Box Seat Theater
By Jacqueline Dillon
Pandora's Box "Original Sin" project is both a watershed and a masterwork in the career of its writer and producer, Jim Steinman. The basic gestures and orchestral sound of Steinman's earlier work is reflected in the large scale architecture of the "Original Sin" LP. Via Pandora's Box, however, a more distinctive personal style has emerged. As much a concept as an album, "Original Sin" anticipates Steinman's new kind of musical drama, a drama of inwardness rather than incident. Known for raising and defying expectations simultaneously, Steinman's work with Pandora's Box can serve the insightful as a glimpse of what future Steinman productions might involve. "Original Sin" advocated a new synthesis of rock, opera, and theater. Voices are treated as instruments, threads in a symphonic tapestry of unprecedented sensuousness. The common thread, actually more of a taut, sturdy rope, might best be described as frustrated desire. The search for love in a world hostile to the emotion crops up again and again. These songs are people with characters who are alienated, impoverished, and often struggling with despair. What's on the man's mind lyrically is another matter; a combination of pop-culture, sex, internal dialogues, sex, and hallucinogenic memories would seem to be some topics of inquiry. The lines between rock and opera are non-existent. This is theater in its purest form, produced and directed by Jim Steinman. His singular artistic vision has gained him a reputation as a perfectionist with a clear understanding of what he wants to bring forth.
Setting aside the extra minutes, or hours, necessary to fully appreciate Steinman productions (with rewards arriving in direct proportion to the time invested), fans and critics embraced the album as a slice of hot heaven. Each of the "girls" taking their moment in the spotlight, each possessing unique vocal characteristics. Neither Steinman or the listener ever able to find one better than the other. In every sense of the word , perfect performances on a perfect record. Jim Steinman's 'Ship of Dreams'- Explosive, Erotic, and Exceedingly well done, set to sail upon a public engulfed in the mainstream that is pop music.
Ultimately, the true importance of Steinman's work with Pandora's Box is the direction it has pointed him. While aiming for the future, the past is no stranger to Jim Steinman and, for all of its forward thinking, the journey back to his theatrical roots had begun. The pop-art canvas has always been a bit more accessible and open for Steinman than traditionalist may want to acknowledge and he takes full advantage of it, painting with the brushstroke of his genius. Steinman's upcoming accomplishments will most likely include being the one who take theatrics to new musical heights- proving once again that he is so much more than the sum of his influences.