musicals

So today at work Casey pointed me to listentoamovie.  This is fun, since I’m a little tired of listening to the radio stations i have on Pandora, but haven’t been able to think of a good alternative, and i need something to break up re-listening to course lectures.

Well, they have some musicals.  It has been forever since I’ve been into musicals, though I tend to watch Moulin Rouge a lot, and 如果,爱.  Essentially those are two movies that scratch the same itch, so to speak.  So today I’m listening to Cats.  Actually, listentoamovie has the first two musicals I ever saw: Man of La Mancha, and Cats.

I don’t remember which theater i saw Man of La Mancha, but it was also the first time i remember gold leaf paint, and I was seven.  I don’t know what made my parents think I’d be down with Don Quixote, but it was absolute magic.  I loved it. Sancho Panzo was awesome, their horse puppets were great, and the idea of making a windmill reproduction on stage blew my mind.  It was not real, but most of Don Quixote’s life wasn’t real, and having the whole thing framed as a story Cervantes tells while dealing with bawdy inmates was fun. Richard Kiley played Don Quixote, and he was so commanding even though he was crazy.  I remember being so sad when he actually came to and stopped seeing himself as a knight. Here’s sappy: I still have a brass unicorn music box type sculpture that plays “The Impossible Dream.”  I’m not a music box fan, but it reminds me of that experience.

I saw Cats a year later, I was in second grade, and the set and costumes were just too fun.  I was pretty much sold on musicals from that point onward, and thankfully my parents saw it as useful cultural enrichment since I was good at sitting still.

It took me a lot longer to build an appreciation of drama that didn’t offer musical enrichment, but I must say the theater-going experience is a ton of fun. The only issue is that musicals (while far-fetched) scratch a lot of itches, there’s multiple levels of entertainment from watching dance, to drama, to plot, to music, to orchestral performance.  There’s a ton going on, and I like that oversaturation, even if it’s far fetched.  Cats is that much more fun because it is totally far-fetched and based on poetry.  Don Quixote is far fetched, but come on, the main character is insane.  Tommy works that way too.

I suppose this is all to say that depressing messed up stories are more intriguing for the musical form, since the bizarre fantasy of bursting into song works better when the story is also far fetched, and dark stories allow for a lot more minor chord progressions, which are hot. If you doubt me, try out “Grizabella the Glamour Cat.” If you’d rather a story about people, try out “Cool” from West Side Story.  Of course, West Side Story is an old story that isn’t that intriguing to me, but with Bernstein on the music, the jazz throughout the composition is enthralling.  If there were just a way to cut the song “Maria,” it would be perfect, though I even like disliking that song.

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