Monday, November 1, 2010

SATOSHI on West End Musicals

I am going to London for a few days during the Chinese New Year to attend a friend’s birthday party, before I go to Berlin for the first time. Winter may not be the best time to visit Berlin, but the fact that the opera houses are open, I don’t mind… I think… we will see…

The last time I was in London was in August 2009, even at that time, I feel that I need to get out of London as there is not much that I haven’t seen in London, this include sights and musicals. Yes, I love musicals and I tend to prioritize this over the more expensive operas. With more and more operas available in DVD and in cinema, I feel that I am missing out in musicals.

But even for last year, I already had difficulty finding musicals that I haven’t seen… I still remember I ended up seeing Marguerite by Michel Legrand (not bad at all) and last performance of Too Close to the Sun by Trippini (very bad). Now, after a year and a half (deliberately avoiding London), the situation hasn’t change. I have enough time for 5 shows and yet, I can’t find 5 musicals to fill it up. Out of the 23 musicals that will be on during my trip, only 8 of them I haven’t seen:

  • Dreamboats & Petticoats: The Musical (based on the album of the same title)
  • End of the Rainbow (about Judy Garland's last performances in London)
  • Flashdance (based on the movie of same title)
  • Ghost: The Musical (based on the movie of same title)
  • Love Never Dies (sequel to The Phantom of the Opera)
  • Love Story (based on the movie of same title)
  • Thriller Live (tribute to Michael Jackson)
  • Woody Sez: The Words, Music and Spirit of Woody Guthrie (guess...)

Out of the 8, only 4 have original music. Out of these 4, only one has an original story. So far, I have only 4 in my list: Flashdance, Ghost, Love Never Dies and Love Story. Out of these 4, I am actually only looking forward to Love Never Dies and Ghost. For some reason, I have a feeling that Flashdance and Love Story would be quite cheesy.

As for the rest, they are all using existing songs and just stringing them together with a concept… not really my cup of tea. I feel like the whole package is missing the essence. I don’t mind a musical based on a movie. Why not? If a musical can be based on a book, why not a movie? But a musical based on existing songs tied together with a concept is really more like a revue. Of course, there are exceptions. Mamma Mia for one totally surprised me. Jersey Boys, on the other hand, didn’t impress me at all.

I suppose what is most revealing here is the state of musicals, there is just not enough people out there composing original musicals! WHY? Is it the lack of creativity or just the lack of money to finance an original production?

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At November 21, 2010 at 10:46 PM , Anonymous HT said...

Satoshi, maybe the lack of original songs says more about the preference and change in taste of the audience than the lack of creativity of song writers? BTW what do you think of ppl calling musicals a dying genre? My position is clear, I love a good musical, and I am now planning a trip to NY for Broadway shows. All ears about your London update next year!

At November 22, 2010 at 8:45 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

HI! Thank you for your comment. On your comment on musicals becoming a dying genre, I remember watching this documentary, Broadway: The Golden Age... I think, one of the veteran stars interviewed declared that people have been saying that musical is a dying art ever since, but it is still here today and in fact, the proportion of musicals versus plays has shifted in favor of musicals. I think what you have mentioned about the shift in the taste of audience is quite true. Definitely, it is one of several factors... it just seems like audiences are getting lazier and just want to deal with something familiar rather than taking the time out to explore and learn new things :-)


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