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The Woman in White...??? 
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Fresh Face
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Personally, I loved WIW. I saw it in London with both Michael Crawford (who was most gracious after the show, even came out the stage door pen in hand) and Michael Ball. I was very disappointed when it didn't make it on Broadway and closed in London. And come on, I Believe My Heart is a great song!!!


Sun Feb 22, 2009 5:51 pm
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Tony Winner
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I Believe My Heart is a very pleasant tune, I grant you, and one of the strongest musical moments in the show. To ALW's credit, it isn't endlessly repeated (although some much weaker tunes are).

The lyrics are so terrible it's embarrassing to listen to it, though!

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Mon Feb 23, 2009 9:51 am
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Post The Woman in White
I actually quite like the Woman in White. The score is one of his better ones (although that's not saying much!) and there's not too much ripping off going on. I do wish it had been more faithful to the book thought, like othes have said the "secret" would have been more effective had it have been the same as in the original novel. Also they missed out on a good comedy duo by cutting out Mrs. Fosco.


Fri Mar 13, 2009 2:49 am
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I've always said that Andrew Lloyd-Webber is only ever as good as the source material he picks and the lyricists he collaborates with.

With "The Woman In White" he had brilliant source material in Wilkie Collins' novel and a mediocre lyricist in David Zippel.

Lloyd-Webber's score has atmosphere in spades, even though a lot of the songs don't have a catchy hook they all fit the general mood of the scene and enhance the spook ambience of the piece brilliantly.

All of the singers give passionate, emotionally committed performances and the recording covers the entire show, including spoken word dialogue, so it's easy to follow the story just from listening to it...

Unfortunately, so very few of David Zippel's lyrics rise above the level of "functional". Although there is the odd clanger here and there, most of Zippel's lyrics are neither good or bad - they are just kind of there.

The lack of catchy hooks or really memorable lyrics is a benefit in the sense that Lloyd-Webber's usual excess of repetition doesn't bother me as much - I've barely remembered the tune by the time Lloyd Webber gets to repeating it.

So, judged as a standalone musical, I would say that "Woman In White" is a solid, workmanlike effort - good, but nothing special.

Judged as an adaptation of Wilkie Collins' novel....

Well, so much of the underlying social commentary in the novel has been dumbed down almost to the point of non-existence. However, the first act is reasonably close to the narrative of the novel. Things go awry in the second act which has to compress so much plot into one hour that many iconic scenes from the book have to be excised completely... still, fans of the novel may find it in their hearts to overlook these changes, as Collins' book is a long one and it is inevitable that a coherent two act musical would have to cut a lot out.... but changing the "secret" at the heart of the story was just pointless. Once the "secret" at the heart of the novel is revealed, Sir Percival Glyde comes across as a much more audacious criminal and his carefully crafted facade seems all the better crafted... the "secret" in the musical just comes across as a desperate attempt to shock the audience with cheap sensationalism and makes Glyde comes across as even more of a one-dimensional douchebag than he already is.


Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:26 am
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I disagree with very much of what you're saying.



Jaded Mandarin wrote:
With "The Woman In White" he had [...] a mediocre lyricist in David Zippel.


Listen to Zippel's lyrics for City Of Angels - they are very, very good.

Quote:
All of the singers give passionate, emotionally committed performances and the recording covers the entire show, including spoken word dialogue, so it's easy to follow the story just from listening to it...


The performances in TWIW are the absolutely worst examples of overacting I've ever encountered. They are so far over the top it's embarassing. And it's not difficult to follow the story, because almost nothing happens. As soon as a small trace of suspence is established, it's immediately resolved. There is also absolutely nul subtext. The villains practically exclaims "I'm the evil guy!".

Quote:
Although there is the odd clanger here and there, most of Zippel's lyrics are neither good or bad - they are just kind of there.


Again I disagree. The Zippel lyrics for TWIW are absolutely horrible.

Quote:
So, judged as a standalone musical, I would say that "Woman In White" is a solid, workmanlike effort - good, but nothing special.


My opinion is that it's one of the worst insults to musical theatre ever. It's not even close to solid or representative of workmanship. It's mostly trash, bar a few tunes.

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Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:43 am
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David Zippel has written good lyrics before (like City of Angels) but yeah, the Woman in White contains some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard.


Quote:
The performances in TWIW are the absolutely worst examples of overacting I've ever encountered. They are so far over the top it's embarassing.



Actually, I thought Michael Crawford was extremely good. But Maria Friedman---yikes!!

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Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:00 am
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Quote:
Listen to Zippel's lyrics for City Of Angels - they are very, very good.


Yes, I have heard "City Of Angels" (though I've never had the opportunity to see it live), and I agree, it contains many very clever lyrics.

But I can't help but think "City Of Angels" was something of a fluke... nothing else I've heard from Zippel has impressed me as much.

"Hercules", "Mulan", "The Woman In White" and the pop songs I've heard him write either contain lyrics that are just functional or absolute clangers, and which aren't particularly memorable.


Quote:
The performances in TWIW are the absolutely worst examples of overacting I've ever encountered. They are so far over the top it's embarassing. And it's not difficult to follow the story, because almost nothing happens. As soon as a small trace of suspence is established, it's immediately resolved. There is also absolutely nul subtext. The villains practically exclaims "I'm the evil guy!".


If "The Woman In White" is absolutely the worst example of overacting you've encountered then I envy you... you've obviously never had to sit through a BRIAN BLESSED performance.... or David Hasselhoff in the roles of "Jekyll & Hyde"....

I do agree with what you said about the characterisation of Sir Percival Glyde and Count Fosco however, it is very obvious. It's quite obvious in the novel that these two are the antagonists as well, with the suspense coming from trying to figure out "what" and "how" they are scheming, rather than "if" they are scheming... but still, the musical makes Glyde into much more of a one dimensional douchebag than he is in the book.


Quote:
Again I disagree. The Zippel lyrics for TWIW are absolutely horrible.


The thing about Zippel's terrible lyrics is that they are ultimately forgettable. I can't remember a single one off the top of my head, I know that they were absolute clangers, but they're completely unmemorable... unlike some of the other terrible lyricists Lloyd-Webber has worked with, such as Ben Elton and Glenn Slater, whose awful wordsmanship becomes etched in one's memory for all time. Just mentioning his name makes me think of Elton's awful lyrics for "The Beautiful Game" :

"Oh, I do hope there's plenty of lead in my pencil when I pop her cherry, cause I don't half fancy her"



Quote:
My opinion is that it's one of the worst insults to musical theatre ever. It's not even close to solid or representative of workmanship. It's mostly trash, bar a few tunes.


Oh well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion... my view is that "Woman In White" is just "so-mediocre-it's-average", rather than epic badness...

"Love Never Dies" and "Starlight Express" are the two Lloyd-Webber musicals I think are much more deserving of the title "worst insult to musical theatre" than "The Woman In White".

And the non-ALW stage musical "Always" is I think the single most deserving of the title of "worst insult to musical theatre ever". Again, if you haven't seen/heard it, then I envy you. The badness of "Woman In White" seems extraordinarily tame in comparison to "Always".


Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:24 pm
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Tony Winner
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Jaded Mandarin wrote:
Quote:
Again I disagree. The Zippel lyrics for TWIW are absolutely horrible.


The thing about Zippel's terrible lyrics is that they are ultimately forgettable. I can't remember a single one off the top of my head, I know that they were absolute clangers, but they're completely unmemorable... unlike some of the other terrible lyricists Lloyd-Webber has worked with, such as Ben Elton and Glenn Slater, whose awful wordsmanship becomes etched in one's memory for all time. Just mentioning his name makes me think of Elton's awful lyrics for "The Beautiful Game" :

"Oh, I do hope there's plenty of lead in my pencil when I pop her cherry, cause I don't half fancy her"


*sticks neck out*
Ben Elton actually did a much better job on the lyrics for Beautiful Game than he's given credit for, especially as he had no background in writing lyrics. Even the bit (mis)quoted above is far more believable than "I believe my heart, it believes in you, it's telling me that all I see is completely true" which is little more than meaningless nonsense.

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Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:47 pm
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Quote:
*sticks neck out*
Ben Elton actually did a much better job on the lyrics for Beautiful Game than he's given credit for, especially as he had no background in writing lyrics. Even the bit (mis)quoted above is far more believable than "I believe my heart, it believes in you, it's telling me that all I see is completely true" which is little more than meaningless nonsense.


Look, everyone's entitled to their opinion and to give Elton his due, there are some songs from "The Beautiful Game" that I really like, such as "God's Own Country" and "All The Love I Have"... Elton's lyrics for "Our Kind Of Love" feel much more honest and genuine that Glenn Slater's lyrics for "Love Never Dies" (same melody recycled) - Elton's "Our Kind Of Love" is more honest about the demands that love places upon people, whereas "Love Never Dies" is shot through with romantic fallacies.

Elton and Lloyd-Webber's hearts were in the right place with "The Beautiful Game", and of all ALW's failures, "The Beautiful Game" is probably the most noble... it is trying to grapple with serious issues and difficult themes, and for that reason I find it more enjoyable to listen to than some of his hit shows, like "Cats".

But still, I find a lot of Elton's lyrics absurd and ultimately I feel that this detracts from all the show's good intentions.

Still, "The Beautiful Game" was indisputably a much braver show than "The Woman In White" - and it's a shame that the failure of "TBG" seems to have caused ALW to retreat back to more blatantly commercial, less daring projects.


Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:47 pm
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Jaded Mandarin wrote:
Quote:
My opinion is that it's one of the worst insults to musical theatre ever. It's not even close to solid or representative of workmanship. It's mostly trash, bar a few tunes.


Oh well, everyone's entitled to their own opinion... my view is that "Woman In White" is just "so-mediocre-it's-average", rather than epic badness...

"Love Never Dies" and "Starlight Express" are the two Lloyd-Webber musicals I think are much more deserving of the title "worst insult to musical theatre" than "The Woman In White".


That's ok, haha :) I think StEx is very very embarassing for musical theatre, but at least it's solid fun in all it's gaudy tastelessness. And after having weedet out the unnecessary recitative tracks of LND, I find myself actually enjoying the main body of actual songs (although the lyrics are bland, as expected). I think it's on par with AOL, which also is nice if one extracts the actual songs from the boring recitative.

In comparishion TWIW is gratingly boring and annoying in a non-entertaining way.

Quote:
And the non-ALW stage musical "Always" is I think the single most deserving of the title of "worst insult to musical theatre ever". Again, if you haven't seen/heard it, then I envy you. The badness of "Woman In White" seems extraordinarily tame in comparison to "Always".


I don't think I've even heard of Always.

jackrussell wrote:
*sticks neck out*
Ben Elton actually did a much better job on the lyrics for Beautiful Game than he's given credit for, especially as he had no background in writing lyrics.


I think he did a much worse job on the TBG lyrics than he's given credits for. Those are easily the worst lyrics in musical theatre. You don't need a background in lyrics to know what words rhyme and not. You just have to be sane.

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Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:14 am
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Jaded Mandarin wrote:
but changing the "secret" at the heart of the story was just pointless. Once the "secret" at the heart of the novel is revealed, Sir Percival Glyde comes across as a much more audacious criminal and his carefully crafted facade seems all the better crafted... the "secret" in the musical just comes across as a desperate attempt to shock the audience with cheap sensationalism and makes Glyde comes across as even more of a one-dimensional douchebag than he already is.


I completely agree and was making this point to someone very recently.

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Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:28 am
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I would say the the lyric quoted at the top there does seem to fit the character. Though possibly it should be "'alf" rather than "half".


Sat Jun 26, 2010 10:15 pm
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