Playbill Critics Circle: Your Reviews of Victor/Victoria

News   Playbill Critics Circle: Your Reviews of Victor/Victoria
 
Julie Andrews has returned to her starring role in Victor/Victoria, which she had previously played for more than a year and a half. How is the show holding up? What do you think about it in general? The story, the songs, the performers? The critics have weighed in with their opinions; here's a chance to add your opinion to theirs.

Julie Andrews has returned to her starring role in Victor/Victoria, which she had previously played for more than a year and a half. How is the show holding up? What do you think about it in general? The story, the songs, the performers? The critics have weighed in with their opinions; here's a chance to add your opinion to theirs.

Write your review -- long or short -- and email it to Managing Editor Robert Viagas at robert_viagas@playbill.com. Reviews will be posted as they come in.

Please include your town and state, and please note whether you'd like us to include your full e-mail address so you can receive responses. This is optional, of course.

Here are the responses so far. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to respond:

From Buzzy418 (Buzzy418@aol.com) Pennsylvania:
One fine Sunday when I went to New York in hopes of purchasing tickets at half price on Times Square, I found myself facing a difficult decision: should I see Victor/Victoria or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum? Personally, (not knowing V/V was a musical comedy) I would have chosen Forum. However, being accompanied by someone who doesn't like stupid funny shows, I chose V/V to satisfy her.
First of all, I was a little disappointed that Julie Andews wasn't performing, but I was even more surprised when I found out some people actually left because of her absence. However, her replacement, Tara O'Brien, was better than words could explain. In fact, I'm dissapointed that she only performs the role of street singer regularly. She has way too much potential to have such small role.
At least she is given a chance to strut her stuff when she sings the "Paris by Night" reprise. As for Toddy, he didn't sing that nicely, but his acting made up for his voice. Set designers did an excellent job on Toddy's flat, those colors and walls had Toddy written all over it. The hotel suites also had a wonderful design.
One of my favorite parts involved the balloon lady. I was also impressed very much by the accordion music. It added just the right touch to the French setting. I also enjoyed Rachel York as Norma. From her entrance till her last smile, she kept her energy high and never lost it. However, her involvement in the story never really came to a resolution. It would have been better if she was somehow included in the final scene; how I don't know.
Unfortunately, I attended one of the performances where they cut "Louis Says". This upset me, but I was more upset that they didn't evn anounce they were cutting it. (At the time, I didn't hear about Julie's accident.) Adam Heller as Henri Labisse was also very good. But in the beginning, his acting was too exaggerated. I really enjoyed watching his attempts to find out "Victor's" secret.
Act II, Scene VIII was probably my favorite part of the entire show. From the use of double negatives, to the ganster coming out of the closet and welcoming Squash, to Henri Labisse discovering "Victor's" secret, and falling down the ladder, I couldn't breath because I was laughing so much. I could probably go on for hours telling how much I enjoyed it.
However, one thing I would like to stress is that it doesn't have a popular name, and this prevents it from having a sell out crowd every time. When someone asks for a suggestion about what to see, I always tell them Victor/Victoria but they don't take my word for it, and they end up missing out. Compared to Phantom, I think V/V was ten times more enjoyable. All I can do is hope that anyone who reads this will trust me and they'll discover for themsleves that Victor/Victoria really is Victorious. (5/9/97)  

From Peter Doehring (Whigley1@aol.com) North Olmsted, OH:
I make a special trek to NYC this past week to see Victor/Victoria. I needed to see it before Julie Andrews left the show. It is my opinion that no one else can even come close to performing this role better than she can, and after seeing the show twice in 2 days, I feel stronger about that than ever before. Julie was, and is, well....SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS!!! The show was spectacular. I was totally immersed in the play and came away feeling euphoric. Not only was Julie spectacular, the rest of the cast, Tony Roberts, Rachel York and Michael Nouri were equally outstanding. Can a Victor/Victoria touring show draw the necessary attendence without Julie? It will be tough, but I think I can be done...as long as it's not Liza. I may make another trip to NYC to see the show again before the end of May, when Julie leaves. Thank You Julia (and company) for a most unforgetable experience!!! (3/14/97)

 

From Roya Millard:
I just saw Victor/Victoria this afternoon, and feel that I should tell someone. Julie Andrews was not in the performance, instead her understudy went on. She was amazing. Tara O'Brien was incredible! I went into the theatre grumbling that Ms. Andrews was not going to be in the show today, and by the second song I was regretting that everyone I knew wasn't there with me. Ms. O'Brien was beyond superb... I wish I could see her perform this role at every show!
Anyway, I just felt that I had to tell someone, and I found you on the Playbill website. If you can, if you wish, please pass my message along. I know that the rest of the audience this afternoon would agree with me -our standing ovation for Ms. O'Brien surely conveyed that. (3/2/97)

 

From Vampire516:
I went to see the musical VICTOR/VICTORIA knowing the story already. I never saw the play before but I did see the movie. I very pleased with the outcome of the play. Julie Andrews was great and so were the rest of the cast. Toddy was extremely funny and strangly enough so was Squash who is supposedly a minor character. The occasional slapstick humor was funny. The songs were good, some even great. Norma was fun to watch in all her trashy self. And it was fun to watch King question his own sexuality has he fell deeper and deeper in love with Victor. The song "Kings Dilema" showed this perfectly. My favorite song however was "Trust Me" Watching Toddy convince Victoria to become Victor was fun to watch. Although my favorite two moments were the scene when King's partner threatened to beat up Squash if he didn't have his gun and then Squash put down the gun, and the last song when Squash sung "Its Not a Crime to Love each other" and Toddy said "HE can sing too" All in all this was a great show. I'd go see it again if I could afford it. (2/9/97)

 

From Meredith Schade, New Fairfield, CT (XtolDaLord@aol.com):
The direction of Victor/Victoria is much more clever than critics made it out to be. They said that it was clumsy and poorly done, however, I feel just the opposite. Simply watch the cat-and-mouse scene, and it is obvious that this show was done by a clever guy. People say, "Well, he did that in the movie too . . . it's nothing new." However, this is Broadway--the stage. It's one thing to do it with sets, when you can cut and edit, but this was throughout ONE set. It's magnificently done!
Some of music is poor, but it does grow on you. "Crazy World" is just as amazing as ever, and the choral numbers are beautiful. I can only complain about "Paris Makes Me Horny" and "Chicago". They are a bit to risk.
The Performers? Ms. Andrews has been singing 8 shows a week, and her fatigue is beginning to show. She still sings beautifully--especially when there is a responsive audience. But overall, one can see the exhaustion in her eyes.
I believe that it is also clear that Michael Nouri has tired of playing King Marchan. He wants to move on as soon as possible. The magic once seen between Ms. Andrews and Mr. Nouri has seemed to faded away. Perhaps this is because the show has become so routine for them.
Tony Roberts still shows the grace and humor of the role of Toddy. He doesn't seem to have altered his performance, in fact, it seems as if he starts fresh every day--as every actor should.
Rachel York is still amazing. Having seen it once without her, it truly shows that she is not "just playing Leslie Ann Warren" from the movie, but rather, has a flare about her that makes the show complete. Her understudy, Roxanne Barlow, tried to be unique, and in doing so, made the character of Norma too serious for the show.
I miss Greg Jbara, but his replacement holds the same loveableness in his "puppy-dog eyes" as Greg had. In fact, the many replacements have been well chosen.
How is the show holding up?
To be honest, I believe that Blake Edwards is still unsatisfied with his work, and feels a need to continue to change this. This rumor about changes to be made for Liza Minelli are outrageous! To take out "Crazy World" would be a crime to the very heart of Victor/Victoria, and to make Victoria's entrance any grander would be wrong for the character. I find the addition of the balloon woman to be much more entertaining than the man "falling" from the ceiling, and would have prefered if they had completely eliminated that to be replaced with the balloon woman.
I think that the show will continue to be a success--at least until Ms. Andrews makes her final performance. It would be nice to see this continue after her exit from Broadway, but I don't expect it.

 

From Madeline C. Ricciardi, Stony Brook, NY:
I only have 6 words to say about this show:
Terrific Super Great Fantastic Funny Entertaining Need I say more?

 

From Brett Farmer (b.farmer@english.unimelb.edu.au):
I am replying to your call for reviews of "Victor/Victoria" on its first anniversary. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to critical discussions about this much maligned production.
Let me lay my cards directly on the table: I have been a life-long fan of Julie Andrews and I have always wanted to see her perform live. So in late-June of this year, I packed my bags and made the long journey from Australia to New York with the sole purpose of seeing Julie in "Victor/Victoria" . And I did - three times, nonetheless. Consequently, I would be the first to concede that, within this context, it is difficult for me to be purely objective about "Victor/Victoria". However, mustering as much critical detachment as I can, I would say that V/V is a fine piece of musical theatre which, while certainly not perfect, is very strong in a number of respects.
When I saw V/V, it was immediately following the Tony debacle and, thus, I was well aware of the controversy surrounding the show and the lukewarm-to-negative critical response it had engendered. Not surprisingly then, I had some initial misgivings about V/V and was unsure of what to expect. To my delight, I discovered a well-crafted and handsomely mounted production with a uniformly strong cast and a pleasing, if admittedly uneven, score.
In particular, I thought V/V represented a refreshing return to many of the defining features of the American musical theatre. It is unashamedly populist; it centres around a great musical star; it provides readily legible and accessible narrative scenarios and characters; it weaves comedy, pathos and musical spectacle together into an entertaining whole; it works towards a utopian closure; and it espouses and promotes the ideological values of US democratic liberalism. These are the hallmarks of the musical comedy tradition of Gershwin, of Kern, of Berlin, of Rodgers and Hammerstein - and "Victor/Victoria" revives this tradition.
This is why the show has been such a hit with audiences, I think (and anyone who has sat in the audience of V/V will know that this show is a genuine crowd-pleaser), but why it has also missed the mark with critics. For better or for worse, contemporary theatrical criticism has become increasingly skewed towards novelty and innovation. It generally looks for and rewards productions that represent a departure from or a reworking of received traditions rather than a resurrection of them. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that the critical establishment tends to undervalue old-fashioned Broadway shows like V/V.
As I said, I don't think V/V is perfect. It could do with some restructuring - particularly in the first Act which is a little uneven - and it sorely lacks a genuine show-stopping number for its star ("Living in the Shadows" does OK in this respect but another, earlier show-stopper is needed). Still, V/V is a strong contribution to Broadway musical theatre and I think it will be remembered historically as a significant show - even if for no other reason than its status as the show that brought Julie Andrews back to Broadway. Having said this however, I would not want to reduce the values of V/V solely to its present star. There is no doubt that V/V is a star vehicle and Julie Andrews is certainly a star of the highest magnitude and her imprint will be forever on the role of Victoria, just as it is on the roles of Eliza Doolittle and Guinevere.
But, as I think the four-week run with Liza Minnelli in January will probably prove, V/V can perform well with a star other than Julie Andrews in the principal role (even if that star will have a big job trying to match Julie's consummate performance). Indeed, I would not be at all surprised to see "Victor/Victoria" develop a life of its own that continues well beyond the present production. Twelve months into its Broadway run and more than eighteen months after its first performance, V/V is still packing them in and demonstrating that, despite its critical drubbing, this is a show that audiences - and myself as a member of one of those audiences - love.

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