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Dear Readers, Usually when I write a column for MousePlanet, I get letters from you, a comment about my writing style, a question about the subject in hand.
I donít think you have ever been so passionate about a subject though, as you were with regard to the Steps In Time article I wrote. You surprised me too. Because my thoughts on the subject were rather strong, I fully expected to get tons of letters protesting my view.
I got two.
Of the massive volume of notes pouring into my mailbox on the subject, those of you who wrote to me agreed with my thoughts overwhelmingly. Your feelings were so strong as a matter of fact, that I felt a follow-up of reader mail was in order.
Letís start with the folks who disagreed with what I had to say, shall we?
From Reader Drew I received:
Now, this show is by no means something to write home about, BUT it is not the rancid pile of trash you make it out to be. The dancers are VERY talented and the performers are incredible. However, it has basic problems. The title doesn't fit the show any more, etc.
But, the innards of a truly touching and enjoyable show exist. When you dissected the dialogue, I think you missed the point. I think you read a little too hard into it. Alex (the older brother), for instance, learns that it is not his job to pick on his younger brother. He learns his lesson.
And the dialogue is a bit corny at points, and Vera should be more involved in the dance numbers.
But EVERY show has problems. I am a performer myself (in fact, tonight is opening for the show I'm in right now), and a huge musical theater fan. I like Lloyd Webber, Sondheim, Ahrens / Flaherty, Kander / Ebb, I like it all. It's part of theater. Problems.
And regarding your message to Disney about trying to be hip, I agree.... mostly. Disney's California Adventure is supposed to be hip, "irreverent", etc. One of the points of the new park is that it is not the Magic Kingdom.
I found Disney's Steps In Time to be refreshing, and it needs a little work. But overall, I would go see it again. And again. I enjoyed it. My girlfriend enjoyed it.
No offense Sue, but I do think you could lighten up a bit.
I donít want California Adventure to be like the Magic Kingdom. I understand that it is completely different, but when it comes to the subject of sustaining stereotypes, of any kind, I will never lighten up. The dialogue in Steps In Time that perpetuates women as nagging harpies is very objectionable. The muddled choreography, bad attempt at being hip, and stereotyping is not exactly what Iíd refer to as refreshing.
Patrick, I guess we will have to agree to disagree, Iíd give the show a 3, at best. I have a very healthy sense of humor and I still do not see how it is funny to talk about women as nags and big brothers harassing their siblings.
As for the flow of the show, I think version two isnít any better than version one. Most of the segues from Fairy Godmother to dance number are introduced with the lamest dialogue Iíve ever heard and then the Fairy Godmother walks off stage to leave the kid standing there wondering what to do while the dancers try to maneuver around him. This repeats itself over and over too.
As for making a huff over the Hakuna Matata number, I am not a prude. I thought it was the only upbeat, contemporary- type, dance number in the whole show that worked and in no way thought it was sexually suggestive. I doubt that a child would read sex into it either. Iíd imagine it would be seen as a bunch of guys bouncing around and having fun.
I am aware that California Adventure just opened, but remember, the Disney Company has been in the entertainment business a long time. It shouldnít be that hard for them to come up with a good show and a guest should not have to "learn" to like something.
Iíd go see Animazement, but they donít run it very much. Itís considered a show, you see. As such, it only runs on the weekends during the off- season. During the month of March, Animazement will only run a total of nine days, due to the fact that Disneyland has rented out the theatre to a Cheerleading event. Steps In Time, on the other hand, is considered an attraction, it runs seven days a week. Kind of sad, if you ask me.
And, yes, I do remember most of those shows you mentioned. They are from an era when Disneyland knew how to stage a good show. Iíd love it if we currently had a show the caliber of Beauty and the Beast or Mickeyís Nutcracker, or more importantly, the one you left out, Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Festival of Fools. Now, that was a show! Instead, we get Steps In Time.
Women aren't nags, big brothers aren't bullies and not all New Yorkers are bad.
Whether you intended it that way or not I find it offensive the way you use New York twice in your column to describe people. Are you using it as shorthand to say these individuals are rude?
Marc, I was a little distressed when I got your note. I didnít see how anyone could infer that I think New Yorkers are rude from what I wrote. (By the way, did you ever read my article about attending the Tonys? Especially the last paragraph?)
Quite simply, the folks Anne Hamburger called in to fix things happened to be from New York. It was a geographical description rather than in insult. If the Hamburger Helpers had come from Alaska, I would have referred to them as the Alaskan fixers. Would you have taken umbrage to that?
Youíre not from New York now, are you?
So... did you like the show or not? ;o)
As a New York theatre professional, but DEFINITELY not one of the ones who worked on the revamp!!!, I am saddened and stunned that the Eisner Regime has blown so much money on yet another piece of disastrous entertainment.
I wanted to point something out about your figure as it relates to the average mid-sized Broadway musical: Yes, you can blow a cool seven million on a Broadway show... but that figure includes the following expenses that would not apply, at least in a direct way, to a show at one of Disney's theme parks, such as:
So... when you look at the fact that musicals such as "The Full Monty" and "High Society" were brought in for around 6-8 million factoring in all of the above information....They have REALLY BLOWN A LOT OF MONEY ON A PIECE OF CRAP SHOW!!!! And, as rumor has it the Broadway "Beauty and the Beast" was brought in for around 11 million-so add the 4-5 million I indicated from above- they basically spent about the same amount on a crappy, 25-minute show as one would have to spend to mount a lavish Broadway show. It's STAGGERING!
Given your information regarding the cost of mounting a small Broadway show, it is rather staggering, isnít it?
I read your article on MousePlanet about the Steps in Time show at DCA, and I couldn't agree more.
My friends and I went to see it on opening day. It was the most God- awful piece of garbage Disney has ever produced for a theme park show. I had found it to be so unimaginative and uncreative. We sat cringing at the site of watching our beloved Disney musical numbers being contemporized straight to the gutter. It was almost like a Disney Gap commercial. What a waste of money and talent on such skillful dancers.
The whole audience grudgingly applauded after every number to be polite. I feel sorry for the dancers who have to put up with this 6 shows a day. By the end of it, we officially dubbed the show by its new name "Waste of Time."
Thanks for the truthful article.
The applause at the performance I saw was polite, at best. Comparing Steps In Time to the commercial for The Gap is kind of insulting to The Gap, donít you think?
Anne has NO respect from any of the Disneyland Resort staff or crew. She doesn't know anyoneís name (in spite of the heroic efforts by the Disneyland Resort to pull off her almost impossible 3 week re- do of the show). She views her role in all of this as "coming to save some podunk theatre troupe in the mid west from themselves". She rolls in to make a name for herself, doesn't matter who she steps on to do it.
I can tell you the entire "team" of people brought in by Ann were the oddest people you can imagine. Most of them have only done semi pro stuff prior to this, they are amazed by the "art" they have achieved in the new show. (Sample: The choreographer giving the new moves to the dancers - "can you do one of those twirley things??" - he meant a pirouette)
Right on review! I work on Steps and you said it all. I especially appreciated your sympathy for us still working on this train wreck which had so much potential.
The one good thing about Steps In Time, as I see it, is the cast and crew. Iíd hate to see what the show would be like if they werenít so good at what they do. I fully expect to see some of the performers names up in lights some day (in the not too distant future).
Another Anonymous Wrote:
I must say you have definitely hit the nail square on the head. All the things that I thought about the original show and the new version, you said in the article you posted on the website. I think that it is a crime what they did to the show. Walt didn't want Disneyland to be a negative place and even though I know that this is not Disneyland it is still a Disney Theme park. There is way too much cynicism in the script, way too negative for me, it made me uncomfortable.
Once again kudos to you and the fine post on the website. I myself applaud you for your astute observation. I can only hope that Michael Eisner and Anne Hamburger read and take to heart what you've written. They need to know how so many people feel about what they have done to "Steps in Time." And believe me there are quite a few people feel the same as you.
Just read your review of Steps in Time II.
Does NOT sound good and this is coming from somebody who has been quite the avid DCA supporter!!!
Thank you for the most accurate analysis of the current version of the "Steps in Time" show in the Hyperion Theatre at the California Adventure. You said exactly what I have been wanting to say about the show since I saw it again on the 17th of February after having seen the original version on the 19th of January.
After seeing the original, I had thought at the time that it could use some "tweaking", but on the whole, the show was pretty good. The singers were fantastic, the dance numbers were nice, and the way the theatre itself looked and moved with the show was brilliant.
That was then, this is now.
Iím told that Eisner thought the show was the best thing heíd ever seen in any amusement park and that the redo was just what the show needed. That shows how out of touch Eisner is with what is good and what the public wants. Although I guess thatís what you should expect from the man who liked River Dance (rather go see The Billies perform Puddle Prance, myself).
I donít know if there is anything that can really be done about this show, but it sure wouldnít hurt to write. After all, as a paying customer, you are entitled to express your feelings. And how will Disney know if the guest doesnít speak up?
I would suggest you address your mail to:
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