Friday, June 24, 2011

Gethsemane


"Gethsemane (I Only Want To Say)"
by Tim Rice
from Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)

I only want to say ...
If there is a way,
Take this cup away from me
For I don't want to taste its poison.
Feel it burn me,
I have changed.
I'm not as sure
As when we started.

Then I was inspired,
Now I'm sad and tired.
Listen, surely I've exceeded
Expectations,
Tried for three years ...
Seems like thirty.
Could you ask as much
From any other man?

But if I die,
See the saga through
And do the things you ask of me.
Let them hate me, hit me, hurt me,
Nail me to their tree.


I'd want to know, my God.
I'd want to see, my God,
Why I should die.
Would I be more noticed
Than I ever was before?
Would the things I've said and done
Matter any more?


I'd have to know, my Lord.
I'd have to see, my Lord.


If I die what will be my reward?
I'd have to know, my Lord
.

Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain.


Show me there's a reason
For your wanting me to die.
You're far too keen on where and how,
But not so hot on why.

All right, I'll die!
Just watch me die!
See how, see how I die!
Oh, just watch me die!

Then I was inspired,
Now I'm sad and tired.
After all I've tried for three years,
Seems like ninety.
Why then am I
Scared to finish what I started?
What you started,
I didn't start it.


God, thy will is hard,
But you hold every card.
I will drink your cup of poison.
Nail me to your cross and break me.
Bleed me, beat me,
Kill me, take me now,
Before I change my mind.


I was ten years old when I saw my first Broadway show and THAT show was the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar.  It was followed quickly by Godspell and Grease, all in my middle school years from 1971 to 1972.  It certainly helped to live in Connecticut, which is only an easy two-hour train ride to the City. 

I frankly don't much care for Godspell and Grease, but Jesus Christ Superstar remains one of my favorite musicals (even if it is a "Sir Andrew" show).  I credit this "rock opera" with igniting my passion for theatre ... and this song, in particular, still thrills me to this day.

I will be leaving early tomorrow morning for a week in Seattle and Alaska!  So, I'll be back with my next post on Friday, July 1 ... Have a great week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Endless Night


"Endless Night"
by Tim Rice
from The Lion King (1997)

Where has the starlight gone?
Dark is the day.
How can I find my way home?

Home is an empty dream,
Lost to the night.
Father, I feel so alone ...

You promised you'd be there,
Whenever I needed you,
Whenever I call your name,
You're not anywhere.

I'm trying to hold on ...
Just waiting to hear your voice.
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare.

When will the dawning break?
Oh, endless night.
Sleepless, I dream of the day ...

When you were by my side,
Guiding my path.
Father, I can't find the way.

You promised you'd be there,
Whenever I needed you,
Whenever I call your name,
You're not anywhere.

I'm trying to hold on ...
Just waiting to hear your voice.
One word, just a word will do
To end this nightmare.

I know that the night must end,
And that the sun will rise.
I know that the clouds must clear,
And that the sun will shine.

I know that the night must end.
I know that the sun will rise,
And I'll hear your voice deep inside.

I know that the night must end.
And that the clouds must clear ...
The sun,
The sun will rise.

OK ... so I know I'll make some of my fellow Disney fans mad at me (and I may even have to give up my Disney Annual Pass and credit card), but I've never felt that Disney animated features belong on the Broadway stage.  A theme park stage, maybe, but not Broadway.  I am a DEVOTED fan of the Disney animated feature but, as wonderful as they are, these films typically have paper-thin plots and not much more than two-dimensional characters (pun perhaps unintended).  Feel free to call me a theatre snob or elitist ... but they don't, in my humble opinion, translate well as "legitimate" theatre.  Of course, I recognize the tourist trade and big box office sales.  And that's not to say there aren't PLENTY of other non-Disney musicals that don't belong there as well (... can anyone say Mamma Mia! ?).

Disney's 1994 film version of The Lion King was a delight.  Loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet (among other sources), the feature also had original songs by Elton John and Tim Rice and a thrilling score by Hans Zimmer (augmented by traditional African music and choral work by South African composer Lebo M.).  It was translated for the stage three years later by director, Julie Taymor, and it has been running ever since (it is currently the seventh longest-running show on Broadway, with Beauty and the Beast right behind and Mary Poppins moving up the list).

I was eager to experience the reported visual feast of puppetry and stage spectacle but I have to admit that, after the first fifteen minutes or so, the novelty wore off and I was a little, well ... bored.  There is one song written especially for the musical, however, that I absolutely love - "Endless Night."  Enjoy ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Easy To Be Hard


"Easy To Be Hard"
by James Rado and Gerome Ragni
from Hair (1967)

How can people be so heartless?
How can people be so cruel?
Easy to be hard ...
Easy to be cold.


How can people have no feelings?
You know I'm hung up on you.
Easy to be proud ...
Easy to say no.


Especially people
Who care about strangers,
Who care about evil
And social injustice.
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?

I need a friend ...

How can people be so heartless?
How can they ignore their friends?
Easy to give in ...
Easy to help out.


Especially people
Who care about strangers,
Who say they care about
Social injustice.
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend ...

How can people have no feelings?
How can they ignore their friends?
Easy to be hard.
Easy to be cold.
Easy to be proud.
Easy to say no.

I was watching the film Taking Woodstock last night, and it got me thinking about the musical Hair (for obvious reasons).  I've seen the stage production twice ... the recent, and extraordinarily disappointing, Broadway revival and a strong local production.  My first introduction to the musical was Three Dog Night's cover of the song "Easy To Be Hard" - I was only six when the musical first played off-Broadway, after all.  It still remains my favorite song in the show. 

Though the 1979 Milos Forman film version (with electrifying choreography by Twyla Tharp) has NOTHING to do with the musical, it succeeds in its own right ... I love the film, though most "musical theatre types" despise it.  Here is the brilliant film performance of the song by stage and film performer, Cheryl Barnes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How I Paid for College


How I Paid for College (2004)
by Michael Ende

The story of how I paid for college begins like life itself - in a pool of water.  Not in the primordial ooze from which prehistoric fish first developed arms and crawled onto the shore but in a heavily chlorinated pool of water in the backyard of Gloria D'Angelo's split-level ranch in Camptown, New Jersey.

Aunt Glo.

She's not my aunt, really, she's my friend Paula's aunt, but everybody calls her Aunt Glo and she calls us kids the LBs, short for Little Bastards.

Aunt Glo yells.  Always yells.  She yells from the basement where she does her son the priest's laundry.  She yells from the upstairs bathroom, where she scrubs the tub to calm her nerves.  And she yells from her perch behind the kitchen sink, where she stirs her marinara sauce and watches us float in the heavily chlorinated pool of water.

Like life itself, the story of how I paid for college begins with a yell ...


Thus begins one of the single funniest books I've ever read.  How I Paid for College is subtitled A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater.  It's a difficult book to describe (as the subtitle probably suggests), but it's HYSTERICAL ... particularly if you're a "theatre person."  Here's the description from the back of the book ...

"It's 1983 in Wallingford, New Jersey, a sleepy bedroom community outside Manhattan.  Seventeen-year-old Edward Zanni, a feckless Ferris Bueller type, is Peter Panning his way through a carefree summer of magic and mischief.  The fun comes to a halt, however, when Edward's father remarries and refuses to pay for Edward to study acting at Juilliard.  So Edward turns to his misfit friends to help him steal the tuition money from his father.  Disguising themselves as nuns and priests, Edward and his friends merrily scheme their way through embezzlement, money laundering, identity theft, forgery, and blackmail.  But along the way, Edward also learns the value of friendship, hard work, and how you're not really a man until you can beat up your father - metaphorically, that is."

It's an adult, EXTREMELY black comic caper with a cast of delightful teen-angsty misfits (these are NOT the "Glee" kids) ... I read it when it first came out and I've been staring at it (and its sequel Attack of the Theater People) on my "favorites bookshelf" for some time now.  I need to give them another go!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Disneyland

 
"Disneyland"
by Howard Ashman
from Smile (1986)

Hot summer night,
I guess the folks were busy fighting.
Joe'd already left home.
Eleven years old on my own
Feeling nothing but lonely.

There's nothing to do.
There's nothing out there but the traffic
Down on state ninety-three,
So I'd sit through the night
By our old black and white TV.

That's where I saw it.
That's when I heard it.
Calling, calling me ...

Disneyland, Magic Kingdom.
Disneyland ...
I close my eyes real tight.
Wishing hard I might, wishing hard I may.

Find my way to
Disneyland, gotta get to
Disneyland
On a western breeze
Magic carpet please, carry me away.

Oh, I know you're gonna say
The trees are paper mache.
It's done with mirrors, the magic there.
Each little bird's full of springs,
You press a button it sings
Recorded music in the air.

They've had the mountain refaced
It's only plywood and paste -
Go on say it!
I'll turn around and tell you I don't care!
I don't ... care.

I will live in
Disneyland.
Make my home in
Disneyland.
Maybe it's all fake,
That's a chance I'll take,
It's perfectly OK.

Someone give me
Disneyland.
Take me there
To Disneyland.
And when I get to Disneyland ...
I'll stay!

I'm heading to Universal Studios in Orlando early this morning, so I thought a theme-park themed song would be appropriate for today's post.  This song comes from the musical flop, Smile.  Never heard of it?  Not surprising ... it only ran for 48 performances, so not many people have.  What is surprising about its lack of success was the writing team - the music by Marvin Hamlisch and the words by Disney animated feature lyricist, Howard Ashman (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and others).  What is also surprising about this score (which chronicled the lives of teenage contestants in a California beauty pageant) are the gems, like the title song and this touching ballad, "Disneyland."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alexander


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day (1972)
by Judith Viorst

There were lima beans for dinner and I hate limas.
There was kissing on TV and I hate kissing.
My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my railroad-train pajamas.
I hate my railrood train pajamas.
When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse night light burned out and I bit my tongue.
The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me.
It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
My mom says some days are like that.
Even in Australia.

Poor Alexander can't win for losing.  Everything is going wrong and it's a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.  His day starts with waking up to find gum in his hair and it just goes downhill from there.  This is ABSOLUTELY one of my favorite children's books - from acclaimed children's author, Judith Viorst.  If you've never read it, do yourself a favor and pick it up ... although you'll probably want to move to Australia.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Gentle Movement

"Vegan Diet: Why Does it Make People So Angry?" (2011)
by Christina Pirello

After reading the book Skinny Bitch last summer during my week in Ireland, I became a devoted vegetarian ... eschewing all meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish), but still eating dairy products and eggs.  I have been a steadfast vegetarian now for almost twelve months.  Over the past couple of weeks, while reading Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals, I decided that I need to go "all the way" ... to veganism.  NO animal products whatsoever, including dairy and eggs.  This is PARTICULARLY difficult for me, since I could simply LIVE on cheese.

It's a VERY difficult lifestyle to follow ... especially when eating out.  I have "cheated" here and there, eating some dairy and even some fish tonight at dinner.  I have frequently been asked to explain why I've made the decision to become vegetarian and now vegan, and it's hard to give a simple, concise answer to that question.  Fortunately, my friend Susan sent me a link to this article in the Huffington Post which states the reasons for the choice VERY succinctly and also explores why some people seem so vehemently opposed, and even angry, with people who have made this personal decision.

I posted this article myself on Facebook, and Ms. Pirello was right ... even I got some fairly "angry responses."  Go figure ... is it THAT threatening?