Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oh, Good Lord!

So I was watching the Tonys tonight. Of COURSE I was watching the Tonys tonight. I'm an actress, for God's sake. Anyway, somebody I know was up for an award and won congrats, you old Garlic, you! And lovely to see Melanie...give her my love.

But oh, dear God. I loved the stuff from Fela, which I'm dying to see, because I love Afro-Beat type music and African dancing. As for the rest...when on earth did Broadway become the dumping ground for every old (and new) rock and roll song ever? I am certainly not going to say that the guy playing Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet was bad, because he was friggin' brilliant and thoroughly deserved the Tony he got. I had just said to Vicky, who was watching it with me, "Yeah, but Jerry Lee Lewis used to lie down on top of the piano and play the piano backwards," when this gent did exactly that. I was delighted!

I couldn't understand a word anybody was singing in the bits from Memphis, and it looked like a somewhat rougher (earlier, I think, 50's rather than 60's) version of Hairspray anyway...and from the description of the show, was exactly that...let's integrate Memphis music was the theme, I believe.

The only things where I could bask happily were the numbers from the revival of La Cage Aux Folles, which is a show I love, and when Matthew Morrison and Lea Michelle (both with heavy Broadway chops) from Glee performed actual, real, musical comedy songs...Matthew did All I Need Is The Girl from Gypsy and Lea reprised her Don't Rain On My Parade from the series. That was WONDERFUL. You know, actual Broadway music. Oh, and I loved the bits from Twyla Tharp's Sinatra musical, Come Fly With Me...I'm a total sucker for brilliant ensemble dancing. Also Sinatra.

Now, please. I'm not saying that Broadway shouldn't accommodate itself to the new demographic of theatre-goers...I'm just saying that I don't think it's necessary to go QUITE this far. I mean, I do know there's a band called Green Day. But why on earth must their music have a Broadway show? Actually, I wasn't all that thrilled about Tommy, the Who's rock opera, going up on Broadway, even though I like a lot of the music from it. I mean, you've never seen anybody try to make a Broadway show out of the Beatles, have you? And they wrote better music than anybody (before you begin to shout at me in comments, it's my blog and I'm allowed to have an there).

Maybe what's bothering me is that I have enormous difficulty understanding a word these people are saying. I am a trained singer, and a trained choir and chorus singer, and the way I was trained told me that the audience deserves to hear every single syllable in a song. And we didn't have mikes. And rock singers aren't trained for perfect diction. So between the mike distortion (I don't care how technologically good the mikes are, a miked voice is NOT the same as an unmiked one), and the fact that the diction is monumentally sloppy, you get auditory soup. When Sarah dragged me off to see Rent (which I loved...I'm not against modern music, for heaven's sake), I was appalled. I'd been listening to the album, and when I got to the theatre...auditory soup again. Mangled syllables. Mush mouth. And that really IS a sin with a show as beautifully written as Rent.

Anyway, I was disturbed that there was not a single new show nominated for a Tony that had anything that I would consider an actual Broadway score. I know, I know, I'm old fashioned and hopelessly behind the times, and if Broadway going to make any money it has to draw a younger audience...etc., etc., and so forth.

But couldn't just ONE of these shows have a song that I could A. understand the words to, and B. hum?

Love, W.

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