Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Posts Tagged ‘musicals

Good Songs: Ruthie Henshall –“As if We Never Said Goodbye”

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So, I’m writing this post simply because I was perusing youtube and found this video. The song is from the Sunset Boulevard musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is performed by Ruthie Henshall who is a mezzo-soprano of the highest quality. She has been involved with musicals such as Chicago, Les Miserables,  and many more…but I’m going to cut this post short and let the video and lyrics speak for themselves.

“As if We Never Said Goodbye” from Stlyrics.com

I don’t know why I’m frightened
I know my way around here
The cardboard trees, the painted seas, the sound here…
Yes, a world to rediscover
But I ‘m not in any hurry
And I need a moment

The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
The atmosphere as thrilling here as always
Feel the early morning madness
Feel the magic in the making
Why, everything’s as if we never said goodbye

I’ve spent so many mornings just trying to resist you
I’m trembling now, you can’t know how I’ve missed you
Missed the fairy tale adventure
In this ever spinning playground
We were young together

I’m coming out of make-up
The lights already burning
Not long until the cameras will start turning…
And the early morning madness
And the magic in the making
Yes, everything’s as if we never said goodbye

I don’t want to be alone
That’s all in the past
This world’s waited long enough
I’ve come home at last!

And this time will be bigger
And brighter than we knew it
So watch me fly, we all know I can do it…
Could I stop my hand from shaking?
Has there ever been a moment
With so much to live for?

The whispered conversations in overcrowded hallways
So much to say not just today but always…
We’ll have early morning madness
We’ll have magic in the making
Yes, everything’s as if we never said goodbye
Yes, everything’s as if we never said goodbye…
We taught the world new ways to dream!

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Written by barryr22

December 7, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Somethings that Make Me Tear Up Everytime

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So, I’ll be honest with you. I’m a person who is pretty dead when it comes to being emotional in front of people. Part of this may be due to my raising because in the south boys aren’t supposed to cry. Part of it may also because I am just a person who understands that there is a time and a place for emotions. For example, I don’t think that everyone should share the dirty laundry of their break up with people that they might at best consider acquaintances. It’s just a thing. Perhaps, I suffer alone without rhyme or reason. I don’t know. However, I will continue to do such because it’s ingrained in my nature now.

There are a couple of things that get me every time though. Both of them are musicals. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, music is the great emotional manipulator in my mind. Why? It mixes the strong emotions of the world with music.

 I am a sucker for music. It is a great love of mine. I love music from classical to contemporary because it hits on so many levels within my psyche. It manipulates me like no person will ever be able to. I am a wimp when it comes to musical manipulation or surprises (don’t get me started on this…the end of Atonement , a movie, and Next to Normal, a musical).

The main things that get me are musicals. It’s because of the music. It’s the one thing that will get me time after time. It breaks down all the barriers and makes me feel at ease before it shatters the barriers that I put up to contain my emotional baggage.

Recently, there have been two musicals that have done this to me. Next to Normal and Les Miserables cause me much grief as I listen to the beautiful heartache that is contained within the melodies and harmonies of each. They each have a great overarching story that makes me sad (what with a bipolar mother and the effects on the family and the French Revolution). However, each of them presents their sad tale in the form of a musical drama. This is the worst/best part for me. I love the music of each musical (matter-of-factly, N2N is brilliant across the board musically).

They set me at ease and then take me into the depths of despair. They each leave me with hope and allow me to face emotions that I would never think about pouring myself into. They make me think which is pretty phenomenal for anything that is supposed to be as superficial and candied as a musical. I find myself starting to get into the action and feel with the characters every time with these two musicals. Quite frankly, I suggest that if you haven’t heard/seen them that you do so as soon as possible because they are an experience not to be trifled with.

Standing Ovation for Mediocrity: Oh No!

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Recently, due to the  number of theater productions and concerts that I attend, I have noticed a trend that is slightly disturbing to me. People giving standing ovations for mediocrity or for something that is terrible. Why does this bother me one might ask? Well, to be quite honest with you, it’s because of the idea behind the thing. You rise to your feet because you thought the performance was so moving that it was worthy to stand. It gives motion (other than the polite or uproarious clapping) to your appreciation of the work.

I am stingy with my standing ovations. I will be the first to admit it because I do not think that it is my duty as an audience member to molly coddle the performers. If I thought the performance was okay, I will clap. If I thought someone did a particularly good job, I will clap louder for them. Honestly, I have been to professional quality shows and sat in my seat as the remainder of the audience quickly rose to show their appreciation. It’s just one of those things. I have to stand my ground.

Partially, I think this whole not giving standing o’s thing is because I am a performer myself. I do not expect them. If the company gets them, I do have a sense of pride because of it. However, I also know that sometimes people give them just to be polite. So, I’m just going to say it to people who may not know.

It is not polite theater etiquette to stand up at the end of anything that you see…that is unless you throughly enjoyed it. Clap if you feel so inclined but don’t necessarily feel led to stand. Also, you don’t have to follow the herd mentality. If the guy beside you does it, you don’t have to do it.

So, there…I’ve spilled my ideas onto the page….one might say that it is a pet peeve of mine…along with talking loudly during performances…or sleeping (you paid for the tickets. Did you really need a $70 nap?)….Anyway, I digress. Maybe I’m a terrible person…who knows? Are there any other faux pas that should be addressed? Hmmmm….

Written by barryr22

May 22, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Musical Theater 101

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Eventually in the grand scheme of small town theater whether it be on a high school level, community, or even small town college theater, the idea of doing a musical comes into someone’s mind. While musicals are fun and can create a decent revenue for a group that is willing to put the time and effort into singing and acting their hearts out, they should be selected by some stringent guidelines.

1) Number of people in the musical. If you have a small theater group, don’t pick something that requires 40 people to be able to sing, dance, and act because chances are that some of those people will not be able to do all three. If you’ve ever been involved with a small production, you will know exactly what I’m saying. Most of the time people who can do one or two of the three can’t do the coveted other. It’s just the fact of the matter. How do I know? Because I myself fall into this category of actor. I feel that I can sing and act to a degree; however, if you ask me to dance, I will have to be shown how to do the simplest of steps repeatedly. This is not saying that I can’t dance. I just have to have some special attention when it comes to it.

2) Quality of the people you have. If you are thinking about doing a musical like Sweeney Todd where you must have at least 8+ main people who have to be able to sing and have an ensemble that can carry a tune, please for the love of all that is good and holy don’t pick the musical. Most musicals that are performed on Broadway are there for a reason. They require high-caliber actors and actresses to make them come to life because the vocal ability that is contained within the musical is that great. There are some shows that cannot be done by simple hometown theater leagues because they will fall apart and havoc will ensue…I know I’ve been involved with productions like this (sad to say).

3) Cost. Musical royalties are really, really expensive, even for the oldest and most simplistic of musicals. Why? Because you have to rent the music and buy the scripts…then, there’s the whole returning the music and the possibility of them being “damaged”, etc. This along with the price you have to pay to perform the show are sometimes too great for smaller companies. Also, it is not smart of any level to try to perform without paying the royalties because you can be sued for such things. It’s just not good all the way around.

4) Orchestra. You can’t do a big musical without one. If you do, your musical will be mediocre at best…that’s all I’m saying about that one.

A few suggestions of musicals that I would make for people who are lacking in any of these areas are those that require smaller casts and a fewer number of brilliant singers. The Man of la Mancha, which is the story of Cervantes, is a really good one for those who have a few talented people. You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Fantasticks, and The Last Five Years are also possibilities. YGMCB and The Fantasticks require a few decent singers to have a good, fun show. The Last Five Years requires a good tenor and a good soprano to make the show fly. All of these shows are good for smaller companies, and if you have questions about any of them, I would suggest youtubing songs from them. All of them are brilliant in their own right and would do well in a smaller forum.

Man of La Mancha

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKs7rLkqQcQ

The Last Five Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zfh5H3rZbc

You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hupe1gtIYY&feature=related

The Fantasticks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We-EG-N41eg&feature=related

The Sweeney Phantom Who Won’t Pay Last Years Rent in Chicago: Musical Movies

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Over the past ten years or so, many musical movies have come out to appeal to the general public, and while some of them are good, most of them have been lack luster at best. However, I’m not saying this about all of them because there have been a few that have stood head and shoulders about the rest. So, I’m going to discuss the good, the bad, and the “eh”.

The Bad:
The Phantom of the Opera–A broadway success that was finally brought to film by Joel Schumacher (very poorly I might add). While the costumes and things were grandiose, the leads were terrible. Christine (Emmy Rossum) and the Phantom (Gerard Butler) were just awful. Neither one of them could carry off the vocalization of the parts or the characters themselves. Most of the time Rossum looks like she is in a trance and has what my friends would call the “muffin face” which is the where her mouth is open (the majority of the movie) and a muffin could be placed in it. Also, they cut a whole verse of “The Phantom of the Opera” theme song because she couldn’t make the key change. It was too high for her. Butler is not much better…while his voice isn’t the worst in the world, he is nowhere near the quality of voice needed to play the Phantom. Why? It is because the Phantom has to be a tenor with an extremely large range…Butler is a smoker with a normal range…also, I suspect that he isn’t a tenor…he is a faux-tenor (a baritone masquerading as a tenor). Both of them are also pitiful when it comes to the emotions behind the show…but I will not get into that…and lip syncing ability (watch the movie their lip match is the worst).

The best part of this show to me is the supporting cast. With Minnie Driver (who did not sing the Carlotta songs…but did sing “Learn to Be Lonely” during the credits), Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, and others, they are the reason to watch…I recommend watching the ensemble pieces which are fairly okay…

The “Eh”

Sweeney Todd–A movie directed by Tim Burton and featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim. It contains dark music, and the tone of the movie accentuates this. However, the main two characters Todd and Mrs. Lovett played by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are not the caliber of singers needed for these roles. Broadway greats such as Len Cariou and Michael Cerveris and Angela Lansbury and Patti Lupone have played these characters too much success, but they have something which the movie main characters didn’t have. They have power. Depp and Carter do not…they come off as hollow shells of the original characters. Because of this, powers songs like “A Little Priest” and “My Friends” came off as wimpy.

Again, I will have to make allowances for the supporting cast. Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the others all do a tremendous job of bringing the world of the demon barber to life.

The Good

Chicago and Rent are the two movies that I would say adapted well and kept the heart of the original. Why? Because for the most part they got Broadway caliber actors to perform the roles. Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, and a majority of the others have actually been on Broadway…OMG! Such a concept to have Broadway stars in MUSICAL Movies…They add so much to the overall sound and dynamic of the show.

They also don’t try to play the musicality of the movies too realistically. If you have watched either movie, they are pretty blatant about keeping the audience in the “you’re in a musical” loop. Now, don’t get me wrong; they don’t beat you over the head with it. However, they play with the idea of it being in a character’s head (Chicago) and the fact that all of them are artists living a very unrealistic disillusioned life(Rent). Why not have music?

They tie both the worlds of the realistic and the over-the-top world of musicals into a cohesive whole. They make no claims to be anything but what they are. I think if other musical based movies tried to follow suit that more of them wouldn’t get lost to the wayside and be considered to be crappy renditions of a once great show.