October 24, 2004

Actors are right

Rose and I went to see "People Are Wrong", a peripherally They Might Be Giants-related rock musical, at the Vineyard Theatre this evening. The show is cowritten by Robin Goldwasser (John Flansburgh's wife and sometime Giant vocalist -- TMBG connection #1) and Julia Greenberg. Flansy also cowrote two of the songs in the show and, in the biggest tie-in, performs in the show. (For the final TMBG link, Giant lead guitarist Dan Miller plays in the onstage band.)

I had seen the show before in a concert performance at Joe's Pub and been a bit underwhelmed...but I was willing to give it another shot, especially since we had gotten discount tickets through a TMBG promotion ($20 instead of $55). Turned out to be totally worth it -- the show was much improved. A few new, catchy songs had been added; the numbers I remembered particularly liking were still highlights; the story was presented more clearly; and the staging added a lot, turning songs that had made no impression on me at the concert into memorable moments.

But there were a couple odd weaknesses. Like, the ending still has a weird pacing. There are two songs that sound like finales (the title song and "Everlasting Vibe") -- rousing, fist-in-the-air numbers that will earworm you for days -- and neither of them is actually the finale. The actual final number doesn't do a great job of wrapping things up or leaving you humming. Kind of a problem.

Even weirder, John Flansburgh seemed...I don't know, kind of timid. He played a city guy moving to the country with his fiancee, and when the two of them sang together, you could barely hear him. I just kept thinking, "Dude, you're a rock star! Hold your mike a little closer or something, already!" His voice was fine when singing solo, but he seemed a bit uncomfortable the rest of the time. My best theory is that, you know, a rock singer's voice is very different from a musical theatre singer's voice, and performing duets with someone who has a musical theatre singer's voice threw him off. Or it could be that being in a play is just more different than performing a concert than he expected.

I am, of course, blowing the negative aspects of the show a bit out of proportion, because it's always more interesting to complain about things. The show is certainly worth seeing -- especially for $20. You can still get the discount on performances through November 3 if you go to Theatermania and type the word "giants" in the special code section at the bottom of the page.

Posted by Francis at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

The thing that broke my heart about Flansburgh's performance was that he didn't seem to be having *fun*.

What I love about TMBG, and why I like to see them live as often as possible, is that I really enjoy the way all of the guys, but especially the Johns, seem to be having the Best Time Ever -- the way that they look like they're thinking, "How did I get this fucking awesome job? Wow!"

Last night I thought Flansy seemed anxious and worried and hesitant, and that just seems like a shame, so I hope he finds his mojo!

Posted by: Rose at October 24, 2004 12:32 PM