[info]aldiara wrote
on July 28th, 2012 at 07:28 pm

Musicals, Musicals, Musicals

Certain people who I shall not name have been bombarding me with a staccato of Elisabeth clips lately, and I'm currently in the process of subtitling another one of my all-time favourite German musicals, so it's no surprise that the world of musicals has been on my mind in general.

So in my ongoing quest to reclaim meme-ing from tumblr, have a 30 Days of Musicals meme:

1. The most underrated musical.
I have no idea why The Woman in White is not more popular and/or widely known. It has eerie gothic mysteries! It has a wonderful sisters relationship! It has a heartbreaking three-way romance involving said sisters who are both ready to break their own hearts because they care more about each other's happiness than any guy! It has (or had) SIMON CALLOW as a wine-loving fabulous con man! (hm, I can't find clips of the performance that had him in it. That might explain a lot.)

Oh well. Have a montage instead. This show was fantastic and deserves more love.

2. A musical that makes you happy.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It's terribly silly and cracky and over the top but that's what makes it so awesome.

(hahahah YES IT'S JASON DONOVAN and I'm pretty sure this was the 80s. CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK.)

3. A musical that makes you sad.
The ones I love best do both (happy AND sad, I mean). That said, I routinely bawl my eyes out over RENT and Les Miserables.

4. Favourite song from a musical.
One? ONE SONG? From ONE musical? Hahahaha, you have got to be kidding, meme. Let's do this my way instead, shall we:

One Song Glory from RENT
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miserables
Because I Knew You from Wicked
Zwei Boote in der Nacht from Elisabeth
Die unstillbare Gier from Tanz der Vampire (Steve Barton FTW!)
Your Song from Moulin Rouge
All for Laura from The Woman in White
High Flying, Adored from Evita
Please from Miss Saigon
A Fine, Fine Line from Avenue Q
Walk Through the Fire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (oh yes, it totally counts)
As If We never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard
The Point of No Return from Phantom of the Opera
Any Dream Will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat (lolol, all the cheese)
Easy To Be Hard from HAIR
Could We Start Again Please from Jesus Christ Superstar

...and there are so many more but I'm already afraid of maxing out the character limit on this post with embed codes, so I'll leave it there.

Except, also As Long As You're Mine from Wicked, here in the Dutch version (Dit Ene Moment) with Ferry Doedens because HELLO, FERRY DOEDENS:

5. First musical obsession.
I adored Elisabeth when I first saw it at 17 but was equally obsessed with the Viennese production of Beauty and the Beast at the time, probably because it was so dastardly hard to get tickets for it, lol. Then the summer after that my best friend and I went Interrailing through the UK and saw Les Miserables and Miss Saigon in London. I became totally obsessed with both and worshipped at the altar of Boublil and Schönberg for years.

6. Your favourite production of a musical.
Can I go with single favourite performance instead? Because that one time when I saw the closing performance of Elisabeth with [info]alsha, [info]allaland and [info]sarajael in Vienna was pretty fucking magical. It was Máté Kamarás and Maya Hakvoort plus an incredibly perfect ensemble and that rare extra-special performance you get when you know a group of people is saying goodbye to something they poured their heats into for years. I'd seen it a handful of times before (it was the thing to do whenever I had visitors, plus cheap students tickets, hooray!) but that last time was the most unforgettable of all.

7. A musical from your favourite composer
I don't have a favourite composer, really. Michael Kunze has developed some wonderful shows, as have Boublil/Schönberg and even Lloyd Webber (although he really should've taken a few creative breaks in between instead of churning out Everything Ever that entered his mind). It's all good.

8. Your favourite musical romance
It's a toss-up between Elisabeth/Tod from Elisabeth, Aida/Radames/Amneris from Aida, and Elphaba/Fiyero/Glinda from Wicked. Elisabeth and Der Tod do this incredible life-long dance of pursuit and resistance, and the production does such a great job of really making you feel that it does carry on for decades and goes through all these changes and phases and feelings before the heartstring-tugging conclusion...

...y'know, I was going to link the Heartstring-Tugging Conclusion but as usual I can't pick a favourite performance, so have both:

The Pia Douwes/Uwe Kröger version (oh god, the way her expression changes when she realises what's happened! And oh god, his face when he kisses her hand!)
The Maya Hakvoort/Máté Kamarás version (oh god, the years you can feel dropping off her, and oh god how heartbreakingly young he looks when she finally holds him and he makes that stunned face!)

Yeah, so there's that.

Aida, on the other hand, has my favourite triangle plot in a musical ever. For one thing, I'm a total sucker for romances between strong women who have primary agendas and were not looking for love at all, and guys who seem like shallow douches at first sight but then turn out to have the potential for much, much more than that. Aida is such a great story of how sometimes love doesn't conquer everything and it's just not enough. And how nobody in this triangle wins no matter how strong their feelings are because they have conflicting loyalties and to betray them would mean to betray the person you are and love can't fix or undo that. That gets to me so much. And my heart breaks so hard for Amneris when she finds out what's going on. Gaaaah.

And then there's Elphaba and Fiyero in Wicked, who actually have a similar vibe as Aida and Radames, come to think of it. And again with the achey triangle, where Glinda's loss cuts almost as much as Fiyero and Elphaba's momentary happiness. Why do none of these story ever embrace threesomes??? Seriously, it would fix everything.

(clip is a bit shaky, but I could not resist Idina Menzel!)

9. A musical that you once loved but now you hate.
There's no such animal, although there certainly are musicals that no longer capture me as they used to. As mentioned above, I used to adore Miss Saigon but unfortunately my enjoyment of it has been affected somewhat as my opinion of the US dropped and dropped and then dropped some more - and since a large part of the show's plot features the US as the magical land of freedom that everyone wants to escape to (even if a lot of it is ironic), that's suffered a bit. However, when I saw it again in Adelaide a few years ago (after about 10 years since I'd first seen it) I was pleasantly surprised at how much I did still enjoy it and current politics didn't matter. So yeah, definitely no hate, just some inevitable change. (And Bui Doi ist still bloody amazing.)

10. Current musical obsession.
I don't have a current new obsession, although I often listen to old favourites. But! I'm going to see CHESS at a local(ish) production in a month and I'm pretty stoked about that! I don't suppose we could fly Pia and Uwe in to do Nobody's Side just for me?

11. A musical that you hate.
"Hate" is too strong a term but I was hugely underwhelmed by the musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. It had a few very pretty sets but that's about the only positive thing I have to say about it. The music was bland and non-memorable and the story adaptation utterly lame - for the most part it completely failed at doing its own thing and just tried to reenact scenes from the movies (badly), and when it DID do its own thing, it was incomprehensible and awful (like when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli randomly decide that yes, they can totally abandon Merry and Pippin when they're abducted by Orcs). Bad, bad stuff.

Also, Pippin (no relation to the hobbit) is just made of suck.

12. A musical that is your guilty pleasure.
Avenue Q, for two reasons:

13. Favourite Female Musical Performer.
LOL, oh meme. How long do you have? In no particular order:

1. Pia Douwes, here performing Wenn ich tanzen will from Elisabeth with Uwe Kröger:

Look at how sassy and vibrant and lovely she is! Look how she's got his timeless, icy heart wrapped round her little finger. AND HER VOICE. And guh, their chemistry still has me holding my breath.

2. Maya Hakvoort, here performing Nichts, nichts, gar nichts from Elisabeth:

I love what Maya made of the role and how compellingly she portrays especially the darker sides of Elisabeth's personality - disillusionment, despair, bitterness. She's amazing.

3. Idina Menzel in pretty much anything she sets her voice to, but here, have her doing Defying Gravity from Wicked because if that doesn't lift your heart, your heart is legitimately made of cement:

Clip is here - embedding is disabled unfortunately but this was the best version I could find. (Oh god, all the girlslash. *SHIPS* It also reminds me that This Happened.)

Also here, have her in RENT as well, because MROW:

4. Lea Salonga in Miss Saigon (god, her voice, where does she even hide it? She is about four feet tall!):

14. Favorite Male Musical Performer.
Again, there is no way I can limit this to one. There's Uwe Kröger who is pretty much the epitome of a musical star - he's done all the great German productions and excelled in every one, and his ageless voice still gives me shivers of awe. There's Bruno Grassini, whose voice I just adore and whom I had the excellent fortune of meeting and talking to a few times and he's incredibly lovely. There's Máté Kamarás, who's a fantastically raw and emotionally intense performer. And then there's Steve Barton, probably my favourite American performer (who happened to also be flawless and incredibly accent-free in German - a rare feat for a non-native speaker!).

15. A musical you would have loved to see on stage.
Aida. I know it's not a critics' (or audience's) favourite, but I really love the songs/original recording, and I adore the characters. I saw the opera once and did enjoy it but I would give much to be able to see the musical as well. Specifically, I want to hop on a time machine and see the original Broadway production featuring Heather Headley, who is FUCKING AMAZING. I present you with evidence:

Here is Heather as Aida oozing all over Adam Pascal as Radames. GUH.

Here is Heather as Aida reminisces about her beloved Nubia with her people:

Here is Heather performing "Easy As Life", where Aida convinces herself that all she has to do is fall out of love, because as we all know that's always a piece of cake:

And here is Heather (again with Adam Pascal, who has the achiest chemistry with her) performing "Written in the Stars", where Aida convinces Radames that there are more important things than being together:

(is it just me or does Adam really look FREAKILY like Teen Wolf's Chris Argent here???)

Her charisma, grace and dignity, the way she moves and emotes, that palpable sense of strength even in the direst circumstances, and that breathtaking voice - she is a stunning performer and I'll be heartbroken forever that I didn't get to see her live in this.

16. A musical that disappointed you.
I thought Spamalot would be a hell of a lot funnier than it turned out to be. Although I do fondly remember The Song That Goes Like This:

I also never really got what all the fuss about Cabaret is about :\

17. Favourite adapted musical.
Les Miserables. I read the novel after I saw the show - I loved it but I was completely blown away by how well Boublin and Schönberg translated that massive, massive ancient tome to a stage production and managed to largely stay true to the spirit of the original AND speak to the emotions of the audience. That was one rare accomplishment.

Also, there's the epic win that is Enjolras and the blatant slashfest of the entire student revolution:

18. The musical that you’ve seen most recently.
On stage, Miss Saigon in Australia, a few years ago. On the internet, Rebecca with Uwe Kröger (god, can't he get a TINY bit unsexier as he grows older?? apparently not) and Wietske van Tongeren:

19. Your favourite cast album of a musical.
I love the original recordings of Tanz der Vampire, Les Miserables, Wicked and Elisabeth.

20. A musical that you think is overrated.
Hmm. The musicals I enjoy most are the ones that have great music, a great story, AND great characters. There's absolutely no arguing with the fact that Phantom of the Opera has stellar music and an intriguing story. But honestly, if you look beyond that, there's also no arguing with the fact that its characters are all horrible people and it's all stalking, love interests impersonating father figures and similar grossness, lol. So I really don't get the general consensus about how it's the most awesome and romantic musical of all times.

(On a slight tangent, I did see a Phantom production in London about 7 years ago that had an AMAZING Christine performer - she played Christine as strong and trying to take control of her own destiny and sexuality rather than the wimpy wilting flower that most Christine performers have traditionally gone for. I wish I remembered that girl's name because her performance pretty much reinvented the entire show. She was that good.)

21. A musical that you didn't like at first but now love.
The first time I saw RENT (the movie musical - I've never seen it on stage, sadly), I thought it was cheesy and underwhelming. By now it's one of my favourites. Not sure how that happened, but I there you go.

(Adam Pascal again! The boy just rocks. Also, Dumott Schenard as Angel. Gaaaaah.)

22. A musical that had a huge impact on you.
I spent entirely too much of my first year of university listening to Phantom and Sunset Boulevard on loop. Not the healthiest of choices, lol.

Have some more Uwe Kröger just because (and also because Helen Schneider is divine):

23. A musical that you’ve been in.
Hahaha, nice one. I've never been in a musical, and anyone who's heard me sing will be grateful for that ;)

24. A musical that you’ve seen more than once.
Most of them? The one I've seen the most is probably Elisabeth, which I've seen 6 or 7 times, but usually I like to go and see them more than once if I have the chance. No two productions are ever the same, and it's always fun to compare.

25. A musical with the best choreography.
I am not a fan of Cats, but it does have some pretty stunning choreography.

26. A musical that you know by heart.

27. Best revival of a musical.
I don't think I've seen enough proper revivals to answer this? I do think it's pretty cool how people manage to breathe new life into productions that have been around for decades, though - for example, I saw a gritty, snazzed-up version of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway in the early noughts that was just spectacular and so different from the 70s versions (including lots of Jesus/Judas slashiness, never a bad thing!). It must be hard to keep the magic alive and sometimes it surely fails, but it's awesome when it works.

28. A musical with the best costume design.
Wicked had stunning costumes! All those emerald steampunk dresses! *covets* And so much creativity and work going into those gorgeous frocks:

29. A musical with the best all around cast.
Elisabeth had some great ensembles over the years, and the first time I saw Les Mis, the cast was just perfect. I also really loved the original Viennese cast of Tanz der Vampire (Steve Barton Steve Barton Steve Barton!!), although I will forever regret that I never got to see Máté Kamarás play Herbert along with my favourite Alfred performer Aris Sas (on the other hand, this is probably a good thing, because I might have spontaneously combusted):

(clip has crap quality but it's the only one available, sadly).

30. Favourite musical of all time
I can't pick. I love musicals - both the entertaining cheesy kind, and the kind that transcends that and is truly moving. I've been lucky enough to get to see a lot of them on stage; I've loved most of them and favourites vary. One day when I am super-rich, I will do a world trip consisting of nothing but chasing shows from stage to stage.

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