‘Almost Famous’ theater review: Cameron Crowe recaptures ’70s rock in a spirited Broadway musical revamp

Being a passionate rock fan in the ’70s was a profession that required time and dedication. Go ahead, roll your eyes and groan “OK boomer,” but there was no internet to call the performance clips, no music streaming services, and no dedicated music video channels. There were listening stations in record stores, as crowds gathered on the day an expected new album was released; There was a radio broadcasting a jolt of excitement whenever a favorite song came on; And if you’re lucky, there have been concert stops in or near your hometown.

Friends recording collections were gifts to be shared, like small lending libraries. Weekly offers for charts like American platform or soul train in the United States, Top of the pops in the UK or countdown In Australia it was a television date for teenage music lovers.

Today’s fan base without fingertips was a more serious pursuit, often a frustrating waiting game peppered with sparks of joy that made you feel part of a sacred cult. This made the great music journalists revered sources of knowledge.

Cameron Crowe movie 2000 always famous His Best and Most Intimate Films Capture those troubled times with semi-autobiographical memories of his extensive experience as a teenage writer. In the original Oscar-winning film script, 15-year-old director William Miller gets a distinct assignment for rolling rock, identifying the features of the fantasy rock band Stillwater. The film is a tender coming-of-age drama infused with disappointment, moral education, and heartbreak, bolstered by the sparkling sweetness of memory and the high power of music.

Did she need to become a musical? negotiable. But one thing the brooding show, like the movie that spawned it, corrects for is the infectious energy of rock ‘n’ roll at a transitional moment – 1973 – when the raw, rebellious spirit of great rock music gave way to the more elegant, more commercial voice of mass-consumer stardom. For many historical bands and solo artists, that year was an artistic heyday they would never match. This gives Crowe’s semi-memoir, in both incarnations, a bittersweet impetus to discovery and loss simultaneously.

The other big plus besides the music she walks on is her choice. In the film, the main roles of William and Benny Lane—the ethereal goddess who floats between a tour bus and an endless string of hotels and concert venues as if carried by music aloud—were the professional heights of Patrick Fugate and Kate Hudson, respectively.

With William being the eyes through which we see the whole story, newcomer Likes makes a very engaging guide. He balances the vanity required to get to the playground door with the humility of an inexperienced kid who barely believes he is living his dream. At least until it spoils. He’s also a powerful singer, with a surprisingly large and versatile voice that’s adaptable to a range of styles.

Plays Penny, the “retired” group surrounded by a constellation of “Band-Aids” (Julia Cassandra, Katie Ladner, Jana Jane Jackson) traveling with Stillwater, Sulley Pfeiffer making her glowing debut on Broadway, fashion designer David Zane shines on a signature Penny coat from Fur, not to mention a killer pair of crochet pants. Far from looks, she creates a real character according to the movie’s mold but with a bit more agency, prone to romantic pain but no one to take on inappropriately, even if she knowingly walks into an ocean of mischief.

Pfeiffer has two top new songs by composer Tom Kitt on the show, a nostalgic meditation on a new beginning in the future, “Morocco,” and the duo “The Night-Time Sky’s Got Nothing on You,” in which Penny married Stillwater swapped guitarist Russell Hammond. (Chris Wood) lists the traits that fuel their mutual intoxication. But Pfeiffer’s dreamy interpretation of Stevens’ cat “Wind” is so beautiful, it’s one of a few moments that made me wish the show was a musical.

Kitt’s “1973” is a well-made opening number that frustrates William as a stranger suffocated by his widowed mother Elaine (Annika Larsen) who has been too protective of her and ensured that his gorgeous older sister Anita (Emily Schulthes) rests her freedom.

However, more often than not, new songs are vivid. When you decorate Broadway tunes with samples of Led Zeppelin, T-Rex, Lenaire Skynyrd, The German Brothers, Joni Mitchell, and others, it may make you want to get more of the real thing. But Kate, who was a major creator of American idiot And the small coarse grainis a masterful weaving of rock nuggets into the musical narrative, and thanks to his masterfully blended arrangements and orchestration – as well as the wonderful harmony of the group – it all sounds smooth enough.

The upsetting disappointment for me was one of the moving moments in the movie – Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” a touching spontaneous vocals to break a moment of tension on the Stillwater tour bus. Labeled as the first act, it begins beautifully when the men sing, but then the bandages come and hit it with an intrusive melissa. This showy singing style has been inevitable since the ’80s, but it feels out of place for the period here and takes me out of the painstakingly conjured musical environment. Please just sing the song, ladies, drop the tinsel; it’s not American Idol.

One of Crowe’s strengths as a writer is his ability to shape the complex characters that become the story rather than just travel through them. This applies not only to William, Penny, and affectionate Russell (hair and moustache), but also to Eileen, whose “don’t do drugs” pull is played for humor, albeit not at the expense of her love for her son.

While sticking to the lines of Frances McDormand in the film, Larsen brings her own depth to the role in two cult character-defining songs. Elaine’s sad and amusing “lecture,” peppered with the phrase “rock stars kidnapped my son,” is a poignant admission of how her initial ambivalence about becoming a mother turned into a nagging worry for her children in a world with wrong priorities. And “Listen To Me” is a clever phone call music as the terrified Eileen repeals Russell’s Law.

Stillwater’s dynamics are well-drawn, particularly the intense resentment of insecure lead singer Jeff Beebe (Drew Gilling, cartoonish but funny), who uncomfortably realizes that the naturally more charismatic Russell is the real star of the band. The continuing deterioration in their relationship and the tensions over their growing fame demands in the wake of the hit song “Fever Dog” (an epigraph co-written for the film by Crowe and his then-wife Nancy Wilson) William gives meat to him. rolling rock Property. This of course causes conflict, although it is his unrequited love for Penny and her abuse by Russell that fuels William’s growing anxiety.

The series’ deep affection for its day is contagious, which helps cover some of its weaknesses. But Crowe undermines the originality of his nostalgia with a few nods to the future.

Explaining why he wasn’t calling, William told his mother, “It’s not just like you can Carry the phone with you. Effective new Stillwater manager (Jakem Hart), hired by the record company to oust the band’s old friend (Gerard Canonico), underscores the passing of their moment by warning that fans will one day find a way to get their music for free “from a spaceship in the sky,” noting Also, it’s unlikely that Mick Jagger will still be trying to be a rock star at age 50. The show is a heartfelt love letter to the ’70s; why would she add pandering jokes to make contemporary audiences feel she’s above her?

One clever choice Crowe makes is to expand the role of William’s mentor, legendary rock critic Lester Bang (Rob Colletti), making him a one-man Greek choir and reappearing periodically to advise his young pupil and lament the mud and guts draining from the rocks’ roll n. Admittedly, William would break the first basic rule Lester trained on: “Don’t make friends with rock stars.” Just as Penny ignores her own credo: “No attachments, no limits.”

British director Jeremy Hearn – Chosen by Crowe based on his presentation of hyper-action drama and experimental addiction, People, places and things She keeps things running smoothly in a story that covers a lot of ground while always keeping her primary focus on intimate relationships. Derek McLane sets are framed by scaffolding behind the scenes, with scene changes akin to roadloading in equipment for each new gig; His video elements include a map of the back wall of the United States, shown regularly to show the progress of the Stillwater Tour, from San Diego to New York.

Music is unlikely to replace anyone’s love for the movie. But with the plethora of satirical off-screen to stage adaptations that have become an epidemic on Broadway for the past 20 years, it’s at least one heartfelt. For everyone who has spent their youth obsessed with great music and believes that rock stars are rock stars, always famous It will carry a lot of recognition. Pass the Quaaludes.

Venue: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York
Cast: Casey Likeat, Solia Pfeiffer, Chris Wood, Annika Larsen, Drew Gilling, Rob Colletti, Emily Schulthes, Daniel Sovich, Van Hughes, Julia Cassandra, Katie Ladner, Jana Deagan Jackson, Matt Buettner, Brandon Contreras, Gerard Canonico, Matthew C. Yee, Chad Burris, Jacques Hart, Libby Winters
Writers and lyrics: Cameron Crowe
Music and lyrics: Tom Kate
Director: Jeremy Hearn
Website and video designer: Derek McClain
Fashion designer: David Zane
Lighting Designer: Natasha Katz
Sound Designer: Peter Hilinsky
Sound Designer: Anmari Milazzo
Arrangements and arrangements: Tom Kate
Music direction and direction: Brian Berry
Choreographer: Sarah Oglebie
Executive Producers: Sue Wagner, Jon Johnson, Gillian Robbins, Devin Keodle
Submitted by Lia Vollack, Michael Cassel and Joey Parnes

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