The Playgoer: "Problem Like Maria"

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Problem Like Maria"

For those dying to know what's going on with Lord Lloyd Webber's grand TV experiment, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria," Playbill is running dispatches from a tellly-watching correspondent in the UK.

Some eyebrow-raising excerpts:

Sparing no visible expense, the Lord's converted a 17th-century church into a compact, state-of-the-art theatre where the show's sacrificial lambs can strut their stuff. Predictably, nerves cripple many previously perfect high notes as surely as a shot of Mace. But if the singing, to be charitable, is scattershot, a vital, 30-second acting test proves even more of a lottery.

Mercifully, there is a Lord, besides the composer himself, and today, he's evidently stoking the seeds of human kindness. Film director Michael Winner ( ironically enough, of "Death Wish" fame) considers the whole premise "a great idea." Even more encouragingly, singer Cilla Black—a contemporary of the Beatles—draws parallels between how she and the Fab Four were head-hunted by Brian Epstein in a 60s take on Webber's quest. "You can't hide talent," she States. "If you've got it, it shows."

If it's already a freakshow over there, just imagine the NBC version!

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