Well, I'm a sad little puppy who just had to be in the audience last night for this year's first preview of Coram Boy. Honestly, though, I wouldn't have been quite so early if I hadn't been forced to get out of bed. I've never been so early in the NT line and it was all a bit frightening. Please skip this if you're completely uninterested in my opinions about a show you probably haven't seen!
So, a few notes, altough I think it's worth noting that this is still a wonderful, wonderful show and that everyone who can should go and see it. I guess this was my fifth time (ack) and I still get chills, especially supplemented by the choir and the Messiah music that accompanies really dramatic moments. I think the choir sounded even better this year and was highly amused by the person whose robe was too short and revealed his scroggy jeans when the drum revolved at the end. Heh.
Alright, so I don't have a program in front of me so I'll fill in actor's names later. First off, new Otis was fantastic. He wasn't as cartoonishly skeezy as Paul Ritter, but much more subtle. I don't know if he inspired the same sort of terror in my heart, but he was creepier because he seemed so much more likeable (also kinder, which might be a problem). I liked how different this interpretation was and how well it worked for the character. New Meshack/Mish...eh. His seizures were really well done, but the actor's choice was obviously to portray him more like...someone with Down's? Which was fine, of course, but I didn't find him as intellectually interesting as I did last year. Last year I would fixate on Mish and his complications; this year I sort of realized how little of the story really is about Mish, if that makes any sense. These new choices helped him fade into the background and I don't think the new actor was as commanding.
I do think it's worth remembering that this was only the first preview and that I'm sure that all of the actors in new roles will keep improving throughout the run of the show! Hmmmm, new Alexander/Aaron was last year's younger brother and understudy for the part. Her voice sounded nervous and I'm not sure that she's got the best handle on Alexander, yet. Aaron was fantastic (love the new wig, btw) and both she and Toby were great in the second act. New Toby was reaaly good. Very sweet and childish and I liked some of the new directoral choices that put him in compromising situations, more like the book.
I also loved seeing some of the same actors, all of whom seem fresh again. Both Thomas' are still great, yay!, and grown up Alexander is still quite cute. Ahem. Melissa has made some changes in the way that she delivers lines that make them less annoying (even if I still HATE that stupid blue PVC corset). Oh, and Handel, EVEN Funnier! And I think that Lord Ashbrook has improved with the break, too. Right. I think I've said the things that I wanted to say. I also don't think I need to go repeatedly this year, but I did have a long moment last night standing on Waterloo Bridge waiting for the bus and starting at the NT, thinking to myself, "how can I ever leave this place?" It made me sad.