|That's me- dressed to sing madrigals at Faire|
In other words, I am a musical theater nerd.
Why do they have such a bad rep? Why is it that musical theater is relegated to the deepest, darkest corners of geekdom? I can come out and say for all to hear that I FUCKING LOVE VOYAGER and that the Delphic Expanse is the scariest shit in the entire Star Trek universe... but I can't get some love for some show tunes?
Honestly, geeks. Shut up and dance. And I mean, with choreography. Put on your freakin' tap shoes.
Here, for your enjoyment, are my favorite songs from my favorite musicals. Enjoy the hell out of them.
First up- some Sondheim. A little info on the song and the scene. "A Little Night Music" is all about missed opportunities, sexual tension, regrets, and longing. The only character who is happy with her life and lot, who doesn't pine for the past and weep in the present... is this one. She's a servant, and she doesn't give a crap about all the drama going on with her employers and their crazy relationships. She's a realist. And I love her life's philosophy.
This song makes me cry but HARD. Not only is it one of the sweetest love songs I know, but as with all musicals, the killer is context. This is the second appearance of the song in the play. The first time is when Angel and Collins fall in love. They sing this song to each other, in a happy, upbeat, gleeful way. When Angel dies, Collins sings the same song- he's saying that her death changes nothing. That not even death can change the way he feels. Oh- and the coat he's carrying... that coat was the first gift she ever gave him.
My first words when I walked out of the theater after seeing the film adaptation was, "Well, that was a pop culture abortion."* This scene still slays me.
Let's get happy for a minute. What? You've never heard of Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog? Where have you been?!? Maybe there's a funnier, quirkier, more delightful bit of actually tragic musical storytelling out there. If you find it, let me know.
While we're on the subject of pure entertainment...
Oh, Angela Lansbury. How I love you. I love a good burn, and this song is just the most morbid ways Sondheim could come up with to make fun of people of different professions. "The problem with Poet is how do you know it's deceased?" HA!
While we're being morbid, let's get a little more serious. If you haven't heard of this show CHECK IT OUT. It is spectacular. It's essentially a biography of Andrew Jackson, told as a rock opera. This number is an account of his systematic persecution of Native Americans. The staging is chilling. And of course, each "little Indian" is a metaphor for the different actions Jackson took against native people.
Keeping it serious...
About once a week, I need a good cry. And I almost always go for a musical. This song- this song will do it. Most adaptations of brilliant books don't hold up. This is a HUGE exception. The Color Purple is devastating. And the play... Through the whole thing, Celie is just crapped on all over by life. Her father rapes and impregnates her and then takes the baby away- probably to kill it- TWICE. He sells her to a horrible, abusive man. He threatens her sister, who then disappears into Africa. And then, finally, somebody rescues her. A woman saves her from her abuser, and they fall in love. Then one day that woman tells her she's leaving for a teenaged boy. Celie, who's spent nearly the entire play curled over herself, singing softly and meekly and fearfully cringing from everyone on the stage... she stands up and sings THIS.
And I weep inconsolably.
In addition to being SUPER upset whenever source material is crapped all over in a reproduction, I get ridiculously upset when something is taken out of context to give it a totally new meaning. Every time I hear this song in a car commercial, a little piece of my soul dies.
This is NOT a happy song. The premise of this scene (the finale) is that Berger sneaks into the barracks to replace his friend for an afternoon so he can spend a little time with his girlfriend before he's shipped off to Vietnam. Only orders come while he's there, and Berger is shipped off in his place, and he dies in Vietnam. "Let the Sun Shine" is a call for peace in the midst of a culture of death.
Whenever I hear this song, I cry. And that makes me all the angrier that I'm crying at ads for sandwiches or Labor Day sales.
Back to happy! One of the many reasons I hate Disney's Cinderella is that I grew up on Rogers and Hammerstein's version. Which is superior in every conceivable way. Music being the first and foremost.
While we're on the subjects of musical numbers I love because of my own life being filled with musicals... The Mystery of Edwin Drood. I used to audition with this song. It is NOT EASY. There are about a million key changes in there, and it's so simply orchestrated- really lets the soloist stand out. (Can you tell why I love it?) And that last phrase... so many key changes in one sentence. What a great finale. So Bond.
Oh, how I love this musical...
Whenever I need a pick-me-up. If I'm down in the dumps, or over exhausted, or hungry, or anything... the cast of the Book of Mormon can pull me out of my sorrows and make me laugh.
And thank you, Church of Latter Day Saints, for advertising all over the Playbill for this musical. You guys are real sports.
*Those words exactly.