What with the SYTYCD thread, the thread devoted to Glee and now the thread where we all boast about how awful our music tastes are, no time has seemed more appropriate to mention a thing that requires our growing awareness. A thing you and I both love (and if you donâ€™t, youâ€™re lying to yourself and also terrible).
Yes, thatâ€™s right. It is the time to talk about SHOW TUNES.
Before you pooh-pooh and scoff and send me away to a midnight showing of Rocky Horror (not without justification), consider how long musical theatre has been around and just how many awesome people have been involved in it over the years. The people you most trust; the stars of your favourite films and television shows; yes, even your mom and/or
dad; all of these and more may be involved in this age-old pandemic. â€œBut,â€ I hear you ask, â€œHow could they do such a thing?!â€ Well, there are many reasons that one may find themselves involved in such a phenomenon. You see, the musical theatre has everything you may find in normal media â€“ drama, humor, insanity, wit, and violence â€“ all with the added trappings of song, dance, and occasionally silly costumes. And itâ€™s been going on since before there were many alternative medias to choose from! Donâ€™t believe me?
Arguably, the modern musical really began with that dashingest of duos, composer Arthur Sullivan and lyricist William S. Gilbert. Theyâ€™ve recently been (further) immortalized in the film â€˜Topsy Turvy,â€™ but their works are still put on in modern theatres with regularity, and their songs have been parodied or referenced in all sorts of things, from The Simpsons to Doctor Who to the book Stranger in a Strange Land. They wrote about pirates and shogun and England, mostly.
With Cat-Like Tread
They wrote their material in the late 19th century. Following in their footsteps years later came people like Irving Berlin, who wrote Puttin' on the Ritz and White Christmas, and George Gershwin, creator of I Got Rhythm and approximately one million other songs you may not even realize you know. â€œNobody listens to that old crap anymore,â€ You may say. Or perhaps, â€œThe only reason to be in theatre is because youâ€™re too ugly for the movies.â€
Fortunately, the imaginary, possibly slanderous words Iâ€™ve put in your mouth can be proved false by skipping ahead a few years, and showing some of these guys:
New York, New York
In 1949, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Jules Munshin starred in On the Town as the hottest sailors ever to do a soft-shoe. But maybe you straight guys out there arenâ€™t convinced of the sex appeal in a song-and-dance routine. May I introduce you to Cyd Charisse?
Fred Astaire's not too shabby, either.
Although they get a lot of flak for a variety of reasons, the musical has been an important tool for social commentary and the voicing of progressive/transgressive opinions for almost the entirety of its existence. The method of conveyance differs, of course. Sometimes itâ€™s hopeful:
Sometimes itâ€™s bittersweet:
Sometimes itâ€™s funny and involves puppets and Gary Coleman!
But enough from me. Admit it here and now â€“ somewhere out there is a musical, or just a song from a musical, that you love. You were in it in high school, or you watched the tape a hundred times when you were a kid, or you just think itâ€™s catchy as hell. What are your favourites, SE++?