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