Okay you guys, my computer was broken for about a week and a half at the beginning of June so I’ve been catching myself up on what I’ve missed out on in that time. Of course I ended up missing out on some of the most exciting news of the year:
Translation by Miss Dream
I mean, do you understand? Do you understand? The Sailor Moon Musical will once again be a thing that exists, not just on YouTube and in crazily expensive memorabilia shipped in from overseas, but as actual live theatre! I just can’t even compose myself right now.
Yes, once again it’s that most exciting season for Broadway fans: Tony Time! Nominations have just been announced, kicking off speculation and debate among thespians everywhere pulling for their favorite shows/performers/creators and lamenting the inevitable snub of those who didn’t make it onto the ballot.
You can check the nominees (and pick your favorites) here on the New York Times’ site. I’ve gotta say, I’m a bit surprised by the nominations for Best Musical. For one, there’s not a single original musical to be found in the group: Bring it On, Kinky Boots and A Christmas Story are based on movies and Matilda is based on a book. While I have no problem with musical adaptations of existing works (Wicked, The Secret Garden, and Billy Elliot are firmly in my top ten favorite musicals) I do believe that original musicals need the publicity boost that comes from a Tony nomination more than a musical with built-in name recognition does, and let’s be honest: these awards are a business. I enjoy the event and am glad when my favorites win, but I honestly don’t believe that these awards honor excellence so much as they honor marketability.
That, however, is another reason I’m a bit surprised by the nominations: two of the nominated musicals (Bring it On and A Christmas Story) were limited run events which have already ended and won’t be boosted by this PR, at least not as readily as the currently running shows. Bring it On is supposed to go back out on the road again and A Christmas Story is likely to return as a seasonal event like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but neither of those are happening right now and would probably sell very well with or without the nomination.
Do I sound too jaded? I’m a little jaded. Let’s throw it over to The Onion for their much more lighthearted, if still critical, article on Tony noms. As for me, I’ll do what I always do: watch the broadcast for the musical performances and take the actual awards with a grain of salt. Congratulations to all nominees and to fellow fans, remember: the award (or lack thereof) doesn’t prove or disprove the quality of the show/performer/creator, so try not to take it too hard if your favorite doesn’t win.
You know what really grinds my gears? When people go to see a musical, and then complain because a POC is playing their fave and that’s just not realistic. Like seriously, guys, there are chimney sweeps dancing on rooftops and people singing their deepest feelings in front of crowds, but a character of color is unrealistic in a part? Continue reading →
I mentioned while reviewing The Devil’s Carnival, I thought that nothing could beat Grease for being one of the most sexist musicals ever. Now, despite The Devil’s Carnival taking Grease‘s place at number one, I still hate Grease with such a rage-filled passion that it is almost ridiculous.
He was going to! But then you let him change everything about you! What are you doing!?
This is a musical that almost always gets a pass because of its excellent soundtrack. All the dancing, singing, and pretty costumes distract you from the horrible, terrible, no good, very sexist plot! But it’s not just the main plot—every little side story or comment is sexist, too. And don’t give me the excuse that this musical was written during “a different time”. It was written in the 70s, well after the Women’s Liberation movement began; it should at least be a little better than the musicals written in the late 50s and early 60s. And the argument that Grease is accurately portraying the sexism of the 1950s is also not true. Grease portrays the 50s about as accurately as Disney portrays Chinese culture in Mulan. And even if you could prove to me that this portrayal is accurate, it still doesn’t change anything. Shows like Mad Men portray the sexism and racism of the generation they’re depicting, but they never glorify it or shy away from how terrible it is. Grease doesn’t do that.
Grease is a musical that looks nostalgically back on this time period along with its attitudes and way of life. Grease‘s message is very clearly, “wouldn’t it be great if the world was still like this.” A world where men utterly shame, control, and abuse women? No, thanks! Grease, your catchy songs don’t fool me! I see you for what you are!
The re-imagined production of Les Miserables which has been touring the UK and US simultaneously will be adding a third production to its credits: a sit-down Broadway engagement. The show, produced of course by that King Midas of musicals, Cameron Mackintosh, is set to take Broadway back to the barricades in Spring of 2014 at a yet-to-be-decided Shubert theater. The news that Les Mis would take Broadway for the third time has been floating around since the movie became such a huge hit but it wasn’t confirmed until recently what production would be seen on the Great White Way: the original, the new tour, or some other staging.
While I am a fan of Les Miserables, I didn’t feel especially excited for this revival. I suppose it’s just because the previous revival feels too recent to me to necessitate a third Broadway staging. Checking the dates, though, it has been a full five years since the 2006 Revival closed and will be over six by the time this production opens. Not to mention it was only three years between the original production’s closing and the revival’s opening.
The story of Jesus has been called ”The greatest story ever told” and he has had a larger impact on the course of Western history than almost any other historical figure, so it’s no surprise that his story has been the subject of musicalization multiple times. The Passion narrative (Jesus’ suffering and death) and the events leading up to it tell a tale of love, personal growth, betrayal, and political unrest to name just a few. These themes lend themselves readily to musical narrative and can be emphasized or downplayed, depending on the creative team’s personal views on what’s important in the story and/or what’s important to the culture in which the piece is created.The three musicals I’m going to look at today are Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, and !Hero. Since this is an “Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus” post and not a “Theatre Thursday” I will be discussing their religious themes rather than critiquing the shows themselves as is my usual game.
When a musical using the Spice Girls songs was first rumored, the child in me perked his ears up and got pretty excited. The cynic in me said “What’s the story? How theatrical are these songs? Where’s the heart, the narrative?” to which my inner child responded by plugging his ears and singing “Wannabe” at the top of his lungs. Well, the musical has finally arrived in the form of Viva Forever! in London’s West End, so how are the hopes of my inner child and concerns of my inner cynic met?
The NBC show Smash is a show that I almost feel I like out of sheer force of will. I want to like it so I do, despite frequently being let down by it. Well, Smash will be returning for its second season on Tuesday, February 5 but a 44 minute sneak peek of the premiere is available on the channel’s website here. I’m looking forward to the premiere and following the show for another season, but there were a lot of issues with the show in season one, primarily due to its characterization and story development.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it follows the creation of a musical from conception to Broadway opening. The majority of the series, however, follows the personal lives of the people involved in the musical, from the creative team to the cast and this I believe is detrimental to the story. It’s not that the show couldn’t or shouldn’t focus on the characters’ lives outside the musical (though obviously I, personally, would like to see more focus on the theatre side of the story) but the problem is that the characters are so poorly written. Continue reading →
Not too long ago I said that The Devil’s Carnival was the worst, most sexist musical I have ever seen. I was surprised by this because I actually really like Repo! The Genetic Opera, which I see as a much more feminist tale.
The premise of Repo! The Genetic Opera is that in the future, organ failures become a major problem, eventually causing the rise of a company known as GeneCo. GeneCo provides organ transplants and cosmetic surgeries, but if someone defaults on a payment a Repoman will come and remove the organ from you.
The musical centers on Repoman Nathan, played by Anthony Stewart Head, and his daughter Shilo, who I see as our main feminist heroine in this musical. However, there are several other female characters that support these feminist themes. There is Blind Mag, a formerly blond opera singer and now the voice of GeneCo, who is played by Sarah Brightman (best known for playing Christine in Phantom of the Opera), Amber Sweet, the wealthy heiress of GeneCo, played by Paris Hilton, and finally Marni, Nathan’s dead wife.
In my mind, feminism at its core is about choice—to choose what type of person you want to be without fear of judgement or prejudice. In Repo! The Genetic Opera each woman struggles to have a choice over how they live their lives.