ain't baroque! :||
Don't Fix It

The case against logic and reason

It’s a BSO Pops concert week, which is more than enough excuse for me to break out the musical!

The modern musical is a very different animal from the classics from the golden era of Hollywood. Now, don’t get me wrong – I liked Chicago, I liked Hairspray. I love a good Disney musical. I did not like Moulin Rouge!, but all those songs were stolen so whatever.

But the musicals being produced today are pretty slick and tightly plotted. Sure, the odd WTF? moment pops up, but there are at least attempts made to cling to logic. Indeed, Chicago goes so far as to actually try to explain why people are bursting into song and busting out dances by filtering them through Roxie’s imagination.

And that’s just plain silly, trying to make musicals not so silly. I like the old musical, the kind that is saturated with hyper-bright colors and costumes that may or may not actually reflect the period, old barns are easily converted to fantastic stages, water ballet is the most elaborate thing this side of a DNA spiral, and Gene Kelly can choreograph an entire dance around a creaky floorboard and a piece of paper. To say nothing of any of his dance sequences in Singin’ in the Rain.

Which is why I am delighted to share with you a favorite post series from the boys at Project Rungay, entitled “Musical Mondays” (to find them, scroll down to the bottom of the page; the drop-down menu will be in the far left-hand column).

Some Mondays T and Lo are kind enough to grace us with a somewhat cynical, MST3K-style rundown of a selected musical. Sometimes these critiques are loving, sometimes scathing, and I don’t always agree with them, but they are invariably hilarious. Frequently I wind up gasping a protest even as I giggle (“HEY! I LIKE Brigadoon!”), but who can resist such cuttingly brilliant witticisms as:

  • “Our story starts with Howard Keel as Adam Pontipee, an ignorant backwoodsman who opens up the movie by sauntering through the tiny Oregon town of Backlotsville, loudly singing that he wants hisself a wife and obnoxiously pointing out the physical flaws of every woman he passes on the street. This is meant to endear us to him.” [“HEY! I LIKE Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!”]
  • “Broke and in trouble with the law, they do what any of us would do. Sing and dance inappropriately for little boys in the street. Was this code for something?” [“HEY! I LIKE Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!”]
  • “He spends a little time moodily wandering the streets of Paris, backlit. We keep hoping that bands of thieves will come upon him and beat him to death, but no such luck.” [“HEY! I LIKE Gigi!”]

I should note that T and Lo do not hold back, and their language might be considered ever-so-slightly NSFW, but they’re not being vulgar, just catty. It’s allowed!

Anyway, “Musical Mondays.” Peruse the archives. Whether you love or hate musicals, you’ll get a kick out of it.

About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.


4 thoughts on “The case against logic and reason

  1. Who ARE you?

    I am again amazed at your viewpoints & knowledge of music and pop culture! And allow me to say that I am NO authority, but it is very refreshing and somewhat comforting to have someone pontificate on the virtues of “golden age” by pointing out the “silliness” of the old musicals! And not in a manner that devalues the modern musical – you’re simply illustrating the differences and extolling the fantasy found in the musicals of yore.

    Sure, it helps that I wholeheartedly agree with you. I’ve seen Wicked twice in Chicago as well as Spamalot and The Producers on Broadway, but come on! Gene Kelly? Just Gene Kelly is a homerun! Now give him props (both literally and urbanly) and he creates an entire world through dance and song – forget plots! backstories! the “why”! Just enjoy the professionalism at the highest level.

    Anyway, if the question of “should I continue this blog” comes up again, please choose YES, I definitely should!

    You had me at MST3K… You had me at MST3K.

    Peace out –

    Dr. Carney

    Posted by Dr. Carney | May 19, 2010, 12:32 pm
  2. Haaaaaaaa Miss Jenn; you and Dr. Carneyt crack me up!! I must add though; the mere thought of watching Fred Astaire dance just makes me:::::::::swoon::::::::::THUD!!

    Posted by Christine Petrolati | May 19, 2010, 5:49 pm

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