Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Nite Title Bout (March 22)

Every week, I write listings for the shows debuting on and off Broadway for Metromix NY. I'm usually disappointed by the titles that playwrights choose for their work: most of them don't sound very tempting. Now I'm reviewing them.

St. James Theater
This one's actually the title to a rock album, adapted for Broadway. It's a good punk title: you're not just an idiot, you're an American idiot! That helps this show stand out from the benign marquees all over the neighborhood (except for A Behanding in Spokane, I guess).

The Public Theater
It's common to name your show after its protagonist. But this emo musical by Les Freres Corbusier (itself a great name for a troupe) adds that sanguinary doublet to give the sound an extra burst of energy. The repetition may be odd but it helps the rhythm & makes sure the title doesn't sound like a Brit cursing.

59 East 59
Is this a compliment or a command? I hope it's the latter, but I suspect it's the former. As one-word titles go, it's okay but bland.

Theater Row
A full sentence, very rare. It has a definite subject, “I”, which focuses the drama too. INSFMF also gets points for evoking a sentiment, which shows some care and intelligence; that sentiment, however, is elegiac nostalgia, which turns me off the show itself.

The Duke on 42nd Street
Now that's a great title! The connection of love with sin implies an unhappy romance on a number of levels. And the “My” makes it specific by implying a lover & a beloved. Naturally, the phrase is borrowed from Shakespeare, who ranks up with King James' God as the go-to source for writers stuck for a title.

Broadway Theater
Another repetition. Here, it's got the effect of sounding like a dismissal, either wistful or sarcastic. Either way, it renders the promises broken, which is kind of smart. But this one fails to provide basic information about the work―which is a musical adaptation of The Apartment. Why not stick with that―too Pinteresque? I guess we should just be thankful that producers don't call it The Apartment: The Musical.

Ohio Theater
Oh, this one's so common it's almost a cliché. There's the '60s hit by Fontella Bass (no, it's not Aretha) and the dance song by Madonna, plus that TV show about firefighters. So what's this show about? I dunno, but I've got the soul song stuck in my head, which is cool.

New World Stages
What are the 39 steps? It's clever that this title (from John Buchan's novel and then Hitchcock's adaptation) sparks that question in your mind, since the quest for an answer is what drives the story. Ironically, Buchan & Hitch provide different solutions, neither of which is remotely as satisfying or memorable as the thriller itself.

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