On Saturday, November 17, 2012, I sat through a new musical of epic proportions, The Public Theater's production of Giant with a book by Sybille Pearson, music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa, and directed by Michael Greif. The extraordinary talent cast to help bring this show to life.
Everyone in this cast should be applauded for their work. Giant tells the tale of a powerful Texas cattleman who brings home his East Coast bride which causes life to change for everyone amongst a turbulent culture of greed, bigotry and money. Taking place in Texas between 1925-1952, Giant touches on topics of love, pride, family, integration, and most of all personal evolution. During this three-hour show, I saw the lives of many come around, learning how to change with the times.
I was particularly moved by the journey of Brian d'Arcy James' character. Known for leading roles in Next To Normal, Time Stands Still, Shrek, Sweet Smell of Success, amongst others, Brian was a great choice to portray Texas cattleman "Jordan 'Bick' Benedict." His strong acting skills and vocal power complimented the domineering traits "Jordan" showed. Kate Baldwin, whom I last saw in Finian's Rainbow on Broadway, once again shined bright as leading lady "Leslie Lynnton Benedict," "Jordan 'Bick' Benedict's" wife. Kate's versatility as an actress and singer really came through as she moved from a woman who's gone astray to a woman who found the strength to stand-up for what she believes in. Michele Pawk was wonderful as "Jordan's" sister "Luz Benedict," who did her best to keep tradition and the family name in tact. I had seen Michele before in Broadway's Hollywood Arms, so it was nice to see her in a very different role. With only one song, but lots of brilliant acting moments was Bobby Steggert won the hearts of everyone as "Jordy Benedict Jr." Portraying "Jordy's" love interest "Juana Guerra," was Natalie Cortez whose beautiful voice easily won me over. I look forward to seeing more of her work. In her Off-Broadway debut, Allison Rogers lit up the stage every time she was on it. The magnificent Katie Thompson definitely stole the spotlight during "He Wanted a Girl," "My Texas," and "Midnight Blues," as her unbelievable voice radiated throughout the whole theater. If you have never heard Katie Thompson sing, you have been missing out. While these particular performers stood out the most for me, I think everyone did a great job.
Michael John LaChiusa's sophisticated songs were performed effortlessly by this cast, which I think says a lot about their collaboration together. While I did not leave Giant humming any one tune, I did feel the music helped push the story forward.
If you are looking for a full night out with epic talent, I would suggest checking out Giant at The Public Theater in NYC (425 Lafayette Street). Giant runs through December 2. Click here for tickets!
Update: Giant has now been extended until December 16!