Sunday, September 19, 2010

Return to 'Aspects of Love' at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Further musings on ‘Apsects of Love’ upon seeing this production again, this time at a Sunday matinee. If you have read my previous posts from my travels, I usually see an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical twice being that he is my favorite composer. I am glad I did this one.

What I wanted to review this time are the changes that were made compared to the Aspects of Love (Remastered 1989 Original London Cast) which is the only definitive English language version available as no Broadway recording was made since the four London leads played the same parts in New York.

Each act opens with scenes in which the main female character Rose is on a theatre stage acting out her last lines in the play in which she is performing. These scenes are in English on the CD and in this production all the characters speak and sing French instead. It may be jarring for anyone who have not heard or seen the play but no major plot points is conveyed until the characters start to speak/sing in English a few minutes in. The director has made sure nothing is lost and mainly sets the locale as France.

The big anthem “Love Changes Everything” is sung in full at the end of Act 1 rather than at the beginning on the CD. This switch adds an emotional context based on the plot events preceding it. A minor scene where the characters supposedly completed building a wall in a vineyard has been amended to the characters finishing harvesting grapes.

Otherwise other changes are very slight. Even though the show was orchestrated for only eight musicians, the sound is full and grand in the intimate Menier Chocolate Factory theater space. The production was heading into its last week of performances and all were sold out except for Thursday night of which only a few last row seats were available. The box office was confident these last seats would sell out before then.

‘Aspects’ is one of Lloyd Webber’s rarely staged musicals. It was first produced in 1989 in London where it ran for three years and in 1990 on Broadway when the production ran almost a year. It has received productions here and there including two touring productions in England and a Canadian production that toured North America. A Japanese Aspects of Love production was recorded in that language. Even if this Menier production does not transfer or is never recorded, this is one production that I will always cherish to have seen. Yet I could see this production again and again.

All production photos used for illustration purposes only.


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