For a lot of reasons, I disagree with the current direction the revival is taking. First and foremost, I take issue with further revision of the book by Roger O. Hirson. What is this business about Hirson retooling the book when he couldn't even tool it himself in the first place, leaving Fosse, Paddy Chayefsky, and a bunch of script doctors to create the show's most effective lines and moments? The current script licensed by MTI is a weird hybrid of Fosse, Hirson, and some new stuff like the song that replaced "Welcome Home Son" and the "Theo ending," and while it's not perfect, it's the best we've got and the most even and harmonious version of a show that has gone through massive changes in its creative life centered around two versions, the Fosse and the Schwartz/Hirson.
Secondly, Sept Doigts...why? What's with the clowns? It's not a circus, it's a troupe of players, and more to the point, they were changed from being Commedia Dell'Arte players of a fixed period setting up in a field (the Schwartz/Hirson version) to become the cast, on that stage, in the house, right now (the total immediacy and currency of the Fosse version). This seems to be a change for the worse, to make the show more like Cirque du Soleil or a spectacle of that nature and less like the hard-hitting, uncomfortable musical it was, albeit with elements of razzle dazzle.
Thirdly, Diane Paulus...she lucked out with a very ordinary production of Hair
that hit the right moment in terms of advertising and promotion. It does not automatically follow that she is the ultimate restager of every quirky musical with a set group of people at its core from the Sixties and Seventies. More to the point: who in their right mind throws out Fosse? Schwartz has even gone a long way toward acknowledging and incorporating Fosse's contributions to Pippin
in recent years.
Right off the bat, I'd advise the Weisslers to guarantee themselves another Chicago
(since they're dusting off Fosse) by doing the following:
- Bring in Ann Reinking (and anyone else who's alive who did the show) and recreate the Fosse choreography and staging. (This will obviously involve working around some new elements in the show like the two specifically mentioned above, but not major.)
- Re-insert everything possible from the Fosse version of the book which wasn't either already added in some form (in the current MTI script) or changed (as with the "Theo ending"). Don't try to make the book "cute" like Wicked.
- Let the sets and costumes be new, as I don't much care about elements of design.
- See above, replace with "casting."
- Clean up the orchestrations (a la the Papermill revival, but maybe with a more current bend) so that the music actually matches the tone of the book. Resist the urge to Wicked-ize the score and go with the actual tone of the show.