Friday, March 30, 2012

Pipe Dream: Love Through a LITERAL Pipe

If only this had been a musical about crackpipe users who fall in love.  If only...that would have had some dramatic potential.  Rodgers & Hammerstein may not have been involved but it would have been something to see.

The "real" Pipe Dream is a flop Rodgers & Hammerstein musical about a girl living on the street, Suzy, (Laura Osnes) taken in by a madam, Fauna, (Leslie Uggams).  Immediately upon arrival (well after she steals a donut), Suzy manages to insult the town's loveliest, kindest, handsomest and most helpful man about town, Doc (Will Chase).  Doc is a marine biologist.  Suzy's harsh words make Doc reconsider the direction of his life which up until then involved staring into tide-pools with his mentally challenged sidekick Hazel (Stephen Wallem).  Suzy's insults convince Doc he needs to write a paper on octopuses!  But poor Doc knows he can never write a good paper on octopuses because he doesn't have a microscope (sad trombone).  His buddy Mac (Tom Wopat) has a secret plan to raffle off the flophouse he lives in (but does not own) to raise money for the microscope.

Are you following this...Should I draw a map?  Fuck it.  A map will not help you out of this hole.  BUT WAIT, there is more.  Where is the pipe you ask? 

I was seriously confused by the advertising for Pipe Dream.  The cartoon ads made it look like Laura Osnes's character lived in submarine at the bottom of the sea. This is wrong (though I really wished it was true...that...or a pineapple).  She lives in a boiler than can only be accessed through a pipe (Pipe Dream...get it).  At some point the man she may or may not be in love with must crawl through a literal pipe to bring her flowers...Thankfully the man tasked with this is Will Chase.  And he seemed game and willing to muss his nice chinos for the love of a good woman...(and he does this after he has chased off Suzy's other suitor, Joe the Mexican--yes Joe the Mexican).

But the good woman in question isn't so good.  She's kind of a bitch to dear Will Chase.  And she's dealing with some low self-esteem issues.  Suzy is misunderstood...but we never know why.  It's not for us to know I guess.  But will it ever work out for Will and Suzy?  They sing a duet and you think maybe it will...but then it turns out the duet is really about the fact that they both have learned that they were fools to fall for each other and they should move on.  And they both seem ok with that!  BUT YOU HAVE TO FALL IN LOVE OR MY TIME HERE IS WASTED!  Fear not...the love story gets back on track shortly thereafter.  All it takes is a broken arm, some soup and an invitation to the tide-pools of LaJolla and they are good to go. 

Gentlemen reading this at home.  Do not try to woo any gal with an invite to the tide-pools of LaJolla.  This will only work if you are Will Chase.  #professionaldriveronaclosedcourse

Between the ragtag group of squatters and the ragtag group of hookers and a song about fish, this show is a total mess.  It's why it is not revived.  But I do appreciate Encores! letting us see exactly why that is.  This production, directed by Marc Bruni, is a feat.  Excellent choreography and staging.  They have tried to put on the richest production possible even if this is a "concert" staging.  But none of that can fix the fact that the plot is ludicrous.  But not fun ludicrous.  Painfully confusing, awkward, not funny, and a little bit racist ludicrous.  But I can say I have seen it.  Check.

I can even say the song All At Once You Love Her was darling and I'd listen to Will Chase sing that to me anytime.  And the whole company does an amazing job to treat the work seriously and respectfully.  And my snide tone is not a dig at them at all.  Everyone sounded great.  Laura struggles with Suzy when she's supposed to be tough and rough around the edges but as always she excels at sweetness.  I'd love to hear Will and Laura sing again together in something else.  Their voices are well-suited to the Rodgers & Hammerstein oeuvre.  Stephen Wallem is great as Hazel.  Tom Wopat was the right kind of salty and crusty here.  I really applaud everyone involved for doing a great job with this material.  I am sure this is the best production of Pipe Dream I will ever see.  And I mean that sincerely. 

And in the spirit of octopus study, here is my favorite Octocam for your enjoyment.


  1. Totally agree. This show is a mess, yet I really enjoyed it.

  2. I would add sexist to your list (even for a show written during the 50s).