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The Dead on Broadway

The Dead is a musical based on James Joyce’s short-story of the same name. Now headed for the Belasco Theatre on Broadway, I saw the show in its Off Broadway run at the Playwright’s Horizons. My guest was concerned that a short-story by Joyce would not be easily adapted to include singing and dancing, but the show is crammed full of music and song and dance numbers that somehow add to the story of a married woman who hears a song on Christmas Eve which releases all her pent-up love for another man. There are many aspects of theatre which add to the overall impact of the show (casting, song and dance, costumes, etc.) which will now be analyzed.

The casting of the show enjoys an all-star cast that includes Christopher Walken, Marni Nixon, Blair Brown and Alice Ripley. Their acting skills greatly enhance the validity and believability of Joyce’s literary characters. Walken is excellent as Gabriel, a teacher and writer who serves as the master of ceremonies of the piece so-to-speak, complete with overblown ego and a quick, dryer than sand sarcasm. Walken’s Gabriel is the narrator of the goings on of the piece, whose themes include a reaffirmation of American values, including family, marriage, friendship and music. These are ordinary folk with an inherent heroism because of the values of the lives they lead. Plenty of song and dance numbers are included in the show which uses the framing device of the Morkan yearly Christmas party. Aunt Julia, Aunt Kate, and Mary Jane their niece, all work as music teachers who are putting on their annual celebration. Gabriel and his wife Gretta are guests at the fete, but when a melancholy ballad is sung, Gretta’s buried love for another man erupts from her subconscious. While the snow falling on Ireland will eventually alleviate the tension and confusion this causes, a jealous and perplexed Gabriel descends into torment. Walken does disappoint during the s


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The Dead on Broadway. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:08, June 02, 2020, from