I don't quite know how this slipped through the cracks, but there it is.
For the past several years, there has been a pre-Broadway production touring the world of a musical adaptation of Boris Pasternak's novel, Doctor Zhivago -- which opened on Broadway this year. And it wasn't something under-the-wire, but rather with good credentials behind it.
The score has music written by accomplished composer Lucy Simon (sister of Carly), and the lyrics are co-written by Michael Korie (who wrote the lyrics for Grey Gardens and the current War Paint, which I wrote about seeing in Chicago at the Goodman Theatre a few months back) and Amy Powers. And the book adaptation was written by Michael Weller, who's had a long career and wrote the hit Moonchildren back n the 70s. Furthermore, it was directed by the acclaimed Des McAnuff, from the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego..
As I said, the show has been touring the world for about three years, most notably with a run in Australia, in Sydney, where it had its first international production, after premiering at the La Jolla Playhouse. It finally opened on Broadway this year, on April 21. Unfortunately, it closed after just 26 performance. (Okay, obviously that has a lot to do with why I didn't know about it. But still, I'm surprised, given its long pre-Broadway history that I was completely unaware of it.)
I've since watched several videos, and the score seems very solid, if not especially memorable, which might have been a hurdle. I suspect it didn't help that the Broadway cast was basically unknown. Perhaps they thought the title itself was the star, and were taking off after the model of Les Miserables. But in that, as little as Colm Wilkerson was in the U.S., he brought with him the the credit of having starred in the West End production. Ultimately, I suspect what hurt most were the problematic reviews. The few I read said the same thing, that the book was too sprawling and unfocused, too dark, and the love story was largely lost.
By the way, on a historical note, yes, the production figured out a way to get the famous song from the movie, "Somewhere My Love" (also known as "Lara's Theme") into the stage show, performed in a scene by nurses.
Here are about nine minutes from the show, from the "press day" before the Australia opening. You might want to jump to the 4:45 mark and skip the speeches at the beginning. This features the original stars from the Sydney production, Anthony Warlow (who from what I've been able to read is widely admired Down Under) and Lucy Maunder.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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