воскресенье, 26 июня 2016 г.

My impressions of Russian fantasy musical. 9.04.16

Being a fan of musicals and a fan of fantasy literature, I couldn't miss such a phenomenon as a Russian musical "The Last Trial" (this is just a literal translation of its original name, "Последнее испытание", which I came across on the English-language fan site) based on the second trilogy set in the famous Dragonlance universe created by American authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Although the stage version of this musical was set in Moscow, they came to Saint Petersburg twice. The date of their autumn performance, unfortunately, didn't suit me, but in April I finally watched the fantasy musical.

Two years ago I listened to audiobooks corresponding to the first trilogy ("Dragonlance Chronicles"), so I was familiar with the setting and most of the main characters of the "Dragonlance Legends". However, I had almost no idea about the plot of the second trilogy because I started to read it only a week before the performance. Now, after watching the musical and reading the entire trilogy, I can tell you that:

  • You don't even have to be familiar with the setting (i.e. reading neither the first nor the second trilogy is not obligatory) to be able to understand what is happening on the stage (tested on my friend ;) ). In other words, it's not like the "Harry Potter" movies.
  • You can watch the musical and read the books in either order. They have so many differences that you will not spoil the pleasure for yourself (well, even if we omit all the small details and minor storylines, it's enough to note that books and musical end in completely different ways). Maybe, you'd better watch the musical in the first place because this way you'll find more surprises. 
One more source to consider is the history of the musical (which originated at the late 90s and featured plenty of dramatic moments since then). Almost twenty years have passed from the idea was born till it materialized on the stage. Stories told by the authors explain why the musical is so different from the books.

Although the stage version of the musical is more than two years old, it's under constant refinement. You can watch parts of the 2014 year version online. This April, multimedia stage sets were much better (I especially liked the way they used two semi-transparent screens, one behind the other, combining the images on them and putting the actors in between, as if they leave the stage and enter the digital background), acrobatics was much more advanced, and the goddess was able to fly above the stage at she should be. Unfortunately, several previously existed scenes (which you can find in 2014 year version) were cut off. However, the show duration was almost 2.5 hours even after that.

Besides the great stage sets, this version showed a minotaur (!) walking on stilts (for the first time ever). Also I enjoyed the aria of Kingpriest very much (the aria itself starts at around 1:05): church-style music of pipe organ with proper visual accompaniment (sadly I failed to find it) and understandable text can be fascinating.  

Adding a fly to the ointment, I should mention that

  • An actor playing Caramon Majere (one of the main characters) was more likely yelling than singing.
  • I was disappointed not to see barely any stage sets in the second half of the performance. It looked as if they didn't manage to complete them in time.
  • During the duet with Crysania, Takhisis's microphone suddenly refused to work. As later the actress, who was playing the dark goddess, confessed, the mic wire (!) was accidentally cut during backstage costume change.   

Got interested? Even though you cannot watch the musical now, why not to listen to the free full audio version? You can find it in the middle part of that page on the left.

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