Musicals


The Folk Prophet
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2 hours ago, LDSGator said:

Does anyone have a song they enjoy from a musical they don’t really like? For me it’s Corner of the Sky from Pippin, a boring musical asIde from that song. 

I found another one! Aspects of Love is a terrible musical. But this song..... Typical Andrew Lloyd Webber though. Hit song in a crap musical. That's his modus operandi. (Edit: This version is a bit 80s cheesy and has that silly 80s snare drum back beat going on. But....)

 

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3 hours ago, LDSGator said:

Does anyone have a song they enjoy from a musical they don’t really like? For me it’s Corner of the Sky from Pippin, a boring musical asIde from that song. 

TikTok’s got your back.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRBYqDoU/

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I found another one! Aspects of Love is a terrible musical. But this song..... Typical Andrew Lloyd Webber though. Hit song in a crap musical. That's his modus operandi. (Edit: This version is a bit 80s cheesy and has that silly 80s snare drum back beat going on. But....)

 

I was going to mention this one. What a garbage story.

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Okay, @LDSGator may at least find this interesting since he seems to be enjoying the esoteric stuff.

I've been doing some simple research into how many solos some musicals have (for the sake of comparison as I write my own). These numbers are approximate because what I considered a solo, in some cases, was "mostly" a solo, where a chorus would join in for the end or something. And I didn't count short reprise moments unless they were significant. And I may have missed some or messed up counting.

It should be no surprise that Les Miz comes in high with 10-11. (12 before they cut the complete version of Little People).

Miss Saigon has 7.

Jeckle and Hyde has 13!

And Phantom of the Opera has a grand total of 3. (4 if you count Why So Silent, but that's not really a "song" -- definitely not and aria -- it's more recitative.)

These are all thru-sung musicals which is what I write.

By comparison, South Pacific (which is known for having a lot of music relatively), a "Book Musical" (not all singing), has 9.

Here's my assessment. Les Miz has one too many. Jeckle and Hyde has WAY too many. I'd never quite placed why I felt it didn't work as well as a show even though I love a lot of the music. Well...that kind of explains it. Too many solos can kill a show.

What surprised me was Phantom. I never thought about it before. Think of Me. Music of the Night. And Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. That's it really.

Anyhow, I thought it was interesting. Maybe no one else will.

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I am a big fan of music but I very much dislike musicals.  Perhaps my favorite "musical" genre is the ballet because I can close my eyes and just listen to the live music.  It is my humble opinion that the greatest music written is for the ballet.  I enjoy most chorial in opera but like the movie musicals I have difficulty sitting quietly through the solo parts.  As far as the typical movie musical - I have a hard time sitting through such a movie (same problem as the solos in opera).  It seems to me that in such movies that the whole course builds to a climax and then everything comes to a screeching halt while someone(s) sings a song.  I do not mind listening separately to the music score - just not when it stops the universe for its little  musical moment.  For me the music is way out of place in time and space in musicals.  Perhaps it is just the OCD part of me that takes over.

I can relate that there are people that love musical stuff.  My beloved wife is one such person and so I do my best to accommodate her likes but not so much for others that mean less to me.  I may suffer through an occasional musical when I am not with the wife but not any thing regular - I would rather pour over a white paper on quantum relationships in dark matter.

 

The Traveler

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1 hour ago, Traveler said:

I enjoy most chorial in opera but like the movie musicals I have difficulty sitting quietly through the solo parts.  As far as the typical movie musical - I have a hard time sitting through such a movie (same problem as the solos in opera).  It seems to me that in such movies that the whole course builds to a climax and then everything comes to a screeching halt while someone(s) sings a song.

You appear not to understand the role of an aria in an opera, which is basically the same role that a solo plays in a musical.

A very brief musical history lesson:

Modern western European music has a very long tradition, dating back (depending on how you consider things) at least to the medieval period, when plainchants (such as Gregorian chants) began defining the musical intervals that we use today. Fast-forward to the very end of the 16th century, with the Renaissance in full swing and what we now term early Baroque music well-established throughout Europe. A group of rich Florentine music lovers with nothing better to do had long been discussing the magic of Greek theater, which by all accounts mixed drama with recited poetry and music to create a mesmerizing effect on the audience.

These men wanted to recreate that magic in modern times, with modern instruments, in modern languages. Plays, of course, were ancient and well-established in Europe at the time; Shakespeare was practically a contemporary and had moved the state of stage art forward by leaps and bounds. So the above-mentioned Florentines looked to combine the genre of stage play with that of singing, creating a sort of sung play. Thus they invented a work they called "opera" (Latin for, fittingly enough, "works"). The first opera was performed in Florence in about 1600, or maybe a year or two earlier.

So how did these Florentine ne'er-do-wells/geniuses plan on getting all this great story-telling mixed with music? Does everything get sung by a choir, like the famous but poorly understood Greek chorus? Do individuals speak or sing? Or both? How does one emote in a play being sung? Important questions, all.

One solution they hit on was the idea of an aria. Arias exist for the purpose of expressing feeling and emotion. In a typical aria, it is understood that time being portrayed effectively stops to allow the character to unburden his or her heart by sharing in song all the longing or joy or anguish or rage or whatever it is s/he is experiencing at that moment. An aria doesn't move the plot forward; it gives voice to the experience of the characters involved.

Your complaint is that the action stops during an aria. Yet this is precisely what an aria is supposed to be: A break in the continuation of the action so that the effects on a character of what has happened in the presentation can be explored. The point that you decry is, in fact, exactly what the aria is for. If you go from conflict immediately to duel and resolution, there is no chance of finding the emotional and psychological center of the effects these events are having. You miss the whole point of operatically exploring the story. You have basically a stage play left, but a stage play that lacks the soliloquies and other emotional and explorative devices that a play gives you. That's what arias are for; they're operatic soliloquies. The same basic idea is true of musical numbers.

The art form is not static, of course. Certainly there are operatic arias and musical numbers that don't follow this "time stops" rule. But in general, that's what is going on. If you don't understand or refuse to accept this most basic principle of musical theater, you will not enjoy the end product.

Edited by Vort
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45 minutes ago, Traveler said:

For me the music is way out of place in time and space in musicals.

Maybe you're just not the type who talks to themselves. I do all the time. Even though it's mostly internally (mostly). For me, setting that to music sums up the solos. It's people talking to themselves. That being said, I mostly agree with you on most musicals. Solos run the high risk of killing a show. Good solos done right don't (in my opinion), but in a lot of shows they either aren't good enough songs or aren't done right some other way (staging, orchestrations, singing, etc.).

Your thoughts are definitely worth consideration though.

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5 minutes ago, Vort said:

An aria doesn't move the plot forward;

Depends on what you mean by "the plot". It can certainly move the character arch forward...which some might argue is the only real important point of plot. ;)

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25 minutes ago, Vort said:

You have basically a stage play left, but a stage play that lacks the soliloquies...

Speaking of soliloquies monologues*, coincidentally my favorite is from a musical. But not set to music. Which I find ironically delightful.

Edit: I expect this is probably taken directly from the novel...so giving credit to the musical itself might be unfair. Giving credit to Peter O'toole, however....

*Edit 2: I realize that this isn't a soliloquy but a monologue. Whereas all soliloquies are monologues, not all monologues are soliloquys. The same can be said of solos or arias. They are all monologues. They are not all soliloquies.

Edited by The Folk Prophet
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On 8/30/2021 at 11:48 AM, mordorbund said:

I don't like Carousel. The whole "he hits me, but that's just his way of showing love" leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I'm glad it produced "My Boy Bill" (Billy's Soliloquy) and "You'll Never Walk Alone". 

Okay...just finished watching Carousel.

So I tend to agree with the not really liking Carousel thing. But I don't think him hitting her (or her justifying it) is really the issue with it. In point of fact, it's probably just the opposite problem. Carousel is a dark musical. It's a hard story. It's basically about messing up your life hardcore. But because it was written in the 40s and entertainment (particularly musicals) just weren't rendered that darkly, it's suffers from the fact that it doesn't actually dig into what it's trying to say. It's fluffy. And it dated badly and not in a good way. Also, the main character played by Gordon MacRae was just cast too old. So the lay-about thing doesn't quite play as well.

I mean the entire fact that the show is named Carousel and that he's a carousel barker just doesn't play. Maybe it did in the 40s. I don't know. My sense is that it could have been set up with more strength. But we don't really have barkers anymore, so relating to that now-a-days in any way doesn't work. But it would definitely work better if Billy Bigelow was cast as a 19 year old or something.

Additionally Carousel has some real plot deadening numbers that don't really help.

If they'd been able (or willing) to really dig into the subject matter with more guts the concept is actually pretty cool. The fact that he was a dirt bag and the type that would hit his wife plays into that. And the fact that she would be a battered wife who apologized for him and excused his behavior would also play into that. But it would have to be handled with less fluff.

So overall I agree... I don't like Carousel. If I Loved You, Soliloquy and You'll Never Walk Alone are great. But the rest of the music varies from okay-ish and sort of fun to just pretty dead. What were they thinking writing a song about the clam bake? Bleh! But I can even forgive that sort of weakness, overall, if the story really punches. But it doesn't because they can't really dig in like they needed to back in ye olden days. They tried. But in this case it just didn't quite work. Maybe the stage play works better.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Maybe you're just not the type who talks to themselves. I do all the time. Even though it's mostly internally (mostly).

I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me. I talk to the stars, but they never hear me. The breeze hasn't time to stop and hear what I say. I talk to them all in vain.

Name that musical and the all-time tough guy who sang that song??? :)

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Just now, clwnuke said:

I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me. I talk to the stars, but they never hear me. The breeze hasn't time to stop and hear what I say. I talk to them all in vain.

Name that musical and the all-time tough guy who sang that song??? :)

Haha. I had to google it. I knew the song -- but from the Smother's Brothers version. I think I saw that musical once. Been a long time though.

 

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11 minutes ago, clwnuke said:

It's still among my favorites and all my kids can sing the Can of Beans song (though I do skip by the brothel scene these days). If we can't make fun of ourselves who can we make fun of?

Warning: some language.

 

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I haven't laughed so hard in a long time!! I give it three 👍👍👍

My mother was a piano teacher so I heard tons of musical songs long before I ever saw the movies or plays they were from. Sometimes she'd haul me to wedding receptions to sing them as she played. I recall "Get me to the church on time" from My Fair Lady and "I talk to the trees" and"They call the wind Maria" from Paint Your Wagon as some of her favorites.  My favorite? "The Gospel of No Name City" .

 

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I appreciate the input by @Vort and @The Folk Prophet.

Music is part of the story - we see this in so many dramas.  Star Wars would not be anything without the music - but we do not think of such as a musical - but I think it ought to be.

Here is a couple of quick examples of the magic of music with visual theater. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Traveler

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16 hours ago, The Folk Prophet said:

Okay...just finished watching Carousel.

So I tend to agree with the not really liking Carousel thing. But I don't think him hitting her (or her justifying it) is really the issue with it. In point of fact, it's probably just the opposite problem. Carousel is a dark musical. It's a hard story. It's basically about messing up your life hardcore. But because it was written in the 40s and entertainment (particularly musicals) just weren't rendered that darkly, it's suffers from the fact that it doesn't actually dig into what it's trying to say. It's fluffy. And it dated badly and not in a good way. Also, the main character played by Gordon MacRae was just cast too old. So the lay-about thing doesn't quite play as well.

I mean the entire fact that the show is named Carousel and that he's a carousel barker just doesn't play. Maybe it did in the 40s. I don't know. My sense is that it could have been set up with more strength. But we don't really have barkers anymore, so relating to that now-a-days in any way doesn't work. But it would definitely work better if Billy Bigelow was cast as a 19 year old or something.

Additionally Carousel has some real plot deadening numbers that don't really help.

If they'd been able (or willing) to really dig into the subject matter with more guts the concept is actually pretty cool. The fact that he was a dirt bag and the type that would hit his wife plays into that. And the fact that she would be a battered wife who apologized for him and excused his behavior would also play into that. But it would have to be handled with less fluff.

So overall I agree... I don't like Carousel. If I Loved You, Soliloquy and You'll Never Walk Alone are great. But the rest of the music varies from okay-ish and sort of fun to just pretty dead. What were they thinking writing a song about the clam bake? Bleh! But I can even forgive that sort of weakness, overall, if the story really punches. But it doesn't because they can't really dig in like they needed to back in ye olden days. They tried. But in this case it just didn't quite work. Maybe the stage play works better.

I think you’re right that it didn’t go dark enough for the material it used. Like the Wolf’s Hello Little Girl and Red Riding Hood’s song in Into the Woods. Disney tried to soften them and they lost a lot of their bite. When you listen to it start to feel a little confused and then shocked and then SHOCKED. Take away the teeth and you’re just confused.

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Problems with Les Miz:

I just watched the 25th anniversary special.

I don't relate to or understand the Javert suicide or his obsession with Jean Valjean. I don't relate to or understand the revolution and why it was worth dying for. I don't understand Jean Valjean's interaction with Fantine and adopting her daughter out of nowhere because she was an employee. I don't understand or relate to Jean Valjean's over the top melodramatic concern for a kid he doesn't even know (Marius). And the whole Thenardier presenting the ring as some sort of a-ha twist moment is a weak-sauce plot device, and the pay off is...what, exactly?

Les Miz sells itself on "passion" but most of the passion is stupid and unrealistic and not how people actually behave or react with or toward others.

Maybe the book and the details therein explain things better and it doesn't come across as silly. To be fair the musical hides the silliness pretty well because it does such a good job of selling the passion with the music and performances. But for being known and understood as a less silly musical that deals with serious drama and meaning...it's kind of silly. Not all of it, of course.

Edited by The Folk Prophet
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