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JJ Dylan show bombs on Broadway (81* d) RE: Dylan show bombs on Broadway 18 Nov 06

I saw THE TIMES THEY ARE A'CHANGIN' on Thursday night, fearing that it might be (pace Bloody Hell) not a laxative but an emetic. Or perhaps worse, that it might open up the sluices at both ends, to quote Cool Beans' beloved Monty Python.

It wasn't as bad as I had feared. This is not the same thing as saying it was good...

The three singing characters (older man, younger man, woman) have pop/rockish voices rather than legitimate Broadway ones, which avoids the effect that occurs when (for example) Leontyne Price sings "What I Did For Love," a phenomenon that reminds one of someone trying to dribble a bowling ball.

But behind these three singers are an ensemble of seven very talented dancers, usually dressed as clowns, because we are in some kind of circus.

It's rather like watching Dylan songs as interpreted by Cirque du Soleil. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you will like. But it didn't do much for me.

Twyla Tharp tells us in a program note that events in this Oedipal struggle will occur with the logic of dreams. What this means in practice is that nothing has to connect with anything in any logical pattern as Twyla merrily plays musical theatre without the net.

Example: the female character shows up with her coat on and carrying a suitcase. She sings, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." And then she doesn't leave.

Musically, a lot of the solos come off decently, although the ensemble numbers "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35" and "Maggie's Farm" are pretty horrific. The major singers only howl like they're on American Idol once. And yes, "Like a Rolling Stone," as done with the beach balls is cringe/giggle-inducing.

The audience response to most of the songs was light and baffled applause.

At the end two people in the front row sprang to their feet -- they must have had money in the show -- only to sink down again when they realized this wasn't the curtain call (I thought it was, too) but the finale.

There was no further standing ovation. And on a Broadway where standing ovations are a given, this means something.

I once read a review where the critic called the show in question, "A wretchedly bad idea, incompetently carried out."

Bob will survive -- and I'll bet he got a huge chunk of money up front...

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