Monday, April 21, 2008

Where else but in San Francisco can one see

a musical based on the 1924 Leopold and Loeb "thrill killing"?
Boston would prove stony soil indeed for "Thill Me The Leopold & Loeb story", that is even assuming you could find a venue that would tolerate the project.
Too bad Stephen Dolginoff's music & lyrics are strictly wanna be Sondheim and the play's central conceit Leopold deliberately bungled the crime to keep Loeb to himself in death or in prison is unimpressive.
For all that it was well acted, William Giammona's suave sociopathic Loeb is particularly memorable, but the play itself is distinctly second rate. Ultimately though, it was worth it, stuff like this just doesn't play in Boston...part of it is the frankly gay content part of it is our regional artistic torpor...the real risk-takers just can't get a toe-hold here.

On the other hand, Russell Blackwood down at the hypnodrome south of Market Street is doing the lord's work by the bay. The "Thrillpeddlers" group are systematically reviving the lost genre of grand guignol one acts for a modern audience. Trust me, a risk like this would NEVER make the art's listings in Boston!
And god-damn if they joint wasn't packed, of course, they hedged their bets with Noel Coward's little known "The Better Half"... can't go wrong with Noel can you???
Who knew Coward wrote for the Grand Guignol's London theater?
I had to go to San Francisco to discover this! I'd be an octogenarian before the news got to Boston believe me.
Anyway Coward's gay romp thru the groves of adultery and divorce was a nice curtain raiser for "the Old Women or The Crime in the Madhouse" a sort of gilded age splatter movie complete with useless psychiatrists and dopey nuns and that all before the blood starts running.
Honestly the whole project leaves me deeply envious...I wish Channel Zero had half so much going for it. What kills me though, is that the Thrillpeddlers" were set up in back of an antique store, and they were SOLD OUT!! And doing good business with wine and beer, a project like this would be dead on arrival in Boston!


lucyfan2 said...

re: Thrill Me. Actually it's STEPHEN Dolginoff, not Steven. The San Francisco production is the 24th Worldwide production of the Award-winning Off-Broadway musical. And in fact there was a production in the BOSTON area (at the Stoneham Theatre in 2005) where it was nominated for several IRNE Awards. As an admitted fan of the show, I think the score is something that some people could love and some people could hate, but one thing it isn't is Sondheim like.

Zolok said...

I said what I meant and I meant what I said. Interesting topic but the music was over-ambitious and unmemorable. Glad to see it played around here. I Also stand by my thesis that the town is in the grip of a creative torpor in extremis.

lucyfan2 said...

LOL. Well if you meant "steven" you were wrong (it's Stephen), and if you meant that it should have played the Boston area, you were wrong (it did in 2005). As for the score all I can say is that THRILL ME won an ASCAP award for the score, and in New York it received Drama Desk Award nominations for best musical and best music score, an Outer Critic's Cirle Award nomination for Best off-Broadway musical, the Dallas theatre league award for Best Musical, a best selling musical theatre related album at the major musical theatre music distribution sites ... just last month received rave reviews (particularly for the score) from the Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times (for the recent LA production) and has played over 20 cities in the USA, plus productions in Australia and currently in Korea (videos all over youtube). You may personally dislike the score, but objectively speaking, the score is nothing at all like a Shondheim score which generally uses dissonance, complex chord structures and fragmented lyrics, usually with short lines. THRILL ME's score is the opposite of that, with no dissonance whatsoever, simple but effective chords (nothing more complex that a "7th" chord), and the lines of the lyrics are actually quite long before the rhyme lands. I MD'd a production of it a couple years ago and I know the score well. It is not over-ambitious (in fact it borders on the simplistic), however it is possible that the actors tried to "play it" that way--perhaps being too melodramatic.