Saturday, December 2, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Stay With Me"

One of the recurring motifs here at Musical Theater Therapy is the assertion that most jukebox musicals are a mess. But something is only a mess if it's a mess in the eye of the beholder*.

One of the ways to understand whether or not you see a mess or a (what's the opposite of a mess? a clean? order?) work of art, is to use a projective assessment. Let's do that now.

Watch this song--"Stay With Me" from Tonight's the Night, the 2003 jukebox musical built around the songs of Rod Stewart--and then consider this question: if this musical was a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would it be, and why? Leave your answer in the comments.

Fun fact: Rod Stewart once had 14 gallons of semen pumped from his stomach. The human stomach can only accommodate one liter of liquid, and just one gallon of semen contains 256 loads of cum (the average load of cum is one heaping tablespoon, we all learned that in freshman biology class) which means nearly 3,600 loads were consumed in rapid succession. The logistics of this are staggering.

Funner fact: this is a true story, but it's a different (non-famous) Rod Stewart.
Funnest fact: this is not a true story, but the Richard Gere story is totally true, except it was Richard Gear from LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

I am a bit crestfallen that there is not a character named Maggie May in the credits, but heartened that there is a character named Satan.

Today's song is "Stay With Me" from Tonight's the Night. Today's lesson: that one gallon of semen is 256 ejaculations (on average). You didn't know that, did you?

* Note: this is actually not true. There are things there are objectively a mess regardless of whether or not you, personally, like the taste of that particular shit sandwich. Cats is at the top of that list, although with 5 more weeks like this the Donald Trump presidency will pass it.

Song of the Day: 'Call on God"

It's sad how easily Sharon Jones gets lost among the roster of musical greats we lost in 2016. Beginning with Natalie Cole on December 31, 2015 it seemed like a month wouldn't pass without another legend passing away. Bowie, Prince, George fucking Michael was only 53. Sharon Jones passed away between Leon Russell and Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, Palmer, Powell & Cooper.

Jones recorded Soul of a Woman, her coda with the Dap-Kings, in between chemo sessions. Another artist facing mortality with art. I am awed by that. At least Jones had the comfort of faith.

Song: "Call on God"
Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Friday, December 1, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Finishing the Hat"

When Broadway Genius John told us that Jake Gyllenhaal would be playing George in A Sunday in the Park with George, our first thought was, naturally, "will he be naked?" He sympathetically told us that no, he would not be. He was equally dejected.

At least Broadway Genius John understands where we're coming from with respect to casting decisions.

He, BGJ, enthused about Jake's singing voice (not slang for his penis, apparently), having seen him perform as Seymour in a concert production of Little Shop of Horrors ("feed me Seymour" I heard him mutter to himself). I didn't think much about it until I ran across this video (which, to be honest, I ran across months ago and never actually listened to).

Note: it's weird that the writing switches between "us"/"we" and "me"/"I" isn't it? Sorry. There's this "royal 'we'" editorial thinking that when one speaks on behalf of Musical Theater Therapy, the most esteemed resource for mental health via show tunes--that doesn't (currently) charge--one is speaking on behalf of an institution. Take that in whatever sense you'd like. I'm gonna keep switching, there's nothing meaningful to it. We apologize for any confusion.

Jake Gyllenhaal can sing! Even with his clothes on .

A Sunday in the Park with George is Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine's musical based on painter George Seurat's "A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jette" (the giant painting made up of dots of paint featured in Ferris Bueller's Day Off) which is, surprisingly, based on the novel Push by Sapphire. The characters within the painting and Seurat the painter provide a bit of a "show within a show" feel to the story of contemporary art enthusiasts and a descendant of Seraut's struggling to create his own work.

Today's song is "Finishing the Hat." It's about how art imposes isolation on its creators. Or something like that, his clothes were on and I didn't pay attention.

Fun fact: Lin-Manuel Miranda once finished a hat. His clothes were on as well.

Today's lesson: Jake Gyllenhaal isn't just a pretty face and a sexy body and acting talent. He can also sing.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Song of the Day: "Truth Hurts"

You tried to break my heart?
Oh, that breaks my heart
That you thought you ever had it
I believe Lizzo and I would be fine friends.

Song: "Truth Hurts"
Artist: Lizzo

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Song of the Day: "Remember Me"

The people who predict the Oscars far too early all predict this song will win all the Oscars (the one Oscar) for Original Song. The song was written by the Oscar winning duo behind "Let It Go" (he is the quickest EGOT winner so far).

I'm rooting for Sufjan Stevens. But then I'm usually rooting for him.

Song: |Remember Me"
Artist: a bunch of people from Coco

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Under Pressure"

Mamma Mia!, the jukebox musical of ABBA songs, makes the jukebox musical seem so fun and effortless that dozens have tried to replicate its success, and fallen far short. Musical Theater Therapy looks at one of those attempts: We Will Rock You, the musical based on the music of Queen.

The plot and characters sound an awful lot like General Inzanity, the Zentipede rock opera/laser show from "The Laser-inth" episode of Bob's Burgers.

I think they tried way too hard to force character names and literal plot points from the songs. They really should have taken the spirit of the music and had fun with it.

Here's the plot description from Wikipedia: The musical tells the story of a group of Bohemians who struggle to restore the free exchange of thought, fashion, and live music in a distant future where everyone dresses, thinks and acts the same. Musical instruments and composers are forbidden, and rock music is all but unknown.

For this song--"Under Pressure"--Galileo and Scaramouche wake up in a hospital, and realize that they are similar pariahs to society.

The show was panned by critics yet became one of the longest running shows in West End history.

Today's song is the iconic rock song "Under Pressure," retrofitted into a rock opera show tune, from We Will Rock You. Today's lesson: sometimes the critics are right.

Disappointing David Brooks Parts 516 & 517

OMG you guys, I'm worried about David Brooks, a little, kinda. Either Brooks has been suitably smacked down after a recent column where he wondered whether the current national conversation about sexual harassment (sexual harassment: it's probably wrong) might also have something to do with Donald Trump; it featured David Brooks writing the sentence "Girl I want your body." Or it was a song title: "Girl I Want Your Body."

Girl, David Brooks wants your body. Spoiler alert: your name is Taylor Swift and you are too young.

Or the computer program that wrote that column is continuing to generate confusing and non-disappointed columns on David Brooks's behalf.

How else can you explain a column that begins with this: "Not long ago, tech was the coolest industry. Everybody wanted to work at Google, Facebook and Apple. But over the past year the mood has shifted." The coolest industry. Jeepers.

The column's title--"How Evil is Tech?"--is more a statement about David Brooks's affection for Friends (he sees himself as a Chandler but really he's a Ross) than pronouncement about the Tech industry (rhetorical or not).

David Brooks loved Friends. It reflects the New York City that David Brooks loves: all white people with lots of free time, living in insanely large apartments in Manhattan, and everyone worked together, never once trying to upend the status quo.

The column maps to every good junior high school's teachings on how to write an effective term paper. There's the clear thesis statement: the tech sector is evil and on the verge of becoming social pariahs. There are exactly 3 supporting points: tech is destroying the youth of America; tech is doing it on purpose; and the biggest tech companies are basically monopolies. And then he concludes with a conclusion: the tech industry needs to stop being so bad.

The lack of disappointment from David Brooks is, well, disappointing.

And if it's a computer program then they need to check for updates.

At least with "America: The Redeemer Nation" we get the usual uniter-not-a-divider David Brooks who disdains tribalism and loves nationalism (which is not tribalism at a macro level because, reasons).

David Brooks continues to be disappointed that some Americans think about aspects of America with cultural identities or with historical perspective that David Brooks does not use as his, David Brooks's, primary point of view. Can't we all just get along? And while we're at it, can't we all just have a nice Thanksgiving? One where we think of Thanksgiving as [white male affluent] Americans, respecting its myth of pilgrims and native Americans coming together for a big meal with lots of carbs and football and sales, and no arguing about petty politics.

It's true, bad things, all vaguely referred to, may have been alluded to, but really we're Americans and Americans love a fresh start. David Brooks is disappointed that we're not starting over: no harm, no foul.

At least not to David Brooks. 

Song of the Day: "Lay It On Me"

Vance Joy's real name is James Gabriel Wanderson Keogh... that's not even close. It's like me adopting the name Aristotle Des Champagne IV... which I would have to spell every time. At least now most people can spell my name: Joan's.

This song is here to remind me of its ubiquity and quality when I do my singles list.

Song: "Lay It On Me"
Artist: Vance Joy

Monday, November 27, 2017

Song of the Day: "Die Young"

I thought for sure I posted this as a song of the day. I vividly recall watching the video in the context of posting something, but I don't see it.

Total deja vu.

This is a good album by the way.

Song: "Die Young"
Artist: Sylvan Esso

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Stick it to the Man"

Musical Theater Therapy reminds you that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a monster. Case in point: when adapting School of Rock the Musical from School of Rock the movie, Webber opted to debut the show on Broadway and not the West End to take advantage of the less stringent child labor laws in the US. Sure, some of you might be thinking that the real monster is the US for having less stringent child labor laws, and to them we say "have you met our niece? she's horrible--she deserves to work a 12 to 15 day, just to keep her the fuck away from our brother and sister-in-law."

School of Rock has been playing on Broadway for nearly 2 years. For several months of 2017 Webber had 4 musicals playing on Broadway: Phantom of the Opera, the longest running show in Broadway history now, nearly 30 years on Broadway; Cats, a prior record holder (and one of the worst musicals of ever, ever) back for a limited run; Sunset Boulevard, back for a limited run with Glenn Close (it's as if she never said goodbye to the role); and School of Rock.

The book was adapted by Julian Fellowes, the Oscar winning screenwriter of Gosford Park, and Emmy winning creator of Downton Abbey... seems like a bit of overkill for a Mike White screenplay. There wasn't even a dowager janitor in the thing (I assume, I haven't actually seen it).

The show lost all 4 of its Tony nominations. Hamilton... what are you gonna do?

Today's song is "Stick it to the Man"--it's about reaching that point in rock and roll when you have to just stick it to the man. Today's lesson: even with the patriarchy, the man might be a woman. Hash tag girl boss or something

Song of the Day: "Over and Over Again"

The Canyon is The Used's 7th album. The album is receiving much acclaim.

 I don't think I've ever heard of them.

There ya go.

Song: "Over and Over Again"
Artist: The Used