During the third week of the month of November, in the current decade that is our own, Western theatre suddenly encountered a threat to its very existence, and this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, with the seeming most innocent and unlikely of faces: the high concept, score-based musical. More
Here’s the second installment of our popular Playlist! Featuring a different composer for each post, an invited guest blogger will bring you a rundown of their greatest hits and why you should have their songs on your portable music device. This week, Tara Litvak, presents her defiitive William Finn playlist (who also happened to write Falsettos) as she gears up for her Finn concert, Set Those Sails, on Dec 14.
William Finn is a perfect example of what draws me to musical theatre and the potential the genre can have. He depicts flawed characters with relatable wants and goals. We could meet these characters on the street or know someone like them right now. But Finn does not labour their realism, they just naturally are, which makes all the difference to me in contemporary musical theatre. He uses music as a vehicle to sort out inner conflict but in a way that is very realistic: his characters often don’t have “epiphany” moments and sometimes feel more conflicted and lost by the end of the song….much like real life. But above all why I love Finn’s music is the contrast of sadness and hope. There is something magical about that – it just lingers with you. More
Last week, one of my all time favorite musicals, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, opened at Studio 54: its first Broadway revival since the original 1985 run. The critics unanimously agreed that it’s a delightful romp, the “fun is infectious” and “extremely enjoyable.” What the show lacks in substance, it makes up for in entertaining panache. The New York Times even commented that “With the explosion of social media inspiring a taste for talking back, the time seems especially ripe for the Roundabout Theater Company’s boisterous revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” I don’t know that I would consider an audience determined ending particularly social media saavy, but Isherwood’s comment does indicate an excitement towards increasing audience integration in the theatre.
A few blocks away, the audience is playing an equally integral role in a very different Broadway bedtime story. More
Alexis Gordon, one of our Banks Prize winners, initiates a new Musical Notes feature: the Playlist! Featuring a different composer for each post, we’ll bring you a rundown of their greatest hits and why you should have their songs on your portable music device.
1) “So Far From Pennsylvania”
Canada’s Dorothy, Danielle Wade, sings C&G’s smash hit “So Far From Pennsylvania” More
On Thursday, a familiar orphan will officially arrive, bags and dog in tow, to the corner of 47th Street. She will be less exaggerated than we remember her to be, and her world will apparently no longer smell of drying comic book ink. She will enchant audiences who remember her fondly and those who are about to meet her for the first time, as she overcomes adversity to find home among the rich and influential of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s NYC. Of course, as I type those last three magic letters, my mind continues with “what is it about you?” proving just how indelible Annie has become, even if (like me) you can’t stand the show.
Director James Lapine has pulled a Gypsy with this production, stripping it of its stylized glitz and comic veneer so that it rings truer to the time in which it is set. The LA times released a feature preview about the new tone of the show, arguably meant to entice adults (like myself) who think of yapping children, annoying “power ballads” and quintessential Americana whenever someone busts out “Just think of daaay, that’s greeey and lonely.” More