Friday Favorites 11/2/2012

If you read Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog with any regularity, you know: I like to start a post down one road, then veer off onto a completely different subject.  I suppose it’s a habit that has cost me some readers but I also have readers who’ve commented that they like it.  Either way … it’s organic, the way my brain works.  That’s why I like it when a reader takes an unexpected turn in their comments.  It’s not only interesting, it’s stimulating and, perhaps, post material.  Yesterday, in The Music in My Head, I talked about a tune from Phantom of the Opera that was running in my head and the nature catchy tunes.  As an aside, I noted that I left the theater after Les Miserables humming I Dreamed a Dream even though I wasn’t overly fond of the production.  Comment: OMG, Bud! You didn’t like Les Miserables the 1st time you saw it? It’s my VERY FAVORITE play in the WHOLE wide world!!   Which got me to thinking – what is MY very favorite play in the entire world?   I began shuffling through the hundreds of productions I’ve seen, from dramas like Death of a Salesman to comedies like The Importance of Being Earnest to musicals like … yes … Les Miserables and I realized:  If I want this post to be posted on Friday, I better narrow the field.  So, favorite musicals.

I was raised with my mother playing the classics: South Pacific, Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The King and I.  Perhaps being a teenager trying hard to be cool in the midst of all that show music accounts for the fact that I spent many years saying, I don’t like musicals (all the while loving songs like Some Enchanted Evening, The Street Where You Live and Hello, Young Lovers).  At sixty-eight, I’m over trying to be cool, but Cain’t Say No is corny (and dated) enough to keep Oklahoma off my favorites list, in spite of People Will Say We’re in Love.  We recently saw My Fair lady at the Ahmanson Theater and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it felt like a nostalgia piece in spite of I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.  Speaking of nostalgia, I’ve enjoyed a number of plays based on the music of particular groups … think Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia … that don’t rise to the production values of a true musical.  Anyway, here are my favorites:

Best of the Classics  Classics could mean Rogers and Hammerstein.  My Mom and I could agree on The King and I, although I didn’t have a crush on Yul Brynner.  A beautiful production and, for it’s time, pushing the edges of social issues with a romance between Anna and the King.  And the songs, my God.   Hello Young Lovers, Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance.  Well?  Shall we?

Why Not Sondheim? – I am very partial to Stephen Sondheim.  I love his unusual themes and quirky, sometimes hard to follow lyrics.  In the scaled-down production of his Sweeney Todd, actors played all the musical instruments and rearranged the set without interrupting the flow of the story.  And what a story, a madman barber, murdering his customers and serving them in meat pies at his wife’s bakery.  A Little Priest may be the most fiendishly clever songs in musical history, a little ditty on the different tastes different professions bring to the pies.   Still, most of his plays lack hummability.  Not West Side Story, written with Leonard Bernstein.   To my mind, Something’s Coming, Maria, Tonight and especially, Somewhere, are the most beautiful songs in musical theater.  And the choreography is amazing once you get over the shock of New York gangs dancing through the streets.

Of Course, Andrew – If this were a popularity contest, Andrew Lloyd Webber, as the most commercially successful (and awarded) musical composer of our times would have to be here.  It’s not.  His Aspects of Love of was a disappointment, and in spite of their popularity, Jesus Christ Superstar seemed melodramatic and Cats was a head-scratcher (which I suppose is appropriate for a play about cats).  But Anything But Lonely (from Aspects of Love), I Don’t Know How to Love Him, and Memory show clearly why Andrew wins the hummability prize.  And Phantom of the Opera brings it all together: Interesting, hummable music, great production, and a great story.  I still tear up when Christine leaves the poor murdering Phantom alone at the end.

So, there you go … three Friday Favorites.  No, Meleah, Les Mis didn’t make it but it’s close.  Thanks for the comment and the idea for this post.

What are your favorites?

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2 Comments on “Friday Favorites 11/2/2012”

  1. Ahahahhahahah! Okay. Okay!

  2. cherperz Says:

    I love going to plays. Even a mediocre play is fun to attend. The orchestra pit, the flashing lights signaling the start…all of it. When I was in high school, I took the subway to the Shubert Theatre in downtown Chicago to see Celeste Holmes in Mame. I have gone to hundreds of plays since then and it never loses it’s appeal.

    I have seen Phantom a number of times but my favorite was on Broadway in NYC. My favorite for “Oklahoma” was in Tulsa, OK in the outdoor theatre that was built only to do that one play.

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