Day: June 12, 2011

Longing for Wholesome Broadway Musicals

Any loyal blog reader knows I am huge fan of musical theater and Broadway.  I have been to New York on 6 different trips throughout my life and one of the highlights is always the Broadway musical.  I love live performance in any fashion and the electricity of the stage- the lyrics, voices, story and scores fill me with excitement.  In my life I have been lucky enough to have seen Les Miserables twice (still my favorite show), Phantom of the Opera, King and I, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee (a show that I found shocking at the time but now it seems like nothing…), Drowsy Chaperone, and Wicked all on Broadway.

So it is with sadness that I state publicly of my choice to not support tonight’s airing of the Tony Awards.  With the almost guaranteed winner, the Book of Mormon musical, the Broadway community has chosen to commend a show that is not only personally offensive but disgustingly profane and vulgar.

Now I have not seen the show but have listened to the soundtrack and I was repulsed.  People can disagree with me all they want- claim I should be more open minded- but what I heard was a tirade of the F word (among other profanities), an entire song about Joseph Smith being a sex maniac and pedophile, and songs about how unaware and closed-minded Mormons are to the problems of the world such as AIDS in Africa.   Never mind the millions of dollars in aid and the countless good our missionaries do in disaster regions and in Africa, we are all naive bigots who hate anyone who is different.

It would be one thing if they were just making fun of our idiosyncrasies or making us look silly but to make the entire religion appear unaware, crazy, manipulative and even perverse, is unkind, offensive and unfair.  It honestly makes me very upset- especially because I’ve had such a love for Broadway since I was a little girl.

I like what a Jewish commenter on the New York times review said:

“What this show displays as ridiculous is the Mormon faith and those who practice it. If this show were attacking Jews or Muslims, there would be international outcry. People would be fired, there would be lawsuits, boycotts, etc. It would be all over the news (in a bad way). This sort of thing happens to those of my faith in countries elsewhere in the world. But I cannot believe that New York, MY New York, where I was born and raised, would ever do such a thing. Shame on you, New York Times, shame on Broadway, and shame on all of us who stand idly by and do nothing while the faith of others is mocked. Religious and cultural Jews need not support such bigotry”

Amen to that.  So, this year I will not be watching the Tony’s and will not be visiting New York anytime soon.  I encourage others to do the same, or at least not support this particular show.  (although, it is sold out anyway but I have to speak out regardless)

To close I would like to point out a few shows that are worth seeing.  Unfortunately it is tough to come up with many modern shows that I can confidently recommend without first viewing them.  Even Les Mis has a few scenes that I wish were toned down a bit.  I have heard good things of the revival versions of Anything Goes by Cole Porter and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  by Frank Loesser .

There are also the long running productions of Mary Poppins, Lion King and Wicked.  All are enjoyable and inoffensive.

I would also like to send a shout-out to Stephen Schwartz who consistently puts out material that is either faith promoting (Godspell, Children of Eden, Prince of Egypt) or whimsically entertaining (Wicked, Enchanted).  Some claim Schwartz is too pop-infused or not edgy enough.  If the recent offerings from Broadway are considered edgy give me the Schwartz-style of show any day!  He has two others (the Baker’s Wife and Pippen) which I have never seen but heard are good.  If you get a chance to see any of his shows, I highly recommend it.  Especially Children of Eden, which is special in so many ways.

Here are 2 of my favorite songs:

Of course, there are always the old school musicals that made Broadway what it is today.  You can’t go wrong with Rogers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Irving Berlin, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Leonard Bernstein and some Stephen Sondheim.  Even Andrew Lloyd Webber has an over-the-top fun to his shows.  (while usually weak musically at least they were not very  offensive and are entertaining.)

I’ve often wondered why in the deluge of musical film adaptations why nobody has attempted to recreate one of these old fashioned shows?  Is it because they were so iconically made into films in their era? Perhaps.  I think it is because filmmakers don’t want to admit that there is a huge section of us that wants such traditionally moral movies and music.  They want edgy and different.  Well, not me!

That’s my view and the purpose of a blog is to speak one’s viewpoint.  Feel free to disagree.

For a good article on this topic please read Why I won’t be seeing the Book of Mormon musical – On Faith – The Washington Post