31 Mar 2005
Live From Lincoln Center
Growing up in the South, I lived for PBS as my major source of “culture.” It was how I was introduced to the brilliant work of composer Stephen Sondheim, the god of teenaged-homosexuals the world over (well, maybe just me). And what was more thrilling than watching Live From Lincoln Center, with the introductory footage that panned over the lit buildings and fountain on the Lincoln Center grounds?
Tonight, I will be in the audience as Sondheim’s Passion, in a concert production with Patti Lupone and Audra McDonald, is broadcast “Live from Lincoln Center” across the country on PBS. I may not be walking past that fountain (because tonight’s performance is at “Jazz at Lincoln Center” in the new Time Warner Center), but I couldn’t imagine being more excited. As Jeff will attest, I’ve been anticipating this for months.
Well that was a big, fat waste of time. Although I doubt anything could have live up to the hype. I’m a huge fan of the score, but this production bored me to tears. Gemignani conducted like he was trying to catch a fire truck. While Donna Murphy’s (the original Fosca) “rich, lustrous voice was the sound of a beautiful soul trapped in an ugly body,” Patti Lupone’s delivery was as wretched as her appearance.
There were a number of miking problems and curiously restrained performances that led me to believe it was being directed towards the cameras rather than the live (paying) audience. Zipping through the show afterward on the TiVo confirmed it. I’m dubbing it myself from the TiVo to DVD because (as a LFLC broadcast) it won’t be commercially released. So I won’t even be able to score points someday by noticing it on someone’s shelf and casually mentioning I was there for the taping.