/20/24 at 2:02pm

I haven't seen a money review among the more respected publications, or at least from traditional production-moving media sources. The Variety pan seems the industry's blow that the show didn't need. The blog-ish reviews are rather generically enthusiastic and read like small town papers. A lot of these positives note the solid vocals and impressive productions elements; neither in a vacuum would inspire a Broadway move. 

Does anyone know if the creatives will be in residence for the entire run, making weekly adjustments to further enhance the piece thru June 24? That's a decent run to try new material or at least tighten the show. Anyone familiar with the wonderful Into the Woods podcasts might say, "are they writing 'No One is Alone," and plan to install it before closing in Berkeley?"  The major reviews seem to suggest conception problems, not just errors in their execution, i.e., the piece is the earnest yet flawed bio musical that the creatives intended it to be.    


"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 5/20/24 at 02:02 PM

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#28Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 5/20/24 at 2:13pm

It's not just creative team availability, it's a matter of budgeting to house them (including the designers) and retain them for the next month, which usually a nonprofit theatre will not have the funds to do, even with enhancement $$ from Jordan Roth.

Inserting something as simple as a new song or scene means restaging and re-teching and re-orchestrating and having daytime rehearsals. Given the complexities of 21st century theatre, it is very tough (and expensive) to make sizeable changes when the show is on its feet and a physical production is in place. If the team is taking notes and making adjustments, those probably won't be incorporated until the next step. I won't see Galileo in California, but it sounds like the problems are quite a bit bigger than changing up a song here and a scene there.

Sometimes better to look at the changes wholistically instead of incorporating select changes out of town.

Updated On: 5/20/24 at 02:13 PM

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Kitsune
#29Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 5/20/24 at 3:59pm

I went on Friday. I agree that there are a lot of structural problems, and that the songs (while often tuneful) often sounded very similar. But I'd never seen Raul Esparza perform live before, and for me that was worth the price of admission.

Others I've talked to have basically agreed that the performances and sets/lighting are excellent, and they had fun despite the other issues. That's not exactly glowing praise for a transfer, but it's not quite the pan of some of the reviews.

bear88
#30Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 5/21/24 at 5:37am

Galileo is a frustrating show - worth seeing for the performances, set and lighting design, and a second act that has a genuinely interesting confrontation between the title character and his longtime ally, who is now the pope, along with more variety than the first. It's easy enough to grasp, almost too easy, with a score that is too repetitive (especially in the first act) and lyrics that don't move the story forward at all - except a couple of times in the second act.

I didn't dislike the show, and my wife enjoyed it more than I did, but there was something a little too predictable about it - with one notable exception. The cast is first-rate, with Raul Esparza playing the scientist as an arrogant but gifted rock star. That's fun for a while, especially because the book - as written by Danny Strong - also makes clear that he is as devout as the leaders of the Catholic Church who are suspicious of his ideas and rebellious nature. I had never seen Esparza live before, much less from the second row, and he was in good voice during the fifth performance of the weekend Sunday night.

Madalynn Mathews plays Galileo's daughter, Virginia, who is unmarriageable because her father is not financially independent and is also considered a scandalous figure. This leaves her in a nunnery by the second act. She makes the most of a tricky role that's constrained by her character's limitations. The most intriguing performer on stage is Jeremy Kushnier, a Broadway veteran who plays Bishop Maffeo Barberini. He is so inspired by Galileo that he writes a poem (well, fine, it's a song that he performs while shyly looking away from Esparza's character) about him and is his biggest supporter within the church hierarchy, which is very afraid that Galileo's insistence that the earth revolves around the sun will challenge the prevailing dogma in a way that will turn Catholics into Protestants. Strong deserves credit for making this concern seem less ridiculous than it sounds. The dynamic between Esparza's Galileo and Kushnier's Barberini is always interesting, and Kushnier - given the largest variety of songs along with high energy, a charming sense of humor and a lovely falsetto - practically steals the show. The opening song of the second act is a hilarious showstopper that also illustrates how becoming the pope is changing the former bishop. 

The new pope has other problems - he's an embattled military leader against Protestant armies in Germany - and he gives a careful blessing to another attempt by Galileo to promote his theory. But Galileo pushes his luck, and his old friend - influenced by his enemies in the church, including cardinals played by Javier Munoz (of Hamilton fame) and Bradley Dean, as well as military leaders - feels betrayed. This leads to the best scene in the show, a showdown between the Pope and Galileo in which both men feel wronged but only one has power.  

The score by Michael Weiner and Zoe Sarnak isn't bad, exactly. But as others have noted, the songs do tend to blur together, and the lyrics fall into an unfortunate habit of repeating words over and over. In fairness, things improve in the second act. But the show, directed by Michael Mayer, peters out with some predictable uplift. 

I liked Galileo more than many of the professional critics, but it's easy to enjoy a new musical with strong, Broadway-caliber performances and some innovative effects. I assume this is just the first stop and another out-of-town tryout is coming. But despite the talent involved, I'm not sure the show can be fixed for Broadway just by banning the lyric writer from using the words "faith" and "louder." But I agree with Kitsune that Galileo, flaws and all, is worth checking out.

Updated On: 6/2/24 at 05:37 AM

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Shawk
#31Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/3/24 at 3:22pm

I saw the show in previews and I just saw it again yesterday and there have been no changes other than the occasional line delivery, at least which were detectible to me.  I enjoy seeing shows in development and can't recall a single pre-Broadway engagement in the Bay Area not making some kind of changes (Wicked, Lestat, Lennon, Legally Blonde, Beautiful, Ain't Too Proud, etc.) through the out of town tryout.  I honestly wonder if it's because how would they?  The show is highly dependent on Galileo-- Raul Esparza is on stage about 90% of the time and singing 75% of that time.  I don't know how he's doing that now, let alone if they tried to add additional rehearsals for changes.

The leads in this are incredible.  There aren't a lot of shows featuring two rock-style tenors, and Raul Esparza and Jeremy Kushnier going toe-to-toe is worth the price of admission, even if the show was terrible.  And I don't honestly think it's terrible, it just needs to decide what it wants to be.  Does it want to be a fun rock anthem about science and discovery, or does it really want to say something profound about truth to power?  Because right now it's just awkwardly mashing those two things together, carried by Raul Esparza's charisma.  I do appreciate the pretty on-point use of projections, but the staging and the choreography are so static, and there's a large, talented ensemble given so little to do.  The songs are very... RENT?  Plus Spring-Awakening and some Joseph, maybe.  Just some really clunky lyrics that are over-repeated, and some super dated techniques (such as "War Is" where they do a callback, "compromised...mised...mised...").  I also feel like the Pope's flip in Act II could use something else.  Less politics, more the heart of these two men falling out.

I truly hope this show doesn't rush to Broadway, and instead takes a break and does some more work before another out of town tryout.  I feel like the seeds are there for something remarkable.  But if you like theater and seeing some incredible performances, I don't think this is a miss even now.


'"Contrairiwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."' ~Lewis Carroll

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hork
#32Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/3/24 at 5:01pm

I saw it last week and mostly echo the sentiments above. Esparza is giving it his all but the show itself is strangely lacking in energy for a rock musical. I agree about the pope's flip. Their relationship reminded me of that between Becket and Henry II in Becket, but there you absolutely feel the emotion and here there's just nothing. I was pretty engaged throughout the first act but started getting bored and antsy during the second act. Some of the songs are stirring in the moment but I don't remember a single one. And I thought the ending was cheesy and laughable. The message of the show seems to be, "Remember Galileo? He showed us the truth that the earth revolves around the sun and we don't thank him enough!" Little late for that.

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Shawk
#33Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/3/24 at 5:16pm

Definitely agreed the coming out in modern clothes is cheesy and I'm not even sure why they did it.  Maybe if they were scientists or something to tie in somehow, like his students from Act 1?  It's really unclear what that's trying to do.


'"Contrairiwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."' ~Lewis Carroll

LushyBear
#34Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/5/24 at 11:54am

Saw the show last night.

I agree with a lot of the comments here. The show has potential but needs some work. 

Standouts are the leads. Esparza, Kushnier and Mathews are really good in this. The set is nice (though I am not a fan of the LED rope lights in the columns, it looks a bit janky). 

A few misses for me: 

The songs are very forgettable and samey (as previously mentioned in this post). Some of them also are very Eurovision Song Contest (looking at you, Louder, Louder). 

There are a few oddities in narrative - we open with the burning of an atheist. It's somewhat setting up the demise of Galileo, that never comes, so that whole scene is weird. 

Louder Louder being used as the love song but then recalled by the priests in a different context is odd. 

They underuse the big ensemble massively, to the point where I am wondering why they have like 9 people in the ensemble alone. I love that it's a diverse mix of people, but about half of them don't get anything to do aside from walking stage left to right here and there. You could do this show with a cast of 8 if you wanted to. 

A result of the underused ensemble is a very empty stage for a very long time. There's not a lot of dancing here either. 

The few ensemble numbers are good and sound great. 

I do think this show creatively fell into the Hamilton trap a little bit. We have a few scenes and images that are very reminiscent. Be it the little moveable staircase in Act 1, or the green dress of Virginia, or the whole ending that basically is Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells your story up to the acapella ending. 

There are some good ideas and moments here, but it needs some work to flesh them out a bit more and figure out what they want to tell. 

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Sho-Tunes-R-Us
#35Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/6/24 at 2:44am

LushyBear said: "Saw the show last night.

I agree with a lot of the comments here. The show has potential but needs some work.

Standouts are the leads. Esparza, Kushnier and Mathews are really good in this. The set is nice (though I am not a fan of the LED rope lights in the columns, it looks a bit janky).

A few misses for me:

The songs are very forgettable and samey (as previously mentioned in this post). Some of them also are very Eurovision Song Contest (looking at you, Louder, Louder).

There are a few oddities in narrative - we open with the burning of an atheist. It's somewhat setting up the demise of Galileo, that never comes, so that whole scene is weird.

Louder Louder being used as the love song but then recalled by the priests in a different contextis odd.

They underuse the big ensemble massively, to the point where I am wondering why they have like 9people in the ensemble alone. I love that it's a diverse mix of people, but about half of them don't get anything to do aside from walking stage left to right here and there. You could do this show with a cast of 8 if you wanted to.

A result of the underused ensemble is a very empty stage for a very long time. There's not a lot of dancing here either.

The few ensemble numbers are good and sound great.

I do think this show creatively fell into the Hamilton trap a little bit. We have a few scenes and images that are very reminiscent. Be it the little moveable staircase in Act 1, or the green dress of Virginia, or the whole ending that basically is Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells your story up to the acapella ending.

There are some good ideas and moments here, but it needs some work to flesh them out a bit more and figure out what they want to tell.
"

I left at intermission.  In its present form,  take it to.Broadway (or Off-) and prepare to be crucified.  

 

LushyBear
#36Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/7/24 at 10:38pm

I think it would've been okay to stay for the second act, it's not really redeeming the show, but at least the set changes a bit. 

 

It's not terrible, I think it has potential, but it definitely needs work and focus. 

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Shawk
#37Mayer-helmed GALILEO musical and more part of Berkeley Rep season
Posted: 6/12/24 at 7:37pm

Two local news stations haired interviews with Esparza this morning, which seems like weird timing... a month after the reviews came out and two weeks before the show closes.  But sure.


'"Contrairiwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."' ~Lewis Carroll


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