Well, technically, the title of the musical is Doctor Zhivago
, a reinterpretation of Boris Pasternak's 1957 novel and 1965 film adaptation of the same name.
Opening its doors to NYC preview audiences April 21st, the Broadway production follows the struggles, transformations, and love triangles of doctor-poet, Yuri Zhivago during the years leading up to WWI and through the Russian Civil War that took place from 1917-1922 but with a very 21st century twist: a multi-media set design more intoxicating than the vodka consumed by the characters throughout 90% of the play.
The use of screens and projections in theater productions if oftentimes labeled "lazy" and, in my experience, disjointed. I remember seeing a local production of Godspell
that attempted to use some ridiculous Matrix-inspired digital screen overlay in the opening act determined to launch us into the future of musical theater--instead it came off nearly as out of place and laughable as the live bat that had found its way inside and was terrorizing the balcony row (it was Vermont...these things happen).
Broadway's Doctor Zhivago, on the other hand, makes masterful use of mega LED screens and projections of historical photographs that powerfully transport audiences through time, emotion, and place; from the rainy city streets of Moscow, provincial pastures of Yuriatin, and front lines of the battle fields.
It will be interesting to see how theater evolves as the world of storytelling techniques evolves around it. Will multi-media performances become the norm and how will they serve to enhance instead of detract from our experience as viewers? Stay tuned!