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Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Broadway- Doctor Zhivago

When I was in high school, I worked at a movie theater, and we had a re-release of the 1965 movie, Doctor Zhivago. I was mesmerized by the beautiful movie, and Omar Sharif and Julie Christie were unforgettable as Yuri and Lara, star-crossed lovers during WWI and the Russian Revolution.

Doctor Zhivago is now a Broadway musical, and I had the opportunity to see it last night. From the opening scene, I was again mesmerized. I thought it would be daunting to bring such an iconic movie to the stage, but the show was stunning from beginning to end.

The sets, from the grand wedding of Doctor Yuri Zhivago to Tonia, his childhood sweetheart and daughter of his benefactors, to the battlefields of Germany are brilliantly executed, simple yet effective in aiding in the telling of the story. The costumes are wonderful as well.

Yuri becomes entranced by Lara, a revolutionary who attempts to kill Victor Komarovosky, a man who is always involved in something shady and manages to keep his head above water. Victor and Lara are having an affair, one she regrets.

Lara is married to Pasha, a firebrand who wants to change Russia through revolution. They will do so through violence if necessary, since nothing else seems to work.

Pasha enlists to fight in WWI, and Yuri volunteers to offer his medical services as well. Lara becomes a volunteer nurse to be closer to her husband, but it is Doctor Zhivago with whom she falls in love.

The score is powerful and emotional, with the strongest songs being "Love Finds You", sung by the five leads, and "It Comes As No Surprise" sung by Lara and Tonia as they confront each other over their love for Yuri. And yes, "Lara's Theme" is here, sung beautifully by the nurses.

The acting is terrific, with Kelli Barrett, as the strong-willed Lara reminding me of another Kelli, Broadway powerhouse Kelli O'Hara. Tam Mutu has a tough job following in Omar Sharif's footsteps, but he does so admirably. I do wish their chemistry was a little stronger though.

The audience really loved Paul Alexander Nolan's performance of Pasha. He got lots of whoops and hollers from the audience, as did Tom Hewitt as Victor. Both men gave strong performances.

I'm sad to report that the show is closing on Sunday, but if you can get there before then, I recommend it. Fans of Les Miserables will love this one, as well as fans of the movie.

The Doctor Zhivago website is here.

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