Bronte's novel tells of an obsessive, ardent and doomed love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how their terrifying passion eventually demolishes these two and many others. The classic tale has inspired many adaptations in all the arts, notably the 1939 film with Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon directed by William Wyler. Some recent adaptations, in both theater and film, have been radically innovative, but Paul Dick's adaptation is remarkable in its faithfulness to the original story. When it was presented in 1999 and again in 2006 at the Mint Theater, it was deemed "an impressive achievement" and "one of the best musical bargains in town" by Elyse Sommer, writing in "Curtain Up!," who added that the show "effectively and melodiously moves the narrative through sixteen scenes of smoothly integrated dialogue and songs. It all adds up to a work that holds its own as a musical drama without trying to upstage or improve upon the story."
Paul Dick subtitled his adaptation "a romantic musical." It succeeds by selecting literally yet judiciously from the book (how can you beat lines like Catherine's "I am Heathcliff!"?) while crafting songs that are a keyhole into the characters' unspoken thoughts. The piece is scored mostly with arias (there is almost no recitative) that are warm and inviting, but which gird the play with tension. This kind of construction actually strengthens the strong roles of the story.
Director Matt Gutchick explains, "The music doesn't take us through the story, but we let it guide us." He adds, "Musically, the melodies of the arias don't quite go where your ear tells you they are leading. Sometimes, they resolve on unfinished chords; other times, there are rhythmic changes in mid-song that point to growing tension between two characters." It's perfect for the small stage of the Mint Theatre.
There are fourteen roles altogether, of which two are childen (young Heathcliff and young Catherine). The three main locations of the story--the house (Wuthering Heights), The Moors and The Grange--will be created for the Mint's compact playing area in a circular structure framed by sliding panels. Catherine's "ghost" will be rendered with stand-ins behind the famous window. As the story darkens, so will the environment; warm colors in costumes and lights will become noticeable by their scarcity.
Accompaniment throughout will be by musical director Michael Sheetz on a single piano, which suits the period of the play. There is occasional vocal augmentation from offstage in some of the choruses, but seldom is the entire ensemble seen together onstage.
Wed through Fri at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm
Sundays at 3:00 pm
Theater: Mint Theater
Address: 311 West 43rd Street
New York, NY
Cost:$18 general admission
$10 students with ID
Buy Tickets Online or Call: Ticket Central at 212-279-4200