Cole Porter with an Asian flair

Broadway comes to Taipei. Enthusiasm. Several co-workers and I decide to check it out and bought tickets. Theirs were on the 5th level (read: far from the stage) and cost 1500NT (50USD). I didn’t want to be in the nosebleed section of the 3000 seat Taipei International Convention Center, using opera glasses to see the action, so I spent 3200NT to sit in the 2nd section center stage. Excitement. We met up at Taipei 101’s food court for dinner (I had a salad from Jason’s Fresh Market). Anticipation. Afterwards, we walked to the Convention Center. It’s chock full of other musical theater fans and HUGE flower arrangements, Taiwan’s custom for sending good wishes.

break a leg

Hundreds of people, in a very orderly fashion, ascend elevators to find their seats. While I waited in my plush seat, I browsed through the program and watched a music video of the title song performed by the show’s lead performers on two Jumbotrons! (That was anti-climatic.) I wondered, would the live musical performance be shown on the large screens? (As it turns out, it was, making it a distraction to the action happening on-stage.) Hmmmm, I’ve attended Broadway shows before (NYC, LA, OR) and don’t recall ever seeing the show being broadcast on-screen. 15 minutes after the show was due to start, the 11-piece orchestra filed in.    Yeah, here we go!

And then….disappointment.

The good: the musicians, under the direction of a spirited band leader,played their hearts out.  two of the supporting cast turned in stellar performances (too bad they represented only 5% of the cast). the one tap dance number was rousing (despite the spotty choreography). the venue was lovely and a very civilized.

The bad: the sound board seemed to be manned by a tone and decibal-deaf technician. At times, the singers were drowned out by the orchestra and at other times they faded into the background. the leads seemed to phone their performance in (at one point, the male and female leads simple stood and sang – i’ve seen more spirited performances at a concert).

The ugly: what happened to passion? singing what you feel? sharing what you feel with the audience, in song? what happened to artistic integrity? many of the performers were difficult to understand speaking English.

So sad – a classic American musical chopped up and spit out; completely unpalatable. Verdict: it’s a MISS. I should have spent the ticket money shopping 101.

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…

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