keskiviikko 11. tammikuuta 2012

Miss Saigon - Operettszínház, Budapest, December 2011

I don't like Miss Saigon that much. It has some nice tunes but the story is quite uninteresting for me. Anyone reading this blog may have noticed that in most cases saccharine and/or tragic larger-than-life love stories of beautiful and innocent young people are not my piece of cake. I don't like West Side Story, which probably tells it all. Nevertheless, I have a habit of checking out musicals in Hungary if I can, because there I know I can get good performance quality with relatively little money.

© Operettszínház
As I expected, the story didn't impress me, and though I like some songs, most of the musical was rather boring. Even though there were lots of sets and props, the Operettszínház seems to have learned something during these years because they did not lift people to sing their solos on platforms. Not even once. I was amazed. Besides, they put up such a huge show that it made up the boring story for me.

I had my usual shouting problem with the cast: almost everyone's singing hurt my ears. The best exceptions were Árpád Zsolt Mészáros as the Engineer (or Professzor, as he's called in Hungarian), whose voice I don't like that much even though he sings very well, and Sándor György-Rózsa (John), who was pleasant to listen to. After the whole 1st act of sharp nasal voices, his Bui Doi was heavenly. Árpád Zsolt Mészáros's acting saved the show for me, he was so full of energy and slime and despair. I've seen the same style in many characters that he plays, and it suited the Engineer, too. Zsuzsi Vágó as Kim and Dénes Kocsis as Chris were okay acting-wise, though you could hear that Dénes is quite young and his voice wasn't always enough for the role. I liked Miklós Máté Kerényi as Thuy, it was nice to see him in a bad guy role for a change.

Árpár Zsolt Mészáros & Marilyns
The show started with the sound of helicopter, with a video projection of jungle and running fighters and whatnot, as if we were in the helicopter, hunting for enemies. Red lights, smoke, sound filling the theatre – very well made. When the "helicopter" reached its destination, two soldiers slid down from the front stage's high roof with ropes, started to shoot around on stage and generally showed the cruel reality of war like we had been in the middle of it. (I did get the feeling that someone had released their inner little boy who likes to crawl in mud and shout 'bang!'.)

The big dance scenes were impressive – and big. "The Morning of the Dragon" reminded me of public shows in lands like China and North Korea: soldiers, gymnastic dancers, a dragon breathing fire, all in black and shades of red, and finally a huge statue in the style of Socialistic Realism. Having watched photos of Kim Jong Il's funeral a few days back, the scene was thought-provoking. Also the Engineer's scenes were so lavish, over-the-top and full of kitsch that it must have been intentional. In "American Dream" there was a flow of American symbolic people dancing on stage, then came six Marilyn Monroes, then came Spider-Man and Superman, after that a cabriolet in the best Las Vegas style… When you thought you had seen it all, they always brought a new shiny piece of show to the stage. Oh, and the famous helicopter scene looked great as well, they had a real-size helicopter lowered to the stage with a propeller and all and it looked very real.

The sets (by Kentaur) were a little disappointment. They were sometimes quite cleverly made, but there was again too much unimportant stuff on stage, especially in real-life scenes like the girl bars, Kim's room, the Vietnamese surroundings and Chris's hotel room. The dream and dance scenes worked well, though. In "Last Night of the World" the stage was almost empty, there was only a watchtower with a soldier playing saxophone on top of it. In the end of the scene he was suddenly shot and fell down and the saxophone was left hanging from the tower. I loved the detail. In Kim's nightmare the stage was empty and lit red, and from somewhere emerged the all-white ghost of Thuy with a bright red blood stain on his chest. Creepy.

Operettszínház also specializes in showing prostitutes and other women of that kind in very little clothes, but I had never seen them in this little clothes. There was a bored-husband-taken-to-theatre sitting on both sides of me, and I could feel them suddenly getting very interested in what was going on. :-P Personally, I could have done with less bare flesh, but then again, I'm not Hungarian. It also wasn't clear to me why there were two very similar long-ish prostitute scenes in the musical, because I'm pretty sure that we'd have gotten the picture of sad prostitutes forced to serve pathetic soldiers/tourists with a bit less effort, too.

All in all, not something I'd go to see again, but nevertheless an interesting production.


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