by Tom Coppola
Pacific Overtures is a none too regularly produced musical, so it doesn't have much of a knowledgable fan base. Here are 5 reasons why you should get to the current Off-Broadway revival.
1. George Takei is in it. This living legend, best known of course for his work on Star Trek and now a major presence on social media, has been appearing more and more on Broadway and NY stages in the past number of years. So don't be fooled--Takei’s appearance is not stunt casting. It’s inspired casting!
2. Stephen Sondheim wrote it. In case you've been living under a rock for the past 50 years, Sondheim is one musical theater's most prolific composer who has most heavily inspired some of Broadway's hottest composers (Lin Manuel, anyone?). Sondheim is known for musicalizing tricky topics such as presidential assassinations (Assassins) to cannibalism (Sweeney Todd). Pacific Overtures is an excellent example of Sondheim's brilliance and virtuosity. And the subject matter? The westernization of Japan in 1853.
3. It's playing at Classic Stage Company. This company is best known for presenting knock-it-of-the-park adaptations of plays by 20th century playwrights (think Ibsen, Chekov, Beckett, Pinter, etc.), so going to see a show here means you're definitely going to see a quality production. The amazing coffee shop in the lobby is a plus!
4. The production is modern in its presentation. This version is reimagined under the direction of John Doyle (Tony nominated for the revivals of Company, Sweeney Todd and The Color Purple). The original production was staged in Kabuki style, and ran over 2 hours long. CSC's production runs a lean 90 minutes and presented in contemporary style dress, but doesn’t take away from the story or the sublime score.
5. It has an amazing orchestra! A 9 piece band is a luxury when seeing a show Off-Broadway, and THAT is worth the price of admission alone.
Runs through Sunday, June 18th.