‘The Outsiders’ Broadway review: Like many adaptations, it overexplains

NEW YORK — The big fight that takes place near the end of the new show “The Outsiders” is one of the biggest moments (literally) of this season, or any other Broadway season. And the director, Danya Taymor, achieves this by bringing together every theatrical tool at her disposal, with the exception of music – a bold choice for a musical.

Those who know SE Hinton’s novel “The Outsiders” or its film adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola — and that’s a lot of people in this country — know that the story, set in 1967 Tulsa, revolves around two gangs at war, the Greasers and the Socs. . In the show, their climactic, rain-soaked growl is punctuated only by punches and kicks viciously striking their targets, growls of rage and groans of pain. Rick Kuperman and Jeff Kuperman’s fight and movement choreography work in symbiosis with Brian MacDevitt’s stark lighting and Cody Spencer’s imaginative sound design.

A similar inventiveness is present throughout, albeit on a smaller scale, as when a few tires and planks are enough to make us see characters jumping aboard a freight train. The only major stumble is the burning of an abandoned church, a key scene that’s confusing if you don’t know what’s supposed to happen. (Scenic design is carried out by the AMP collective with Tatiana Kahvegian.)

So yes, “The Outsiders” is visually compelling. It’s when the characters open their mouths that things falter.

Adapted by Adam Rapp (“The Sound Inside”) and Justin Levine (who also wrote the music with the folk-rock duo Jamestown Revival), the book in the series closely follows the plot of the novel. At the center of both is the 14-year-old narrator, Ponyboy (a thoroughly angsty Brody Grant), who has lived with his older brothers Sodapop (Jason Schmidt) and Darrel (Brent Comer) since the death of their parents.

The siblings are all Greasers, the chosen family of misfits who proudly live on the wrong side of the tracks. Their enemies, the wealthy Socs (short for “socialites”), are blessed with “better clothes, better cars and better lives”, as Ponyboy explains in an introductory issue, “Tulsa ’67”, which sets the scene and the stakes. in a bouquet of naive exhibitions.

And therein lies the problem: the series overexplains everything, all the time. Hinton knew exactly what to say and when – the paperback edition of “The Outsiders” is just 180 concise, evocative pages that let us discover things with Ponyboy. Here, the book and songs tend to underestimate the intelligence of the audience. (This is surprising coming from Rapp, who generally isn’t afraid of ambiguity.)

The Darrel of the novel, for example, is a distant figure for most of the story, which makes Ponyboy’s realization of his brother’s love for him all the more poignant. On stage, on the other hand, Darrel details the emotional weight he carries early on in “Runs in the Family,” one of the many “I want” numbers that pepper the show – in case we don’t understand the first time, or the fifth, that beneath the bravado, they are sensitive children, yearning for love and stability. Even “Socs Queen” Cherry (Emma Pittman) shares a bit of domestic turmoil.

Most troubled are Johnny (Sky Lakota-Lynch), a shy teenager who is Ponyboy’s brother by bond, and the boys’ friend and protector, Dallas (Joshua Boone). Originally an unpredictable cannon, Dally, as his friends call him, is now an honorable knight in black leather, whom Boone imbues with a warm voice and steady gravitas. This character’s history and dreams were expanded on in the series, perhaps in an effort to make him, like Darrel, less opaque – as if theatergoers were supposed to lose interest when they weren’t hand fed.

But this backfires, dampening suspense and tension in a narrative in which violence is either central or buzzing in the background. Not that you’d know that from a score overly reliant on identical folk-pop ballads that lack dramatic weight and can feel redundant. Immediately after Johnny kills a Soc (Kevin William Paul) in a heavily staged scene, for example, he and Ponyboy sing a song, “Run Run Brother,” which begins by rehashing what we’ve just seen, to great effect. much less. A musical where the aural storytelling constantly pales next to the visual storytelling has a bit of a problem on its hands.

The foreigners, currently underway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater in New York. 2 hours 30 minutes, including an intermission. outsidersmusical.com.

Gn entert
News Source : www.washingtonpost.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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