Edna Farber's aptly titled Giant is big in all its' incarnations. From the book to the movie and now the musical the tale of a Texas family's dynasty spans some thirty years and while the book and movie are often described as sprawling, and epic, the musical is only epic in its' length.
Dee Hoty, Kate Baldwin, Doreen Montalvo
Giant is the story of a Texas Cattle Rancher who after a love at first sight encounter proposes to a quite proper Virginia woman who's lifestyle and world views are as foreign to Texas as they are to her new husband and his family. The story spans some twenty-five plus years and is enthralling in its' timelessness. Watching this production I was struck by the issues that our country faced in the first half of the nineteenth Century. I was reminded of the old saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Immigration, Labor Unions, Arabian Oil, Political Lobbyists it is all covered here, but here it is 1952. This timelessness is what will make Giant a great show, though it is not there yet.
Giant The Musical originally premiered in May of 2009 after Farbers' great niece approached Michael John LaChiusa to write a musical based on the work. The original production was giant in length spanning an unusual three acts and clocking in at just under four hours. Thankfully the production has been tightened here. Now running two acts and two hours and forty five minutes it will need more tightening before heading to its' next stop the Public Theater in New York.
Cast Of Giant
Giant has all the makings of perfect Broadway. The love between two opposites, the conflict between the cattle rancher and the man he holds responsible for his sisters death. The oppression of a people. Forbidden love. All the elements are here. This is like a really good (really long) episode of Dallas set to music.
Kate Baldwin, Arron Lazar
Composer Michael John LaChuisa is known for his complex and often challenging music. While critically acclaimed, LaChuisa has yet to achieve great mainstream success, I am afraid here this will again be the case. While “He Wanted A Girl” and “Place In The World” are standouts, I think that has more to do with Katie Thompson's performance than the material. Another standout is “Jump” but again, I think this is more about the performance of Miguel Cervantes than the material. This show is missing the song you leave the theater singing.
What is truly giant about this show is its' cast and their talent. Often the talent outshines the material. We know everything is bigger in Texas and the cast assembled here is no exception, this is a who's who of Broadway talent. One of my favorites in everything she does Dee Hoty is perfect here as the uptight sister, that is quite happy with the status quo. Miguel Cervantes as Angel lights the stage with infectious optimism anytime he appears. Dallas Theater Center has assembled a first rate cast, and to showcase each performer that brings amazing talent to this production I would have to list the entire cast.
With such a cast assembled, you wouldn't think that one performer would be able to so brightly outshine the rest but Katie Thompson as Vashti does just that. It is when she takes the stage that this show rises to the level of the talent employed. Giant offers many songs, too many. Three are standouts, two of these belong to Thompson. I think this show could stand to lose about a third of its' songs, but I would add another number for this powerhouse performer. I hear a bit of Alison Moyet, a little Adele, with a dash of Bette Midlers' personality. Check out the video for “Why Are You Still Here” from her recently released cd...
This show is Giant in every respect, a giant cast, story, score and sets. And with Katie Thompson's performance well worth the price of admission.
Giant the Musical plays the Wyly Theater through February 19th. Tickets are $15.-$200. and available at http://www.dallastheatercenter.org/
Comment by Cristofer on 2012-03-30 01:40:01
I wonder what Mr./Dr. Thompson would have to say about Will Smith... Probably that Independence Day wasn't vlineot enough and waaaay too Establishment.(Glad you grabbed the poster from our site. Come on back anytime.)
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