David Fox: That Some Like It Hot—this season’s high budget and high-profile Broadway musical—fizzles rather than sizzles is not only a disappointment, but also a bit of surprise. Back in 1974 in Los Angeles, I saw Sugar, a SLIH adaptation with a fine pedigree, including a score by Jule Styne and a book by Peter Stone. I recall that despite good performances by Robert Morse and Larry Kert (replacing Broadway’s Tony Roberts), it was an inert, colorless affair. Yet the show chugged on. Nearly 30 years later, it showed up again, slightly reworked and under its original title, at the Playhouse in Rodney Square in Wilmington, Delaware. “Inert” and “colorless” no longer applied—this was all the way to grotesque. Tony Curtis, one of the original film stars now recast in a comic supporting role, was awful, and the sexual politics of the story felt joltingly out of touch.
Cameron Kelsall: If the sexual politics of Some Like It Hot seemed questionable in 1974 and 2003, they’re even more fraught now. In recent years, a proliferation of Broadway musicals have traded on familiar tropes of men in dresses—think Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and even the popular Hairspray—in ways that now seem uncomfortable, condescending, and often downright sexist. In a way, this adaptation takes a hard tack in the other direction, by retrofitting a very contemporary attitude toward gender fluidity and sexual freedom to what is essentially still an old-fashioned story. In doing so, though, the creative team—which includes librettists Matthew Lopez and Amber Ruffin, composer Marc Shaiman, and lyricist Scott Wittman—still default too frequently to the tried and true. The results are flashy and occasionally woke, but rarely memorable…
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Categories: Criticism, New York, PARTERRE BOX
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