Musical Theatre
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Doc Sarvis

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OK, I admit it, I like a good broadway musical. Some of it I hate (I personally don't care for MOST Rodgers and Hammerstein, for example - exception below), but when it's good it's really good. I see musicals as descendants of opera, and in some cases they are every bit as good as their operatic forefathers.

So, let's have a discussion of some of our faves. Here are mine:

1. Les Miserables - I dare you not to like it.
2. West Side Story - Lenny!
3. Sweeney Todd - incredible. Stravinsky-esque harmony, and a plot out of a horror movie. An opera in every sense. Sondheim's lasting masterpiece.
4. Chess - Great music (yes, I know, by the ABBA guys) that was ruined by a crappy production. A recent Danish cast album is great.
5. Jesus Christ Superstar - Some of the best rock music ever written.
6. Sound of Music - A so-so R&H musical, but a great movie (I bet even the death metal guys on this thread secretly like it).

Many more that I love, but I'll stop there to open up the discussion.
 
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zotjen

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If there was one musical that stands out I would have to say it is Gypsy. Avoid the movie like the plague though, with the woefully miscast Rosalind Russell instead of Ethel Merman who originated the role on Broadway.

As the grandaddy of big musicals I'll also mention Showboat, although a lot of people find it too old fashioned.
 
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Bunnyears

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Doc,

Rodgers and Hammerstein and also Rodgers and Hart are responsible for some of the greatest musicals ever written. I won't get into my criticisms of Les Mis and Miss Saigon, but they are not on my list of favorite musicals.

Adding to the list of great musicals, we have to consider Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice (Webber's later work is not as good), Rent, Into the Woods, A Little Night Music all have to be recognized as well. Broadway is a musical goldmine, and it's about time we got a thread going to celebrate it.

Here are some of my favorites:

Oklahoma, (Rodgers and Hammerstein)
Pal Joey (Rodgers and Hart)
South Pacific (R & Hammerstein)
The King and I (R & Hammerstein)

Showboat (Jerome Kern)

Anything Goes (Cole Porter)
Kiss Me kate (Cole Porter)

Fiddler on the Roof
Gypsy
The Producers

Rent! (Jonathan Larson's death really has left us poorer)

Evita
Cats

Hair

The Threepenny Opera (and everything else that's ever been done by Kurt Weill) I saw it years ago with Raul Julia just before he "broke through."

My Fair Lady (Lerner and Loewe)
Camelot (Lerner and Loewe)
Gigi

Into the Woods (Sondheim)
A Little Night Music -- who can forget "Send in the Clowns"? (Sondheim)

West Side Story
On the Town
Candide (Music only, it's really difficult to sit through that one)

I know there are shows that I am forgetting, but this is as good a start as any.
 
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Doc Sarvis

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bunnyears
Doc,


The Threepenny Opera (and everything else that's ever been done by Kurt Weill) I saw it years ago with Raul Julia just before he "broke through."



SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC

Bunny, I could be wrong but I think that the Broadway premiere of the Threepenny Opera was conducted by our friend Maurice Abravanel! I know that he and Weill were good friends, and Maurice conducted many of his premieres.

I actually acted in a production of Threepenny Opera in college, and played the trumpet!

I love the fact that there exists both a "pop" and a "sinister" translation of "Mack the Knife" (Moritat).

A little more off topic: I remember that the movie "Quiz Show" opens with the Bobby Darin version, and ends with the sinister "Moritat". It's very effective in symbolizing the loss of innocence the movie was trying to portray.

BACK TO MUSICALS

I agree that Miss Saigon is not a fave. But Les Mis conjures up many happy memories for me, especially because it's how my kids discovered Hugo.

I think I badly OD'd on R&H musicals as a kid.
 
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Bunnyears

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Doc,

I don't think I saw the premiere performance of the the Threepenny opera, but there is an internet broadway data base where you can look it up.

I'm glad that Les Mis has good associations for you. I'm sorry that you feel so burned out on Rodgers and Hammerstein (and Hart). I really couldn't appreciate all the dark themes in those musicals until I was an adult. As a child, South Pacific was a fun love story. As an adult, the darker theme of interracial marriage and racial predjudice were what caught my attention. When that play opened, there were still laws against miscegenation in most of the southern states. What a scandal that play must have been in a country that still considered attitudes expressed in Gone With the Wind as acceptable. The darker themes of religious prejudice are also present in Sound of Music as well when you consider the ingenue romance of the oldest daughter and her teenage Nazi suitor. Those musicals function on so many levels, it's really impossible to dismiss them. And the music is just glorious, which is why you need real singers to produce them. "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" is a song that demands real range from the singer, not like those 5 note songs that seem to proliferate nowadays. It's no accident that an operatic basso, Ezio Pinza opened South Pacific. The music is very demanding.
 
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Bunnyears

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Doc Sarvis
I love the fact that there exists both a "pop" and a "sinister" translation of "Mack the Knife" (Moritat).


Is there such a thing as a benign translation of Mack? Are the lyrics very substantially different between the Bobby Darin cover and the musical version? The most interesting thing about Darin is that he was so very literate. I don't think it's any accident that he chose songs like Mack the Knife with it's very nasty associations. What I find interesting is the pop treatment of the song and how it contrasts with the lyrics. He also refers to Miss Lotte Lenya in his version, which is a sly hommage.
 
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I confess that I do not listen to much musical theater, as I am an opera nerd, and therefore must spend hours sniping at musical theater as a pale imitation of the masters' art. However, when I stop being pompous, I find that I enjoy some musical theater.

I actually do like Miss Saigon. The IU Auditorium seems to program it every year (or did for a long time), but I generally don't go.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is quite wonderful and rather underrated, both as a theatrical production and as a film.

Rodgers and Hammerstein, while kitschy and occasionally maudlin, are loads of fun and really manage to make the theater enjoyable.

I'm glad someone else mentioned Gigi. For better or worse, that one influenced my view of French culture for the first ten years of my life.

Musical theater is interesting, engaging, uplifting, and it doesn't take fifteen hours to make its point. Wagner and Verdi are great, but sometimes one enjoys lighter fare with equally impressive messages.
 
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Bill Ward

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Grew up with Broadway musicals -- the ultimate feel-good music. Aside from the ones already listed, here are a few others I enjoy:

Berlin, Irving- Annie Get Your Gun

Borodin, Alexander (Robert Wright and George Forrest)- Kismet

Gershwin, George - Lady Be Good

Herman, Jerry - Mame

Leigh, M. - Man of La Mancha

Loesser, Frank - Guys & Dolls

Loewe, Frank - Brigadoon

Rogers, Richard - King and I, The

Schmidt (US), Francis - Fantasticks, The

Strouse, Charles - Applause

BW
 
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Mark from HFR

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I'm not a real close follower of music theatre (being devoted to plays), but there are some I love, and since no one else mentioned it, I just have to throw in a word for "1776" which is amazing both dramatically and as a musical. I had the joy of performing in a local production of it a few years back playing Ben Franklin. I shaved the top of my head and pinned long extensions in my hair to get the right look. My performance went over great, unfortunately no one knows that was me because it didn't look a thing like me!
 
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Bill Ward

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
I'm not a real close follower of music theatre (being devoted to plays), but there are some I love, and since no one else mentioned it, I just have to throw in a word for "1776" which is amazing both dramatically and as a musical. I had the joy of performing in a local production of it a few years back playing Ben Franklin. I shaved the top of my head and pinned long extensions in my hair to get the right look. My performance went over great, unfortunately no one knows that was me because it didn't look a thing like me!



"Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?"

Another "1776" fan here, Mark. The lyrics tend to stick in my head for some reason. Have you seen the film version, and, if so, what did you think of it?

BW
 
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PSmith08

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They put on "1776" at school last fall. The Theater Department really did a bang-up job with it. It really got a lot of community participation and interest.
 
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Mark from HFR

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ward
"Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?"

Another "1776" fan here, Mark. The lyrics tend to stick in my head for some reason. Have you seen the film version, and, if so, what did you think of it?

BW



Bill, No, I have somehow managed to never bump into the film version all these years. I'm very curious about it. Is it out on DVD? Should I get it?
 
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Bill Ward

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark from HFR
Bill, No, I have somehow managed to never bump into the film version all these years. I'm very curious about it. Is it out on DVD? Should I get it?




I liked the film and own the DVD. Bought it mostly out of curiosity because the director's cut included the deleted "Cool, Considerate Men." You'd probably enjoy it, but I don't think the cinematic treatment adds much to the stage version. Too bad they didn't just film the road company version I saw locally.

BW
 
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Mark from HFR

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Bill Ward


I liked the film and own the DVD. Bought it mostly out of curiosity because the director's cut included the deleted "Cool, Considerate Men." You'd probably enjoy it, but I don't think the cinematic treatment adds much to the stage version. Too bad they didn't just film the road company version I saw locally.

BW



I'd definitely want the director's cut including "Cool, Considerate Men". I'll probably pick it up at some point. Thanks for the info!
 
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