Sunday, October 22, 2006

Closed Mind

I hate musicals.

David Mamet, who won a Pulitzer Prize for playwriting, insists that an audience's interest in drama operates on the question, "What happens next?" I agree. Plot is paramount and it relies on momentum, and you positively bludgeon that momentum to a standstill when you insist on repeating every frackin' line of dialogue 4 times and having the chorus echo it twice more.

And does every line have to be sung? The best musicals have some lovely songs; but in between those songs, the narrative is tortured with mostly abysmal, frenetic stabs at melodicism. I'll give you 10 to 1 odds that a halfway decent singer could improvise a random diatonic melody for just about any Gilbert and Sullivan soliloquy and no one would recognize the difference. If you've got a song to feature, that's terrific; but if you're scripting melody "just because," then you can stop wasting my time and just tell the damn story.

But none of that is why I walked out of Pirates of Penzance last week. I walked out because casting a 53-year-old man as Frederic and having him woo a 14-year-old Mabel is just flatly disgusting. I can appreciate that community theater groups have limited resources. I've watched men play women and women play men, and I can accept a 53-year-old man playing a 21-year-old character — but when that 53-year-old man wraps his arms around an adolescent girl and they start making eyes at each other, that's quite enough for my stomach.

To hell with political correctness, and to hell with enlightenment, and to hell with sophistication. To hell with broad horizons. Maybe I'm supposed to feel ashamed because my small mind couldn't look past reality to appreciate the artistic intent — but to hell with that, too.


At October 28, 2006 5:47 PM, Blogger Jude Calvert-Toulmin said...

I hate musicals too. Although Coppola's "One From The Heart" is a great (and underated) movie.

This is a great blog Stephen. You've got a fantastic writing voice and imo are an extremely talented writer.

I will keep visiting :)


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