“The Last Goodbye” at Williamstown -- Arts Section -- Theatre
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Through August 20
Original rock-and-roll musicals like Hair and Rent have been big money makers, but if you start with an already successful album you have a built-in audience which is why Green Day's American Idiot is such a hit on Broadway. And for fans of the late Jeff Buckley—who tragically died in a swimming accident in 1997 after releasing only one full-length, full-band studio album, GRACE, in 1994—the new musical The Last Goodbye is an innovative, dynamic tribute to his artistry. Director Michael Kimmel has adapted the text of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and used Buckley's arena-rock songs to create a score that is incendiary and bone-chilling. (This is West Side Story on crack and Special K.) Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" makes a haunting finale.
While the story of the lovers whose families are enemies is painfully familiar, the acting and choreography (by Sonya Tayeh) are raw, gutsy and mesmerizing. Most members of the cast have Broadway credits and strong voices and their powerful performances are what one expects from WTF. Kris Kukul's musical direction would play well at the Tony Awards, and don't be surprised if this makes it to Broadway sooner rather than later. See it now, and you can brag that you saw it at WTF first.
Williamstown Theatre Festival