24 January, 2008

Life is a Cabaret

"That's the scary thing about theater—it doesn't live on. But that's actually the most beautiful thing about it, too. That's why it's more beautiful than film and certainly more beautiful than television, because it's like life. Real life. Any picture that you take or any video that you make of yourself is not really you, it's only an image that represents the experience you had. In theater, the process of it is the experience. Everyone goes through the process, and everyone has the experience together. It doesn't last—only in people's memories and in their hearts. That's the beauty and sadness of it. But that's life—beauty and the sadness. And that is why theater is life." (Sherie Rene Scott, broadway.com Q&A, January 24, 2008)

08 January, 2008

Absolutely Perfectly Written. Period.

Some of you may be wondering, as I once did, what exactly it is that makes Gypsy the perfect American musical. How can this musical about an overbearing stage mother and her soon-to-be stripper daughter qualify as anything true, good, or beautiful?

Putting your finger on perfection is a difficult task. It’s never the result of one thing, but all things working together, well, perfectly. It’s music, lyrics, and book flowing out of characters who think, act, and react just as a person would in real life. It’s capturing the essence of the universal in a series of specifics: the strange tension of competition and love between a mother and daughter, the destructive nature of love in the form of favoritism, and the male-female dynamic all exploding from the stage in a backstage story to end all backstage stories.

Gypsy is not a story about a stripper. It is not a story about Momma Rose or Gypsy Rose Lee. It's a story about life. With all its comedy, tragedy, and drama. You will laugh, you will cry, and you’ll probably be terrified. And once your stomach settles and your knees stop quaking, you will leave the theatre with a different outlook on life.

If a piece of art can do all that, you have to call it perfect.

Here She is, Boys!

The temp page for the new Gypsy site is up. Apparently that's the official artwork which will soon be on the marquee, plus delis and cabs all over New York City. Yes, it's one of the fugliest things I've ever seen and, yes, it will be on my wall -- signed, sealed, and framed -- come late June.

But still, someone needs to fire their marketing team. Holy lack of Photoshop skills, Batman!

03 January, 2008

New Songs?

I love Songs for a New World as much as any other musical theatre fan . . . probably more. As far as song cycles go, I've never heard better. As far as music goes, you'd be hard-pressed to find better. Jason Robert Brown has an unbelievable ability to create the most beautiful piano pieces out of the simplest sounds and his lyrics . . . holy crap, we're not even going into that. It will reduce me to some blathering pile of goo. Anyway, LOVE Songs for a New World . . . until the strings come in.

What? Strings? you say. I though you loved strings! I thought they made you spazz and flail like nothing else and profess your undying love for the composer and/or musician, sometimes to their faces, even if they're complete strangers!

This is all very true. The problem is the strings on the cast recording aren't real strings. They are electronically reproduced strings. I used to just blow it off as me being picky, but then I got this really kick ass pair of headphones (Grado SR60) for Christmas. Songs sounds RIDICULOUSLY amazing on these babies. Like, so-good-it-should-be-illegal amazing. And then the fake!strings come in and it makes me want to cry. The difference between the real!instruments and fake!strings is quite distressing. Having heard it live with real cellos and violins, the fake!strings are even sadder. ESPECIALLY in "Hear My Song" when the strings come in at the climax and because of the dorkiness, the climax just doesn't work.

So I want a new recording. Please? Because, clearly, the Broadway gods listen to me. Just for kicks, my dream cast:

Laura Benanti as Woman 1 - her "Christmas Lullaby" is one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.
Alice Ripley as Woman 2 - her "Flagmaker, 1775" would -- I don't even want to think about how amazing that would be.
Norm Lewis as Man 1 - listen to "You Should Be Loved" from Side Show and just TRY to tell me his "King of the World" won't kick your ass from here to doomsday.
Norbert Leo Butz as Man 2 - arguably the most talented actor on Broadway right now with a chocolaty smooth voice that just spills from his lips. Delicious. A little "I'd Give It All For You" from him and I'm a goner.

Eh, like it'll ever happen. But a girl can dream, can't she?