Monday, 10 September 2012

Introducing: music theatre Mondays!

9323 / 50000 words. 19% done!

 Never let it be said that I allow computer problems to prevent me from writing.

Pursuant to my post on Tragic Gays, I have a little linkspam for you! Here's a list of four new queer YA books; here's Autostraddle's list of the 20 best novels for queer girls (I did raise my eyebrow at "Perks of Being a Wallflower's" inclusion, given that it's actually queer-free, but I suppose tastes vary) and here's a blog post by Sarah Diemer (author of The Dark Wife, which I highly recommend) on the so-called "realism" of queer YA romances with sad endings.

I was thinking last night that I need set topics to blog about; if I keep going as I am now, I'll run out of steam by the end of the month. And while I'm sure you're all fascinated by my endless computer woes, I should shake things up a bit. So: MUSIC THEATRE MONDAYS!

You know what I love? Music. You know what else I love? The theatre. (I love Slings&Arrows, but I'm always a bit pained when they take swipes at musical theatre for being stupid or insipid or whatever. Yeah, okay, so there's more of a focus on song and dance than language; that doesn't mean that the art form hasn't made significant contributions to the popular consciousness.) Some of my friends and family think of me as a theatre snob, but that's not really true- at least, I don't think it is- I don't object to loving some seriously silly or flawed stuff. I'm an avowed fan of The Producers, after all. When I object to a piece of theatre (or a book, or a movie, or a TV show) it's not because I think it's stupid; it's because I think it's harmful. Like, when I object to Spring Awakening, it's not because I don't like "The Bitch of Living" (it's a pretty kickin' song) or the anachronisms in costume (I think it's a cool way of relating the characters to modern teenagers); it's because I think that it says things about sex and teeenaged-hood that are harmful (it's okay to sleep with someone who has no understanding of what she's doing!)

ANYWAY. That was a total tangent. What I was trying to say was, I like musical theatre. So what I want to do with these music-theatre Mondays is spotlight musicals that I personally really love and talk a bit about why I love them and what I think they're trying to say.

First up: Bonnie and Clyde!

This show opened and closed pretty quickly, which I understand, but think is a shame. It's not what most people think when they hear "Bonnie and Clyde;" they think sexy, they think danger, they think half-naked Faye Dunaway.

Not that I'm complaining, per se . . .

But the actual Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow- who I didn't know too much about until I started doing background reading on this show- weren't especially thrilling or sexy. What they were, above most other things, was tragic. They both had pretty crapsack lives, before and after going on the road, and this is what this musical really touches on. It's the only adaptation of the story that (for instance) that acknowledges that Clyde Barrow spent a chunk of his early life living under a bridge, or that he was raped in prison, or that "nobody ever gets out of West Dallas." It doesn't surprise me at all that this show was written when it was; the original demo was, I think, recorded in 2008, right about the time that the stock market crashed. When does the show take place? 1932. Three years after Black Tuesday. Songs like "Made In America" (my personal favourite, not least which because it's a lot of fun to headbang angrily to) and "What Was Good Enough For You" hammer home the point- life in the Great Depression SUCKED. It sucked even harder if you were poor to begin with. So what do you do if you're poor, starving, and have been repeatedly abused by the justice system? Well, you go on a crime spree! (Note: do not actually do this.)

Unfortunately, the reason I love this show so much is the exact reason (I think) it closed so fast. For one thing, Broadway audiences are generally pretty well-off; you have to be, to afford tickets. So a show about the angry, disenfranchised poor turning on those more well-off than them is not an easy sell for that kind of audience. But more than that- and this goes back to what I said about what people expect from "Bonnie and Clyde-" this musical is just too raw. It's too real. The writers never shy away from the kinds of people they're writing about- and as sympathetic as I find them, they really did do awful things- and when you add in the fact that people didn't go in expecting realistic examples of Depression-era criminals, it's not really a wonder that ticket sales weren't great. So it closed. And I am terribly sad that I never got to see it, though I do live in hope that it'll be put on at a local community theatre. And there is always the soundtrack to listen to. We may be in debt . . .

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