Sunday, April 20, 2008

All Growed Up

Some novels are probably best just left as books. But Charles Dickens' classic novel "Great Expectations" gets the musical treatment in a show of the same name.

I actually met the co-author, Brian VanDerWilt, a couple of years ago through a mutual friend and I remember his excitement over the development of this show. It started with an 85-year old literature teacher from Iowa named Margaret Hoorneman. As part of her yearly curriculum she always included "Great Expectations" and became very familiar with the book.

As a theater lover she decided to write a musical adaptation. Completed in 1997, she sent her "labor of love" to VanDerWilt, a successful TV executive and, importantly, her grandson.

The project has progressed from there and now is being presented as a "developmental production" at the Hudson Backstage Theater.

Personally, I found the score boring and the story muddled. Yes, Pip's struggle against class in his effort to achieve his own "great expectations" is moving, but I found the plot in the second act -- which seemed to proceed at breakneck speed -- to be confusing.

The large cast -- including enough child actors they actual credit a "kid wrangler" in the program -- guaranteed a large turn-out of friends and family in today's matinee audience.
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