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