The Post Weekend IV
    • MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2006

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    Actor Will Chase and company. Credit: The Broadway adaptation of High Fidelity closed yesterday, the apparent victim of a mean-spirited New York Times review and lagging ticket sales. The musical is (was?) based on Nick Horby's 1996 novel, which pits a record-store owner against the trials of post-breakup life. The book is basically the Bible to any self-respecting music lover, so we decided to disregard the Times' review and judge the show ourselves.

    Tom Kitt, the composer/arranger behind High Fidelity's pop-rock score, took us backstage before the performance. Leading actor Will Chase ("Rob") was lounging around his dressing room in a robe, listening to My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade" and looking like the Broadway equivalent of Hugh Hefner. "Have you heard this new album?" he asked us. "It's really good." But The Black Parade isn't the kind of album that would be carried by Championship Vinyl, Rob's treasured store in High Fidelity, so we decided to let Will Chase get into character without having to entertain random visitors.

    Actor Will Chase and company. Credit: www.TopFiveBreakups.comTom Kitt led us back to our seats, where we watched the show and eventually joined the crowd in a standing ovation. High Fidelity certainly has its faults, including a Bruce Springsteen bit that only truly works in the movie (thanks to Springsteen's on-screen cameo). Still, this is not a musical that deserves to be canned after several weeks. Rock 'n' roll is scarce on Broadway right now, and Disney musicals like Beauty and the Beast, Tarzan, Mary Poppins, The Lion King, and the upcoming Little Mermaid are threatening to turn New York's top-tier theaters into visual McDonald's playgrounds for tourists and their toddler children. Has all the creativity and boundary-pushing been relegated to off-Broadway venues?

    High Fidelity needed some tweaking before it could be considered Tony-worthy, but we'd rather watch record store employees sing about Jerry Lee Lewis 45s than a bunch of mermaids singing about their desire to have legs.

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