« One From Column A...
December 8, 1997 - #12
The Paul Simon musical The Capeman has started previews. I've heard from one lucky viewer that it was the single worst show he'd ever seen. Another viewer thought it was interesting. Another thought it was way too long. However, as we've all learned, no matter what people think now, shows can do complete turnarounds in previews (see Titanic). So, it's way too early to predict yay or nay.
The cast album of Side Show comes out on Tuesday. My thoughts on the show itself will be in next weeks column, along with my ruminations on Triumph of Love. I'm sure I'll have some other ruminations but I haven't a clue as to what they will be. I can't possibly be expected to know what all my ruminations are going to be. But I do promise to have at least two ruminations, with the possibility of a lot more, and I for one say never look a gift horse in the mouth. Now, let's stop for a moment and ponder. Say you were to recieve a horse as a gift. Why is it inappropriate to look in that horse's mouth? Maybe you'd like to see if the horse has tonsils, or good teeth. Who are we to say never look a gift horse in the mouth? And yet we say it. Along with all the other stupid horse sayings.
The battle of the bulging egos runs rampant (as do so many things). But before I continuum, let me ask one question: How do you run rampant? Can you also talk rampant? Or eat rampant? Those "toenails" can be hard to understand sometimes. In any case, my close personal friend Mr. Stephen Sondheim sent me the following e-mail.
Dearest Real A:
Hope this finds you well after your recent trip to New York that you haven't taken yet. I do hope we can see each other when you're here, but since you've already been here, did we?
Mr. Webber (Sir, Lord, forget it) is certainly taking this war to extremes. I mean, has he no life? He has time to sit in Sydmonton (as stupid a name for an estate as I've ever heard) and write an entire oratorio? This is a man without purpose. Like that's a surprise. Really Useful my ass. I will not dignify him with any more lyrics. I have better things to do. I got an Ovation Award recently you know. Mr. Webber, write your oratorio. Even though I haven't heard the music for it I'm already humming it. Hopefully, you can get Betty Buckley to be in it, and then she can lay off my songs.
To be honest I have had it with your song and dance, and for all I care you can tell me on a sunday that you've finished your oratorio. You are a phantom to me, and I'm tired of fighting like cats (and dogs). Why don't you get in your amazing technicolor dreamcoat, get on a plane, go to California, and drive west on Sunset Blvd. until you are in the ocean. We could then have a requiem for you. You would be remembered as a superstar (not) and I would be so happy I would whistle down the wind.
Warm warm warm regards,
Extremely Dear Real A:
Forthwith I send you my latest installment of Andrew Lloyd Webber's How I Won The War, with lyrics by Leslie (What Kind Of Fool Am I?) Bricusse. A genius, if I haven't said it before. The music that accompanies this, is so beautiful and haunting I rewarded myself with a sweet after I wrote it.
(Stephen Sondheim sits alone in his New York home, looking forlorn and disheveled in his battle fatigues. He sings:)
I sit in this lonely room,
Webber fights so well,
Is this the end of Stephen,
I will come to Britain,
Soon, I promise!
Did I not tell you that Leslie Bricusse was brilliant? This collaboration has been satisfyingly satisfying. Yes! A double positive! Until next week, Real A, after your return from New York where you're about to go. Journey well.
All best to you,
Yes, we're back with another what if. This time, what if Lionel Bart had written Company? And it goes something like this (to the tune of Consider Yourself, from Oliver):
Consider yourself alone,
So, continuing the conundrum of the time/space continuum, I'm actually answering these letters after I actually have returned from New York, as I could hardly have answered them before they were written.
Laura wants to know if I can elaborate on why the second act of SITPWG is "problematic" (which I said to someone in The Hot Tub chat room, if you recall, which you probably don't). Well, I was kind of joking, although personally I don't like the second act nearly as much as the first. The first act is so of a piece, and everything is so smooth and works so well, and then the second act just never involves me like the first act does. That, of course, is just one A's opinion.
Kent wants to know if the proposed HBO movie of Assassins, directed by Barry Levinson, will really happen. Well, you know, so many movie versions of Sondheim shows have been announced (dating all the way back to Company) and then dropped or put in development hell, that until the cameras actually roll, I would take all such announcements with a grain of salt.
Thomas wrote to say that for a time he thought The Real A might be Rupert Holmes. A good guess (no A in Holmes). But, dear Watson, alas it is not true. Although, Mr. Rupert Holmes is a personal friend of The Real A, and a talented and wonderful person. I would be proud to be Rupert Holmes. Of course, that is presuming that I am male, and, as we have learned over and over, we must never presume anything.
Thomas also feels that I am without a "significant other" as I didn't mention taking anyone to the Ovation Awards. Well, I did take someone to the Ovation Awards (you know who you are) but they were not my significant other, if I should have a significant other, which I significantly may or may not.
Andrea (a personal friend of Mr. Mark Bakalor) wants to know what Sondheim is up to. Stephen is currently working on his new musical Wise Guys, which may or may not be ready for production next summer. It has been a very slow journey.
Keep those cards and letters coming...
Many, many incorrect guesses this week. Ranging from A Chorus Line, to Showboat to Sweet Charity. The most incorrect guesses went to Company, as I knew they would. This is all subjective of course, but since I'm asking the questions I get to be right. Three people (Kent, Andrew and Ted) guessed correctly: The show that changed the way Broadway musicals "sounded" was Promises, Promises by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Neil Simon. With orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. This show was the first to have the orchestra miked as if they were in a studio (the Bacharach influence) and it was the first time a studio mixing board was used in the theater. It paved the way for Company (which also used "pit singers" like Promises did). Tunick has said that Bacharach taught him how to do a rhythm chart, and that influence is felt mightily in the way Company sounds. And, of course, the mixing board and miked orchestra is now standard operating procedure for all Broadway musicals.
This week's trivia question is:
We know that both William and James Goldman have written with Sondheim. But before they did, both the Goldmans collaborated with another composer on another musical. Name the musical, the lyricist, the composer, and the director. No fair looking in books, either. You either know or you don't.
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...
- Mark Bakalor
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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