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I do the theater. Never again.

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by The Big Ragu, May 27, 2010.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Last night, I saw the worst train wreck of a show ever, Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel.

    I NEVER go to things like this, but we were walking by the Beacon Theater in NY a few months ago and my girlfriend mentioned to me that she'd like to see it (I had no clue what it was) -- she sees a lot of plays and musicals and things like this, but WITHOUT me, usually -- so we went in and bought two tickets.

    I knew later that week I was in for something terrible. I was talking to a friend in Chicago a few days later and mentioned it and he told me that it got the worst reviews ever when it opened in Chicago. Apparently it was such a train wreck in Chicago that it's still a joke among people who know about things like that.

    The show's opening was canceled several times in NY. The day we originally had tickets for, a month and a half ago, we got to the theater and found out that the show had been canceled, because they were still trying to fix it. The guy on line to exchange his tickets who had driven in from New Jersey and was arguing that they should pay for his parking was funnier than the actual show turned out to be. The show last night was so laughably bad. I can't imagine what the extra couple of months of rehearsing did to make it any better.

    It's supposed to be like a vaudeville act, Cirque du Soleil style, but it was so unfunny that we were laughing at all the wrong times, because it turned unintentionally funny. I'm not sure what was funnier, how unintentionally funny the show was, or the woman sitting next to me who was laughing hysterically -- the only person in the theater not sitting on their hands with a shocked look on their face.

    The clowns were brutally bad and the dialogue with the terribly drawn up characters was horrible. And that was about 85 percent of the show. The actual acts -- juggling, acrobatics and a creepy trio of Asian contortionists -- were OK, but only slightly better than some street acts I have seen. Give those street acts the same production values and they might be as good.

    Apparently, we were one of the few suckers who bought tickets to this thing, because the theater was less than half filled. All you need to know about this mess is I found out last night that it is billing itself as “A Riot of Ha-Ha's, La-La's and Ta-Da's.” If anyone was even remotely thinking about doing this, I beg you, beseech you, plead with you, save your money.
  2. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Have you been to other Cirque du Soleil shows, and have you enjoyed them?

    I've enjoyed several and was looking forward to this one when it came to Chicago, but as you said, it got horrible reviews here. Just ripped to shreds.

    I thought about trying to get a couple on the cheap in front of the Theater some night, but this winter was pretty damn cold, and the girlfriend's idea of fun wouldn't be standing in front of the Chicago Theater looking for tickets in the cold.

    Glad I skipped it.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Nope. I have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show. Just not my thing. But I have been trying to expand my horizons, because my girlfriend has pushed me. I saw a Broadway musical a few months ago; it wasn't my favorite thing, but it wasn't horrible. I've gone to see dance a few times in the last year or so. About the only thing we regularly do that I enjoy a lot is the NY Philharmonic. And then this, which was brutal. In fairness to her, I think she only likes good shows, even if good is subjective. About 5 minutes in last night, she looked at me, I looked at her and we both just started to laugh, because it was so bad.
  4. Twoback

    Twoback Active Member

    Ragu, I was a theater skeptic about 30 years ago when my fiancee dragged me to a touring Broadway musical -- on the afternoon of a big college football game.
    That was in the days before VCRs, DVRs, etc. You missed the game, and that was that.
    So I went in totally convinced I'd have an awful day, and 2-3 hours later, after "A Chorus Line" was over, I'd been completely transformed. Theater is now one of my favorite things in the world to do and my wife and I have traveled to NYC to see shows on average of nearly once a year throughout our 27 years of marriage.
    So if you see the right shows with an open mind, it's something you can embrace.
  5. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Banana Shpeel had some of the worst word-of-mouth in the history
    of commercial theatre, since its inception. I've found the best of the CdS
    shows to be OK, but I wouldn't want to be on a desert island with CdS
    as the lone form of DVD entertainment.

    Best way to protect yourself is either/or (a) ask someone you know with
    a broad history of/appreciation for modern theatre, and/or (b) log onto
    one of the handful of representative thertre-freak websites, check out
    their message boards, and take heed of the consensus.

    There are always exceptions. The critics treated the current Nathan Lane/Addams Family venture as if it were malignant. The broad public doesn't care, and continues to buy tickets in droves. I won't go, because
    I trust the critics, in this instance.
  6. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I lucked out as far as going to Broadway shows. First ones I took in were the original cast of Dream Girls (fourth row near center, mind you) and original cast of Glengarry Glen Ross (Joe Mantegna, Robert Prosky as Shelley the Machine Levine). I was first dragged there by an ex-girlfriend. Later, found another hockey writer, a guy who was 60 going on 25, who loved the shows too so we made it to a bunch--second night of Rent in previews was pretty amazing (Jesse Martin), came out of it trying to remember why I was in NY in the first place (pretty sure it was Habs vs NYR). Again, Rent we had row four or something like that and the old guy, so help me, found that halfway through the show his hearing aid battery was wearing down. He had to lean forward to make out the words--me, the sound was reverberating through my chest. It was like taking in a Rush concert sitting on top of a speaker. I enjoyed seeing James Gandolfini and Jeff Daniels in Gods of Carnage, Frost/Nixon, Jackie Mason's one-man show (twice) but the best was Ron Leibman (truly one of my favorite actors) in Angels in America--outstrips the TV version with Pacino. I took my youngest daughter to see Rent (Toronto production) ten times (Saturday matinees) when she was eight. She knew all the words but had absolutely no idea what they were about.

    Yeah, my ex made me see Cirque ... it did nothing for me but it's all about batting average. You suffer through some bad one, pick your spots and get the best possible seats for the biggest shows. There's a reason they're that high-priced ... it's a different experience when they're performing within arm's length.

  7. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I'm not really a Cirque guy, but we did a family trip to a show in Atlanta a few years ago and the skill and athleticism I saw was pretty amazing. If they were trying to tell a story I missed it, but the acrobatics were stunning.
  8. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    This didn't have acrobatics, John. The Beacon (magnificent theater that went through a renovation last year) isn't set up for it. This was more dance, acrobatics and juggling. And really bad slapstick. REALLY bad, with horrendously bad clowns, including one particularly creepy one who was wearing an overcoat and had a "flasher" shtick.

    I just googled it. The reviews have been pretty bad. Here is the NY Post giving it 1 1/2 stars out of 5.


    The New York Times takes some shots:

  9. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Despite the thread title, you didn't really do the theater. You did Cirque du Soleil.

    Repeating something I said on a Vegas thread, regarding Cirque's 'Love' show (aka, Yes It Is Possible to Make People Hate the Beatles:

    At its worst, it's like when you're at a family holiday and the kids drag everyone into the basement so they can put on a show...and you sit there endlessly watching the kids run and jump around WAY too long while you smile and clap and wonder when you can leave.

    To be fair, at its best (see O), those folks can do stuff that no folks should be able to do.
  10. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    This thing was at the Beacon THEATER. It was an attempt at slapstick vaudeville shtick.

    I did theater. Just not good theater.
  11. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Ragu needs to see Avenue Q to cleanse himself of the stink of Cirque-l-jerk, I think.
  12. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    He's learn what the Internet's for if he takes your excellent advice.
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