Thursday, May 19, 2022

Saw "A Strange Loop" yesterday

 Yesterday I went and saw "A Strange Loop" on Broadway. I missed it off-Broadway last year at Playwright's Horizon, but it got a ton of tony nominations so I thought I would see it.

Humm, my thoughts are tangled.

It is a show about a young, heavy-set, effeminate, and black queer man named Usher, who is writing a musical Six amazing singer and actors work to play everyone else, mainly in his head. The voices of disquiet, doubt, parents, teachers, sex, Tyler Perry and more. 

To quote the NY Times:

He’s facing a few hurdles, namely his intrusive thoughts, embodied by the same six actors who originated the roles in the 2019 Off Broadway premiere: L Morgan Lee, James Jackson Jr., John-Michael Lyles, John-Andrew Morrison, Jason Veasey and Antwayn Hopper. They give voice to his anxieties of being a plus-size Black queer man, his alcoholic father’s constant denigration and his mother’s pleas to stop running “up there in the homosexsh’alities” and produce a wholesome gospel play instead.

Through scenes that move between Usher’s interactions with the outside world, like a phone conversation with his mother or a hookup, and a constant congress with his most devastating notions of himself, “A Strange Loop” pulls off an amazing feat: condensing a complex idea, full of paradoxes and abstractions, into the form of a Broadway musical.

I mean that is all true, but it didn't fully work for me. I am afraid (like, truly afraid) that part of it was my hearing. In the first half, in particular, they tended to sing over each other. At first, I thought it might be the acoustics - Playwright's Horizon theater is smaller and easier to hear. But the other audience members didn't have that problem.

The second half of the show (even though there was no intermission) I kind of loved. It was only 3 or 4 set pieces, mainly sung by a single character. That I could hear easily, and they were better songs. It is funny, I felt super-positive at the end, even though in its entirety, pretty good.

The lead was good. He was nominated for a Tony, but 34 minutes into the show, he must have been hurt because there was an unexpected intermission of about 25 minutes, and the show restarted with the lead's understudy. 

The understudy's name was Kyle Ramar Freeman. He has obviously molded his acting to the story and match lead of the play. On the other hand, his voice was clear and sparkling - and made it so much easier for me to understand.

Is it "best musical"? Probably. It is nominated against Six - a mugging loud blast of a musical staring 

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