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!