Bleh with Barry

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Archive for the ‘Musical’ Category

An Interesting Aspect of Patrick Stewart

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So I’m posting this because I was on IMDB the other day and found out something really interesting / fun about my favorite starship captain Patrick Stewart. While reading the trivia about him, I discovered that he “Is a self-confessed huge Reba McEntire fan” (IMDB). Not only was I surprised, but I additionally laughed really hard. However, this laughing was not directed at Stewart per say, but at the fact that those who are objects of fanboy obsession are fanboys themselves in their own right. This makes me respect Stewart that much more because it humanizes him in a way that I believe those that obsess over him can understand (I’m not saying that I obsess over him… I really enjoy him on TNG and American Dad). So with all of this said, I leave you with a video from Reba (and Kelly Clarkson that Stewart might not enjoy… but oh well, I just don’t know).

Written by uncannynerdyguy

August 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Why Watching an Anniversary Concert DVD Does not Make You an Expert

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By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (own photograph) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As all of you know, I am a kind of a YouTube fanatic, but moreover, you all know that the comments / reviews on performance, literary, or artistic items unnerve me when they do certain things (“Commenting on Things: What You Should and Should Not Do“). However, most recently, I have been watching clips from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Miserables from varying performances. In the comment sections, I have found people attacking other performers based upon their watching of the 25th Anniversary Cast DVDs of both musicals and think that they are the quintessential casts and performances. While I don’t necessarily have a problem with either cast (besides that Jonas kid as Marius… because he’s wimpy compared to the rest of the cast), I think that it is entirely unfair to demonize another performance based upon the ideology that you liked another performer better, but moreover, I also think that it’s terrible to attack a performer simply because you say they’re terrible… Tell us why they’re terrible for heaven’s sake.

The biggest example of this comes when people are comparing Lea Salonga’s performance of Fantine (25th Anniversary of Les Mis) or Eponine  (10th Anniversary) to the others that have played these roles and simply saying that they suck in comparison to her.  While I have no objections to Lea Salonga per say,  I do think that there are things that she does that are technically wrong. For instance, she spreads every vowel to the point that tight vowels are distorted by the overall stretched position of her mouth. (If you notice, I pointed out a flaw that is easily detectable… not just “Fuck no Lea Salonga is Fucking awfel”… spelling errors added for emphasis). However, I still believe that Lea Salonga is a good performer in her own right. Still, I don’t necessarily think that she’s the best performer for particular roles (Fantine is one thing that I just am not a fan of her in because her voice doesn’t convey the emotion that I think it should… to me it comes off as I’m trying to be sad and emotional but never really arrives at either).  Ms. Salonga is good in many things, but I just don’t think that this is the best performance of her (I like her better as Eponine).

This brings me to the main point of this post. I understand that people love the anniversary concerts of both franchises. Honestly, the 25th Anniversary Phantom might be my favorite filmed musical production. I also like a lot about the Les Mis 25th Anniversary (Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser are awesome… and so is Samantha Banks… others are too). However, I think that you create a flawed perception for yourself if you think that a DVD cast is the end all be all and don’t give anyone else another chance at all. I find nothing wrong with valuing one person’s performance over another. My biggest qualm lies with those that attack other people and other performances simply because they think that one person is better. This is why I say that watching that 25th Anniversary does not make you the expert on the whole of the musical or anything else for that matter. Believe me. There are others out there that know a lot more than you about whatever it is that you’re writing about, and most of them will allow you to have a valid point in an argument as long as it doesn’t turn into the “Nuh-uh she sucks!” type of statement.

Also, (this is connected to the previous paragraph, but I wanted to break here), don’t spread slander about an actor / actress / performer / writer just to do it.  For example, this comment came from a Les Mis video with Ruthie Henshall:

“This DOMESTIC STARLET CAREERLESS HAS-BEEN (thank you, Arch) is terribly miscast for this role. She has the ugliest voice ever of any Fantine, she can’t hit the notes, and she can’t act. The overarated Ruthie Henshall should not be cast in anything!”

Why was this necessary? Additionally, I have seen the “Domestic Starlet Careerless Has-Been” quoted often and wonder who said it first. This does not make you appear knowledgeable… it just makes you look ignorant and hateful (also without citing your source, it makes you look like a plagiarist or that you’re ashamed of your source… all I’m saying). Additionally, please don’t mark everything as SPAM if it doesn’t agree with your opinion. That’s even more childish than the “Nuh-Uh” comments in my opinion. If you can’t have a rationale and civil debate, don’t hide what others say… GAH!!!

Sorry… I’m done with my rant now… I feel a little better about life, and hopefully, others who do these rude things simply because they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet can take something from this… So in closing, I leave you with a few of the videos that started this rant. If you want more examples of the comments that people make, just look in the comment sections on these vids… So yeah…

The first is the Ruthie Henshall version from the 10th Anniversary concert of Les Mis. Personally, this is my favorite and is the one that started the purpose of this post… I feel like she shows a great deal of emotion in the song and performance, which is limited by the concert setting mind you. Enjoy!

The second is the Lea Salonga video that also caused this post. While I’m not a huge fan of Salonga’s Fantine, I think that there are some things that are wonderful about her performance as well. I just watch her and feel that her technique is flawed because of the vowel spreading… I also think that she doesn’t sound like a woman who has been through all that Fantine has… (and she’s had it hard).

The third is form the original West End performer of the role Patti Lupone. While it’s in a concert setting (because the original show was in a time before bootlegging shows in the theater was more difficult… think of the 80s video cameras…), I think that it’s obvious why a lot of individuals believe her to be pretty awesome (I love Patti…).

I’m even including Susan Boyle’s version of the song, which many persons may know… Although I am impressed by her vocal ability as a relative unknown flying into stardom and her raw talent, I also think that it’s unfair to compare her to the Broadway and West End greats that have performed this song. She’s good, but she has a lot of little flaws throughout the performance (timing, vowel sound, counting) that make it weaker to me. Good performance overall.

Matter of factly, even Glee has done it with Idina Menzel and Lea Michelle performing. Auto-tuned performances aside because of the nature of television, it’s pretty good overall… just not my cup of tea.

I could give you more and more of these performance, but I’m going to end here. But my PSA of the day would be that you (and I know that I’m writing toward a niche) should give other performances and artistry a chance before you judge something as terrible simply because it’s not what you’re familiar with or what you fell in love with to begin with… There you go.

Donna Summer the Disco Queen: Her “Last Dance”

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I know that at this point Donna Summer’s death has spread across the nation. No one expected her to die from lung cancer at the age of 63, especially since she has been performing as recently as 2010. However, growing up with a mother that loved 70’s and 80’s music as much as anyone could, I hold a special place in my heart for her music. She was a talented woman with one hell of a voice. From her disco hits to her more rocktastic numbers, she will be remembered for her powerful vocals and her catchy tunes. She elicited an air of loveliness, class, and down to earth demeanor that only she had the capability of doing, so I leave you with some of her music in memory of her.

Written by uncannynerdyguy

May 23, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Nine’s Unusual Way

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So, I’m just going to say from the beginning that I’m not familiar with the musical Nine. I know that it has been on Broadway recently with Antonio Banderas, Laura Benanti, and others leading the charge. I know that a movie version has been released with Daniel Day Lewis as the main male lead and Nicole Kidman, Fergie, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, and others as the women who surround him. Honestly, that’s about all I know… I haven’t done my research on this one yet… I will be doing research in the next little while to rectify this hole in my knowledge, but I thought it important to share a beautiful song from the show with you all.

The song is called “Unusual Way” and has been performed by various of the Broadway elite due to its significant lyrical and musical themes of love, longing, and loss… Moreover, its haunting melody sticks with you as the simple but clear lyrics illustrate what it “means to be me looking at you,” as the song itself says. The version I am leaving you with is performed by Laura Benanti (an actress that I knew more for her comedic role in Women on the Verge) and Antonio Banderas. Early on, Benanti’s character professes what it’s like to be the person in a relationship where they appear to be codependency of sorts on another who does not necessarily need them. Her voice is both beautiful and haunting (I know I’ve already used this word earlier… don’t shoot me over it), and when Banderas joins her, his harmony solidifies the emotion of the piece as their voices blend perfectly… So I leave you with “Unusual Way.” I hope you enjoy.

Written by uncannynerdyguy

February 1, 2012 at 2:07 am

Pondering Gothic / Vampire Songs for my Class

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I am in a pretty cool graduate class if I do say so myself. It’s called “Spectral and Sublime: The Gothic Tradition,” which is offering me the chance to read fun things like Dracula, Jane Eyre, Carmilla, and many more stories (a lot of them dealing with vampires that are my favorite). While the books themselves are pretty awesome, the professor also asked us to think of some songs that are related to the Gothic or to vampires. So I have been on the interwebs looking for songs that I feel represent these two aspects; however, the few songs that I have here are only a smattering of what I’ve found… and what may be locked away in the deep recesses of my mind.

The first is “Moon Over Bourbon Street” performed by Sting. This song is about the vampires that appear in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles with an emphasis on Lestat. In the song, it is imagined Lestat is going down Bourbon St. in New Orleans with the moon high overhead and existing much as vampires do: stalking their prey and enjoying the immortal life.

The second song was played during the credits of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992). Performed by Annie Lennox, “Love Song for a Vampire” is beautiful and chilling and embodies the emotions of love and loss that seem to be common themes throughout the whole of the film. Moreover, it’s easy to hear how Annie Lennox continues to get work singing for films as she is a sultry siren.

Finally, “I Would Do Anything for Love” performed by Meatloaf and written by Jim Steinman is not a song that is particularly Gothic or vampire-y in a lyrical or musical sense. However, the video itself is quite Gothic with the large architectural feature of the gloomy mansion and the fact that the he is a monster that is in love with a beautiful young damsel. Additionally, he is transformed in the end by the power of their relationship (mayhaps… this is really unclear to me). The fact that he will not do something for love also makes it interesting to a large degree.

Vampires, the Gothic, and music mixing makes me a happy camper because they are all things that excite and interest me. However, I do not think that this is even the tip of the iceberg for these kinds of songs. And to any readers out there, I would appreciate any suggestions that you might have to help me compile songs for my professor’s list.

Unintentional Musical Themes of My Life: Part 2

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As a couple of weeks ago, I have had several songs of late that have been the unintentional musical themes of my life. Now, I’m not saying that they fit completely because they really don’t. However, sometimes the music is just fun to sing along loudly to in my car. This week, there’s a little bit of randomness in the variety of songs. I know that some of you out there must be thinking that I’m listening to the same or similar radio stations; however, these songs have been on at least 3 of the 5 stations that are programmed in my vehicle…which is a little more than coincidence to me…

The first is a song by Cher. “I Found Someone” is a song about vengeance and jealousy on the parts of both individuals in the song because she “found someone to take away the heartache.” Again, this is a little odd because the song came out in 1987 (or at least the video did). Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I like Cher. I have a thing for women with husky voices, especially if they can sing, and honestly, Cher is still amazing at 65 and still sounds pretty awesome (take that auto-tuned Taylor Swift and most of the singers of today).

The second song is by Blondie. “Rapture” is an interesting song to say the least… and honestly, I’m not sure exactly what it’s about. However, I love Debbie Harry for similar reasons to Cher (gravelly voice and what have you). The song also has a rap from Debbie Harry which is pretty entertaining and not bad… Additionally, there’s a guy in a white suit dancing. What more could you ask for?

The final song is one from the 90’s that I loved during the 90’s. It’s Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home.” I’ve always had a special place in my heart for pop-ish folk music… I don’t know it’s just the sheer oddity of it. On the surface level, the song is about revenge. Sonny is going to punish those that didn’t listen to here and persecuted her… Let’s just say that the song ends with fire… fire and someone getting a sweater.

These are the songs that have been following me around of late… Again, I don’t know what the universe is saying in the form of song. What songs have been coming into your world via unintendedness?

Written by uncannynerdyguy

November 17, 2011 at 12:20 am

My Love of Sarah McLachlan

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Even into the early double-digits of my age, I have loved Sarah McLachlan’s music because it touches my inner spirit somehow. Now, I’m not talking just the sad song during the commercial about animal adoption and some such. I have loved her and still love her music as she continues to produce it. Her dulcet tones sooth the inner monster that is in me because all people all monsters on some level…it’s just a few of us that admit it.  So, I’m here to share with you a few videos of her songs to help get my love out there. The first is “Angel.” Written because of the heroin overdose of the keyboard player of the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s a lovely song…

The next two songs are from her CD Afterglow. However, I love both of them because they are intriguing songs and because they apply to my life at different points. The first “Stupid” speaks to my nature of late because I can’t discern the people around me which is one of the talents that I have cultivated over the years…although the song itself deals with a love affair, I take it as a generality dealing with life and those around me… take it as you will.

The second of these two songs is “Fallen” which I just find to be a great song and like very much… I hope you enjoy all the music because it’s good…so yeah…

I love Sarah and hope you will too.

 

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November 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Music and Its Soothing Effects

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I know that it’s kinda corny at times to think about phrases like “music soothes the savage beast” or more profound ideals like Anais Nin’s “music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together,” but I feel that music can do a lot of these things. Within the past few weeks, I have been a little stressed to say the least (to say the most would not be fun) and haven’t been able to find my focus due to things that are going on in my life. However, tonight, instead of letting myself get bogged down in my own thoughts and crummy feelings, I spent a little while on youtube.com looking up musicals and opera because they intrigue me. Before I knew it, I had spent a care free hour listening to everything from “It’s not Easy Being Green” sung by Big Bird at a Jim Henson tribute (which is heartbreaking) to “Glitter and Be Gay” (a song from Candide the Musical) to The Queen of the Night Aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute. All these songs help me in ways that express a little of what is going on in my head.

It’s a song with a beautiful sentiment to memorialize the memory of Kermit and the man behind him. It also helped to listen to something that was a little blue.

With this one, “The Queen of the Night Aria” performed by Diana Damrau is beautiful and exciting and sort of helps punctuate all the anger, frustration, and angst I’ve been feeling…so yeah…

This last one was just for fun because I needed something to help lift my dark mood. “Glitter and Be Gay” performed by Kristin Chenoweth is pretty amazing because it is light and airy while dealing with some pretty depressing ideals (i.e. she is betrothed to a random duke or other…). It’s a perfect mood lifter…Overall, I feel like this may have help me run a full gambit of emotions while not really thinking about it…while this may not seem healthy or logical to some people, music helps me move along in my mentality and to think through things…maybe you do the same thing and don’t even realize…

The Last Five Years: Goodbye Until Tomorrow / I Could Never Rescue You

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As most of my readers know, my posts are kind of scatter shot at time because I like many, many things. One of them is musicals, and lately, I’ve been listening to one of my favorites that I come back to on regular occasion: The Last Five Years.

Now, I don’t know how many of you have heard of this musical. It’s written by Jason Robert Brown (he’s amazing) and the original cast recording with Norbert Leo Butz (just won a second Tony for “Catch Me if You Can”) and Sherie Rene Scott (love her!). Anyway, the musical is the story of a couple who falls in love, gets married, and then divorced. However, there’s a narrative twist of sorts in this musical. She is living the process from the divorce to first meeting him while he is experiencing it from the beginning to the end. Below is her first song called “Still Hurting” which is tearful and sad…

The next video is one of two duets of the show. This particular one takes place at the end where Kathy is seeing Jaime go for the first time while he is leaving her forever….it’s called “Goodbye Until Tomorrow / I Could Never Rescue You.” Moreover, this song is probably the most heartbreaking of the show, but it’s beautiful.

I recommend this musical to any and everyone who does not know if they are interested in the genre. It’s beautiful and simplistic…however, the simple is beautiful and complex in this instance. It deals with the human condition, which may be the reason that I come back to it so often.

Mid-Something Crisis: Hmmmm…?

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So, recently, I’ve been perusing my facebook and realized that most of my friends are either married, impregnated, have children, or are a combination of the three. Honestly, I don’t quite understand this phenomenon… I mean I’m not talking about the whole getting married and having kids thing…however, some of my friends are already married with 3 or more children…and they’re my age or younger…It’s just a little odd to me.

 

Now, I know that there are a lot of people are perfectly content with settling down and living the family life. So, yeah…I don’t know…I know that I’m rambling now, but I just am seeking to understand the majority of what is going on in my life with the people that I have surrounded myself with. I keep waiting for several of my recently married friends to have the announcement of pregnancy or something along these same line…and again, the wave of WTF-Mate will wash over me again. Maybe I’m just panicking because I don’t know where my life is going to take me and these others seem to have some solidity in an ever-changing world…Who knows? Maybe, it’s a lack of sleep and an overdose of caffeine. Yeah..

Anyway, I’m going to share with you one of the songs about changing of the world around you. By the band Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” is probably one of the most well-known song for talking about life in general and how we long to cling to everything…yeah….again, maybe, it’s the sleep deprivation…yeah…plus, it has a kick-ass violin solo, which makes the song worth it no matter how depressing it is.

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March 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm