There around a dozen band members down there and In my opinion the show was better than last year with the redesign just providing for a better show. The show as well changed their song line up and it was just a better show in general than preivious.
I think this years’ Night Beats was a huge improvement over last years’ show. That said, the main problem was the opposite of last year. This time, all of the Night Beats segments were shoehorned in awkwardly in what I think should have just been an entirely different show. “The Shadows of the Night” for example sounded very strange after a dark orchestral overture. Most transitions were very strange, but none as much as that change from dark to 80’s hit, to “just kidding, this is a Lady Gaga festival”.
The problem with making it a different show is that although it is Night Beats, it feels more like a rewrite of Monster Stomp: Revamped without the knives. Both shows were about vampires, but this took the darker tone of MSR. MSR was more comedic than Monster Stomp on Ripper Row, but it was obviously intended to be a comedy, whereas this show can’t decide what it wants to be. The tone skips around just as much, if not more than Monster Stomp:RR.
The biggest saving grace of this show is that the director seemed to know where the weak points were, and decided to fast forward through those unapologetically. That was brilliant in contrast to all previous years’ “Take Me Home Tonight” scenes. This time, they didn’t take two minutes to force a joke that probably wasn’t funny to begin with. Instead, they called the person selected before the show by name. It was simple, less awkward for everyone, and almost funny. The person was also not insulted upon returning to her seat.
The band in the center looked brilliant. It allowed them to create some very interesting color palettes with the lighting reflecting off of the gate surrounding them. It also dispersed the audio more evenly in the awkward acoustic space that is Das Festhaus. This just reinforces that the original stage designer(s) had the right idea all along. The only disappointment from this aspect was that they could no longer use the fire curtain which, granted, never shot straight last year with the new pyrotechnics team.
The show has many good elements and when you watch it, just be prepared to ignore the bad leftovers from last years failed attempt. Believe me, it’s much easier to ignore the bad with the cheesy dialogue being cut so drastically. All that remains has fitting background music that you can use to drown out the bad.
As much as a lot of people would like that (so would I with the great childhood memories of seeing that striking, iconic stage), a lot of money was spent on this wide space stage with an orchestra pit and by God they're going to keep using it for a very long time.
On the flip side, I think the original Night Beats was the greatest Howl-O-Scream show ever produced and I think this new version is a true monstrosity. Incoherent, unrefined, lazy, and with a horrendous story that may even be bordering on a tad bit racist.
Worst story I've ever watched at the park. Least cohesive setlist I've ever seen in a BGW show. Worst excuse for choreography I've ever witnessed in Williamsburg. A true and complete trainwreck of a show that desecrates the grave of both Night Beats and Monster Stomp Revamped.
The only bright side I can point to is that this cast will be incredible if they stick around for Deck the Halls.
I don't particularly enjoy the Lady Gaga songs and I feel it throws off the flow/setlist. I REALLY do enjoy how great the band sounds on most of the tracks however. Less "jazzy" than original Night Beats (I'm not huge into jazz so this is where my opinion might differ).
Is there more to the story than just two archeologist looking people ended up in a vampire nest, eventually getting turned, and dancing to fun music?
Festhaus shows shouldn't rely on story too much, many people are coming and going throughout the show, people showing up late might not get the story but they can still enjoy the show.
I actually really liked the choreography! Only Celtic Fyre's dancing has really impressed me in the three years I've been coming, but I was pleasantly surprised by Revamped... more than any other non-Celtic show. I thought *most* of the dancing was fresh and appropriate to the vampire theme. There were definitely things I would have changed but I liked this version so much more than last year's. I also thought the pit might get in the way, but it worked. (I'm neutral on the set list because I'm not a top 40 person and would prefer something different, but BG shows are what they are so c'est la vie.)
What was potentially racist about it? (Am I blind?)
I also like this show. I think the dancers and singers have a lot of energy, and I like the interactions with the band in the pit. The only part I would criticize is the vampire's "snack" with the audience member. It's pretty stale. But again, I like the show.
You're not blind—I think I just watch with a more critical (cynical?) eye than most.
That said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't really uncomfortable with the start of the show. Let me explain a bit...
My reading of the show is that there is a young couple wandering through a graveyard at night circa the 1940s/50s (?) when they happen upon a vampire nest. The lead human girl is put under a mind-control-like spell (True Blood/Star Wars style) by the vampires as her human male companion flees. This mind-control bit is expressed through the hypnotic-esque movements of the vampire's arms, their visual focus on the human woman, and what can only be described as a radical change of demeanor in the human woman. The scene that follows is Night Beat's That Old Black Magic/Old Devil Moon scene (moon chair and all—read: the human woman and the male lead vampire getting very hands-on). This section concludes with the lead male vampire biting the human woman (despite obvious resistance) and takes her off-stage into the mausoleum.
Now, Night Beats: Revamped features an impressively racially-varied cast. That said, the two human leads are white cast members playing a pair of very overtly stereotyped white characters. This leaves every other cast member starting off the show as a vampire. That, by itself, isn't an issue. That said, having the cliche "innocent young white woman" character mind-controlled by the male lead vampire (who is an African-American), having her, while under his spell, sing Old Black Magic, and then concluding the scene with a very clearly not-consensual vampire conversion that is pretty hard to differentiate from rape—especially with her being taken off-stage afterwards—combines to form a sequence of events that I think is, at best, culturally tone-deaf.
I'm sure most people aren't following the show anywhere near closely enough to piece this story together and I'm sure that most people who do probably wouldn't come to the same conclusion I did. It did sit very poorly with me, personally, though. :unsure: