2023 Author: Leah Sherlock | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:28
The play "Hollywood Diva" was based on an operetta unfamiliar to Russian audiences, written by the Austrian composer Ralph Benacki. It was adapted by director Cornelius B althus, resulting in an interesting and very bright musical.
From Axel to Diva
Initially, the operetta under the intricate name "Axel at the Gates of Heaven" was created as a parody of Hollywood films. It has wonderful music, polished dance numbers, sparkling humor… The bright and juicy roles of the main characters are so interesting that each of the movie and theater stars of that time (let's not dissemble, and of the last decades) would be happy to embody them on stage.
All the current events surround the Hollywood star Gloria Mills and social journalist Axel, who very much hopes to use the actress for his own purposes in order to accelerate his career.
From the 20th century to the 21st
For the first time Benacki's operetta could be seen on the Vienna stage as early as 1936. Then the success was overwhelming. At that time it was staged over two hundred times. Swedishactress Tzara Leander, who played the title role in the musical, has become one of the most famous and beloved movie stars by the public.
Director Cornelius B althus changed the title of his production four times in the course of his work until he chose the latest and greatest. This is how the musical comedy "Hollywood Diva" appeared. In it you can feel the energy inherent exclusively in this genre. All the splendor of the atmosphere of the thirties was recreated on the stage, and new very interesting episodes were added to the already existing music.
"Hollywood Diva" - a musical, the premiere of which can be considered not only in Russia, but also in the world, tells the story of a movie star Gliria Mills and a young journalist Axel, who lives in hope of promotion through the publication of an interview with an impregnable Gloria. This production has a lot of love triangles, investigations, dressing up, Russian emigrants. In general, everything that is so inherent in the Viennese operetta.
The scene is the same Hollywood. Perhaps, for a long-standing genre, this is a little exotic, but … It was the world capital of the film industry known to millions that became the main character of the play. But if the original production was, so to speak, a parody of the "dream factory", then "Hollywood Diva" has become, in a sense, a grateful monument to cinema and the fabulously beautiful and elegant film era of the thirties of the twentieth century.
Visually and aurally a pleasure
Watching the performance visually, one can understand that a close examination of the suite in the hotel, the film studio pavilion, the interiors of Axel's apartment bring sheer pleasure. Special audience thanks to Hungarian production designer Kentauer for a huge typewriter, on the keys of which Axel dances merrily in the finale of the first act.
And all this can be seen in the musical "Hollywood Diva". Reviews about him express the diametrically opposite opinion of theatergoers: from admiration to misunderstanding of why certain actors were invited.
The choreography, staged by Dennis Callahan from the USA, can also be considered an indisputable find of the performance. It is very easy for viewers to perceive the scene of tap dancing in prison, despite the fact that this action is a bit like the "Prison Tango" shown in "Chicago". The work of the choir and orchestra under the direction of Andrey Alekseev is also magnificent.
Perhaps not everyone can understand what else (besides such fertile aesthetics) could attract the directors of this performance. Connoisseurs of beauty express the opinion that Benatsky's work about Axel, despite the fact that it is not without zest, hardly has the right to claim the status of a masterpiece that has been unfairly forgotten.
Drozdova VS Rulla: who is better?
Let's dwell on the play itself. The images of the two main characters come to the fore: their relationship is drawn quite carefully. The directors of the musical "Hollywood Diva" decided to emphasize inequalitypartners in the social and age aspects (this has been familiar to viewers for a long time, since the appearance of the “Princess of the Circus” and “Queen of Czardas”); in addition, even Stockholm syndrome was affected.
The actress of the Moscow Sovremennik Theater Olga Drozdova was invited to the musical for the role of Gloria. She was able to reveal her dramatic potential, easily finding a rather non-trivial and even somewhere ironic look at the movie star she embodied. And she succeeds quite well, if you do not pay attention to a significant nuance: according to the script, Gloria sings. But Drozdova never knew how to sing. The maximum that can be said about her vocal abilities is that the actress recites phrases to the music quite well. But it looks a little strange in a musical performance.
Which is more pleasant to listen to: speech or singing?
Here you can digress a little from the modern look at the play "Hollywood Diva" and delve into history.
Tsara Leander (she was mentioned above) was also not the owner of an academic vocal school. But nevertheless … The surprisingly beautiful timbre of her voice - velvety, thick (the sound was almost baritone) - once gave her the opportunity to receive the status of not only a cult actress, but also a singer … And here we must pay attention to the fact that in a different composition Gloria is performed by Lika Rulla. She is well known to theatergoers who adore the musical genre. There is no doubt about her vocals (her beautiful voice, colored with some juiciness, has been talked about for a long time). Therefore, for those who want to listen not just to words, but to singing, it is better to come to a performance where she will shine on stage.
Tino Taziano and others…
If you turn your eyes to the actor who embodied the role of the swindler Tino Taziano on stage - and this is the famous Russian actor Dmitry Pevtsov (and part-time husband of Olga Drozdova), then he is quite capable of demonstrating good vocals. And he sings really well, especially compared to Dimitri's timid attempts to make musical sounds in The Witches of Eastwick. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a talented actor, his character remained operetta in the most negative sense of the word.
Unfortunately, most of the supporting characters of the musical "Hollywood Diva" show the same way. The reviews for this production are probably very strict and even biased in some ways. But this should not be surprising, because both the audience, who do not often cross the threshold of theaters, and the avid (in the good sense of the word) theatergoers who do not miss a single premiere show, want to see something enchanting.
Let's dwell on three characters who should not be deprived of their attention. A very bright and interesting episode is the court scene. In the role of judge Apfelbaum - Andrey Matveev, in the role of an eccentric Russian emigrant - Valentina Kosobutskaya. The actors managed to create an amazing acting duet, which the public really liked from the premiere, causing its full approval.
But the most convincing, in the opinion of many viewers of the musical "Hollywood Diva" (reviews about the play in general and the actors involved in it, speak for themselves), is an interesting and slightly humorous aria of an emigrant - the maid Diana. It sings about the constant longing for their native places, but especially for delicious cabbage soup and sparkling kvass. This character was wonderfully embodied by Ekaterina Popova.
What to say in conclusion?
Perhaps it will seem strange to someone, but, in addition to the amazing choreography and neat set design, which quite modernly stylizes the interiors of the early twentieth century, the main decoration of the play "Hollywood Diva" is precisely the male actors. Film producer Mac Scott, played by Alexander Byron, looks great: stylish, smart, elegant, sensitive, cynical, but in moderation. The actor's microphone singing is simply impeccable: the natural timbre is so beautiful - a baritone that only benefits from tactful subsound. His masculine charisma and artistic organics complete the description.
Charming and very agile young reporter Axel (played by Oleg Krasovitsky). A guy with a special talent deceives the audience, unobtrusively appearing on stage under the guise of an old extra. Even the main character - Gloria - does not notice any discrepancy. The voice of the actor is not strong, but quite expressive. It is very plastic and graceful.
As for the character of Dmitry Pevtsov - Tino Taziano, a swindler with a fake title of prince, he was initially onthere was no stage, it was only mentioned. But in the musical, he found life, albeit a little sketchy.
In conclusion, we can say that the musical, about which so much has been said and written, really looks like some kind of experiment, thanks to which all genre boundaries can be erased. It looks like a sweet musical comedy that is simple and naive and understandable to both the esthete and the average housewife.
But be that as it may, this production is worthy of the attention of a venerable public. And at least once, but to watch the performance is not only possible, but also necessary - you won’t have to regret it.
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