Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Author-director Cameron Crowe’s Oscar-winning screenplay a few teen rock journalist’s coming-of-age within the ’70s, “Nearly Well-known,” lands just about intact in Broadway’s newest pedestrian film-to-stage adaptation. For individuals who love the 2000 semi-autobiographical movie, this model supplies virtually an entire re-enactment of the unique (through a guide written by Crowe), with some new songs (by Tom Kitt and Crowe) combined with a large set-list of tunes from the period.

It’s all entertaining sufficient — and little question a selected draw for the nostalgic baby-boomer-plus crowd — however there’s nothing extraordinary within the transformation to the stage. Not even virtually.

Nonetheless, for individuals who missed this gem of a film — and even for these followers who’re high-quality with a by-the-number reside model — there are pleasures to be discovered. In spite of everything, Crowe has normal a splendidly noticed story with colorful-yet-nuanced characters, genuine particulars and humor each sharp-eyed and low-hanging. (“If you happen to assume Mick Jagger will nonetheless be on the market attempting to be a rock star at age 50, you’re sadly, sadly mistaken,” pronounces one report firm supervisor.)

It’s all set in a transitional time when the outlaw music and free spirits of the ’60s have been being bridled, branded and repurposed for an all-consuming industrial business. That lack of innocence is a theme that Crowe artfully incorporates into the arcs of his important characters, too, particularly of precocious but wide-eyed teen William Miller (an interesting Casey Likes), Crowe’s stand-in and a sort of rock-n-roll Pippin.

Drawn to the albums that his older sister Anita (Emily Schultheis) offers him, 15-year-old William is impressed to be a rock author. He will get a gig first with Creem journal then finds work with Rolling Stone, which permits him to step onto the tour bus of the mid-level rock band Stillwater for the trip of his life.

Only a telephone name away all through the peripatetic journey is William’s mentor, rock author Lester Bangs (completely performed with each exhausted cynicism and wild reverence by Rob Colletti), who warns the child in opposition to making buddies with the musicians he covers. “They make you are feeling cool and you aren’t cool,” says Bangs, who counsels the boy to be “trustworthy and cruel.”

However William is quickly drawn in by the spell of old-soul groupie — oops, “fan woman”— Penny Lane (Solea Pfeiffer), by the band’s charismatic lead guitarist Russell Hammond (Chris Wooden) and by an all-access move.

William’s enchantment with the liberated, communal, attractive and sexist world of rock and roll — and all the fun, adventures and aches that include it — is the guts and soul of the movie, and likewise right here. However the dramatic beat stays within the fixed battle between dwelling and music, goals and actuality, freedom and accountability.

The musical works finest when it steps away from the movie for some private moments, like William’s haunting “No Mates,” Penny’s wistful “Morocco” and Penny and Russell’s duet “The Nighttime Sky’s Received Nothing on You,” all hitting affecting notes of loneliness, longing and love.

Kitt and Crowe additionally style a number of efficient numbers sung by William’s no-nonsense however supportive mom Elaine (Anika Larsen), a schoolteacher who frets from dwelling. Right here, she’s given variations of the movie’s nice monologues: One is a lecture to her class by which she memorably declares, “Rock stars have kidnapped my son,” and in one other, she offers Russell a dose of parental terror over the telephone. Larsen lands each moments fantastically, with simply the best comedian gravitas and coronary heart.

However these skillful unique songs solely inform half the story. We by no means hear expressed — in a means that solely musical theater can do — what this music means to those characters. As a substitute, at key dramatic moments we get renditions of the hits of the period, notably Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” as a sort of carpool karaoke, Joni Mitchell’s “River” and Yusef Islam’s (aka Cat Stevens) “The Wind.” However even in minor moments the musical forgoes unique songs and turns to tunes from Nancy Wilson, Ron Davies, Stevie Surprise, Greg Allman, Jimmy Web page and Robert Level, amongst others.

As Russell, Wooden performs the Jackson Browne vibe to a fault, being so low-key he typically fades away. As Penny Lane, Pfeifer is gorgeous and properly navigates the rarefied air of rock bliss in addition to her laborious touchdown again into the actual world.

Drew Gehling has enjoyable — an excessive amount of enjoyable, truly — as lead singer Jeff Bebe, with a cartoony take that will get the laughs however robs the character of actuality. And making a formidable debut right here, Likes retains the present’s, effectively, likability fixed and his character true.

The workmanlike staging is by Jeremy Herrin (“Wolf Corridor”) with busy, walk-about motion from choreographer Sarah O’Gleby. Derek McLane’s units are high-quality and practical, wanting all able to tour, whereas David Zinn has enjoyable with the interval costumes. Kitt’s preparations and orchestrations are spot-on, as is the music course by Bryan Perri and sound design by Peter Hylenski, all making the world of Stillwater sound like the actual deal.

However missed theatrical alternatives abound that would have additional enhanced this stage model, particularly within the rethinking of its feminine characters. It looks like misplaced alternatives that the present fails to make the opposite groupies greater than generic, or to make Penny much less of a male muse and extra of a completely realized human, or to present us a musical connection between William and his sister.

Another factor the present misses: A respect that musical theater is an artwork type, too, and never only a industrial commodity — one thing Lester Bangs might relate to.

By Admin

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