I should not be laughing at the graveside scene.
I saw this in London and it was BAD. The story was ok, but has no pace and then everyone dies. But that was not the problem. The problem was the acting, some of the scenes and choreography.
The play has two adult actors for all of the adult characters and these two where really, really good, particularly seeing as they have to deal with so many characters, but the teenage actors where pathetic. The male lead was the understudy and he spent the latter scenes biting huge chunks from the scenery.
The female lead was just flat and wet. The, supposedly epic and uplifting ending, almost made me laugh, a real challenge for a scene of a man by his love's graveside.
As for the scenes, there really are only the two that are a problem. First the scene with the gay couple, played for laughs, a pair of camp gay characters in a tragic play who's overall theme I have later learned is child abuse
. Clearly it was originally in the play as a "gay is evil" bit and was altered, badly, to avoid offence. Second, and worse, is the throw away scene of the girl who is abused by her father. A single song, and it is never mentioned again. Using the fact a father rapes his own daughter to do little more than allow for a scene change is NOT GOOD.
Finally, the choreography. Oh dear lord. Passing over the fact that the mother's slap of the female lead was a real slap and thus common assault under UK law
and the huge amounts of pointless blinky tat, showy lighting and needless mess, including a bit where the male lead drifts by on a chair attached to the far wall in a scene that has nothing AT ALL to do with him.
Ignore all that. I call director getting over exited at his new toys, it happens. But there are worse, much worse. For some reason the sex scene, logically a scene where you want to drive home the geographical and rapidly growing emotional isolation of the lead characters from their piers, all of the other children sit around the elevated platform and then rocked it back and forth to the point where one of them almost got hit in the teeth with it!
. And I don't even want to remember the fight choreography.
My girlfriend's sister, a professional dancer and thus a person I trust to know, says that the Broadway version is better. Perhaps they had a bad night but I would NEVER recommend this.