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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'll take the liberty of breaking this forum in...

I've always been a traditionalist artistically. In fact, I became a classical musician. (and somehow manage to make a living) My secret passion, Broadway musicals.

Of course, by that I mean the work of Richard Rogers, Frederick Loewe, etc. I'm not a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber, or the bloody frenchmen who musicalized Les Miserable, but I can at least say that they were TRYING to be originally musically.

What I can't stand is things like Mama Mia, or the new-ish show that takes BIlly Joel's songs and tries to create a plot. COME ON! No original musical content what-so-ever. Bad plots. LOUSY acting. (not to mention horrible singing)

Is this kind of s#$t really necessary to keep one of America's greatest musical forms alive?

Discuss.
 

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I'll take the liberty of breaking this forum in...

I've always been a traditionalist artistically. In fact, I became a classical musician. (and somehow manage to make a living) My secret passion, Broadway musicals.

Of course, by that I mean the work of Richard Rogers, Frederick Loewe, etc. I'm not a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber, or the bloody frenchmen who musicalized Les Miserable, but I can at least say that they were TRYING to be originally musically.

What I can't stand is things like Mama Mia, or the new-ish show that takes BIlly Joel's songs and tries to create a plot. COME ON! No original musical content what-so-ever. Bad plots. LOUSY acting. (not to mention horrible singing)

Is this kind of s#$t really necessary to keep one of America's greatest musical forms alive?

Discuss.
Nope. But I love Sondheim.
 

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London January 2004

My wife and I went to London in January for our honeymoon. Those who do not live in a sweltering swamp cannot appreciate the relief of real winter. We spent a week there, and saw at least five shows, some new, some old. We went to a really beautiful old theater to see Anything Goes, and enjoyed the show, but we were disapointed that they used recorded music throughout. Or, we were disapointed, until sometime halfway through the show, when the set changed and we realized that the orchstra had been playing all along, hidden behind part of the stage. They had honestly played so well that we believed it had been a recording.
 

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What I can't stand is things like Mama Mia, or the new-ish show that takes BIlly Joel's songs and tries to create a plot. COME ON! No original musical content what-so-ever. Bad plots. LOUSY acting. (not to mention horrible singing)

Is this kind of s#$t really necessary to keep one of America's greatest musical forms alive?

Discuss.
They are commercially fairly safe; given the ENORMOUS cost of mounting a musical on Broadway, with current costs being more than $10 million (approx. 10-12 times the cost of a play, 5-6 times as much as mounting the same show on London's West End), producers are desperately looking for safe properties, either tried and true old shows (there are currently 6 revivals either now running or opening soon: Chicago, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Hair, South Pacific, West Side Story), or shows based on tried and true music. 'Twas always thus; economics almost always trumps experimentation, particularly in the arts.
 

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I'm a Sondheim aficionado, too. But in general prospects for musical theater are bad. Not only are the shows you describe -- flimsy plots fitted to existing bodies of pop songs -- all the rage because of their pre-digested quality, but the only other sort of show to have much of a chance at becoming a hit these days is one based on a popular (frequently Disney) movie (another form of pre-digestion). Broadway is not creating new musicals that become famous in their own right. At least Andrew Lloyd Webber sometimes came up with a show like Cats that was conceptually new.
 

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What I can't stand is things like Mama Mia, or the new-ish show that takes BIlly Joel's songs and tries to create a plot. COME ON! No original musical content what-so-ever. Bad plots. LOUSY acting. (not to mention horrible singing)
There was also a Barry Manilow show.

Somewhere not quite as bad are shows that started out as movies, because usually they have to write more, better songs to stand up to a Broadway audience. The Lion King and Hairspray come to mind. (I think the only song Hairspray copied was a dance called the Madison, which is on the 1988 movie soundtrack but not on the Broadway album or in the new movie).
 

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Rip makes a good point. The cost of producing on Broadway is through the roof. The upcoming production of Spiderman, the Musical is costing $40 million. It will take a run of years to recoup. The three big shows coming to Broadway this season are all based on movies - Billy Elliott, 9 to 5 and Shrek. Sprawling book musicals like Tale of Two Cites are closing after a few weeks. Chicago was a great musical in 1977 and it remains viable today. Other than revivals like the very good production of South Pacific, Broadway does not have much to offer at the moment in terms of musicals. Spring Awakening, which won lots of Tony's is a very strange and unentertaining work. The shows still making the most money are Jersey Boys and Wicked. It will be interesting to see what the failing economy and declining Euro will do to Broadway tourist business this season.
 

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There was also a Barry Manilow show.

Copacabana by Barry Manilow, while a very entertaining show, was never produced on Broadway. It had a very successful run in London and on tour in the US. He did write a show called Harmony that will hopefully get to Broadway soon. Barry Manilow is a very fine musician and composer, and should be judged by more than just pop songs.
 

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Copacabana by Barry Manilow, while a very entertaining show, was never produced on Broadway. It had a very successful run in London and on tour in the US. He did write a show called Harmony that will hopefully get to Broadway soon. Barry Manilow is a very fine musician and composer, and should be judged by more than just pop songs.
Oh, I don't question his talent as a songwriter or a musician. I was merely pointing out that there is a "jukebox musical" of his work.

While Elton John has written music for Aida and The Lion King, I find it interesting that they haven't tried to make a jukebox musical out of his work.
 

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Spring Awakening, which won lots of Tony's is a very strange and unentertaining work. The shows still making the most money are Jersey Boys and Wicked.
This year's Spring Awakening was In The Heights, which didn't seem to have a whole lot going for it in the number I saw performed on the Tonys.

Wicked is a Broadway success that's a completely original musical; lest we forget, many classic musicals were based on books - Peter Pan, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music come to mind.

The musical and its very successful touring companies are bringing increased fame and book sales to the original author, who has written a sequel (Son of a Witch) and books on other fairy-tale characters.
 

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Oh, I don't question his talent as a songwriter or a musician. I was merely pointing out that there is a "jukebox musical" of his work.
QUOTE]

Copacabana was not a jukebox musical. They only one of Barry Manilow's hits in the show was the title song. All the rest of the songs were written for the show. There was a small show called Could It Be Magic, which was a jukebox musical of Manilow's songs. His new show Harmony is a completely original score.
 

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As Jukebox Musicals go...

I rather liked the Kurt Weill "Love Musik". OK -- more a BIO-musical.

And don't worry, Dearie, if we're subjected to more by John Doyle and his Kind, the American Musical will simply commit hare kiri.
 
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