Just what is it about these small spaces that allows for such giant, musical hits? What's really striking, when watching a downsized musical, is the transformative effect these compact venues have on the crowd-pleasing but often distant ensemble numbers. In a small space, the most moving moments are not the lamenting love songs but the surprisingly nuanced group numbers. It was ensemble pieces, like Farewell Song and War Song that hit hardest in director Andrew Keates's robust revival of The Hired Man. That's because it wasn't a bunch of faceless farmers we were watching being sent off to war, but a group of colourful characters with which the audience had closely connected.
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