Favorite Musical?

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Unread postby Liu Yuante » Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:30 am

In high school, backwoods small town that it was, they confused long hair on a guy with being homosexual, when in fact every homosexual man I've ever met had short hair. But anyway, the fact that my natural shyness and aversion to loud/noisy/chirpy teenage girls led to no dating and a general consensus amongst all but my best friends that I was gay. It didn't help matters that I love show tunes, another stereotypically 'gay' passion.

My favorite is of course Les Miserables, seeing as how that's also my favorite book ever as well, although the way Valjean is painted as a saint praying for Marius' life is at great odds with the book. In the book the struggle within Valjean between his desire to embrace man's law and his recognition of God's mercy, and the contradictory element where God's mercy is precisely where his salvation lies whereas human impulses would have doomed him to eternal servitude in prison, finds no outlet in the musical save at the very begininngs when he reflects on having stolen the silver of Monsignor the Bishop of Digne.

In the book he even looks at the nearly-dead Marius in the sewers with "hatred in his eyes" - he does what he does not because he likes it or wants to, but because it is right. And it is this struggle and its recognition that forms the crux of the moral emphasis of the book and the contrast between Valjean - who always gives way, at last, to God's mercy, and Inspector Javert, who is unable to recognize a power above man's legal codes and who consequently commits suicides.

Despite the incredible length of the musical form of the story these major themes do not get the attention they deserve, which is unfortunate as some people still claim that the novel is just "a story" with no deeper meanings or subexts. Despite this, Les Miserables is still my favorite musical, and I have in fact seen it performed on Broadway. I still remember how easy a mark I was for the vendors on the way into the theatre, selling me first a $20 smallish pamphlet/booklet, and then later on selling me the $40 big book documenting the musical. My love for all things Les Mis is so great that I even have a t-shirt, a video of an 'all-star' cast performing the whole thing (including the definitive Javert, the Australian Phillip Quast), and more than 4 original cast recordings, including the double-disc original French version that caught the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company's eye and led to the version we know today.

I am also a fan of the Phantom of the Opera, though again it pales compared to the book, and has a tendency towards some maudlin aspects. Still, very good stuff and Michael Whatshisname and Sarah Brightman are the definitive players for the roles of Erik and Christine.

Francophile that I am I'm not very fond of other musicals, like Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Miss Saigon etc.

I've always dreamed of being in a production of Les Miserables, though - I don't quite have the voice for Jean Valjean, but I can do Javert and Marius quite well.

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Unread postby KingofWei&Wu » Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:50 am

Tigger of Kai wrote:
KingofWei&Wu wrote:I love musicals. I saw Phantom of the Opera, The Producers, and Beauty and the Beast on Broadway just last spring. All were amazing. I also saw A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Cleveland Playhouse with Drama class, which we then went on to perform, in which I played Senex. (Anyone familiar with the show might have recognized my location/signature from that time.) I have a lot of favorites, including the ones I've seen, and I also like Cabaret, Moulin Rouge (which should be put on stage), Nightmare Before Christmas (which also should), Chicago, The Threepenny Opera, Rocky Horror Show, Sweeney Todd, Tanz der Vampire, and several others. However, I absolutely despise Rent and The Sound of Music, mostly for poor music (IMO) and other reasons.

I was delighted when one of worst stage musicals I've seen, Rent was parodied in what has become one of my favorite musical films, Team America: World Police. That film even drew praise from Stephen Sondheim. I bet you had fun performing in one of his shows!


:lol: I haven't seen that, but I think I'll have to now, and I'm glad someone else thinks it's as bad as I do. And yes, that whole experience was one of the best I've had.
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Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Mon Jul 09, 2007 3:06 am

Liu Yuante wrote:the fact that my natural shyness and aversion to loud/noisy/chirpy teenage girls led to no dating and a general consensus amongst all but my best friends that I was gay. It didn't help matters that I love show tunes, another stereotypically 'gay' passion.

Think how I feel. Starting this chat totally disqualifies me from making (further) crude remarks in the 'Guys who wear makeup' thread.

I could definitely picture you as the (frightfully "butch") Inspector Javert.

Liu Yuante wrote:I'm not very fond of other musicals, like Joseph and the amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

I saw it with Donny Osmond as Joseph — lameness of Biblical proportions!
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Unread postby tuffy135 » Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:55 am

I'm a big fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, but my new favorite is Phantom of the Paradise. Paul Williams is the coolest!
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed Jul 11, 2007 5:48 am

Not a big fan of musicals, but I love Les Mis. Saw it at Broadway, and it made me cry (there are very, very, few movies/shows/plays that could make me cry, and this is one of them). I haven't finished reading the book, but I do think some of the shifts in characterization are justified. The second half of the musical focuses mostly on the revolutionaries, and Valjean's character just doesn't have enough air time to develop. So they decided to turn Valjean into a saint in the 8 invisible years between his breaking parole and us seeing him again. It does take away somewhat from his character, but it'd make for a really confusing musical if he 'looks at the nearly-dead Marius in the sewers with "hatred in his eyes" ', because there isn't enough space to flesh out that idea by the time we reach that section of the musical. It does make things somewhat disjoint, but it's still a good musical.

And Philip Quast is amazing. In the Javert/Valjean confrontation song, Javert's line "you'll wear a different chain" ends with this super low note on the "chain", and the way Quast hits that note always sends an electric shock through me. Brrr!
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Unread postby FuguNabe » Wed Jul 11, 2007 5:50 am

It's been awhile but I forgot to mention Miss Saigon before. Very cool and highly recommended for anyone to go and see.
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Unread postby Liu Yuante » Thu Jul 12, 2007 12:49 am

Lady Wu wrote:Not a big fan of musicals, but I love Les Mis. Saw it at Broadway, and it made me cry (there are very, very, few movies/shows/plays that could make me cry, and this is one of them). I haven't finished reading the book, but I do think some of the shifts in characterization are justified. The second half of the musical focuses mostly on the revolutionaries, and Valjean's character just doesn't have enough air time to develop. So they decided to turn Valjean into a saint in the 8 invisible years between his breaking parole and us seeing him again. It does take away somewhat from his character, but it'd make for a really confusing musical if he 'looks at the nearly-dead Marius in the sewers with "hatred in his eyes" ', because there isn't enough space to flesh out that idea by the time we reach that section of the musical. It does make things somewhat disjoint, but it's still a good musical.

And Philip Quast is amazing. In the Javert/Valjean confrontation song, Javert's line "you'll wear a different chain" ends with this super low note on the "chain", and the way Quast hits that note always sends an electric shock through me. Brrr!


What I was really trying to say is, Les Miserables the book is more than just a "good story" and that the musical removes some of that contrast (although the trio of Bring Him Home, Javert's Soliloquy and Dog Eat Dog, showing the three principal attitudes towards God and mercy present in the work, does restore it somewhat).

I wasn't knocking the musical. I love it, I have, like I said, multiple cast recordings including the original French, and whatnot. I just think the book is still better and anyone who sees the musical should read the book. And that means the unabridged version. and no skimming the history of the Paris Sewers or the Battle of Waterloo, either, that's cheating.

The one thing that I really like about Phillip Quast as Javert is that, as disturbing and chilling as he is, he never comes off as evil. Which is good, because Javert is not a villain. That is the one fundamental thing that irks me more than anything is when people think of Javert as a "bad guy". If anything, musical or book, Thenardier is the villain. Hugo describes Javert as "all the evil that there is in good". In other words he is, in Hugo's worldview, the good man who lacks Christ's mercy and has replaced it with lawfulness to the extreme. Quast's performance of Stars and also of Javert's Soliloquy I think really do bring out this aspect of the character.

I have to stop. I could talk Les Miserables all day.

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Unread postby MarvelousLingTong!!!!!! » Thu Jul 12, 2007 1:33 am

I'm not really a big fan of musicals, but The Producers (the original of course) is good. South Park the movie is probably one of the greatest musicals of all time. I only saw parts saw Jesus Christ Super Star, but I have a question about it. Did tanks chase Judas through the desert? I remember something like that happening.
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Unread postby tuffy135 » Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:19 pm

I forgot the older musicals, like Holiday Inn and White Christmas.
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Unread postby Shu Ryorin » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:01 pm

Musicals are part of my life, especially Fiddler on the Roof and Phantom of the Opera. when you've watched the motion picture or heard the sound track all your life, it just becomes part of you. Well, for me anyway. My brother and I also have this strange habit of tying nearly everything to Fiddler and coming up with parodies for nearly every situation. Hooray for unusual family customs!(like showing Fiddler on the Roof to small children who-knows-how-many-times)
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