Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Sondheim’

Jukebox

A jukebox musical, whatever its dramatic blueprint, is first and foremost a delivery vehicle for nostalgia. This is a popular thing and to a great extent a good one. It is no easy trick, though. Almost every song tells some sort of story. The stories in most songs, even the simplest ones, imply surprisingly extensive contexts, and taken together, these contexts tangle rapidly. There exist only a few possible fundamental ways to minimize those tangles.

Star-Crossed Revivals

That is the ultimate temptation inherent in turning classic plays into vehicles for screen stars. Those stars pull in audiences filled with the uninitiated, with people who fundamentally do not know how to watch a play, and who are too easily satisfied. Commercial success can be achieved with something half-baked. And half-baked seems to be more the norm than the exception with the successes that do result. Classic plays tend to require directorial shaping; stars tend to tempt directors to slack off. It’s not a good thing.

Knocking the Songs Out of the Park: Chess

A first-rate production of a second-rate show. The astonishing cast delivers song after song that sails out of the park.

Revival Meetings: ANYTHING GOES, HAIR, and FOLLIES

Revivals pose a unique set of challenges to those who stage them, and a unique set of questions to be considered by a contemporary audience. But great shows get invited back.

The Greatest Song(s)

In less than three minutes, Bacharach takes you on what seems like a compressed tour of the whole territory of heartbreak, courtesy of his amazing mastery of the pop orchestra. He composes, he orchestrates, he conducts, and he creates a sound that is uniquely his, one I would come to know as the quintessential sound of 60s pop.

Impossible Elegance

So what I was responding to when I listened to that record, over and over again, was just what the music was meant to be about: the personalities of show business folk, and the tendency of their way of life to isolate the lonely and to amplify the personality disorders of the narcissistic – but also about the miraculous, partly healing but also partly wounding powers of showbiz razzamatazz.