EFX is a perfect example of a show where its
ambition is its undoing. I have a feeling that no matter
how well acted, directed, or produced, EFX would
always be buried under the 40 million spent on the theater
and special effects. Not that it isn't entertaining in a
special effects kind of way, but it still always leaves me cold.
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EFX first opened with Michael Crawford (who
happens to be my personal favorite) as the "Master of Time"
who takes the audience on a journey through history and the
future while taking on roles such as Houdini, H.G. Wells,
P.T. Barnum... well you get the picture. Crawford, who has enough stage presence to
carry even the most bloated productions, was nothing more
than a figurine waiting to be ground up in the
mechanations of hydrolics and flash powder. (The production
boasts twice as many stage-hands as performers - a pretty
clear indication of where EFX's priorities lie!)
Shortly after opening, EFX finally got the best of Crawford, and he had to leave with an injured hip. His replacement, David Cassidy, reworked much of the musical numbers and infused a bit more energy into the production. Now Cassidy's been replaced by dancer Tommy Tune, who in my opinion is the weakest of the three - especially vocally. He has added some dull and sometimes bizarre dance numbers that serve only to kill time.
So what about the show? It's a grand pagent, with
thunderous busic, huge dance numbers, and battles betwen
giant fire-breathing dragons. When the dancers are all on
stage as an ensemble, the show really starts to build an
energy that nearly fills the massive theater and draws in
the audience. But it's not long before the big dance number
ends, and the excitement is replaced by indifference. This happens
frequently throughout the night as the long and slow
stage effects suck the life from the rest of the show.
One thing that does work is the costuming. Masks and colorful blends of fabric and styles add a pleasant visual mix throughout the show, and the music is enjoyable if not all that memorable.
If you really want a massive epic of fog machines, multi-million dollar sets and (please, not again!) dragons, then spend a few more bucks and go see Seigfreid and Roy - it's more entertaining.
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