Theater: "Show Boat" Sings (Thankfully)

November 6, 2014 6:39 PM

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Show Boat is an excellent show for the New York Philharmonic to present in concert. It's almost absurdly overstuffed with performers, making a Broadway revival dangerously expensive to mount. (Though it was done brilliantly and profitably in 1994 by director Hal Prince.) And it's a landmark show. As the first serious musical, it paved the way for everything that came since. No Show Boat; then no Oklahoma. That's not how artistry works, but you get my point. It's big, it's lavish, it has a cast of thousands and hearing the New York Philharmonic in full glory bursting through this score is a delight.

Thank goodness, because a concert presentation of Show Boat is the least favorable to this work and the cast was notably spotty in their dramatics. It's beautifully sung throughout but this Show Boat was rather leaky when it came to remembering lines and crafting vivid characters.

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