Oscar E Moore

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The Count of Monte Cristo – New musical showcased off-off-B’way

June 20th, 2012 by Oscar E Moore


As missed opportunities go this one is as colossal as Alexandre Dumas’ epic romantic tale of revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo, on which this new musical written by James Behr is based and being performed at 45 Bleecker Street as part of Planet Connections Festivity with a cast of sixteen and a pre-recorded computer/keyboard sound track which sounds like a full orchestra accompanying the cast.

The cast is the production’s biggest problem.  Many, especially the lead Edmond Dantes (Brandon Contreras) are miscast and cannot do justice to the very melodic score that James Behr has provided.  Projection is not their strong point.  Many words are barely audible.  There is no amplification, which I prefer.  However, young actors are relying on amplification far too much now and when it is not provided the audience cannot hear.  When you cannot hear you lose interest.

And when your Edmond Dantes lacks charisma and a strong ability to act and sing, The Count of Monte Cristo suffers.   The score is full of beautiful, romantic, sweeping melodies, the book has a clear structure that includes humor but co-directors Grant Kretchik and Jamibeth Margolis can only do so much with the limited talents provided by the cast, which is very unfortunate.

However, Pallavi Sastry as Haydee makes a strong impression with “Share It All With Me” in Act II.

With a much stronger cast Mr. Behr’s The Count of Monte Cristo has great potential and I wish them all the best for future productions.  Standout songs include “I’ll be Waiting for You”  “Just Like This”  “Oh, What a Wedding” and the memorable “How I Love Her.”

I’ve always thought this novel would make a great musical.  One day it will.



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  • Dear Mr. Moore.
    Thank you for your review. I agreed with your comments. Certain cast members (not of my choosing) were a serious problem that pulled down the show — that in addition to having a shoe-string $5,000 budget to mount this huge and complex show. With no microphones and a festival that gave us a mere five hours in the theater prior to opening night (who could properly tech and dress rehearse a musical of such complexity in five hours?), and a mere 15 minutes to load in and set up the show prior to each performance, it was impossible to mount a show anywhere close to what I envision. It breaks my heart.

    I welcome your listening to the recordings on the website (or I can send a CD) so that you can hear what the songs REALLY sound like. I welcome hearing from you.

    Cordially, James Behr