If the Broadway season was a race, The People in the Picture would come in dead last. Today, 28 April 2011, is the cut-off date for Tony Award eligibility for the 2010-2011 season. This original musical is the last show to enter the fray and it could play a huge spoiler with the nominators. Or it could flop miserably. Preview reports have been decidedly mixed. The show is selling well and audience reaction is reported as strong. There are even people who trashed the first preview and revised their opinion a few days ago when the show would be frozen. The most dismissive attitude to take is The People in the Picture is another Holocaust show. To say that would be to ignore all the strong artistic decisions in the production. Donna Murphy stars in a dual-aged role of Raisel/Bubbie. As Raisel, she is the star of the Polish-Yiddish theater scene in Interwar Poland. As Bubbie, she is trying to teach her granddaughter about Jewish traditions and faith as she battles some form of memory loss. To achieve this effect, Murphy adopts a radically different posture and movement style, sometimes in mid-scene.
The stage is presented as a series of picture frames. The titular people in the picture come to life in a larger frame to reenact moments of Bubbie's past as starlet Raisel. The music is patterned after traditional Klezmar, which is a good thing and a bad thing. Good thing in that the music suits the material; bad thing in that Klezmar music isn't exactly going to tear the house down and lead to spontaneous ovations and calls for encores.
Playbill.com posted a highlight reel that has me really hoping I get to see this limited run show before it closes, if for no reason than to enjoy the music and Donna Murphy.
In a few hours, we'll be able to see all the critics reviews. Here's hoping the 2010-11 Broadway season ends on a high note.