Saturday, June 26, 2010
Morning Midway: From Whence, How and Why "Banana Shpeel"?
A story in the New York Times on June 26 attempting to follow the tortured and confusing creative path taken by Cirque du Soleil in crafting the ill-fated Banana Shpeel, unfortunately sheds little light on the saga other than to state, all too obviously to most everyone who has followed this strange episode, that "the production appeared to suffer from competing creative impulses."
Daniel Lamaree, the company's president, is credited, though not directly quoted, as terming the outcome "the first time that Cirque has quickly shuttered a major show."
What is so conspicuously missing are any specifics on how Guy Laliberte contributed at a closed door performance for big guns last fall. "The performance was poorly received," we learn, but that's about all.
Nor was reporter Patrick Healy able to reach director David Shiner, evidently back in Germany, for comment.
Curiously, Healy does not survey the New York reviews. Not all were negative or scathing. Variety issued a highly upbeat notice, finding Shpeel a "boisterously amusing funfest."
What does come through is that, once shucking aside an earlier script, Shiner worked without a replacement libretto for months, spending much time apparently improvising form one idea to another. Which is hardly an adult recipe when endeavoring to mount a viable stage show for Broadway. In this instance, Cirque may have fallen victim to its own hubris.
Did anybody out there see the show? I'm all ears.