Michael John LaChiusa
Michael John LaChiusa's "First Daughter Suite" is a two-act "fantasia" about first ladies and their daughters.
Sure enough, by the time the first act finished, I was much more impressed with the adaptation of Joseph Moncure March's engagingly dark Jazz-Age poem than I'd been the first time around -- a seeming improvement I attributed to several elements.
Mary Testa is a pro: a belter, a diva and a clown, in the most beloved Broadway sense. She is a star talent who has rarely gotten star billing. You could write a musical about her.
If you like great songs -- not necessarily great songs you already know -- and you like women delivering them, here are CDs that you'd be extremely foolish to think you can live without:
Everything's Bigger in Texas, Including the Musicals -- Michael John LaChiusa's Giant at the Public Theater
While Giant is far too long and lacks far too much focus, the excellent cast and gorgeous score are both beautiful. The show could undoubtedly benefit from some trimming and restraint - perhaps like the actual state's attitude towards the rest of the country as well.
Maybe that reminder of good parts compensating for the less-than-successful whole -- along with a stageful of singers shining in individual scenes that catch fire -- will and should work for Giant. At the moment, it, sho' 'nuff looks like show enough.
Giant is a wonderfully intimate and complex show, but it will fill up a Broadway stage with ease. You know the story from the novel by Edna Ferber or the somewhat leaden film best known for containing James Dean's final performance.
Even if you love musicals, you might not know the name Sybille Pearson. But you should.