Virginia Beach, Virginia is a long way from Siberia. One wonders why Kelli Barrett a girl from said location and as American as apple pie was cast in the pivotal role of Lara – the love interest of popular poet and married doctor Yuri Zhivago (Tam Mutu), passionate revolutionary Pasha Antipov/Strelnikov (Paul Alexander Nolan) and the lecherous Victor Komarovsky (Tom Hewitt).
The men are excellent but Ms. Barrett supplies little chemistry with Yuri and Pasha - and in the case of Victor (controlling rapist) one can’t imagine what allure she has for them to be so wildly enamored of her.
She is the second weakest link in this epic, meandering, visually beautiful (with the exception of all those stacked chairs), relentless, spanning three decades, bland attempt at recreating the passion and excitement of Les Miz Russian style. The weakest link award going to Lucy Simon credited with writing music. Wait! It’s a tie - with lyricists Michael Korie & Amy Powers.
A musical needs a score to survive and this score stops it in its tracks. It’s not what the doctor ordered.
Like the Mississippi River the songs just keep rollin’ along in this almost three hour production directed by an uninspired Des McAnuff who has forsaken intimacy for crowd control. For some odd reason all the songs begin to sound alike. That can also be said of the singers. Are they all in the same key? At times, it’s difficult to distinguish one voice from another which doesn’t help matters at all. Ho hum…
Not for a minute do we believe we are in Russia despite the overhead projections of the year and location or “three weeks later” and the mammoth, imperial/battle field sets by Michael Scott Mitchell and period costumes by Paul Tazewell. And the exceptional lighting design of Howell Binkley.
Small things, unintentionally funny things keep popping up to take us out of Russia. Like Lara. Like a ridiculous “sheet waltz” danced by the nurses at the front to the tune of “Somewhere My Love” - Lara’s Theme written by Maurice Jarre and Paul Francis Webster.
There is one song “Now” that catches the ear. In fact it reminded me of another. It took me a while to figure it out. It’s the Marvin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer Sager “Through the Eyes of Love.” Perhaps I’m mistaken. In any event both songs are lovely. But the score just doesn’t do it. You just might come out of Doctor Zhivago shell shocked and humming the chairs.
At the Broadway Theatre. www.doctorzhivagobroadway.com
Photos: Matthew Murphy
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