Two by Two
This show is considerably more interesting than the rating at left may indicate. Director Stephen Peithman revives this 1970 musical, one of the last scores by the great Richard Rodgers, the man who wrote the music for many of the great shows of the ‘40s and ‘50s (Oklahoma, et al). The story concerns Noah and the Ark, and includes some funny moments as the rejuvenated 600-year-old central character sings “I Feel Like I’m Ninety Again.” Actually, Rodgers may have been reflecting on his own position—although the show contains some sprightly melodies, you get a sense that the composer was aware that his style of songwriting, which had dominated Broadway for decades, was going out of fashion. In fact, Broadway was about to be taken over by the (much less talented) Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Biblically derived rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar thrived at the box office, while Rodgers’ Two by Two quickly faded away.Although Rodgers’ songs are pretty good, Peter Stone’s book (based on a play by Clifford Odets, based in turn on Genesis) has problems, including an awkward attempt to straddle what was known around 1970 as the “generation gap.”
The Woodland Opera House production features a good comic actor, Micail Buse, as Noah. Buse doesn’t have a big voice, and he sort of talks his way through songs—but so did Danny Kaye, for whom the role was originally written. Veteran local actor Joe Alkire sings well as Ham. Others in the cast, which includes two high-school students, have varying levels of skill and experience.
The show doesn’t transcend its limitations, but those who love musicals will want to check it out anyway, just to hear some of the relatively unfamiliar Rodgers songs. And the historic Woodland Opera House is a wonderful destination.