I'm a journalism freshman at MSU, and I hope to eventually publish my own novel one day.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

There's Nothing Like A Show on Broadway

Last weekend, I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, almost at the same time I got The Producers on DVD. I enjoyed both shows very much. I had almost forgotten that musicals used to be funny and lighthearted.

Nowadays, Broadway has taken a more dramatic turn. With the exception of several funny musicals like Spam-A-Lot and The Producers, the majority of popular musicals are more tragic. Who would ever thought that one would make turn Les Miserables into the musical? Or that The Phantom of the Opera would transform from a horror genre to a Broadway obsession?

Still, doesn't it seem that those kind of musicals are a little too sad? I mean, real life is depressing enough as it is; I don't need the heartbreaking Miss Saigon to feel even worse. Even Little Shop of Horrors is somewhat of a downer becuase all of the main characters die at the end! The upbeat kinds of musicals are a little corny at times, but at least they won't leave you in tears at the end!

Not that I don't like the sadder musicals. It helps you sympathize more with the characters. In fact, here are some characters whose tragic stories and powerful singing really struck a chord with me:

Eponine from Les Miserables: Who didn't feel bad for her? Sure, when she was a little girl, she was a spoiled brat, but that was her parents' fault! Not to mention how mean they were to poor Cosette. She seemed to change for the better after her family wound up broke and turned into a gang of thieves. And when Marius, the boy she adores, shows interest in Cosette, she doesn't try to fight to keep him for herself; instead, she not only arranges for him to meat her, but also protects Cosette and her "father" from getting attacked by her father's gang! Her famous solo, "On My Own" is one of the most poignant songs in the show. You also have to admire her courage to join Marius on the barracades, even when it resulted in her death. My favorite part in the performance I saw a few years ago was in the final moments of "A Little Fall of Rain", when Marius kisses her right before she dies... :(

Kim from Miss Saigon: Okay, I never actually saw the show, yet I know the story and have the song track, so I can still feel bad for Kim! She had it as bad as Eponine: the guy she loved married another woman! To make matters worse, she had her son, Tam, to care for. Now, I can understand why Chris didn't wait for her--he thought she was dead--but I can't understand why he and his wife wouldn't take the boy with them to the U.S. Yes, they didn't want to take a child from his mother, but just because the wife couldn't accept having her husband's former fling around doesn't give them the right to leave them behind in Bangkok! They should have been thinking about what was best for Tam, and it was clear that there wasn't a future for him in Vietnam! It's pretty sad that the only way for Kim to secure a future for a child was to kill herself! I know it's terrible to think this, but I hope Chris and his wife felt guilty for the rest of their lives for how they handled the situation.

Nala from The Lion King: I really like how the musical deepened her character. "Shadowland" is one of my favorite songs from the show.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast: I know this musical has a happy ending, but even when the Beast is acting beastly, you can't help but feel bad for him, especially when he sings, "If I Can't Love Her." And it's so sad how depressed he gets when Belle leaves. I cringed when Gaston was beating him and lying about Belle wanting him dead. And it's impossible not to be moved when he nearly dies... or maybe I'm just a sap.

Joseph from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat: Again, it's not a sad show. You still can't help feeling bad for Joseph. I always liked the story when I was a kid. Being sold by your own brothers is an all-time low. I don't like my brother, but even I wouldn't sell him into slavery, if only for my parents' sake. It's incredible that he manages to forgive his brothers even after everything he went through...although you can't blame him for that little bit revenge he has with Benjamin, the cup, and the whole groveling sequence. "Close Every Door" is also one of my favorite Broadway songs.

The Phantom: I don't think explaining this one is necessary.

While I do love getting emotional over the plights of these characters, I maintain that there is nothing wrong with happier musicals. We already have TV shows and movies to add to the daily melodrama. A little escape from depression never hurt anybody.


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Blogger Redheadgirl44 said...

I agree there's nothing like seeing a Broadway show. It is ALWAYS better than the movie. I recently saw Phantom of the Opera live and it blew me away with the amazing live performance, special effects, and orchestra. I like the depressing/semi-depressing musicals because they always seem to have more depth and meaning than the lighthearted silly ones. I always go away feeling different after seeing a musical like Phantom or even Wicked which is pretty lighthearted but has a deeper meaning and a not so happy (ish? depending how you view it) ending. But nothing beats the power and depth of sitting in a dark theater with a full orchestra and watching truly talented people perform.

5:41 PM  

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