Today’s post is written by guest blogger, Rebecca Coleman. To view Musicals in Vancouver’s response, check out our guest post at the Art of the Business blog
I love independent theatre. It’s where I live, it’s where my heart is, and it’s where I make my living.
But I also love theatre in general, and, while I tend to hang out in the indie scene, I’ll go see pretty much anything going.
A few months back, I went to see Les Misérables at The Arts Club, and a couple of weeks ago, Rent at Presentation House.
First, you have to understand that these two musicals hold significant sentimental value for me. Les Miz was my favorite musical for a long, long time, and it was only replaced in my heart when Rent came along. I knew all the words in Les Miz, and used to daydream about being Éponine, even learning “On My Own” for auditions. I saw a touring version of it, about 10 years ago at the Q.E., and was blown away by the spectacle.
Then, in 1996, while watching the Tonys, I saw the original Broadway cast of Rent singing “Seasons of Love” and “La Vie Bohème,” and I was instantly smitten. I’ve now seen Rent four times, including once at the Nederlander Theatre in New York, where it ran for 12 years.
The Nederlander Theatre in NYC.
So, I’m pretty familiar with both of those shows. So, seeing them done in a smaller theatre, on a smaller scale, was a very interesting experience.
And I felt like they were missing something. Don’t get me wrong—both productions were excellent—big hearted, beautifully sung, and with strong production values. But because of money and size of venue, some of the big special effects were cut.
It makes a huge visual impact to see the barricade in Les Mis slowly rotating into view, strewn with dead bodies. The Arts Club production did have a barricade, and it did move, but with more of a pulling-out-a-drawer motion. The impression it made was not as strong. Similarly, Javert’s suicide was not as impactful (sorry about that choice of words).
I had a similar experience seeing Rent. I missed Mimi howling “Out Tonight” as she straddles both staircase railings and slides down, and Joanne’s first arrival on a motorcycle.
Maybe it’s just my sentimentality speaking, but maybe some things are better, bigger.
Now, anyone know of a production of Miss Saigon happening? I got a hankering to see a helicopter land on stage…