Fresh off her success as Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3, Rebecca Hall is going to take a swing at the stage, Yahoo News reported Tuesday.
Last time I talked theatre, I discussed how problematic the love triangles in musicals can be. I also touched on how two-girls-and-a-guy triangles can negatively affect women’s relationships.
Well, that’s a major downer, so I figured this week I’d look at some fabulous lady-duos and focus on the awesomeness of women supporting other women.
These first two are frighteningly similar in situation—Glinda and Elphaba from Wicked and Amneris and Aida from Aida. Glinda and Amneris help temper their fiery friends’ wills and teach them to enjoy themselves, whereas Elphaba and Aida help the more flighty ladies gain some perspective and learn what’s really important in life. Neither overwhelm or undermine the other—they both help each other to grow.
Wicked also brings us the most tearjerking-but-great anthem to friendship ever, “For Good”, so I’d be remiss not to post it here.
My third pair’s friendship isn’t quite as high-profile as the others, but I still think it’s worth mentioning. Phantom of the Opera‘s Christine Daae is close friends with Meg Giry, the ballet mistress’s daughter. Over the course of the musical, we don’t see Christine doing much for Meg, as she is beset by suitors and dealing with sudden fame. However, Meg is a constant presence, and is full of both pride and practical concern for her friend. Christine probably would have avoided a lot of crap if she’d spent more time listening to Meg.
There’s also Maria and Anita from West Side Story. Their relationship is a bit more complicated, but, like Meg, Anita just wants what’s best for Maria. Their friendship is sorely tested when boy drama—which here means that Maria’s boyfriend was sort of responsible for Anita’s boyfriend’s death, and that when Anita tries to help Maria and her boyfriend out anyways she gets the crap beaten out of her (and, in some productions, raped) for her efforts—intervenes. They are a good example of the fact that nobody’s perfect, and of the toll that outside stressors can have on an otherwise healthy friendship.
Finally, let’s consider Nettie and Celie from The Color Purple. (Yeah, they’re sisters too, but it still counts.) Nettie and Celie have a truly hard life, escaping a sexually and physically abusive father only to be separated for years when Celie is married off to another abuser. Despite this long, forced time apart, Nettie constantly thinks of Celie and even helps raise the children Celie had as a result of her father’s abuse. Celie gains strength and hope from the belief that her sister has it better than she does. It isn’t till the end of the story that they’re reunited in person, but despite the physical distance between them throughout the rest of the play, their bond never really weakens.
I sadly had some trouble compiling this list, which I think means there needs to be far more musicals with chummy lady leads. Of course, I haven’t seen every musical, so maybe I’m forgetting some—let me know what I’m missing in the comments.
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.
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!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of going to the ballet. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre always puts on a stunning performance technically, and this evening was no different; usually when I review their shows I’m forced to comment on the plot of the show itself rather than the performers. (Let’s face it—I’m no ballerina, so I don’t feel qualified to say anything besides “Those jumps and lifts and spins were fantastic!”) Continue reading
For years I’ve been clamoring for Disney Theatricals to finish up the trifecta and get the third of the Howard Ashman/Alan Menken-inspired Disney musicals onto the stage. The success of Beauty and the Beast led me to believe that both The Little Mermaid and Aladdin were just around the corner, but when critics trashed The Little Mermaid, I was afraid that Aladdin would never see the lights of Broadway.
On Jan. 22 my fears were put to rest, as Disney officially announced that Aladdin would be moving into the New Amsterdam Theater in Spring 2014.
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.
This is our last Thursday before Halloween, so I feel compelled to talk about this amazing bit of musical theater before we get into boring old wintry November.
I see you shiver with antici
So at the end of September I saw the musical Fiorello! the second time in two months. I think that makes me qualified to write a review (although my father has seen it five times and has listened to the music from it since he was a child, he might be better…)
Fiorello! follows around Fiorello La Guardia; you all probably know him as the namsake of that chaotic New York Airport. Premiering in 1959, this musical follows his life from 1915 to the early 30s. During this time, he starts as a small-time lawyer, helping the little people. As you can imagine (since he has an airport named after him), his career and fame grows. I won’t ruin the rest of the plot about him. This play also follows around his dedicated staff, Marie, Morris, and Neil. The characters all grow together, but so many things stay the same.
Tuesday night I went with my parents to see Potted Potter, a Harry Potter parody musical that summarizes the entire seven books in seventy minutes. It is acted out by two British guys (Dan and Jeff) who also wrote the show.
Personally, I thought it started off a little slow. It was a little too silly just for the sake of being silly. Since the show was meant for young children, the antics at the beginning were probably meant to draw them in. In addition, some of the jokes towards the beginning were done too many times (like a bad SNL skit).
According to Crunchyroll and a number of other outlets, the classic Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke is being adapted for the stage in London by the Whole Hog Theatre company. In keeping with the ecological themes of the movie, the puppets used to portray the various nature deities will be made of recycled material. Although I’ve pointed out my opinion on the use of puppets in theatre before, hope springs eternal. If I had some way to get to London to see this next April, I’d be all over that.
What is your opinion of this adaptation, Dearest Readers? Although I assume they picked this for its strong preservationist themes, I’d have probably chosen another Miyazaki movie to adapt just for ease of adaptation.