By Ron Merk
After nearly an hour plus of sitting in the sweltering Eureka Theater last night, and watching what should have been a souffle on stage turn into a cold fried egg, I left the theater to escape both the heat and a show that could best be described as a “museum piece” that simply does not work very well for modern audiences.
Everyone on stage did their best to bring this show back to life, but despite good intentions, hard work, and talent, “Du Barry Was a Lady” was moribund, tired and ultimately, not much fun. There was no air at all in the theater, and a couple of times during the show I thought I’d pass out. While I can’t blame the San Francisco heat wave on the theater management, they could have done something more than turn on a few ceiling fans to breathe life into the audience. When the intermission mercifully ended my suffering, I fled the theater into the cool night air, and didn’t return for the second act. My apologies to the cast for not remaining for Act II, but I truly felt there was no point to sitting through more of this misfire, and frankly, the heat in the theater was so awful and unhealthy, I really thought I would faint.
42nd Street Moon’s production was sumptuously mounted and costumed, and is a credit to their entire production staff. Sadly, the choice of this play to be included as the final show of their season was a total mistake in judgment, and really should be left on the pages of history instead of being presented on the stage.
It simply did not work for me, and likewise for most of the audience who applauded for the effort, and probably not the results. I watched as Bruce Vilanch looked at the audience waiting for laughs that did not come. In fact, in a few instances, he reminded the audience that what they just heard was a joke. They still did not respond. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by the heat, but my instinct was that they were “underwhelmed” by the show.
It’s really too bad that the management of the theater company wasted so many precious resources of talent and money on this show. If you’re expecting great Cole Porter songs, you’ll have to see a different show. There’s hardly a melody you can remember in this score, and despite the clever lyrics that we always get from Porter, this could hardly be called one of his better efforts. Only 5 performances left, and then I hope that 42nd Street Moon will move on to a happier next effort. They are a wonderful theater company and resource for San Francisco theater-goers, and I truly wish them well.
You can read more about 42nd Street Moon on their website: www.42ndstmoon.org
Du Barry Was a Lady is being presented at The Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111, www.theeurekatheatre.com
Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Herbert Fields & B.G. De Sylva
Directed and Choreographed by Zack Thomas Wilde
Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes
Cast: Bruce Vilanch, Ashley Rae Little, Jack Mosbacher, Nathaniel Rothrock, Nicole Renée Chapman, Jordan Sidfield, Abby Sammons, Ryan Drummond, Roy Eikleberry, Rudy Guerrero, Kathryn Han, Adrienne Herro, Katherine Leyva, Anthony Rollins-Mullens