Posts tagged ‘musicals’

January 30, 2012

Musicals

At this point in my blogging, I would like to deviate from the format I set out for myself.  I want to write a bit about the format of the musical and how much I fucking love them.

While I may live near Boston now, I grew up in New York.  Not the city, but close enough for frequent trips.  I think the first musical I went to was Beauty and the Beast with Terrance Mann and Susan Egan in 1994.  I think I was most excited about seeing Tom Bosley because he was Mr. Cunningham and David the Gnome.  I was 10 in 1994, so I don’t remember much, only that we sat in the balcony where it was freezing. That was the last time we sat in the balcony.  Orchestra all the way. Anyway, I made my parents buy the cast recording and I played that shit into the ground.  I haven’t heard it in about 15 years and I still know most of the words.  Over the years I lived in New York I saw: Beauty and the Beast, Grease, Chicago, Rent, Into the Woods (2002 revival), Les Miserables, Jekyll and Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Urinetown, Cats, and probably some I am not remembering right now.  I think my parents wanted me to have culture, but they absolutely instilled in me a love of musicals as a form of expression.  By the way, the only one my father didn’t fall asleep during was The Scarlet Pimpernel.  In Boston the boyfriend and I saw an small production of Assassins in 2008.  Even with a non-Broadway level cast it was stunning and powerful.

I always feel that I have to jump to the defense of the musical, it is a much maligned format.  People don’t seem to understand the appeal of people getting up and singing their feelings.  I don’t think these people have seen many musicals, at least not many modern musicals.  Something like Hedwig and the Angry Inch is not just a series of songs strung together to justify a weak narrative.  The songs in Hedwig are beautiful and illuminate Hedwig’s inner world and beliefs in a far better way that monologue would.  In fact, they do this far better than the monologues actually do.  Hedwig’s monologues are breezy and self-effacing whereas the songs are where she allows herself to admit to her feelings and be real.  It doesn’t hurt that they are catchy, poppy, and glam rock.

There is a reason that early talkies were musicals.  Music can be a joy that transcends class, race, and all the other boundaries that people set up.  Of course, musicals like Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singer can point out how wrong dominant culture can be.  Musicals like Rent can point out that no matter who we are what we all really want is to live our lives and matter.

I have not seen many early musicals, but I have some on my Netflix instant, so in the next two weeks or so I’m going to watch one and write a nice big review up here.

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