Musicals?

Good Wednesday to you. Musicals? Yup, that's what I said. Well, wrote. People who know me might be puzzled as I'm not generally a fan of musicals. I am suddenly feeling the need to defend myself and insult a bunch of people all at once, so here goes.

I know many songs from musicals. When I was in college, I was a part of a group called Broadway Magic, the campus's Broadway revue company. Each semester we'd learn a few ensemble numbers and we'd each learn a solo number. We had themes, my favorite being the 50's musical show. I recall performing "Dentist" from Little Shop of Horrors. Some of the female ensemble members did the backing vocals and dancing. It was great. Some other solo numbers I did included "Get Me to the Church on Time" from My Fair Lady and "I've Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua" from Kiss Me Kate. Everything about Broadway Magic was rewarding for me. I remember working as hard, maybe harder, for that group than any other group. I was in a vocal jazz ensemble for awhile and while I worked hard for it, it never seemed as rewarding or as satisfying. 

So if the Broadway revue company was so much fun, why would my close acquaintances thing I dislike Broadway? It's not Broadway I dislike, it's the crappy music and writing over the past thirty or forty years that doesn't interest me. I once was hired to sing a song from Rent during Evening Gown competition of the Miss Berks County Pageant. I think there were about ten of us in the little ensemble who smiled and sang that awful song for what seemed like 4 hours. We were compensated for it so I don't really feel badly about it. It was a learning experience. Now when I hear that song, I can't help thinking of the scene in Bad Grandpa where the kid is pole dancing to Warrant's Cherry Pie in the beauty contest. Cherry Pie and Warrant make me think of my friend Steve from college who almost got hit by a car after coming out of the record store where he had excitedly purchased a used cassette tape of the Warrant album that Cherry Pie is on. He told me actually hummed that song for a long time whenever he'd cross the road, almost as a prayer of thanks for not becoming roadkill. 

So back to the topic at hand (as an aside, if any of you music teachers out there are sick and tired of hearing "Hot Cross Buns" on a recorder, "Eye of the Tiger" is the same three notes and way more fun, and you can progress to playing Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" by adding only a few more notes, great for teaching the right hand). I think most Broadway music is crap. That's all I really need to say about it. Please notice I said most. Let's dig into that.

I was a big fan of South Park. When the South Park Movie came out (Bigger, Longer, Uncut), I was at the front of the line to see it. I didn't realize at the time that it was a musical. I still think it was one of the best musicals ever composed. The story satirizes modern culture in many ways, and it is done perfectly. Cursing kids, inept guidance counselors, overreacting parents and community members, farting Canadians, and, to top it off, Satan singing about his deep down desires to live amongst the rest of us (...without evil there could be no good so it must be good to be evil sometime....). Now we all know that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were good at satire, but did you also know they are incredible composers? Trey Stone was a music major at the University of Colorado in Boulder and composed Cannibal! The Musical while studying there. 

So why am I mentioning this? Because Trey Parker and Matt Stone are two of the three people behind The Book of Mormon, another musically and satirically fantastic show. They even won Tonys for it. There isn't a bad song in it but I think my favorite is "Hasa Diga Ebowai". I find myself mumbling that phrase on a regular basis. 

Other musicals I've enjoyed lately include Wicked (yes, I know, who doesn't like Wicked...), Avenue Q, and Spamalot. Wicked is the outlier. I read the book the musical was based on and I couldn't actually recommend it to anyone. The music, though, is good. Avenue Q is just hilarious, while also satirizing many aspects of our culture and adding foul-mouthed puppets who sing. Okay, I'll admit it before anyone can say it, I like the idea of puppets with foul-mouths singing anything, but the fact that Avenue Q's music is fantastic is icing on the cake. I hope it helps us all accept what the internet is really for.

Spamalot is a musical theater interpretation of Monty Python's Holy Grail. Need I say more? 

With father's day just having happened, I feel it necessary to mention that my son loves Wicked and Spamalot. Does he enjoy the others? I think he will but he hasn't heard them yet, as many of their lyrics and themes (lyrically) are inappropriate for younger audiences. One day I hope to sing-a-long with him to the South Park music, the Book of Mormon, and Avenue Q. I can wait for that, but it will be rewarding.

So I do like musicals, but musicals that are good musically, lyrically, that have puppets that sing about what they use the internet for. There are many other musicals I like, but mostly old ones. I don't often think about parts I'd like to sing, but when I do, I'd like to be Roger from Grease, singing "Mooning", Freddy from My Fair Lady because I'd love to sing "The Street Where You Live" (unfortunately as part for tenors, and I'm a solid baritone), or Alfred Doolittle from the same. Of course, Orin Scrivello, DDS, from Little Shop of Horrors. There are others but the one that I'd almost drop anything to sing would be the Pirate King from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. Yes, I know it's an operetta but close enough. In my mind, Kevin Kline defined the character, but I think it would be a massive amount of fun to play him. 

Maybe one day, but for now my fingers are itching to play my guitar and my voice is ready to sing a long. 

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