Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wonder of Wonder "Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)"

I was just thinking about how boring my life really is. I mean, things happen, of course, but nothing of interest to anyone but myself. Like getting hit by a truck, or my car breaking down in Provo last week, leaving me stranded at my grandma's house. Believe me I have all sorts of interesting things going on in my head, but I just don't know how to put them in words. That said, here's the old college try anyhow:

Last night I went to a musical entitled "Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)." It was a highly enjoyable performance, filled with parody, excellent facial expressions, wit, and lots of laughter. The production took place in SUU's blackbox theater, a small area with a small audience; for instance: I sat on the back row, a.k.a. the fourth row. Because of the setting, everyone is able to see the actors (all six of them) very well and feel involved with the production, rather than just be a spectator. The show comprised of five short sections, all telling the same story of a girl who can't pay her rent, her boyfriend who pays it at the end, a conniving landlord, an advice-giving woman, and two chorus members who play various parts in each section. The music is from a lone pianist, who also serves as a narrator, with parts such as "Abby makes her forty-second grand entrance! The audience applauds out of habit," to which we, the audience, respond with habitual-like clapping.

Each of the sections was based on the different styles of popular musical composers. The first act, simply entitled "Corn!," was based on the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein. Of course it starts out with Big Willy riding in on his horse singing "Oh what beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful (*Inhale!*) beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful (*BREATHE!*) beautiful beautiful beautiful (*GASP!*) beautiful beautiful CORN!" He runs into June, his love, and they sing "I Don't Love You" until interrupted by Jidder, the landlord with a lease that says if June doesn't pay her rent she had to marry him. After Jidder and Big Willy leave, June gets some advice from Mother Abby in the form of a song that sounds suspiciously like a spoof-medley from The Sound of Music (something about "ford every stream"). Exit Abby, and June falls asleep and has a "highly-symbolic dream-ballet" until Jidder wakes her up and carries her off to be wed. Big Willy debates, in song of course, whether to save her and settle down with his beloved corn (oh, and his girl) or to go off and see the world. Unfortunately, when he finally decides to save his girl and pay the rent for her, she is already married to the villain. Fortunately, Mother Abby realizes that the marriage certificate says 5 o'clock, but Kansas has just adopted Daylight Savings Time, so at 4:10, they are not yet married. Big Willy is to marry June afterall, but Jidder comes out with knife! But he trips and falls on his own blade and the story ends happily with "D-A-Y-L-I-G-H-T-S-A-V-I-N-G-S-T-I-M-E Day! OK!"

The other four parts are respectively based on the musicals of Stephen Sondheim (five scary tenants of an apartment complex called "the Woods" with an unappreciated artist/serial killer landlord, and
"Roses are red
Violets are blue
Some lyrics rhyme
Some don't"),
Jerry Herman (Abigail von Schtarr: "I can't sing or dance, but I'm the star of the show!" with numerous costume changes, and a background semi-plot of Mr. Jitters: "you must pay the rent" Junie Faye: "but I can't pay the rent" boyish William in short pants:"I will pay the rent" and a cross-dressing villain in red heels),
Andrew Lloyd Webber (a through-sung rock opera about a washed-up diva who feels that she is above rent-paying, a phantom landlord who is actually a cat-of-many-colors, and some harsh digs about over-the-top, stealing from Puccini, and a recurring piece "I've heard this song before!"),
and Kander & Ebb (set in a 1930s Cabernet-- scarily gay, prostitution, jail, lots of foreign languages, and Fosse-like slinking).

It was awesome. I know some people didn't get it, (like the old couple sitting next to me who laughed only during the "Corn!" part, or 95% of the theatre who didn't laugh at all during the Sondheim section, which, in my opinion, was probably the funniest), but truly magnificent writing: both lyrics and the almost-but-not-quite-the-same music.

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