Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

Bye Bye Birdie is the end of the B's, and in the month that's been the hardest to do this project (because I want to listen to Christmas music!), that's quite a relief.

I wouldn't say BBB is one of my favorite musicals of all time, but I do love it. I started loving it when I was in high school, myself. I never related to Kim, though. I was always looking for the day I could play Rose. I may never be able to actually play Rose, as she is a dancer, but maybe she doesn't HAVE to be a dancer? What? It's in the script? Oh, screw you.

I had the OBC recording on CD when I was younger, and when I was downloading it on Apple Music to listen to I THOUGHT I was downloading the same version (Chita Rivera has top billing and they both said Broadway cast), but I accidentally listened to the London cast several times through and was really confused. But, there were some interesting changes (and just a year or so apart).

So, on Broadway, Susan Watson played Kim and she's like your perfect human girl. I mean, even if we're talking ONLY about her singing voice (and let's assume we are), it's flawless. She has great control, her voice is crystal clear, it basically sounds like a Disney princess. So, she's singing "How Lovely to be a Women" -- which is a ridiculous song to everyone else, but completely NOT ridiculous to Kim. She believes the FUCK out of those lyrics. And with Susan Watson singing, you're like, "Wow. No wonder Kim is so popular. She sounds like the vocal embodiment of a Beauty Pageant Winner."

"How Lovely to be a Woman" includes the lyrics,
When you're a skinny child of fourteen
Wired with braces from ear to ear
You doubt that you could ever be appealing
Then hallelujah, you are fifteen and the braces disappear
And your skin is smooth and clear
And you have that happy grown up female feeling...
WHAT HUMAN FEMALE SUDDENLY HAS CLEAR SKIN AT AGE 15?!?!? If anything, my skin was WORSE from 14 to 15. It's not like she's turned 22. She's 15 and still a child. She's not even the age of the Little Mermaid, yet. BUT, she truly believes she is a "woman" now, and as a listener, because Susan Watson sounds amazing and perfect, you believe it, too.

Now, what's interesting is that in the London cast, the girl who plays Kim, Sylvia Tysick, does NOT sound like a perfect human girl. She sounds like a kid. A kid who really believes she is a "woman" now, but that we, the audience, definitely DO NOT. I mean, she can sing just fine, but her voice isn't special, it's not flawless. To me, this is the more believable Kim. Everyone is the worst in high school and has absolutely no idea that they are the worst. That's why American media is so dumb: they get 20-somethings, who are past all their terrible awkwardness, to play high schoolers. It's just not realistic.

I mean, I have heard Bye Bye Birdie hundreds of times, but it really took listening to Sylvia Tysick's Kim to be like, "Oh. I get it. I REALLY get it." AND I'M JUST TALKING ABOUT ONE SONG, FROM ONE CHARACTER!

The rest of BBB did not make me think so much. But, I do love it. I consider it the first Rock Musical. It's very true to life and completely unpretentious. It's funny and charming and joyous. Even though the music is pretty generic (except for Conrad Birdie's songs: the first rock songs in a musical), there is one SPECIFICALLY interesting part during the intro to "An English Teacher" (my favorite song from this show) that I have loved since I was 16 years old. Generic or not, this musical is a HIT. People still love it and even if you've never seen any musicals, you've probably heard "Put On a Happy Face" or "Kids" at least once in your life.

I love it, too. If I were grading these, Bye Bye Birdie would be a solid A.

Bye Bye Birdie
Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by Michael Stewart

PS - I barely mentioned Chita Rivera, but can we talk about her as a singer, not a dancer, for a moment? She is so wonderful. She is a fucking inspiration. I love her. Also, Dick Van Dyke, holy hell. So perfect. I think of Dick Van Dyke and instantly smile, because I think of his smile.

By Jupiter

I should have known that my composer crush on Rodgers and Hart would come crashing down, and it did with By Jupiter, and that makes me sad, because I really wanted to like it. I especially wanted to like it knowing loosely what the plot was based on (it's basically that gender roles are reversed in the world of the Amazon women). 

HOWEVER, the character of Sapiens (a male in the world of the Amazons), creates a problem. He is foppish and ridiculous, only caring about clothes, and he's like a whiney baby. And in a world where the gender roles are reversed, this is problematic. I don't believe that they think that all women act the way Sapiens acts. And granted, ANY character, male or female, in this position, is obviously being used for comedy. And I'm sure it IS funny (although maybe also annoying) on stage. But wouldn't it be better for HUMANITY if the men acted like men "normally" act, and the women were still in charge of everything? Why can't that be a thing? Because men would never let it happen? (Men wrote this show, and they had the chance to let that happen, and didn't, so obviously not.)

Plus, in the end, the invading army of "regular" men defeat the Amazon women because the foppish Sapiens screws the women over. So, no, I did not enjoy this musical.

It could be better musically, too. They ARE better than this.

By Jupiter
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by Rodgers and Hart

Bullets Over Broadway

The Christmas season is a hard time to be listening to musical theatre. I WANT to listen to Christmas music, plus, I'm still not over Bridges, so I wanted to listen to that, too. Unfortunately, I had to listen to Bullets Over Broadway, which is maybe better than it seems. It SEEMS like a cop-out. If you're Woody Allen, and you don't want to have your movie be made into a musical, then just DON'T let it happen. But, if you finally decide to let it happen, why on earth would you choose existing songs from the period with new lyrics? WHY?

I'm no fan of Woody Allen, but I feel like he could do better than that decision.

So, there was nothing interesting in the music to this show, except for some good performances (especially Betsy Wolfe). Also, as my BFF from college would say, "there are many plots." SO much is going on. 

My friend Sheffield said the show was a lot of fun. It might be if you're actually watching it. Maybe. It's not fun taken out of context, though.

Bullets Over Broadway
Music and Lyrics by VARIOUS
Book by Woody Allen

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story

I listened to this... but what's the point? You can't learn anything about a musical from a jukebox musical. I'll just listen to Buddy Holly's recordings if I want to listen to Buddy Holly.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brooklyn (BKLYN)

I hated this show so much that I didn't even want to finish listening to it. Yes, the singing was great, but that was the only thing that was even GOOD. The story was dumb, the music was dumb, I felt like it pandered to the audience, AND it was wildly out-dated. A show with homeless people under the Brooklyn Bridge?? Puh-lease. If you live near the Brooklyn Bridge, you're paying $5000 a month for a one-bedroom.

My friend Allison sung "Once Upon a Time" for our senior showcase in 2007 and she was great. That was my only interaction with this show until this past weekend. I didn't like the song then (although Allison sang it amazingly), but I HATED how they used it in context to this show. It was the "Achy-Breaky Heart" of Brooklyn* ("oooooooh, this song is a HIT! Let's have it reprised and have the melody and/or lyrics added into several other songs!"). Meanwhile, every other song, even if it was sung just as well, was forgettable.

*I say it was the "'Achy-Breaky Heart' of Brooklyn" because from what I understand, Billy Ray Cyrus would perform that song a minimum of 3 times during his concerts because no one cared about any of his other songs

Bring it On

I really liked Bring it On, which I expected. I've never seen the movie that it's based on, nor did I know Lin-Manuel Miranda was one of the writers, but I remember hearing such good things about it. I was hoping I'd get to see a bootleg of it online (even though if I was an usher in a theater, I would SLAP that camera out of their hands so fast -- no one would record anything if *I* were an usher!! But... even though I don't support people recording, I do appreciate it once it's already been done) so I could see the cheerleading and dancing, but they had all been taken down, so I had to settle for promo clips, the Tony award performance and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade performance.

The score is SO HIGH for women and I was like, "There is no way these people are incredible singers AND rappers, incredible actors, the best dancers on earth AND, like, award-winning cheerleaders. Something will have to give on the actual stage." And, from what I saw, it did, but they were still fantastic, and then I panicked a little, thinking, "OH GOD, I WILL NEVER BE TALENTED ENOUGH FOR BRING IT ON!!!" And then I remembered I am 33 and even if I were 18, I would never have been right for this show.

My favorite music from this show is anything sung at the Jackson school... which is most of the show, I guess. It's darker and deeper... in "Friday Night, Jackson", it's very similar to the strange chord progressions in Beyonce's "Single Ladies"... which are awesome. The lyrics are GENERALLY good, too. The rapping is always good.

It was really interesting to listen to this directly after Bridges because I LOVED Bridges and I really liked this, but in a completely different way. This was like a perfect FLUFF piece. I am so, so happy that it mainly focused on female friendships and strong women who are going after their dreams and aren't afraid of anything. I didn't finish it thinking, "I have so many thoughts and feelings about this!"I finished it thinking "That was great."

Bring it On
Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt
Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda Green
Book by Jeff Whitty

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


My husband hates Brigadoon so much. He says it takes itself way too seriously... which it does. But, to Brigadoon's credit, I think if THAT is the story you're going to tell, you BETTER take yourself seriously.

If you've never seen Brigadoon, don't worry about it. It's the story of a mystical Scottish village where, to "protect" the people, a priest asked God to put a spell (?) on it, so the village only appears once every 100 years. In their life, this must have happened just 3 days ago, so they SHOULD be pretty well-versed on what happened. Tommy and Jeff, two New Yorkers on a hunting trip, stumble upon the village on it's one day this century of being there, and Tommy falls in love with Fiona, a woman from the village. He is told the people of Brigadoon can't leave, otherwise the village will disappear forever, but that if an outsider loves someone enough, they are able to stay there. HOW they know this is anyone's guess. Did God tell the evil witch-priest?? Did this REALLY happen or are they living like in that movie "The Village"??

So, Tommy has to decide what to do. I mean, in all reality, they basically disappear every evening, so if the entire town just disappeared forever, I don't think it would be that bad for them. If Fiona left, she wouldn't see them ever again ANYWAY, so who cares? If Tommy stays in Brigadoon, he's giving up his cosmopolitan NYC life anyway, so, again, who cares? Tommy ends up leaving... but then regrets it and goes back to where the Brigadoon was... and suddenly it appears! The priest guy or schoolteacher or whoever the hell he is says that Tommy's love for Fiona brought forth the "miracle" once more! Tommy can stay with Fiona! Woo hoo. Way to go, Tommy!

This, to me, makes it seem like Tommy is a total sucker, and that this village is ALWAYS there. Good on you, Jeff, for leaving him behind.

I don't care about the music to Brigadoon... it's FINE, I guess. It really seems like Lerner and Loewe really wanted to copy a Rodgers and Hammerstein show, which they did, but they weren't as good, so it's not as good. It's not even as deep as Oklahoma! so... that's saying something. My favorite character in Brigadoon is Jane Ashton, Tommy's fiancee that he doesn't love and leaves to go back to this weird town. She's in one scene. Oh, also, Jeff murders a townsperson while he's there. Granted, the guy was trying to leave the town, making them all "disappear" forever, but still. Do you believe that would actually happen to this town? If yes, then Jeff saved the day. If no, Jeff just straight out murdered a guy and has to live with that forever.

Music by Fredeick Loewe
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

Bridges of Madison County

I've never seen the movie or read the book of Bridges of Madison County and I honestly felt like I would probably hate the story, feel it far too "precious" for me, and be just too "ick" for me to like this musical.


Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh my god, Bridges is so good. I don't care if you feel otherwise. I don't know why this closed so soon -- I talked to a friend who was the music assistant on it, and he was like, "I think it was everyone's second choice to see -- so the crowds didn't come until the end of the run." Which makes sense, I guess. I certainly didn't have any desire to see it while it was on Broadway. I had heard such good things about the music, but it takes a lot for me to want to spend the money on tickets to a show, and based on the advertisements I saw, this wouldn't have interested me. BUT IN REALITY IT INTERESTED ME SO MUCH AND I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS NOW! (So many feelings that it's hard for me to keep them straight to write about them.)

First, Kelli O'Hara is perfect and amazing and I love her and I CANNOT with her. Second, Steven Pasquale murdered me with low notes. WHY AREN'T THERE MORE ROLES WRITTEN FOR BARITONES??? That low note in "Temporarily Lost" when he sings "Lake Superior" is CRAZY. What really sold me on this show, though, was the song "Another Life" -- sung by a character who is in one scene -- and we learn so much about her in that one song.

I watched a bootleg of this musical, again, thinking the cast recording was a fluke and that I wouldn't like the show altogether, but I still loved it. The female characters are so good -- Carolyn (the daughter) and Marge (the neighbor) are hilarious, Carolyn and Marian (the ex-wife) have so much depth, and of course, Carolyn and Francesca are the same but it's Carolyn who actually expresses the sadness they both have in actual words.

Jason Robert Brown is so good that it HURTS me.

The thing that has gotten to me the most about this show is the stuff that isn't even really mentioned -- like the fact that this entire story happens because a woman during that time had basically no opportunities to do anything with her life. She was supposed to learn to cook and do house-things and get married and raise kids: end of story. This is still probably fine for many people, WHICH IS FINE, but there are others, who this has NEVER been enough for. There are people who existed 1000 years ago, who this was not enough for, they just didn't know why. Poor Francesca barely knows why. Men aren't excluded from this... I'm sure there are millions of men who had desires bigger than to take over their father's business or farm or whatever (including Francesca's son)-- it's just a bigger group of women, because women STILL don't have as many opportunities as men.

When Robert is speaking of his ex-wife, he says something along the lines of "She wanted to be a singer or something.. but she was a waitress." Even HE had trouble understanding a woman's desire for more in her life than domesticality, and he works in art! I feel like it's very telling that he tells Francesca that part of his love for her was her love for her family.

Anyway, Francesca's love for Robert is not the "thing" that her life was missing -- it's just an example of how lacking her life had been. And it's not like her husband is a bad guy, because he's not at ALL. But, I get it. Who knows what she could have done with her life. She was a good artist, herself. With the passion she has, imagine what this character could have done to truly fulfill herself.

(On a side note, I love how JRB has them express their initial feelings of infatuation -- they are so real.)

What I need you to know is that this musical is BEAUTIFUL and it's not because of this love story that ends sadly, it's because of the music and the story of the realness to these women. And because Kelli O'Hara is unstoppably perfect.

The Bridges of Madison County
Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Book by Marsha Norman

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Boys from Syracuse

I have been listening to Boys from Syracuse non-stop since Friday because I love it SO MUCH. I know Rodgers and Hart are seriously famous, but they should be MORE famous, because I love them together. DARE I SAY I may even love them as much as Rodgers and Hammerstein (but in a very different way).

This show is SO good and SO funny and I don't understand why it isn't running all the time.

Well, maybe because, as it's based on Shakespeare, there's a lot of risqué plot developments.

Also, let me just say, I HATE Comedy of Errors. I know it's Shakespeare, and therefore better than MOST plays, but god, it's just so dumb. So for me to LOVE this musical is some kind of theatrical miracle.

So, something I also really thought about while listening to this musical, is Rodgers' use of the introductory verse before the refrain (the refrain being where we're getting the recognizable chorus, verses, tags, bridges, etc). It is something he does ALL the time, and it seems to harken back to the days of opera, with the resistive. This intro-verse sounds nothing like the rest of the song, and is usually even cut from the sheet music. (For examples, please see: "Many a New Day", "My Funny Valentine", "Something Wonderful", "If I Loved You", "Sing for Your Supper"... or almost any other Rodgers song). It's almost like a WHY moment -- as if the character had emotionally gotten to a point where they can no longer speak and must sing (the reason for ALL songs in musical theatre), but feels the need to explain themselves first. Or stall. Or lie. It's really interesting, and I don't see it in many songs after his era. If you're comparing Cole Porter and Richard Rodgers, this is going to be my main talking point -- Porter is using the same melody and repeating details or jokes in different verses ad nauseam, while Rodgers uses this to add information.

Also, god, Boys from Syracuse has some beautiful and unusual and interesting chord progressions in the songs. Rodgers was so, so good. The lyrics are slick and smart. It is better than it's original source material. There, I said it. Sorry, Will.

Boys from Syracuse
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by George Abbott (who, and this NEEDS to be noted, lived to be 107 years old and even worked on the 1994 revival of Damn Yankees. The man was born in 1887 and his first show as an actor was in 1915!!!!)

The Boy from Oz

I surprisingly didn't know this was a jukebox musical until about halfway through, when I actually looked at the track listing and saw "Don't Cry Out Loud" listed as a song. I really enjoyed the music, though, so at least there was that. I guess if you're not as well known to your audience (being me), and your book is strong enough, your jukebox musical might be ok. MIGHT.

The Boy from Oz seemed to only be running because of Hugh Jackman (as soon as his contract ended, the show closed), so it's really hard to say if this was good, if Hugh was good, or if the songs themselves were just good... but I'm guessing it was Hugh. Anyway, I never had any interest in listening to this, or learning about it before, but I am glad I have listened to it, now. Plus, anything with even the character of Liza in it is bound to be entertaining.

The Boy from Oz
Music and Lyrics by Peter Allen
Book by Nick Enright and Martin Sherman

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Boy Friend

The Boy Friend is harmless, I guess, but terribly boring musically. Every song is the same tempo and style. I hated it the first time I heard it, then I went on vacation and forgot WHY I hated it, so I had to listen to it AGAIN which made me angry. I didn't hate it as much the second time around, but I also didn't care. The show itself might be fun and, you know, delightful, but there's nothing TO it. There's nothing deeper at all. I was bored with how jolly it was. I get that it's a spoof-y 20s style, but it was just too much.

The Boy Friend
Music, Lyrics and Book by Sandy Wilson

Book of Mormon

I have to skip Book of Mormon until I am able to see if on Broadway. It's really expensive and the seats still sell out months in advance. I have owned the recording of BoM for several YEARS but never listened to it because I don't want to ruin it for me like I ruined The Producers. I would love to be able to go back in time and not listen to The Producers before I saw it so that it was still surprising. I can't let that happen to BoM. I WILL see it first!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

If you know absolutely nothing about Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and you just listen to the recording without understanding the tone behind this, it could be a disaster for you. What I need you to understand is that it's a comedy and that it does NOT take itself seriously. If you think it is taking itself seriously, you won't like it.

I know its an interpretation of historical events, so not everything played out exactly like it does in this musical, but holy god did I learn a lot about Andrew Jackson and what a monster he was. 

But, let's put the actual history aside and talk about the PLAY, because we have to. Andrew is hilarious and ridiculous. I wish so much that I could play this role. He is a fucking badass. He is a whiny baby. He loves his wife like crazy. He loves the common man. He loves killing people. I watched a bootleg of BBAJ a long time ago and I went from laughing and saying, "oh man, this is so dumb" (in a good way) to "Ohhhh shit. This musical is getting really HEAVY!" It's really, really good.

The songs are, across the board, fantastic. The only problem with them is that they're all so short! I think the runtime of the cast recording is less than 30 minutes with 13 songs. They're slightly stretched out in the musical, as scenes tend to happen in the middle of several of them, but still. This music is actually REALLY good -- I wish there was more of it.

BBAJ is a great example of a contemporary musical. Rock or traditional, original or established, things should be written like this. We live in the world we live in. BBAJ acknowledges that and uses it. It's authentically cool and smart and funny without taking itself too seriously. 

My favorite song is "I'm So That Guy", in case you were wondering. I listened to it at the gym once on repeat and it made me run so fast that I ran 3 miles in 25 minutes (I normally run a 9 minute mile).

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Music and Lyrics by Michael Friedman
Book by Alex Timbers

Blood Brothers

I can't understand why Blood Brothers has been as successful as its been. Granted, it's hard to tell when the cast recording is so over-produced with such stupid, unnecessary sound effects on the vocals (this is a fucking cast recording, why are you trying to make it sound like a pop album from the early 1980s??????) that it made me ANGRY while listening to it. However, from what I can gather, I hated everything.

The lyrics were predictable and I hated them. They were also slightly disturbing. There was nothing interesting going on musically and the STORY... oh, jesus. WHY. I don't feel for this woman. Just STOP having these children! Why did you need seven kids before your twins that you had to separate at birth because you could only afford ONE more??? HUH???? WTF. "Help. I have seven kids already and I'm pregnant with twins. I can afford only one more child." I just don't understand this. No one needs seven kids to begin with!

If I hear another singer with unnecessary echo on a UK cast recording, I'm going to lose my mind.

Blood Brothers
Music, Lyrics, Book by Willy Russell

Billy Elliot

OMG, I LOVED Billy Elliot! THIS is what I wish Aida would have sounded like. It is so much more TRUE Elton John -- the music that made him famous -- not some sterilized bullshit.

I watched a bootleg of BE online because I was working on the Dead Mum role for a class I was taking. I had always ruled this musical out as far as shows that I can be in, because I assumed everyone danced as much as the children. Luckily, most of the adults don't. This is also one of the few musicals that came out of the UK that isn't a complete DISASTER. England gave us so many wonderful, incredible things... but like 70% of their musicals are horrific.

I loved everything about Billy Elliot, although I obviously have a soft spot now for the song "The Letter" because it's so heartbreaking I cried on the subway platform the first time I listened to it. Those boys who played Billy deserved their Tony Award and this show deserves every award it won.

Billy Elliot is funny and smart and sad and amazing. Do yourself the favour (ooooh -- British spelling!!!) and find out why.

Billy Elliot
Music by Elton John
Book and Lyrics by Lee Hal

Big River

I did not like Big River. The only things I liked about it were the songs sung by Jim. I don't know if they're better songs, or he sings them better or what.

I have no other comments on this musical.

Big River
Music and Lyrics by Roger Miller
Book by William Hauptman

Big Fish

I know Big Fish didn't do too well on Broadway, but I really enjoyed it. It has two huge things going for it: the fact that the story will MURDER YOUR EMOTIONS and, also, Norbert Leo Butz.

I don't even really like Lippa, but I did enjoy basically all the music from this.

I only saw the movie Big Fish once. Or, maybe, I only saw part of it once. There is even the possibility that I only saw the END of the movie. Whatever it is that I saw, I know that I cried and cried and cried. I haven't watched it again, even though I really liked it, because I have been unable to emotional prepare myself for that, again.

I'm sad I missed this on Broadway.

Big Fish
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Book by John August

Monday, October 12, 2015

Big: the musical

I was SO excited for Big. I thought, for some reason, that it would be so much better. That movie is great. I really want to watch it, now. (Luckily it's the future and I can watch whatever I want whenever I want!)

My main problem with Big is that it doesn't sound like it's of the time the movie came out OR the time the musical premiered. It sounds like it's trying to be a classical musical, played contemporarily.... and WHY? I mean, there's already nothing worse than taking a classical musical and "updating" the orchestrations to sound more contemporary... if you're a musical set in the 80s and created in the 90s, why would you sound like you were written in the 50s (except, of course, for the poor attempt at rapping in the middle)? I think, for the most part, that most modern musical theatre composers have stopped doing that: we're living in the time we are living in, and they are, for the most part, writing music for that time. Unless you're Stephen Sondheim, who lives outside all music writing boundaries, it seems like you should write songs that either sound like the world we're in today, the world that the play is set it OR that are around a specific theme (even though I didn't enjoy Barnun AT ALL, at least it sounded like a circus the entire time, rather that sounding like an early 80s dance party).

That was my main problem. Other problems involved uninteresting melodies and uncreative lyrics (which seems to be a very common beef I have with musicals).

HOWEVER, the mom's song in Act 2, "Stop, Time" actually made me cry on my subway platform, and I have absolutely no idea why. I have no children. I think in general Act 2 is better than Act 1, and that's something that almost never happens in a musical.

Also, I can see why someone would WANT to make a musical based on such a good movie, but with few exceptions (mainly Heathers and a few others), I do not like musicals based on movies.

Big: the musical
Music by David Shire
Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.
Book by John Weidman

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

I didn't expect to like this (I thought it would be like Nunsense -- popular, but I couldn't understand why) and I definitely didn't expect to like it as much as I did.

Granted, there were several moments when The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas made me suuuuuper uncomfortable (most of the moments with the men singing about their excitement to go there or whatever), but I listened to this several times because I really liked it. At first it was like listening to the music that plays in the background of the Frontier area of Cedar Point, but... better. Because it hooked me in the first 20 seconds.

The music is interesting and sometimes, like, fucking AWESOME ("Twenty-Four Hours of Love"), and even list songs have a good, unexpected melody. Some of the songs are really heartbreaking. There is such a great mix of 70s funk and country. You wouldn't think they'd go so well together.

Why do I feel for these women? Because they've made them real. I really want to see this, because I'm sure it's hilarious, as well as everything else.

I mean, it ran for almost 1600 performances on Broadway and is produced ALL the time, so obviously people like it. And there's no reason not to.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
Book by Larry L. King, Peter Masterson

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ben Franklin in Paris

I LOVE Ben Franklin. The character and the actual man. The #1 repeated character I play in improv scenes is Ben Franklin. (My "Ben Franklin" is nothing like the actual Ben Franklin, he just talks a lot about the things he's invented. Also, in case you were wondering, some of my other Hit Characters include "Rick from the Motorcycle Academy" (the Motorcycle Academy is a satellite branch of Harvard); J.R.R. Tolkien (who is similar to Franklin, because he only talks about WWI and hobbits); and the easiest one, Valley Girl Who Occasionally Says Something Really Deep.)

I had heard of this musical, but knew absolutely nothing about it (other than the obvious idea that it was about Benjamin Franklin when he went to Paris). The weirdest thing about it is that it was a few years after The Music Man, and Robert Preston (original, and quintessential, Harold Hill) is playing Ben Franklin.... so it just sounds like Harold Hill is going to Paris. It's not his fault. It's just the way he sounds. But they're really similar.

But who am I to talk, when MY Ben Franklin is so similar to my J.R.R. Tolkien??

I didn't really enjoy any of the songs, and I wanted to SO badly. I tried listening to this repeatedly to see if it would help, but it didn't. I am really learning that a musical has like 20 seconds, and if there isn't anything in those first 20 seconds that pulls me in, it's not going to at ALL. I still give them a chance, but there have been few exceptions to this.

Ben Franklin in Paris
Music by Mark Sandrich Jr. (one song by Jerry Herman)
Book and Lyrics by Sydney Michaels

Bells are Ringing

This is another musical I've known half the songs from basically my entire life, but never listened to the entire recording. We used to have this Broadway music channel on whatever version of music on demand with our cable provider we had in the late 90s. "Just in Time" would pop up frequently, as well as "Long Before I Knew You."

Basically, every song I had heard before (the main characters' songs), are great... the secondary characters' songs and ensemble songs are weird. And yes, it's a dated musical (the plot for BaR revolves around a woman who works for a telephone answering service. So, pre-voicemail, pre-caller ID, pre-home answering machine, etc), so it may be hard for the youngest theatre-goers to understand... but I don't think that means it should be unproduce-able (I may have just made that word up). There's plenty of things the youngest theatre-goers have a hard time understanding but we don't say THEY should never be performed again.

Anyway, Bells are Ringing is generally clever and funny, and it's a star vehicle for a female character actor, so it should be performed ALL the time. Amy Poehler would be an amazing Ella Peterson.

Bells are Ringing
Music by Jule Styne
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden, Adolf Green

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast will run forever in regional theaters and non-equity tours because it's another great Alan Menken musical, with the added element of the magical change from the Beast to Prince Adam being seen LIVE!

The added songs are all good, and it was a great movie to begin with. Alan Menken has written non-Disney musicals, too... and I really can't wait to talk about those.

Beauty and the Beast
Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton

The Beautiful Game

I don't even want to talk about this musical. I listened to it, I was unimpressed with everything (even the album cover artwork annoyed me), and sometimes I was even offended. That's literally all I can say.

The Beautiful Game
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics and Book by Ben Elton

Beautiful: the Carole King musical

I have no idea what Beautiful is REALLY like, I really only know that Carole King is amazing (which I've known since I was 12) and that Jessie Mueller is amazing (which I've known since I saw her play Cinderella in Into the Woods with Shakespeare in the Park a few years ago).

It's impossible to get any sense of the story in a jukebox musical because that's not what these songs were written for. I do NOT support jukebox musicals, although if you HAVE to do them, they better be at least the quality of this one. I have heard really good things about Beautiful, but, again, I can't say what it's really like because I haven't seen it.

However, at least as far as the music is concerned, it's perfect, because Carole King is, once again, AMAZING. But... I could have just listened to Carole King sing the songs. Or the Monkees. Or Little Eva. Or the Drifters. Or the Righteous Brothers.

Beautiful: the Carole King musical
Music and Lyrics by Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, Phil Spector
Book by Douglas McGrath

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bat Boy: the musical

God, I love Bat Boy so much. It's incredible. I have loved Bat Boy since just a year or two after it came out, and I loved it so much I bought the script and SCREAMED when I read the ending.

There's a trio of musicals that came out at the turn of the 21st century that give me hope for all musical theatre: Spelling Bee (even though it was in the mid-2000s, it still counts in my mind), Urinetown (which we'll get to in approximately 200 years) and Bat Boy. They are all original musicals (yes, they used an established idea for this, but it's still an original musical), with amazing scores. Bat Boy is the only one I've never seen live (but it's the only one I read the actual script for), and by far the darkest.

So. Why do I love this musical so much?
1. It is hilarious funny.
2. Shelley is amazing. (Dear Universe, I am still young enough to play Shelley, but it needs to happen ASAP. PLEASE UNIVERSE, PLEASE.)
3. It has fantastic, creative doubling of roles.
4. It can be done on a small stage with basically no set.
5. The music is to DIE FOR. Laurence O'Keefe is incredible. He writes legitimate rock and legitimate  musical theatre style in this show, and sometimes he combines them and it's still amazing.
6. The book is insane and weird and unexpected, but so clever and funny and heartfelt
7. Despite being so funny, I cannot listen to it without crying because it is so sad
8. The women are so, so good in this musical -- everyone has something to do
9. The original off-broadway cast KILLS

Bat Boy is based on the Weekly World News story of "Bat Boy" (if you hadn't guessed). It is 99% perfect (the only downfall is the song "Children, Children" which just makes me uncomfortable), even with how incredibly weird it is. I can tell you my exact Top 3 Favorite Moments from the original recording:
1. The very first, full minute of "Comfort and Joy"
2. 2:07 - 2:28 of "Apology to a Cow"
3. 2:35 - 3:33 of "Finale: I Imagine You're Upset" (and this part I cannot even speak about without crying because it is so beautifully written)

But, please, listen to Bat Boy if you haven't already. If you have, listen to it again. REALLY listen to it. If you don't like musical theatre, but you took my advice and gave Assassins a chance -- give this a chance, too. This show deserves more than a cult following. (I am even sad to be done writing about it.)

Bat Boy: the musical
Music and Lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe
Book by Keythe Farley, Brian Flemming


So, there are plenty of musicals written about horrible people that turn out good. I don't know if Barnum ever had a chance, though, because it HAD to be a circus-themed, circus-sounding show.

I HATE circuses. No, I've never been to one.. but that's because I'd hate them. I love animals (and therefore wouldn't want to be them paraded around at the circus), I respect acrobats a lot (same deal, although I'm sure they're not treated as horribly, now), and don't even get me started on clowns. Ok, I'm started. The humor of a clown, a traditional CLOWN, is not for me. I just don't like that type of humor. I don't like the Three Stooges, I don't like Comedy of Errors and I don't think Cam from Modern Family is funny, either.

Back to circuses. For some reason I feel like the following situation has happened to me several times: I'll be in a musical improv group and we'll ask the audience for a suggestion about what they'd like to see a show about. Someone will say "a circus!" and we'll do the show... meanwhile, I'm thinking, "THIS is what you want to see a show about????? Out of all the things on earth or in your imagination, you chose A CIRCUS????"

PT Barnum would have hated me because I'd be standing outside, with my arms crossed, rolling my eyes, yelling, "NO. LET'S GO!"

So, I didn't enjoy anything about this show EXCEPT for the patter song, "Museum Song," which has a catchy melody. I don't feel bad for his wife (She SAYS exactly why I shouldn't feel bad for her before she starts singing her first song), I think HE should go to jail, and the rest is just dumb. I do think it was probably something to truly behold in the original production -- it sounds like it was probably pretty impressive. However, the plot? the music? I have only one thing to say to you, and that's:


Music by Cy Coleman (whose work I generally really enjoy)
Lyrics by Michael Stewart
Book by Mark Bramble

bare: a pop opera

This is a placeholder for bare: a pop opera because it's taking too long to listen to it but I wanted to move on. I'll come back to you, bare.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Baker's Wife

Not on Apple Music or Spotify, this had to be youtube'd (as if I didn't already know it).

Ok, well, I knew the main songs from The Baker's Wife. I knew all the songs from the Patti LuPone (ALL HAIL QUEEN LUPONE) recording, because I owned the CD way back when. I think my sister has all my musical theatre CDs. Jen, is that true? Anyway, I listened to the West End recording on youtube, which included a loooooooot more, but most of it* is unnecessary because the only GOOD songs where the ones on the Patti LuPone CD.

The Baker's Wife never made it to Broadway after a long tour, including a long(ish) run at the Kennedy Center in DC. It did get to the West End in 1990, though. According to wikipedia,
"After hearing the song "Meadowlark" countless times in auditions, director Trevor Nunn persuaded the authors to mount a London production."
...which is HILARIOUS (and, I hope true) because basically that means that "Meadowlark" has been overdone for several decades, and there we all were in college, thinking it was only being sung by Lauren and then me, after Lauren graduated.

College was really great, btw. I had so many friends who I loved and I learned SO MUCH in Theatre History.

The Baker's Wife is the story of a middle-aged baker, whose wife is gorgeous and much younger than him. They move to a new town (in France) and the wife gets seduced by.. well.. basically it's GASTON, and leaves him for a while. She then discovers that although "the fire is there" -- in regards to the passion she has with her lover, "Gaston" -- "but where is the warmth?" -- in regards to the deep feelings of comfort and love she has with her husband. She sings a BEAUTIFUL song called "Where is the Warmth?" (which I obviously just quoted from and summed up for you) and returns to him.

While Genevieve (his wife) is away, Amiable (the baker) basically pretends none of this is happening and tries to go about his daily life, looking forward to the day she returns "from her mother's house." The townspeople know what's going on and are really gossipy. He takes her back in the end.

The Baker's Wife is good, not great (it maybe could have been great if the ensembles' songs were as good as the leads' songs), but the character development for the actors playing Amiable and Genevieve is definitely great. REAL choices are being made and considering the biggest one happens during that old classic, "Meadowlark", the actor is given a fucking GIFT in being able to bring that to life.

I hope you all choose the Baker, and not Gaston**, though.

The Baker's Wife
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Book by Joseph Stein

*the one thing off the West End cast recording that I was happy to hear was the scene when Genevieve returns and Amiable is just happy to see her. Their cat, who ran off at the same time, ALSO comes back, and the Baker goes crazy towards the cat and starts screaming at her and calling her a "slut" and other things, obviously taking his anger on Genevieve out on the cat. He did, however, always leave a bowl of milk out for her, while she was gone. He asks the cat if now that she got the milk if she was going to run off again and Genevieve tearfully says, "She will not go!" It's a good moment. (AND I JUST RUINED IT FOR YOU! HAHAHA!)

**His actual name is Dominique, not Gaston

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Baker Street

Before I read a synopsis or started listening to the musical Baker Street, the first thought that I had was, "I hope this is the same Baker Street as in the song 'Baker Street' by Gerry Rafferty." Sadly, it's not. But, that song is great and you should listen to it.

My second thought, after I read the synopsis and started listening to it was, "DUH. Of course. Sherlock Holmes."

My third thought was, "Damnit," because... well.. I have no interest in anything regarding Sherlock Holmes... except the television show SHERLOCK, which is basically perfect and one of the best shows, ever.

So, it's not Baker Street' s fault that I can't think of anyone as Sherlock Holmes other than Benedict Cumberbatch. It's not the musical's fault that the TV show, that was created 50 years later, is so good that it made me interested in a story I never cared about before. It's not Baker Street's fault that Martin Freeman is so good as Watson and Andrew Scott is so good as Moriarty that anyone else playing the roles seems pointless.

But, here are some things that ARE Baker Street's fault:
1. The uninteresting music
2. The fact that it feels like a poor man's My Fair Lady (without an Eliza)
3. The fact that it's not Sherlock Holmes if he can form an actual romantic relationship with Irene Adler. Don't push that on us. There CAN be a young woman in a play/television show/movie who doesn't have to fall in love. Women, especially women like Irene Adler, can do many other things and have platonic relationships, too!

But, it was the early 1960s, so I am really asking too much with my last point.

Baker Street
Music and Lyrics by Marian Grudeff, Raymond Jessel (additional, uncredited songs by Bock and Harnick)
Book by Jerome Coppersmith


BAJOUR was hard to find. It wasn't on Apple Music (even though it's on iTunes for purchase), but something told me that I wanted to hear it (even though I knew nothing about it, and it's not critically acclaimed or anything), so I found it on Spotify. I'm really happy that I did. I am sure I never would have listened to this musical had I not been doing this project, and I really liked it. It is such a WEIRD idea and subject matter, but I enjoyed all the music and I feel like I could play Emily. BAJOUR also introduced me to the actress Nancy Dussault (who played Emily), who has the career I want. She wasn't famous, she just seems to have made a living and did the occasional original role, which earned her nominations. She was also GREAT.

This musical also starred Chita Rivera, who is always great. It's about gypsies and a girl who is studying them/obsessed with them. See? Weird. But come on, I love weird and always have.

Music and lyrics by Walter Marks
Book by Earnest Kinoy

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Baby it's You!

I wanted to skip musical this so badly. I was hoping it wouldn't have a cast recording, and when it did, I sadly decided not to skip it. The cast does a wonderful job singing these songs.

I will same the same thing about this that I did All Shook Up: if I want to hear the songs from a jukebox musical, I will listen to the ORIGINAL songs. I don't need established pop songs to be crammed together, out of context, into ANYTHING. (I especially don't need to hear some *say* the following: "(Sighs) Mama said there'd be days like this. 'There'd be days like this,' Mama said" before singing "Mama Said." Do you need to make it that obvious?

I'm insulted by this musical. I know I am not the target audience... BUT WHO IS??? The people who grew up with this music and go to the theatre don't want to see it because they know it's terrible. If they are trying to appeal to people who grew up with this music but DON'T go to the theatre, you have a few options:
1. Make a better jukebox musical (see: Beautiful)
2. Use original songs in the same vein as the Shirelles with a great book (see: Dreamgirls)
3. Ask the Shirelles/other pop groups to write music for a musical with an original book

But, please, don't treat the people who don't go to the theatre like they're morons. Make a better product that gets them excited to go to the theatre. And when you have them there, use the book to say something. We can do this. It's possible. Look at Shakespeare!

Also, the producers of Baby It's You! got sued by the Shirelles because they didn't ask for permission to use their likenesses or stories. It ran for 148 performances.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Surprisingly, Baby is not on Apple Music. If I didn't already KNOW Baby, this would have been a big problem, but since I'm at home I can just listen to it on youtube as I write this. (Also, while searching for it, I had to scroll through a lot of nonsense featuring "Baby" in the title. I'm looking at you, Justin Bieber.)

To me, the MOST disappointing thing about Baby is that the "old" couple in the show --  the couple who say how they're so glad 20 years have passed since their marriage and all their kids are finally grown -- are FORTY-THREE. 43. 43-YEARS-OLD. How is it that anyone who is supposed to be in their early 40s the OLD couple, let alone, WHY did they have kids so early? Uggggh. Of course, I guess Lizzie and Danny are going to be in the same boat.

So, Liz Callaway is amazing in Baby, and I'm not entirely sure the Lizzie songs would be as popular if it weren't for her. (They are very popular, if you didn't know.)

This show is about 3 couples who either are, or want to be, pregnant. Sadly, PLOT TWIST, the ones who actually want to be pregnant are the infertile couple. Not every song is a home run (some aren't even a base hit), but overall Baby is pleasant and heartfelt, if not the deepest thing on earth.

Baby the musical
Music by David Shire
Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.
Book by Sybille Pearson

Babes in Arms

I listened to the Mary Martin (1951) recording of Babes in Arms and I loved it. I have heard most of these songs at some point in passing before, generally in their more famous recordings (like the Ella Fitzgerald version of "My Funny Valentine"), which, just like the "pop" versions of Disney songs (a la, Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle's "A Whole New World" or Demi Lovato's "Let it Go"), made the songs seem LESS accessible to me.

But, that's because I'm a musical theatre person, not a pop person.

So, there's several versions of this musical, and, as a pre-book style show, that's fine to me. I'm not looking to produce it, anyway (neither are most other people). I shouldn't have been so surprised at the song quality -- most of these songs were WILDLY popular in their day, and I obviously love Richard Rodgers (not to mention how Mary Martin is a legend), but they are SO. GOOD.

If you live in New York, please listen to "Way Out West." It made me smile like an idiot on the N train.

Babes in Arms
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Book by Rodgers and Hart

Monday, September 14, 2015

Avenue Q

YAY! This is the last of the A's (PS - I am basing the order of this list off the wikipedia list of musicals A-L).

I don't know why I didn't listen to/own Avenue Q before. I knew I would like it. I'd heard several of the songs, I knew the basic premise, I liked everything I heard... who knows. I guess I just got lazy. But, especially after I started doing puppetry stuff with Rock-a-Baby, how was I not like, "oooh, I have all the skills for this show. Maybe I should look at it!"? Come on, Past Alisa.

Oh, well, I know now.

Avenue Q is delightful in every way. I made my husband Chris promise me that we can see it soon, since it's still playing Off-Broadway. It's hilariously funny, the songs are GREAT and catchy as hell, and there are puppets. It's a recipe for success!

Of course, even though there were times I laughed out loud while finally listening to Avenue Q, my favorite parts were the really heartbreaking stuff, like in "There's a Fine, Fine Line" and even parts of "I Wish I Could Go Back to College."

The whole show is wonderful and you're doing yourself a disservice (just like Past Alisa did), if you haven't listened to it/seen it.

Avenue Q
Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx
Book by Jeff Whitty


If you're one of those people who DO NOT like musicals (also, how did you get here??) and you're too smartsy-fartsy for traditional stuff, if you want something that will make you think and not get annoying, I'd say Assassins is a good place to start.

Also -- even though the original cast is fantastic -- go with the revival starring Neil Patrick Harris, because it has more (more everything: songs, monologues, scenes, etc etc).

This advice also applies to anyone who doesn't like Stephen Sondheim (and he's my hero so stop talking to me until you come to your senses).

First, this musical is basically perfect. I mean, MY GOD. How are we even going on our day to day lives?? It makes you think about your own life, it makes you think about the populous, it makes you think about mental illness, depression, cults, the "American Dream"... it makes you think about the media, history and why some names are remembered and others are not... it makes you think a LOT, OK??

Second, Assassins features what I consider a legitimate POP SONG ("Unworthy of Your Love"), sung by two insane people, completely beautifully, passionately and seriously. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT????

Third, again, this is Stephen Sondheim, so it's hard to go wrong. The music is complex and meaningful, yet somehow peppy and bright. There is a surprising amount of joy for subject matter so dark, sung by a bunch of characters that killed (or tried to kill) people.

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman

Aspects of Love

I didn't except to like Aspects of Love AT ALL. I hate the title song... but luckily, this musical is not just that song over and over again.

Alex, originally played by Michael Ball, is crazy. Crazy like how Romeo is crazy. Like, he just wants to be in love with SOMEONE, and he's very jealous and obnoxious. Of course, Rose is no better, and as a stereotypical actress she is flighty (albeit, French/Italian-"period" flighty) and dramatic. They seem a perfect match. They probably are, but then Rose marries Alex's uncle George and then Alex tries to kill her but eventually all is forgiven, Rose and George's old mistress Guilietta almost (or DO, in some productions) have an affair with each other, and then 15 years later Rose's daughter falls madly in love with Alex (even though she's also his cousin) and then George dies because he's so sad his beloved daughter is crushing-hard on Alex and Rose tries to take him back, but Alex instead goes with Giulietta.


Look, a lot happens. And it's weird. And I'm not claiming the story is the BEST or that it's not confusing, but the music isn't so bad. And in a show that's sung-through, isn't that the most important thing?

I enjoyed listening to it, even though I got lost in the plot a lot. But, ALW surprised me with this one. Besides the strange vocal style in which Michael Ball sings, he and the other cast members do a great job.

I honestly don't know if I want to see it. It might be really pretentious on stage. But, at least for now, I was pleasantly surprised.

Aspects of Love
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Don Black, Charles Hart
Book by Andrew Lloyd Webber
wikipedia article

Arms and the Girl

I can't believe I found a recording of this when I couldn't find a recording for so many others. There is very little information to be found about it online, but you can see the entire original cast.... which includes SO MANY people listed just as "Singer." Please, let's bring back the different singing chorus and dancing chorus. We could give so many more people jobs.

I like the very basic plot idea I've read ("A high-spirited American girl falls for a Hessian soldier during the Revolutionary War while attempting to save the American army from a British spy") and I laughed out-loud on a plane during the song "A Cow and a Plough and a Frau", Pearl Bailey's songs are good, but besides that, I have nothing of note to report.

Arms and the Girl
Music by Morton Gould
Lyrics by Dorothy Field
Book by Dorothy Fields, Herbert Field, Rouben Mammalian
playbill vault article

The Apple Tree

I. Love. The Apple Tree.

For a long time I only knew a little about this musical (mainly the songs "Oh, To Be a Move Star" and "Gorgeous"), and again, I am mad at myself for not learning it all sooner. *

This musical is 3 one-acts (The Diary of Adam and Eve, The Lady or the Tiger? and Passionella), my favorite being the first. I listened to the OBC cast and first of all, Barbara Harris is INCREDIBLE. How/why did she not do more musical theatre??? It's a horrible shame. She is so funny and she sounds amazing. Also in this cast? ALAN ALDA! Also a beautiful singer! WHAT IS GOING ON?? WHY DIDN'T THEY SING ALL THE TIME IN EVERYTHING??

Anyway, I don't care what anyone else says, this musical is great. I have heard things that sound much more dated than this does (a common complaint), plus the music is very clever and the plots surrounding each one-act are, too. I think it's very sweet and smart. And I want to be in it. So, make let's make that happen, universe.

The Apple Tree
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
Book by Jerome Coopersmith, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock

*I feel like a lot of people only know these two songs. I performed "What Makes Me Love Him" for a class once and the instructor asked, 2 minutes later, if I was at all familiar with The Apple Tree. I thought he was kidding -- he wasn't -- and he certainly didn't know I JUST SANG FROM THAT SHOW, SO YES I WAS FAMILIAR WITH IT.


I didn't enjoy nearly anything from the OBC recording of Applause. It sounds extremely dated, the music and lyrics aren't interesting (or even memorable, save the title song, and even then it's only slightly memorable) and there was never a moment that "pulled me in" at all. I listened to it twice, several weeks apart.

HOWEVER, when I read the synopsis and production history of Applause, I was more intrigued: it's based on the same source material that the movie All About Eve was based on, which is, basically, a middle-aged actress being replaced by someone younger. And in this case, SCHEMING and younger.   Eve is certainly the worst, but you don't have to be a good person to be successful -- and we all know how "looks" based the entertainment industry is.

So, I really feel that Applause needs to be seen to give it a fair review, and I until that happens (or maybe until I randomly find the script some day), I can't really judge it. Maybe the music works better in context. Maybe I'll find out some day... or maybe I won't.

Music by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Lee Adams
Book by Betty Comden and Adolf Green

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Anything Goes

I am a fan of Cole Porter, if not everything he does. In fact, I am a fan of SOME of Anything Goes, though definitely not of all of it.

It always says something to me if a show's book changes with each revival. From this, characters are added or subtracted, songs can be reassigned, order of events can change, even songs from other shows have been added. It just doesn't seem strong. And it's not. It wasn't a book-style show. But, if that's the case, don't pretend it is.

I am always shocked that this is done so often in schools and regional theaters. Why? It's hard: how do you find that many GOOD tappers? Are you using it as an example of why people need SOME tapping skills? The plot is confusing, and although I felt the jazz music at the beginning, it quickly wore out its welcome and became tedious towards the end.

There are obviously hundreds of musicals out there, many of which are awesome. I wish whenever someone wanted to add this show to their theater's season, they reconsidered and went with something with more to it. Just because this has been historically popular doesn't make it GREAT.

That being said, I LOVE the song Anything Goes.

Anything Goes
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
(origina) Book by PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton

Anyone Can Whistle

When I saw that this show was next on my list to write about, I had only listened to the original cast album once through. I told myself, "It's a Sondheim show. You can't say anything about this after one listen. It deserves repeated listenings." Thus began My Week With Anyone Can Whistle.

The original show ran for 9 performances on Broadway. There haven't been any Broadway revivals, although there was a very successful concert in 1995 and an Encores! staged reading a few years ago. Some international productions have taken place. People don't do it that often, it seems.

They should.

It's excellent.

You can hear everything Sondheim would evolve into in this musical. It is funny and weird and complex and smart. It is VERY ahead of its time.

I spent MOST of my time listening to the 1995 concert recording because it's complete (the OBC recording was missing half the songs and sounds horribly dated). It stars Madeline Kahn and Bernadette Peters and they are both fantastic. I wish there was video recording. It's so good.

The song There's Always a Woman (how was this CUT from the original recording???) is now one of my favorite musical theatre songs. You can hear the ghost of it's future (Pretty Women from Sweeney Todd) in the orchestrations. It also would basically require you to ignore the orchestrations as a singer and trust yourself as a musician. Everybody Says Don't is basically a perfect patter song, that, depending on your current mindset and emotional state, could have you feeling extremely passionate towards your life goals. And the song Anyone Can Whistle can break your heart if you give it a chance. GIVE IT A CHANCE!!!

I mean, at least for me, Stephen Sondheim is just IT. I am so glad I gave this the time it deserves (it deserves even more time, but this was at least enough time for me to form some basic understanding).

Anyone Can Whistle
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Annie Get Your Gun

Annie Get Your Gun was technically the first show I was in professionally. I feel like every time it's done the story is different in some way, which makes me question the book's integrity.

I also obviously have a big problem with Frank Butler. I know it was a different time, but that guy. Man. What a jerk. It's not like Annie is perfect, but to lose the match at the end of purpose just to appease his ego? Ugh.

Aside from from some terrible plot choices and questionable situations (like I'm An Indian too), Annie Get Your Gun has some of the catchiest, most famous songs in all musical theatre.

Do I love it? HELL NO. When they revive it, it doesn't even sound contemporary, it just sounds weird. The original recording is the best because they're not trying too hard. The show was written for Ethel Merman, the weirdest voice to ever be popular, but also the best performer who has ever played Annie (sorry, Bernadette).

Most underrated song? Moonshine Lullaby

Annie Get Your Gun
Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin
Book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields


I was never young enough to be in Annie.

It was the first musical I ever saw, and I was of course obsessed with the movie. There is a recording of me singing Tomorrow at my grandma's house perfectly on pitch (because you can't teach that shit, it happens or it doesn't) when I was 4. When I realized performing was an actual option for me to do, I WAS 11 (just like Annie), but I was already the height I am now (5'5.5") and developing hips. The window for me to play Annie was like 2 months when I was 9 years old.

If I ever do a cabaret of emotionally connected songs from roles I will never play, the first song on the list will be Maybe.

I LOVE Annie. I don't care if you don't. I don't care if you make fun of me for loving it (because YOU are wrong). There is a reason Annie is produced so often and it's not because theaters love dealing with children and their crazy parents. This musical shows that you CAN have an established source material and still create something interesting, heartfelt and GOOD.

The reason this show works so well is because Annie really believes her parents are alive and she makes us believe it to. Yeah, we want her to get out of the orphanage, but we really want her to be reunited with these people who are CLEARLY alive. Even Oliver Warlocks believes it and wants it.

Here are some random thoughts I had while listening to Annie (which I have seen multiple versions of and have known my entire life):
-- Why am I crying so much??
-- Where is Oliver Warlbucks's mansion supposed to BE in Manhattan??
-- This musical is surprisingly political with its differing views on Herbert Hoover (like 50 years after he was president)
-- STAR-TO-BE. It's so simple and it made me cry on a plane. "Tomorrow a penthouse that's way up high! Tonight: (sad pause) the Y! (audible sigh and then immediate turn around) Why not? It's NYC!" THIS KILLS. EXCELLENT WORK, STAR-TO-BE!!!! STAR-TO-BE IS ALL OF US.
-- Roosevelt forcing his staff to sing during the Tomorrow reprise is hilarious.
-- FDR should seriously be in every musical.
-- During the song I Don't Need Anything But You, I heard the lyric (amongst things that people needed in their lives to be complete) "Hamlet needed his mother" and I immediately though, "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY HERE, DADDY WARBUCKS!?!?!?"

Music by Charles Strause
Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Book by Thomas Meehan

Ankles Aweigh

Ankles Aweigh was a pretty big flop. I couldn't believe there was a cast recording considering it ran for 176 performances in 1955 and lost money. Apparently they even cut the salaries of the performers to try and save money (they quit in response, naturally).

So, critics hated Ankles Aweigh, and so did audiences. The main complaint was that it was dated (it was more of a vaudeville style from the pre-Oklahoma! era) and people wanted the songs and book to flow together and to not have characters doing impersonations of Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I didn't hate the music. I thought the song Honeymoon was pretty ahead of its time lyrically, but, of course the song, Nothing Can Replace a Man, made me angry, even if it was satirical.

Ankles Aweigh
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Dan Shapiro
Book by Guy Bolton, Eddie Davis

And the World Goes 'Round

I keep saying that Kander and Ebb "aren't my favorite" but it was during this musical that I was like, "Oh yeah, these guys have good stuff." It's a revue, so there's not a lot to say. I liked the songs I already liked, I disliked the songs I already disliked, and I heard songs I hadn't heard before but did like. So, basically, I should stop saying that they aren't my favorite, because they have surprised me a lot so far.

And the World Goes 'Round
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb

American Idiot

So, I was looking forward to American Idiot, although I am not sure why. I'm not a huge Green Day fan. IN FACT, I am not a Green Day fan at all. I had a conversation with Chris a few weeks ago (it was mainly just me ranting, he said very little) about how Green Day embraced punk SO MUCH but they're not REAL punk. They're like Midwestern punk. Like a bunch of business guys with a lot of nostalgia in their hearts were like, "We're a punk band, now." It's too clean, too polished. If you're gonna be fucking PUNK, you're not going to want to be popular, you're also gonna be harder for me personally to listen to.*

And you're definitely not going to turn your songs into a musical.

I know American Idiot is popular and in all honesty it's not too bad. The cast is awesome. They sound REALLY GOOD, and not like "broadway voice" really good, but they'd sound good in legit rock and roll. I was really impressed with the singing.... and that's about it. The story is LAME. We've all seen that story before... in basically every Gen Xer piece of media that was created (come ON, Gen Xers! Get another ideaaaaaa). I was not surprised about the "twist" (it seemed so obvious). To me, American Idiot is FINE, but we didn't need this. It didn't break ground and it didn't change anything...

Perhaps if they were REAL punk it would have.

American Idiot
Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer

*I don't like punk music at all, but I really respect it

Altar Boyz

I have ignored Altar Boyz my entire life until now because I knew I could never be in it.

Listen: the music is pretty good, it's also pretty funny. It was not life changing. I was not like, "GET ME A TIME MACHINE BECAUSE I NEED TO GO BACK IN TIME TO SEE THIS!" However, if I have a friend who is in it, and I am available to see the performance, I will attend happily.

Did we really need another all-male show, though?

Altar Boyz
Music and Lyrics by: Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker
Book: Kevin Del Aguila

Sunday, August 30, 2015


If you listen to the OBC recording of Allegro you will probably not be able to find its merits. There is another recording, from I think an Encores! production, that is more complete and more contemporary sounding, and it might float your boat more.

Allegro is the Rodgers and Hammerstein version of a "problem play." Because of the success of Oklahoma and Carousel, the advance sales for Allegro were very high, and it obviously opened to extremely mixed reviews (which I'm sure is not surprising, as you've probably never heard of it). It tells the story of Joseph Taylor Jr from birth to adulthood. It features a singing chorus (PLEASE BRING THESE BACK!!!!!) a dancing chorus and a speaking chorus (or a Greek chorus). This was Hammerstein's baby. It is extremely complex and epic: there is nothing light hearted about Allegro. This musical is enough to understand how much influence Hammerstein had on his protege, Stephen Sondheim.

I LOVE Allegro. I don't know if I would have loved it had I just first listened to it for the first time today, but I have spent a looooot of time in the world of Allegro. We performed it in drama club when I was a freshman in high school. It was my first leading role (I played Emily). It was also how I met my first boyfriend because Show-mance is the name of the game for ol' Alisa Ledyard. I will tell you honestly that I did a massive amount of research on this play before they had auditions. It was BEFORE the internet was really a thing, too, so the research was difficult. I should really revisit it now and re-read the script. I do like the music, but I think the script has a lot more to it.

Allegro was ahead of its time in so many ways, and Oscar Hammerstein always felt that people misunderstood it. I really want the spirit of Oscar Hammerstein to know that I DO understand it, and I understood it as a 15 year old, too.

Also, this quote kills me:

"The failure of Allegro only partially tarnished the reputation of Rodgers and Hammerstein; after all, it was a very respectable flop. Yet the long-term repercussions were more serious. Never again would R&H experiment so boldly and risk losing their audience. They would continue to come up with surprising and wonderful things, but the days of radical and foolhardy innovation were over. From then on they would stick to the tried and true. Allegro marked the end of the R&H revolution." 

I mean... that should never be the case. I know some of their best work was yet to come, but imagine if this show had been successful what they could have created. It hurts to think about.

Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
wikipedia article

All Shook Up

I'm gonna be honest: I couldn't finish this one.

So, like, Elvis was famous, but was he really famous for singing fantastic songs? No. No way. He was famous for singing songs and being "1950s sexy." I don't mind a few of these songs, but again, I'll be honest with you: if I want to hear an Elvis song, I'll listen to the Elvis recording of that song. They don't hold up very well outside of Elvis and they definitely don't HELP to make a super confusing adaptation of Twelfth Night any better.

But, let's talk about Twelfth Night for a minute. The actual play, the one by Shakespeare. It's great, right? One of his very best. I can see why someone would be like, "ok, GREAT IDEA, everyone: let's take one of the best plays ever written and the musical catalog of one of the most famous musicians ever and COMBINE THEM!"

I hate the audience who not only puts up with that line of thinking, but gets excited about it.

The funny thing about All Shook Up is that I saw a staged reading of an early version show in 2003 and it was much better. It was still all Elvis music, but the story was way better. AND it was starring Ana Gastyer, who was in-cred-i-ble. I wish I could remember more of the story of this version. I don't remember LOVING it, but I don't think it was the worst thing ever, which is kind of how I felt about the current version.

Aladdin (Broadway)

It would have been hard to mess this up.

Everyone already knows Aladdin is awesome and that Alan Menken is one of the best song writers ever. I am glad they brought back a cut song from the movie, "Proud of Your Boy." Good job, Alan Menken. GOOD JOB FOREVER.

Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Chad Beguelin
Book by Chad Beguelin

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ain't Misbehavin'

I am so mad at myself for never exploring Ain't Misbehavin' before. It is so, so good. You can hear the influences of basically every song ever written afterwards in this music. Listening to it is like listening to honey. I don't even talk like this normally, but there is no other way to say it. These voices flow in this music and it is rich and sweet and fantastic. And it's funny (not overtly funny) and doesn't take itself too seriously (which would be impossible). LISTEN TO AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'!

Nell Carter, goddamn.

I DARE you to listen to "Handful of Keys" and not start dancing. It's impossible. You will be moving. Even if it's just a foot or slight leg... you will be.

Oh, and Charlaine Woodard kills "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now."

Ain't Misbehavin'
Music by Fats Waller
Lyrics by "Various"
Book by Richard Maltby Jr, Murray Horowitz


I remember when Aida came out and I remember when everyone was singing "I Know the Truth." I remember hearing how Heather Headley was incredible (which she is). But, I also remember Elton John's early music, which has edge and grit (yes, even just the piano based songs like "Tiny Dancer") and I really missed that in this music.

Obviously this is just my opinion, and I don't think it will be a popular one. Aida is just not for me. It's like Elton John needed to write a musical and wrote it how Andrew Lloyd Webber would write it. I wanted it to be edgier and more raw, not as polished. I mean, it's Elton John, he can do that. I know he changed as a songwriter since the 70s, but that is my favorite part of him: the weird, piano-based rock. It's awesome. It's WHY he's famous. I wish this had more of it. (Side Note: We'll get to it eventually, but I feel like he did succeed in sounding like his former, edgier rock self in Billy Elliot.)

But, I mean, "I Know the Truth" IS a really good song regardless.

Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, David Henry Hwang

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Addams Family

You may remember that my birthday is on Halloween, therefore I love anything spooky. As the first description of the Addams family in the theme song is that they're "creepy", I have always had an affinity for them. Remember the Addams Family movie? It was SO GOOD.

I wish so much that they would have just taken the plot to the movie and used it as the story for this musical, because if there is one thing we all know for certain, it's that OF ALL THE CHARACTERS, WEDNESDAY ADDAMS IS THE LEAST LIKELY TO WANT TO BE NORMAL. EVER. END OF STORY.

Wednesday is quintessential "weird" and it's awesome. Remember how Christina Ricci only played weird, dark characters for a long time after that movie? That's because she WAS Wednesday and when you ARE Wednesday, no one can see you as anything else. That's how strong that character is. She fucking MURDERS people. She's not going to try to convince her family to be normal. That just isn't her. It's just not. It's NOT. IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN.

The cast was all-stars and they all sound good singing songs that were neither wanted nor needed. Bebe Neuwirth is, of course, perfect for that role. I'm sure it looked amazing and that the production values were as high as the kicks in the huge dance numbers I am assuming took place. But, God. It's bad. I listened to this at the gym one night and I was so sad when the next song would start and that it wasn't over instead.

The Addams Family
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
wikipedia article

The Act

Do you like Liza Manelli? If so, you might like The Act. If you don't, don't even bother because that's literally all this show is: Liza Manelli singing Kander and Ebb songs.

Now, I really like Liza. I think she's HILARIOUS and incredibly talented. Apparently this show was doomed from the start since it was being performed when Liza was going actually insane. And, again,  Kander and Ebb are not normally my favorite style, but many of these songs are super catchy and Liza can really tell a story vocally. She really is special. They're the kind of songs that you'd listen to before YOU performed to get you pumped up and in the right head space. Even, like, Bobo's can pump you up somehow.

Ok, maybe it can only pump ME up, but this is my life, now, so I have to deal with this fact.

The Act
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by George Furth

A Tale of Two Cities

Emphasis on "the worst of times"!

I had to settle for the concept album of A Tale of Two Cities that came out several years before the show was on Broadway, so I don't know if it changed much between. It ran for 60 performances. I basically hate nearly everything Charles Dickens wrote and I'm really having a hard time believing that anyone made this musical out of a passion for the subject matter and original story.

You know how when you scan through radio stations in the car (I am remembering riding in a car -- I haven't driven in 6 years) and you're like "Oooooh, what's this? Oh, it sounds cool. OH WAIT, NO, IT'S CHRISTIAN ROCK. HELP! I CAN'T CHANGE THE STATION FAST ENOUGH!" That's kind of felt I felt about this musical. I listened to the whole thing and I can't say that it's 100% bad (I CAN say that about some things), but it were a far, far better thing that this had never been made.

A Tale of Two Cities
wikipedia article

A New Brain

I suppose any show that is autobiographical is going to be  pretty heartfelt, but with William Finn, who puts heart into everything, there's even more here. I loved this show and I can't believe the only song I had heard from it previously was Heart and Music. (A song about putting heart into music. META.)

I kept waiting for Kristin Chenoweth's obvious huge number, but it never happened, and then I realized that's because this was before she was famous.

Don't listen to Poor, Unsuccessful and Fat if you're having a bad day for self-esteem otherwise it might hit too close to home and you'll want to drive off a bridge.

A New Brain
Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by William Finn and James Lapine

A Little Princess

This is another show with a bunch of children in it, although the cast recording has adults singing all the children parts. Sierra Boggess sounds wonderful as always as Sara, but this musical features Tituss Burgess as Pasko, so that was worth listening to it if nothing else had been.

I am not the biggest Lippa fan and I am also not a fan of stories like the original book this was based on. All orphanages can't be as bad as this and the one in Annie, though, right? Wait, they are?? We have no media to tell us otherwise so they MUST BE?? Man.

I did save the song Another World. I thought it was the most interesting part of this musical.

A Little Princess
Music by Andrew Lippa
Book and Lyrics by Brian Crowley
Based on the book by Frances Hogsdon Burnett

A Christmas Story: the musical

Do you like the movie A Christmas Story? Do you LOVE it? Do you watch it all day on Christmas Day? Is it not only a part of your childhood but also a part of AMERICA to you? Could you literally watch it the entire day but your husband says, "Please. Let's watch something else just for a few hours?"

Do you think the Father is one of the best characters ever written?

Then please don't listen to the musical A Christmas Story.

I remember thinking that the production number on the Tony Awards was amazing (and that kid who plays Ralphie is fantastic), but this musical should only be considered an extremely loose interpretation of this movie. If the movie of A Christmas Story was an a boat, it would be a quirky, weird boat that that floating in a cute lake that you built yourself and loved. The musical would be a cruise ship that rolled into the Hudson without a place to dock. No one invited it there but it's coming to town anyway.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

9 to 5

The funny thing about 9 to 5 (both the movie and the musical) is that it goes from very realistic to completely fucking bonkers in an instant. I tend to like my musicals a little less "show-y", and originally I was like, "This show is going off the rails!" but then I remembered that it's only staying true to its source.

I love Dolly Parton. Love. Her. She is a gift to this earth and we are lucky to have her.  I do like all the female characters in this musical and a lot of the songs (especially Get Out and Stay Out and of course 9 to 5, which is a song I think everyone can relate to). There are some very funny moments, too. I wish I could have seen it on Broadway to see what heights the craziness was taken to.

9 to 5
Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnik
Based the film 9 to 5

70, Girls, 70

Do yourself a favor: listen to 70, girls, 70 and read the synopsis.

I wasn't going to listen to this show, either, but MY GOD, IT'S AMAZING. Kander and Ebb aren't always my style, but this show is amazing. The music is catchy, the story is AMAZEBALLS and if I can't ever be in 13, at least I will always be aging up to 70, Girls, 70.

70, Girls, 70
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Book by Fred Ebb and and Norman L. Martin
wikipedia article

42nd Street

I wasn't originally going to listen to this at all because

A. I've seen it and
B. I originally didn't want to waste my time on a musical that I knew I can NEVER be in

I just have no interest in 42nd Street. I mean, it's kind of gross and weird. What is this relationship between Julian and Peggy? Is he just a serious creeper or what? And Peggy has "had enough of show business" but she didn't even DO anything. I mean, she didn't REALLY even audition for the play. All she did was bump into people and tap a little. Grow up, Peggy. Stop being so dramatic.

42nd Street
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes


I have no real feelings towards 3hree (which is a series of one-act musicals, The MiceLavender Girl, and Flight of the Lawn Chair Man). It was fine. I neither loved nor hated it.

I do have a song from one of the shows in my audition binder, so there is that. I plan on using it if I can ever audition for Urinetown.

I just can't have strong feelings towards everything now that I'm older. I used to be really extreme but that's calmed down since I turned 30.

The Mice
Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin

Lavender Girl
John Bucchino

Flight of the Lawn Chair Man
Robert Lindsey Nassif

35MM: A Musical Exhibition

I had never heard of this show and I was really scared going in to it. I didn't read any background before listening to it and I was so confused for so long. Although, looking back, if I would have been paying more attention during the opening song Stop Time, maybe I wouldn't have been confused.

This music (it's hard to say "show" since there isn't a book: it's songs based on a series of photographs) is great across the board. It is sometimes laugh out loud hilarious (during Caralee, for example) and sometimes sweet and complex. I loved it.

At this point in my listening I thought to myself, "Well, God, it looks like all musicals ever made will be awesome."

That thought did not hold up.

35MM: A Musical Exhibition
Music and Lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver
Based on photographs of Matthew Murphy

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

I get anxious thinking about how much I want to be in this show and how I am not yet in this show.

I saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (henceforth known as just "Spelling Bee") in 2006, standing room, original cast, on my first day in NYC for a 4 day trip. It was fucking glorious. If I am not mistaken, my sister either sent me the CD or told me to buy the CD, when I lived in Los Angeles for a period of time in 2005. This show is beautiful and hilarious and magical. It is everything wonderful that I love in life: great songs that aren't sung by sopranos, movers that aren't dancers, HEART, adults playing children, improv and SPELLING BEES.

Yes, I love spelling bees. I watch that goddamn Scripps National Spelling Bee every single year and it is one of the most important days in May. It is my favorite thing on ESPN (I surprisingly do watch a lot of ESPN).

Spelling Bee + Me. Do yourself a favorite and make Spelling Bee + YOU.

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
wikipedia article


I have basically known about, and been in love with, 1776 my entire life. My parents loved it and introduced me to it when I was really young. I, in turn, introduced it to my 5th grade class, because I was really optimistic and naive and thought a bunch of normal 11 year olds would appreciate it since we were studying the American Revolution.

They didn't.

Nor did the company at the American Shakespeare Center when I tried to make them watch it on the 4th of July 2008.

I, however, love 1776 so much. It has 3 of my dream roles (interesting because there are only 2 women in it) and in my opinion some of the best acting in a movie musical.

I love you, 1776. Never change. (Not even to make you more historically accurate.)

Music and Lyrics: Sherman Edwards
Book: Peter Stone
wikipedia article

13: the musical

I am so angry that this show exists and that I can never, ever be in it. How dare you, JRB, how dare you???

I loved 13. How the HELL are these kids so talented and how did you find them? What was it: some kind of talented kid casting call? UGH.

Sadly, even if 13 would have come out when I WAS 13, or 12, or 11, or even 10, no one would have believed that I was young enough to be in it. I was just never that youthful.

Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Book: Dan Elish, Robert Horn

110 in the Shade

I knew NOTHING about this musical but I have known that it was a musical since I started my Musical Theatre Journey in 1997. I now know that two songs I've heard in auditions a lot ("Raunchy" and "Simple Little Things") are from this, that my main takeaway was that it's a poor man's The Music Man and that Starbuck needs to take both a course on Shakespeare and a Mexican history class.

If it wasn't for the fact that Lizzie is a coloratura soprano I would be interested in playing her. You can do better than everyone in that damn, dry town, Lizzie! Be true to you!

110 in the Shade
Music by Harvey Schmidt
Lyrics by Tom Jones (not that Tom Jones)
Book by N. Richard Nash
Based on The Rainmaker