Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Best of Times - A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens, a man who was obviously paid by the word, may have inspired the development of Cliff Notes, but he knew how to spin a plot. A Tale of Two Cities, a Broadway musical that will open this Thursday night, captures the heart of the story and the audience with an exceptionally strong performance by James Barbour as Sydney Carton, drunken lawyer turned romantic hero. Barbour's terrific voice is no surprise, but that's only the beginning. He makes the character's unlikely moral u-turn credible and handles a handful of critical comedic lines with perfect timing and tone - self-loathingly straight, with a dash of boozy irony.

The show is not perfect. Your attention may drift as you enter the stretch run in a long first act. The abstract tree overhanging the outdoor scenes may start to look more and more like a mutant spinach leaf. Hang in there. Enjoy the hulking presence of Craig Bennett as Cruncher, grave robber and loyal body guard. Savor the bitter fury of Natalie Toro as Madame Defarge, keeping score and demanding vengeance from the barricades. Fear not citizen, the second act will reel you in and send you home with that Broadway feeling.


Reflections on an Epic in the Making said...

Glad you enjoyed the show!

Tale of Two Cities Musical said...

I thought you might be interested in another “Tale of Two Cities Musical” that is wending it's way to Broadway (Perhaps via Boston). This one has a distinctively low budget so far but a very singable score and an engaging book. You might want to check out some of the songs.