Somebody please tell me...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SOTSDO, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    ...what the big deal was with the musical Ragtime? I've seen the movie once, and am in the process of viewing it again now, and this last week we saw a production (amateur actors but pro production and music (AFM supported performance). Although there were many things wrong with the show, even if all had been right, the music and words still sucked.

    I see that the music was written by the same guy who did Seusical - maybe that is the problem. (He made some very questionable decisions regarding the use of the Eb clarinet.) However, it garnered huge numbers of Tony nominations, and quite a few actual awards the year it hit.

    There had to be something there to stir up the theater community. What was it?
     
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  2. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    While I'm not a big musical guy, I do hear of a few. Can't say I've heard of Ragtime performed around here, recently. Seussical? Definitely.
     
  3. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    I've done Seusical once...

    ...and that was more than enough. The combination of baritone sax, bass clarinet and bassoon was enough to drive me mad, even though I enjoy the challenge of playing the bassoon.

    There were some decent Motown moves in one number - other than that, the music - er - "wandered" all over the place. (I got that same vibe with Ragtime - the orchestrations (to put it mildly) sucked.)

    If Seusical comes up again, I'll pass the baton to one of you folks. $2,000 wouldn't be enough to tempt me again.
     
  4. WoodwindDoubler

    WoodwindDoubler

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    I haven't played this show, or performed in it, but I did go through a period of time in which I LOVED this show.

    There are some really beautiful songs and melodies ... especially Journey On, Your Daddy's Son ... etc.
     
  5. hakukani

    hakukani

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    I saw this show on Broadway, and I thought it was a killer show. It's tough acting-wise, choral ensemble-wise, and technically.

    I would be hard-pressed to think that an amateur production would do the show justice. Nothing against amateurs--I wouldn't expect a local opera company to do a Ring cycle either.
     
  6. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    The only thing that was amateur was the on-stage talent, and I'm allowing for that in my judgement. Sound, lighting, direction and music were all pro.

    The music was the same folks who play for the touring Broadway shows here in town (all long-time insiders, and a number of whom are friends of mine). As I said, it reminded me a lot of Seusical in the way it was scored - Flaterly (sic) wrote the music for both if I am correct in remembering what I read.

    What bothered me most was the casual way that the musical (and the movie) was assembled out of their parts, and the scoring for some of the tunes. The continual strident use of the Eb clarinet detracted from the fast numbers (and it wasn't the player's fault; he's a dab hand with the little things), several of the numbers felt "shoved in" (like in a 1920's era show).

    The movie had additional problems, almost as if footage was left on the cutting room floor. The casual transition between Father and Mother to the Baron and Mother was only hinted at. (In the show, Father dies on the Titanic, neatly removing him from the picture.)

    I don't disagree with the story elements, although I still find it hard to believe that folks, even liberal folks, in early 1900's Bawsten would have behaved that way towards black intruders into their lives.

    In any event, different strokes for different folks. Along similar lines, I know that I really like It's A Bird! It's A Plane! It's Superman!, but I have met precious few who agree, despite the peppy score and several pop hits that came out of it.
     
  7. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

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    FWIW, I'm a fan of tvtropes.org. I was recently reading about BLAM and WHAM tropes: a brief description of each is a (say) TV episode that has absolutely nothing to do with the overall plot of the series and may not even be internally consistent. In other words, probably amusing, but nonsensical, and makes you think, "Where the heck did THAT come from?!" (The episode is also probably never referred to again in the rest of the series.)

    Before listing user-contributed examples, the tvtropes 'site admin specifically notes to exclude musicals from WHAM/BLAM because they're sometimes completely nonsense and the contents thereof generally have little to do with a "plot." The example the admin uses to support his assertion is Xanadu. (My wife, who is a big-time Gene Kelly fan, forced me to watch that, recently. Made me think of a live-action version of Yellow Submarine: "Daddy, how much acid did they take before making that?" "All of it.")

    Of course, not all musicals are tvtrope fare, but you could make an argument about most classical operas being kinda nonsense, too.
     
  8. SOTSDO

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

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    There are different types of "musicals", ranging from the opera based "through sung" shows like Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sunset Boulevard, through the traditional shows of the Guys And Dolls cluster, on to the "musical plays" like Forum, which could be run without the songs if replaced by some additional dialog. Different strokes for different folks. I've done all of the above and enjoyed them all.

    Some people get put off by seeing a show that doesn't suit their idea of entertainment. For example, I've played 1776 in several productions, but I'd never pay good money to see it (unless my daughter or wife had the lead). Forum, on the other hand, I'd both play or watch in a heartbeat. Again, different strokes.
     

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