Notable Musicals, Pt. 1: Into The Woods

31 Jan

You know, since this blog is about the making of a Steampunk Opera (1 song short of finishing the 2nd Act. There will be 4 Acts, and i am also taking a break to muse over what i’ve done and carefully plan out the 3rd Act) i feel i should be talking a bit about theater in between the steampunky fun and cool bands.

I’ll be covering different aspects of theater, but for now let’s tackle musical theater, shall we?

I grew up with it, listened to quite a bit of it, but over time less and less and then one day realized i had a really hard time with it (and i’ve worked on lots of shows). Now i’m a little more friendly towards it, but musically have so many issues with the genre i wouldn’t even know where to begin.  On the other hand, seeing a show live is a much better experience than simply listening to the soundtrack.

I say all this because The Steampunk Opera is not an opera in that it has opera voices. There are no opera voices. And no orchestral score. It’s more an opera in a Jesus Christ Superstar way. It’s clangy and has beats and some victorian ideas and some Dark Cabaret ideas and is contemporary music friendly… listen to the Overture, it’s like that.

So i can’t escape the fact that musical theater plays a significant role in defining for me how to tell a story using music and voices. And that The Steampunk Opera will appeal to, amongst others, people who like musical theater (although there won’t really be “musical theater voices”  in it either).

So here are a couple of my favorite musicals, which i will defend any day, any time. We’ll take on one a day.

Into The Woods

It’s hard to pick just one Sondheim, but i’m going with this one. Sondheim is a giant in the musical theater world, and that’s because he’s the most brilliant composer who’s worked consistently in the business in 2 generations. I could easily list A Little Night Music or Sweeney Todd, but the fact is, i just plain love Into The Woods.

The show is several well known fairy tales woven together and the deeper and sometimes darker  meanings of them cleverly and subtlely exposed.

One of my favorite musical motifs revolves around Cinderella and her trips to the Ball.  Here is a montage of her discussing her 3 evenings at the Ball.

And here is Jack. You know, THAT Jack. The song subtely pokes the deeper meanings of the fairy tale: boy…. just around adolesence… his “magic seeds” start rumbling…. his “beanstalk” grows which allows him to see a whole new world that as a child he never saw before… adults/giants… befriends a big lady giant whose husband is never home…. husband comes home one day to find a boy with his wife… chases him but his beanstalk withers and can’t stand up….

I’m not saying all of this is contained in the song. But this is the hidden meaning I personally find in the fairy tale and i find that song wink winks and nudges that it understands that too.

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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Uncategorized


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