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Topic: Great article

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AuthorTopic:   Great article
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posted: 3/26/2005 at 11:59:04 AM ET
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Ben Brantley has written one of the best articles I've seen lately, on one of Broadway's more disturbing (and annoying) recent trends.

New York Times

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posted: 3/26/2005 at 2:14:36 PM ET
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Well, since I've never watched Idol, it's hard for me to comment on the specifics of Brantley's piece. But I do think that the kind of singing he's referring to--a "pop" sound, I guess I'll call it--does get the younger generation into the theater; is that so bad? A little elitist on Brantley's part, to me. (I'm playing just a little devil's advocate here, but not by much. )

In my perfect world, there's room for a musical like "Brooklyn" and for musicals like "Gypsy" or "Fiddler..". Something for everyone, a comedy tonight...nope, wrong...still have wall-to-wall Sondheim flowing through my veins.

In any event, an interesting article, thought-provoking and with a killer last line:
"Finding in that sound all the kinks and bumps and curls that make a person fascinating, exasperating and unique is what transforms a Broadway musical from a cookie-cutter diversion into ecstatic art."

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posted: 3/26/2005 at 4:00:36 PM ET
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Jean, it's interesting that you use the word "elitist," which is one of my bete noirs. At one time, "elites" was a term used in sociology for small segments that had undue money, power, and influence. In today's world, it's often bandied about as a derogatory word for anyone who dares to have good taste and to think independently. In other words, if you disagree with the President or the religous right, or you don't find American popular culture to be just fine and dandy, why then you must be one of those nasty "elitists."
The reality is that we all are perfectly free to educate ourselves, to think rationally, and to develop good taste and discrimination. It doesn't require any money, power, or social prestige whatsoever. That's the beautiful thing about it. The essayist Edward Hoagland wrote "We opt for what we want as daily conversation in the privacy of our minds, and whether on most days we get to watch the sunrise and listen to a snatch of the genius of Bach. It's not expensive..."

Getting back to the article's topic, I think Brantley is dead on about the homogenization and yes, ultimately the degradation of Broadway musical theatre when it panders to the screechy, big climax, "money note," pop ballad mentality. Somebody had to say it, and I'm glad he did.

Anyway, that's my opinion, and I hope I'm offering it respectfully enough. I know there are many who disagree. Keep in mind that I'm speaking as someone who, twenty five years ago, thought that "Dreamgirls" was the beginning of the end. Seriously.

Sister Rose
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posted: 3/27/2005 at 1:57:40 PM ET
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Great post.

Having grown up on Hollywood musicals, my favorite today are the old-style Broadway musicals like Gypsy, 42nd Street and Thoroughly Modern Millie - even La Cage Aux Foilles. I can't wait to see Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. I do love Wicked, but the screaming in Brooklyn was ear bleedingly awful. While I did enjoy Little Women because Sutton Foster is great, it was depressing for my favorite story to be reduced to the weirdness of divas in civil war dress belting pop songs.

And although Sondheim is not the old-style Broadway musical, he knows how to tell a great story without having the performers scream out the point of it.

Sigh. Brantley is right.

"Anyone who stays home is DEAD!"

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