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The Folk Prophet

Musicals

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I watched West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof back to back last week. I can't decide which is the better movie musical. But this much I can say. They are, without a doubt, top 2 in my opinion. Objectively The Sound of Music is as good a movie musical...but less my cup o' tea....er....cocoa...I mean cup o' cocoa.

If I had to choose though, I think I'd have to put West Side Story as my #1. Fiddler is phenomenal. Maybe even objectively better. It's deeper in meaning. It's filmed better (for the most part). More grounded. Less...gang-members-doing-ballet-y (which I don't hate...but....objectively....I get the critique....). But I just like West Side Story. I'm really interested in what Stephen Spielberg does with his upcoming remake.

I'm talking movie musicals. Stage musicals I'm more of a Les Miz, Miss Saigon fan. But the movie of Les Miz was, perhaps, the biggest piece of junk movie musical ever made. When it comes to Sondheim, I also quite love Sweeney Todd and Into the Woods, but really only know them from the recordings, having never seen them on stage. I've seen the movies, and although Sweeney Todd is one of the better recent movie musicals, it pales compared to stage versions where the singers can actually sing. (Speaking of which, I recently came across the version with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton. Wow!

But I've been thinking and wondering... Up and into the 70s movie musicals were, in my opinion, oft times stronger than the stage versions. Now I can't directly compare to the stage versions of yesteryear, having not been alive then, but I can to the stage versions of them I've seen. And even if they didn't completely out class the stage versions, they were still really well made, good renditions of musicals. Oklahoma, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha, the afore mentioned West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof. These are solid interpretations of musical adapted to a movie.

Since the 1980s movie musicals STINK. There are rare entries that are okay-ish. But way inferior to their stage counterparts. The most egregious of these being the Tom Hooper versions of Les Miz and CATS and the awful version of Phantom. To be fair, CATS is a garbage musical anyway, in my opinion. But the movie is even worse, removing the primary meaning and plot of the stage show.* Phantom is also a terrible musical but with some wonderful, wonderful music that almost saves it. As a soundtrack it does save it. So what do they do for the movie version... ruin the ONE thing it has going for it by casting a lead that can't sing or perform the part correctly! Seriously!?

There are exceptions. As I said, Sweeney Todd was well adapted. Chicago was great (though not to my personal tastes). Into the Woods was okay-ish (some disagree...it was, in some ways, pretty gutted... but that's a longer conversation that I won't go into.)

But why? Why can't they adapt musicals to movies any more with any level of proficiency? It's frustrating to me. What changed? Or do I simply see the "olden day" movie musicals through rose colored glasses?

* Edit: The CATS movie, however, for some reason is a bit of a guilty pleasure. Something about it was actually enjoyable. Not enough that I'd own it or watch it regularly...but....

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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15 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Why can't they adapt musicals to movies any more with any level of proficiency?

I’ve thought about that as well. I have no answer,  except I think it’s like why college coaches fail in the NFL. The two (movies and stage) seem similar but in reality it’s totally different and requires a different skill set to be successful. Just theory, I could be way off. 
 

Music Man is my favorite of all time, followed by West Side Story, Rent, The Producers,, and Title of Show. Les Mis is a guilty pleasure of mine. 

Edited by LDSGator

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18 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Phantom is also a terrible musical but with some wonderful, wonderful music that almost saves it

Yes, agree again. Phantom has always been more style than substance, though Masquerade has always been great. 

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Just now, LDSGator said:

I’ve thought about that as well. I have no answer,  except I think it’s like why college coaches fail in the NFL. The two (movies and stage) seem similar but in reality it’s totally different and requires a different skill set to be successful. Just theory, I could be way off. 

Les Miz failed because Tom Hooper and the actors thought it would be a good idea to prioritize acting over singing. And casting stars (pun not intended here...I mean movie stars)...was higher in priority that people who could do justice to the roles that require brilliant singers. Phantom failed kind of for the same thing. Casting an attractive movie star instead of someone who could sing. Really dumb. The phantom isn't supposed to be attractive. Sheesh. That's his whole schtick. He's hideous. So I almost think it's the opposite of what you're saying. They're trying too hard to do it different, applying "movie" skill sets, and accordingly gutting the musical parts of the musicals. Maybe.

3 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

Music Man is my favorite of all time, followed by West Side Story, Rent, and Title of Show. Les Mis is a guilty pleasure of mine. 

I hate Rent. :D Haha. I'm not familiar with Title of Show. I'll have to check it out.

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Oh...speaking of ones that have been adapted several times.... Annie.

The 1982 one is great. Silly, of course. Some flaws. But overall pretty good. Newer adaptations (of which there have been several) don't live up.

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Just now, LDSGator said:

Yes, agree again. Phantom has always been more style than substance, though Masquerade has always been great. 

Phantom is the musical the really got me into musicals. But it was the soundtrack. I distinctly remember my sister coming home from school one day with a cassette tape, saying, "Listen to this!" And pressed play on our family stereo system.

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I was hooked. Wide eyed and overwhelmed by it. And amazed at how familiar it all seemed and felt despite the fact it was the first time I'd heard it. Andrew Lloyd Webber is no Mozart. But he is oft times amazingly amazing at melody writing.

Speaking of Lloyd Webber -- one of my other favorite stage musicals (I know only from the soundtrack too), is Sunset Boulevard.

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2 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

So I almost think it's the opposite of what you're saying

Could be. I’m hardly an expert, just a fan. 
 

I’ve always thought Phantom lives and dies with who they cast as the Phantom. 

1 minute ago, The Folk Prophet said:

The 1982 one is great

Like it, but only in small doses. Melissa and I tend to watch our favorites multiple times, and with Annie we’ve seen it (82 version as well) only three times in our 20+ year relationship. So we’re not big fans. 

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Just now, The Folk Prophet said:

Phantom is the musical the really got me into musicals

Yup, I’ve heard that before. I got into them because my parents enjoyed them. I honestly don’t remember which one I heard first but it might have been Phantom? 

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3 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Andrew Lloyd Webber is no Mozart. But he is oft times amazingly amazing at melody writing.

Oh, agree again, 100%. Also, love him or hate him, there is no doubt he's been incredibly successful. And there is nothing wrong with that of course. 

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Just now, LDSGator said:

Yup, I’ve heard that before. I got into them because my parents enjoyed them. I honestly don’t remember which one I heard first but it might have been Phantom? 

Well I grew up on musicals. I always "liked" musicals. When I say got me into them I mean REALLY got me into them. I started writing them myself, etc., took the path of becoming a music and composition major in college to that end, etc.

Edit: Keep in mind....I was in high school when Phantom came out. When my sister brought it home it was brand new. :) 

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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1 minute ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Well I grew up on musicals. I always "liked" musicals. When I say got me into them I mean REALLY got me into them. I started writing them myself, etc., took the path of becoming a music and composition major in college to that end, etc.

Very cool! 

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3 minutes ago, LDSGator said:

Like it, but only in small doses. Melissa and I tend to watch our favorites multiple times, and with Annie we’ve seen it (82 version as well) only three times in our 20+ year relationship. So we’re not big fans. 

Sometimes it's difficult to separate sentiment from things. I grew up watching Annie with my family. So I may enjoy it for that reason as much as anything. That being said, I still think it's objectively better than the other movie adaptations

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Cats the movie failed not only because the whole premise is stupid but because Taylor Swift and James Corden were in it.  I am SOOOOOO not a fan of either one of them.  :)   Why so many hugely talented people with big names attached themselves to this movie is beyond me.  

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Just now, dprh said:

Talk about casting celebrities over singers....smh.

Side note that's not musical related...I was a huge Pierce Brosnan fan from Remington Steele in high-school. To the point where I started wearing suits to school. Yep...I was that guy.

As a suave James Bond-y type detective-y ladies' man, Pierce rocked. As a singer.....

Here's my favorite thing he ever did: :D

 

 

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