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Tony Awards 1992, Best Musical, Crazy for You

27 Jan

crazy for youSo, Crazy for You was the big winner for best musical of 1992.   It’s a western based on Gershwin’s music, and it’s….kinda everything you’d expect.  It starred Jodi Benson, the voice of the Little Mermaid, and I couldn’t fault the Tonys for giving the award to this one.   Then again, it’s so thoroughly unsurprising that it’s an uninspired choice in a way.

There were three other shows:  Five Guys Named Moe was a so-so jukebox musical based on Louis Jordan, I have little to say about this one other than it had a great amount of energy.  The other two are more interesting–the first Jelly’s Last Jam was a fantastic bio-show about Jelly Roll Morton, the father of Jazz.   This probably should have been the winner of 1992–the music is inventive, the story engaging, and the show manages to make Jazz sound fresh and modern–compared to Five Guys Named Moe and Crazy for You, it sounds like it’s from another millennium.  The Falsettos is notable because it’s a modern story, and it focuses on the AIDS crisis.  As much as I want to praise this show, at the same time the music isn’t quite all the way there, and it doesn’t completely age well.

Crazy for You ended being the peak show of the early nineties nostalgia craze–for the next few years we get some interesting choices before Disney takes over Broadway.  Stay tuned.

Pewterbreath Returns

20 Sep

Hello folks! Sorry I’ve been away, I completely lost my password and had to do a lot of finagling to get back on, but for all three of you that are waiting with baited breath, I am back again! I am glad to see the blogosphere has not collapsed in my absence, and the black hole that could have very well opened up in the space I left behind has not erupted, thus sucking other blogs in at beyond lightspeed and threatening the whole internet.

…so how have you been?

Tony Awards 1982, Nine

28 Apr

nine

Nine is a completely left of field show to win amidst a decade of big budget behemoths.  I have very little to say about it, which is why I’ve been procrastinating on this post.  I’ve listened to the soundtrack many times, and still, very few of the songs stick (other than Be On Your Own)–in fact the music sounds entirely incidental.

On the other hand, I’m very happy whenever anything experimental gets on Broadway in the first place, and nine certainly is that.     It’s mid-life crisis storyline has a very theatre-ish tone to it.   The women in Guido’s head coming to life around him, and him finding it hard to create without a new flame to inspire him.

It’s really set up as a problem play, showing a situation and all the good and bad parts, then not resolving the situation.   Because of that, it’s a hard show to love, and the music is hard to love with it.  However I can’t help but respect it.

Tony Award Winners–1952 The King and I

7 Mar

the king and I

 

While not being always racially sensitive, The King and I is so darned likable that it almost gets away with it.   I don’t think the play is racist, however, it certainly seeing the people of Siam as being the “exotic other” rather than a group of people with different customs.   At the same time, if we saw the play as coming from Anna’s point of view, and how the exotic-ness fades as she sees the humanity in all these people, it’s quite forgivable (though it still is a bit pushy in the “England’s way is the right way” sort of doings>)

Yul Brynner got the role of a lifetime.  Yes he’s been in other things, but he spent his life in this role, and many people to this day know him as the King of Siam.  Even new productions tend to have the King resemble Brynner more than what the real king of Siam looked like.   And he plays it perfectly–strong and intelligent, full of curiosity and energy, he throws himself into the role, and even though his voice isn’t perfect, we don’t want it to be, we want him to be the king.

Gertrude Lawrence as Anna by all accounts was splendid.   She was known to be a big presence on the stage.  However, her voice is a bit shaky on the soundtrack–this is one time, for listening purposes, that I think the movie soundtrack is just a wee bit better.   I love the march of the King’s children, and of course Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance, and Whistle a Happy Tune.   I couldn’t care less about the subplot with the lovers, but it’s a mild distraction, focusing on the battle between the sexes that goes between Anna and the King.     Rogers and Hammerstein were in full cutesy children mode, here, and the kids can be a little bit much at times.

Oklahoma, Carousel, and The Sound of Music are the best Rogers and Hammerstein works, but The King and I comes just below that in my estimation.  A very nice and humane work.

tips for teens

16 Nov

I don’t know why, but I feel the need to dish out some advice to teens.   Mostly because it’s a very transitional time for people, and also because it’s good to remind myself.

Here’s the short list:

1.  Stay out of jail.

2.  Don’t get yourself or someone else pregnant.

3.  Don’t pick up an addiction.

4.  Finish High School.

The way I see it, if a teenager can do these four things, they’re going into their twenties in good shape.   These are the very basics, and they don’t guarantee happiness or anything, but if you accomplish these four things, you’ve covered all the stuff that can do long term damage for you at this point.   Now if you want to be happy–this is what I’d do:

1.  Take care of your teeth.  Nobody will tell you to do this, but god! If you just remember to brush and floss every day now, you won’t have to deal with all the stupid teeth stuff later on which is painful, expensive, and never as good as what you’re born with.

2.  Work-out.   I’m not saying that you have to get a whole exercise regimen, but find an activity that is physical to do for 20-30 minutes a day.   It can be anything that just gets you up and moving.  A good walk is enough, hike, dance, ANYTHING.  Not only will it put  you in better shape, but regular workouts make people happier.

3.  Avoid processed foods, but otherwise don’t sweat your diet.  If you can cut the soda, chips, and sweets down you’ll be fine.  Those things are meant to be once-in-a-while treats, not food you eat daily.   

4.  Ignore popularity.   Popular is this strange power in high school that exists nowhere else.   I’m not saying there’s not cliques and such in the real world, but they don’t really matter all that much.  Right now popularity seems like everything, but truth be told the most popular person in class has no more real friends than you do.  You don’t believe this, but it’s true.

5.  Sex is your decision.  Never have sex when you really don’t want to.   Right now all the adults around you are probably telling you different things about sex.   Ultimately, even with all this advice, you’ll be on your own here, because even with all the rules in the world, you’ll probably find a way to do it anyway.   I’m not going to talk about the right time, or the right place, but I am going to say never have sex if you’re scared, or feel like it’s expected, or someone’s pressuring you to do it.  You need to protect yourself until you’re ready, and only you decide when you are ready.  Nobody else.

6.  Stick to your real friends.  There are people who, while they might not be exciting, will support you through thick and thin.  Those people you need to stick to, because you’ll be tempted to gravitate towards people who are exciting and cool instead.

7.  Try not to be a snot, even when people deserve it.   That’s just classy.

8.  Never bully or pick on other people.   

9.  Be kind to the elderly.  For whatever reason there seems to be a mutual distrust between the very old and teenagers.   Probably because both are grouchy, hormonal, and sick of people talking down to them.   Older folks have a lot on their plate–they usually don’t have much money, their bodies hurt, and while the world will flock around and support you if you have a fatal illness at a young age, if your old and death is right around the corner you pretty much have to face it yourself.   It’s scary.   I would like to see all teenagers be as nice to them as the kid with cancer in high school.  They need it.

10.  If you drink or do any other naughty thing (which I’m not condoning, but this is real life we’re talking about) make sure you are in a safe place with people you trust.  Bad stuff can happen, particularly because you’re inexperienced with this sort of thing.  Stay safe.

11.  Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life.   Not only does that stuff come back around to you eventually, but while a stupid comment will get forgotten in the real world, online stuff is there forever.  Assume that people will see stuff that you wouldn’t want to.

12.  Detach from your phones and electronics once in a while to interact with the real world.  You need to learn how to have conversations with people, how to connect and enjoy others.  Developing this will get you way farther than anything else at this time in your life.   

Pop Culture: Lady Gaga, “Applause”

22 Sep

lady-gaga-applause-1

 

Ok, so I just did Katy Perry, and I have to follow-up with Lady Gaga’s single which came out at the same time.   Hell, I should have started with this one because love it or loathe it, Lady Gaga’s single is far more interesting than Katy Perry’s bland Chicken Soup from the Soul lyrics.

Now I’m not a diehard Lady Gaga fan, but I really like her because she managed to make something interesting out of pop culture at a time where it was a teenage wasteland.    She also doesn’t cater to teenagers or frat boys.   On top of that she really knows how to use internet culture better than just about anybody in the entertainment industry.   Also, your tolerance for Lady Gaga depends on how self-aware you think she is.  I think she’s incredibly self-aware, but if you think she’s some pop star who just gets off by acting weird, you’ll find her irritating in a hurry.

People complain that she’s pretentious and narcissistic, and I respond with that by saying, of course she is.  It’s not as if she’s been hiding these facets of herself, in fact she’s putting them right in center stage in “applause” sort of to get it out of the way.  (For heaven’s sake, she emerges from a magic hat with a peacock tail.)  She’s pretentious and narcissistic because she’s human, and most humans have aspects of this other than saints and masochists.  When healthily directed these things can create good art, and that’s what she’s encouraging.  She’s speaking to the inner drama geek that lives inside us, not the inner drama queen.

Also, I question the narcissism when seeing the video.  The applause here isn’t exactly comfortable.  We see people mechanically clapping, we see Lady Gaga in a cage in rags, alone on a mattress shaking like a junkie, with her head on a bird, holding a giant bouquet that’s about to crush her while dragging her leg behind her, her grabbing onto the edge of a stage to hang on rather than be blown away…in fact I think this video shows how difficult to remain artistically credible with an audience while keeping yourself together.  (The abundance of celebrity meltdowns would attest to this.)

Also what she’s going for is a Warholesque show for those who feel alienated by pop culture where she is the art.   I think she succeeds–this song has more energy than anything I have heard in months and also it doesn’t sound like a bunch of processed product.  She’s not interested in trying to talk to those who aren’t already predisposed to listen, and she makes people to go to her space to appreciate her.   Also, need I mention how hard this woman works?  This video is her trying to make something significant, not sell hamburgers.  She certainly isn’t going to allow you to feel comfortable, maybe that’s why she has so many haters, while roar panders to what audiences want to hear, Lady Gaga–no.  She won’t do that.   She respects you too much to do that, and respects herself too much too.

I’m actually thrilled she’s back, even though the song sounds very gaga-esque, it sounds like a blast of fresh air, it’s fun.   I’d better go before I morph into a fanboy.

What I would teach.

1 Sep

Well, school is about to start, and after a bit of the summer off from writing, I am back on the saddle.    So to start things off, I want to discuss what I would teach in schools–sometimes I think schooling isn’t thought about as preparing people for life, rather as something that’s kids just do.   So here’s where I would go with it.

1.  The basics–reading, writing, arithmetic, basic science, math.

2.  P.E.  but not the physical education that I had as a kid–this will be about exploring different kinds of exercise and body movement.  I also think that the classes should have a good deal of movement too.

3.  Literature–not only how to read, but how to get things out of books.

4.  How to make a budget, and stick to it, and general money management.

5.  How to make healthy meals. 

6.  How to calm down when you’re upset.

7.  How to mourn.

8.  Empathy

9.  How to actively think.

10.  Problem solving.

11. Basic first aid.  Also how to treat cuts, bruises, minor illness.

12.  Basic household repairs and upkeep.

13.   How the government works, local, state, national, and international.

14.   Healthy skepticism, not to believe everything you hear.

15.  How to be a good friend.

16.  How to be able to work with people you don’t like.

17.   How to keep a home clean and tidy.

18.  Politeness.

19.  Citizenship.

20.  Art and the appreciation of the arts.