Over the past few months, I have found myself sinking back into the comfortability of the kind of music I listened to during high school. For most, that might be bands like Warrant & Poison, or R&B groups like Bell Biv Devoe & Boyz II Men...for me, it was "Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon," "Les Miz," and "Jekyll & Hyde." Yes, boys and girls, this blogger was a complete Broadway freak-nerd-dork.
A couple things happened that brought me back to the music of the Great White Way:
1. Last year, I went to see "Miss Saigon" at our local college auditorium. Now, I know that we don't get the best national tours...sometimes we get "B" tours, and sometimes we get "C" tours. I think this one was a "C." In fact, I would probably have given it an F. But that is beside the point. What I did enjoy was the music. I realized I had missed the melodies of those shows. I missed the chills I got whenever I heard "Bui Doi." I missed the sizzle of "The Heat is On in Saigon." So, I busted out my tape - and not even a real tape, but the tape my friend dubbed for me in high school when we sang "I Still Believe" for our show choir dinner theater show - and I sang, and sang, and sang, at the top of my lungs....and it felt good.
2. Last year, my friend Chuck (also a huge B'way buff) told me, "Kelly, you have to hear this new show, you would love it!" The show was "Hairspray." He made the me the CD....and waited for my response. I didn't listen to it. Why? I don't really know. I knew I would love it. For some reason, the thought of listening to new B'way was painful for me. I don't know how to explain it. For years, my life revolved around performing, voice lessons, and theater. Then I stopped. And that was the hardest thing I ever did to myself. Harder even than my first year in law school. So, Chuck kept bugging me and bugging me, and those of you that know Chuck know that he is quite good at pestering: have you listened to it yet? have you? have you? I got tired of Chuck's pestering and put it in my car stereo.......and I absolutely loved it. It was the most entertaining thing I had listened to in years. It was light and funny and powerful all at the same time! I completely wore out my CD. A few months afterwards, my mom, my aunt and I went to see "Hairspray" at the Fox Theater in St. Louis.....and it was just as good as I imagined it would be.
3. This summer, PBS ran a 6 hour series called "B'Way: The American Musical." The show was hosted by Julie Andrews and did an amazing job of tracing the history of musical theater from its roots in vaudeville, operetta, and minstrel shows, to the dawn of what would become the modern American musical, Show Boat, and on through many changes that seemed to reflect those in American culture itself. The show focused on the works of Florenz Ziegfeld, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Bob Fosse, and David Merrick, as well as shows like Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, Company, Cats, and Wicked. The shows were analyzed through performance clips and interviews with songwriters, stars, directors, producers, critics, and historians. It was so great to see actors like Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Angela Landsbury, and the late Jerry Orbach in their element. Plus, they discussed shows that weren't as widely known to the masses as the Andrew Lloyd Webber shows of the 80s - shows like "La Cage Aux Folles," "Follies," and "Sunday in the Park with George." I enjoyed the show so much that when they showed it again last weekend - I watched all six hours in a row....and made a list of CDs I need to purchase!
4. WICKED! I kept hearing about this new show on Broadway called "Wicked." I saw a clip of the show as part of the above-mentioned documentary. I saw a woman with green skin and powerful pipes sing "Defying Gravity" at last year's Tony's, as well as in the 2003 Macy's Parade. I had to find out what was up with this new show. I learned everything I could. I bought the CD, read the book, written by Gregory Maguire, on which the show was based, and read everything on the Internet that I could. I was hooked. Not only is it a fascinating topic - the concept of what makes someone evil - but the woman who played the Wicked Witch of the West, Idina Menzel, has just THE MOST amazing voice I have heard in a long time. She also played in the original B'way production of "Rent" with her husband Taye Diggs. What is great is, I even have my husband hooked - and some of his students, b/c he played it for them! A couple of them went out and bought the CD as well. I have started my own little B'way revolution!!!!
So - that's it. To make a short story long, that is why I am currently listening to "Wicked" at work, "Sunset Boulevard" at home, and "Pippin" and "Lion King" at school. I love the music of B'way, and miss it at the same time......maybe once I graduate, I can find a local theater company with which I can perform, and a voice teacher to help me get my voice back in shape. But until then, my friends and husband will have to deal with my terrible habit of belting out showtunes in the car and bugging them about a song that they HAVE to hear!