Broadway Legend / MdN Veteran
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:58 pm
Current Obsession: changes way too much
Main Role: Stage Manager
Thoughts on the opening number
I just saw my school's production of the show, which makes it the second time I've seen it live. I'm someone who really likes the opening number, with the symbolic dance that shows how the cholera spread. Something I've noticed is how different and yet somewhat the same the two productions of the show I saw portrayed this.
In the first, we were shown a ball. The dreamers were happily dancing, very realistically for the time period, when suddenly the Fakir dropped the red cloth (death/cholera) on them one by one. It started with women, and as each woman died the soldiers carried her off stage, but then slowly trickled into the soldiers too, and ended with Rose and then Albert being the last to die. Then in the blackout Mary got into her place so that the lights of the next morning could rise on her all alone somewhere else in the house.
In the production today, Mary was in her bed onstage (asleep) as the dreamers danced around her bed. The cholera once again began with the Fakir, but he stayed on for awhile (as if fighting the illness). As all the other dreamers danced in a circle around Mary's bed going clockwise, the Fakir was outside the circle going counter-clockwise, trying to get in. He finally dropped the cloth in front of the Ayah, who picked it up, and then he left and she continued as he had done, one by one until everyone was gone.
I like both interpretations, and both certainly worked very well within the production, but it still intrigued me on how different each directors' take on that scene was - one was much more realistic of a scene, while the other was completely symbolic. I'm curious how other productions treat this scene, as there are several other ways you could go with it. How has everyone else seen it done?