S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen


She's a singer-turned-kept-woman in Vichy France. He's besotted with her, tends to her every whim, and keeps her in the lap of luxury. He's older and wiser, hopes to keep her when the war is over, and most of the time forgets that she's his because he pays for her in luxuries otherwise unobtainable because it's the midst of the second World War. He's not perfect - he has anger management problems, and, as circumstances happen, he's a general in the Nazi army; but at heart, he's a good man. That he authorizes torture is shown only because he authorizes it to stop. He's reliable, he's a stalwart, and Otto is where my sympathies lay as I watched the new musical Marguerite.

It's refreshing these days to see a musical which was written with all-new songs. Marguerite is a product of the team which created Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. It has gorgeous music, particularly strong in its duets, trios, and quartets. The thematic "China Doll" melody has been drifting through my head off-and-on for days.* I grinned in delight at the gloriousness of various songs of angst and depair.

It has the coolest set ever, a computer-driven interlacing of rotating and sliding stages with independently mobile parts and pieces which allow for such things as framing a group off in the distance, and then expanding around them to show them coming closer. It was, on occasion, distractingly cool. The costumes were generally good, although I found the choices of color schemes not always successful. (Must BOTH of the main females be dressed in red**? What's up with the token all-green scene?)

Based on who had which songs, and how its predecessor, La Traviata, goes, I'm pretty sure that my sympathies were not meant to lie with Otto. Marguerite meets a young pianist who thinks with his hormones, and embarks on a torrid secret affair with him because she's bored and has commitment issues. Armand is pouty and petty, Marguerite is indecisive and disloyal (and she's groped onstage by an impressively large number of people over the course of the musical), and it all ends in tears. The final songs*** moved some of my fellow audience-members to tears themselves. Clearly, they were following the correct emotional plotline. Fortunately, I could relate to the side plot: Armand's sister is gutsy and loyal to friends and family and has a secretly Jewish fiancé to look after.

See it for the music. See it for the set. The plot's not bad, but I think it's worked better elsewhere.

* When Iceland's Eurovision entry "This is my life" wasn't stuck in it.
** For better or worse, I was early on in reading The Jennifer Morgue when I watched this. This meant I kept thinking of Marguerite-in-the-red-dress as a changeling, and kept wondering what she really looked like underneath that glamour.
*** "Oh!", I said to myself. "It's 'Parigi O Cara'!" Entirely different tune and words, but it's the "We'll leave Paris and live happily ever after" song-equivalent to La Traviata's lovely duet. Only she takes less time to die afterwards.
Tags: musicals

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