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Victor Victroia

review by Anthony D.

 

Rated G

Running Time: 175 Minutes

Starring Julie Andrews, Tony Roberts

Studio: Image Entertainment

Directed by Blake Edwards

 

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Julie Andrews Bio, Introduction, Interview, History of "Victor Victoria"

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital English 5.1, English DTS

Victor/Victoria is the stage musical adaptation of Blake Edward's award-winning film of the same title. The stage musical marked Julie Andrews' return to the Broadway stage in a book musical (she had performed on Broadway in a Sondheim revue three years earlier).

Victor/Victoria is a sophisticated musical comedy of gender-bending proportions, with a nod to the screwball comedies of the 1930's. Victoria Grant, a second rate soprano with the Bath Touring Light Opera Company, escapes bankruptcy by posing as Europe's greatest female impersonator - - Victor, a supposed Polish count. "A woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman," is how scripter Edwards phrases it; but chaos ensues when Victoria falls for a homophobic American gangster, who can't cope with the fact that he's fallen in love with another "man."

As expected, Julie Andrews delivers an electrifying performance (or two), and is ably supported by a cast of Broadway veterans: Tony Roberts, Michael Nouri and Rachel York. Not a single joke falls flat in the hands ofthis award-deserving ensemble, and Rachel York, doing a take on the typical "dumb Blonde" popularized by Jean Harlow almost steals the show with her wacky line and song deliveries.

Victor/Victoria was taped, and televised for Japanese television early in its Broadway run, marking the first time that a Broadway production was televised during it's Broadway run. V/V also marked Blake Edwards' only venture into directing and writing for the stage.

Victor/Victoria is presented in a widescreen anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and looks fabulous in any incarnation. Colors are vibrant and solid - check out Rachel York's hot pink fur in Chapter 24 - - and detail is astonishing! The look of the 1930's fashion is captured in pinstripes and pastels, floral patterns as well as multi-textural silks and satins. The detail is so vivid that you can virtually count the sequins on some of the dancers' intricate costumes. Even with sets containing hard horizontal lines of Venetian blinds (see Chapter 10) there is not a trace of shimmering. Red is used quite a bit in the presentation and remains solid throughout, not a trace of bleeding in sight! Fleshtones are balanced as well creating a rich, vibrant presentation. Blacks, including shadows, are deep and contrasted nicely. The stunning stage designs (costumes and sets) create a picture virtually awash with colors and textures in stunning detail. This is one definite piece of eye-candy...

...and the sound is ear-candy! Victor/Victoria boasts a Dolby Digital sound mix that, though not earth-shattering, is as richly detailed as the video quality. The front soundstage is at times multi-directional (Chapter 23 contains a duet between Julie Andrews and Michael Nouri, where they are singing at opposite sides of the stage, and the sound design reflects their stage positions perfectly). The rear channels are used for special sound effects such as ultra-realistic thunder as well as audience reaction placing the view in the best seat in the house for a stage show. Every instrument in the orchestra can be heard clearly without harshness. Dialogue is obviously NOT ADR produced, this being a live presentation, but at times it feels that the actors are over-miked - - this could be the result of body mikes as well as the mikes being used by the video recorders - - but never enough to detract from one's enjoyment of the presentation. The LFE channel is used to boost the orchestra for the most part and never overwhelms the listener.

Victor/Victoria's extras are limited to several screens of Julie Andrews' BIOGRAPHY and FILMOGRAPHY, and two onscreen appearances by Julie: the first welcoming the Japanese viewers to the Marquis theater, the second, a briefer chat between the acts wherein Julie waxes on about the other cast members. I would have liked to see biographies of the rest of the talents involved with this stage show, or rather than the print screen of the history of Victor/Victoria - - a documentary on the history of Victor/Victoria including clips from the film and on screen interviews with Edwards and the composer and/or lyricist.

 

Victor/Victoria is definitely a keeper. This disc belongs in the libraries of any Musical Theater Maven. As far as this viewer is concerned, Victor/Victoria is a better presentation of a theater experience than Image's two Stephen Sondheim shows - - Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George. An excellent transfer, delightful performances and the inherent historical value make Victor/Victoria's home video incarnation the next best thing to having actually been an audience member at New York City's Marquis Theatre.

On a more somber note, though, Julie's appearance in this production has cost her her voice, so it is highly unlikely that we will ever get to hear her phenomenal instrument tackling another Broadway or film musical. I'm happy that the producers of this video captured Victor/Victoria early in its run while the cast was still fresh, and Julie was able to perform every note brilliantly. This is the Julie I will remember along with her wide-armed twirl in the opening frames of The Sound of Music.

(5/5, NOT included in final score)

(5/5)

(4/5)

(2/5)

(4.5/5, NOT an average)

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