Tag: musicals

Why The Greatest Showman is the Most Mormon Movie Ever Made

Currently in US cinemas there is a new film called The Greatest Showman very loosely telling the tale of PT Barnum in an extravagant musical. I have seen the film twice now and after my recent visit I tweeted out:

I have to admit Greatest Showman‘s flaws are more obvious on rewatch but in many ways I think it is the Ultimate Mormon Movie

I then promised to explain this tweet and so here I am to elaborate!

SPOILER WARNING!!

First, I should state that I enjoyed the film. It’s an old school, classic family musical. It is written by the same people who made La La Land, and I honestly prefer it. I like the songs better. I like the message better, and I just think it is more of a fun time. Take your family and go enjoy yourselves at the movies!

Obviously The Greatest Showman has no Mormon characters and is not a faith-based film, so how can I say it is the ultimate Mormon movie? Well, it comes down to themes, style and messaging that will ring true for many Mormon people (obviously speaking in broad generalizations here but I have yet to find a Mormon who dislikes the film…).

So let me explain why I think The Greatest Showman particularly resonates with a Mormon audience:

Mormons are Misfits

The first reason is that Mormons see themselves as ‘peculiar people’. Several times in scriptures we learn that the “Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself” (Deut 14:2). This is something Mormons take very seriously and wear with a kind of pride. For example, each year BYU is voted “the most stone cold sober school in the US.”  Most of us are are very proud of this designation and boast of it when promoting the church. Look at this video BYU put out heralding the accomplishment.

But this idea of the Mormon Misfit goes back to the church founding where such practices as polygamy and communal living certainly made the people peculiar.We were literally expelled from several states and an extermination order written against us by a state governor (another source of pride).

However, this ‘rebelliousness’ obviously takes a very PG rated form and this is what makes The Greatest Showman so perfect for Mormons. The peculiar people of Barnum’s circus are different from the world but in a sweet, very clean cut way. This is a PG rated movie but it has a ‘freak show’ the whole family can enjoy

If you watch this video on ‘This is Me’ you will see what I mean about the clean cut misfits of The Greatest Showman

Mormons Love Marriage

Mormons have unique views on marriage that helps them bond with The Greatest Showman. We believe that marriage in the temple can be for time and all eternity and that the bond between a couple lasts forever. Children are an important and sacred calling for a couple but it is a marriage between 2 people that the highest ordinance of the church is based. There is nothing more important than a faithful marriage to most Mormons.

In The Greatest Showman PT Barnum is shown as a young child who is the son of a poor tailor. He meets a young girl named Charity who he bonds with immediately and the two are obviously destined to be together. These children grow up to be Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams and they leave her parents, get married and have two beautiful daughters. This is literally the dream of nearly every Mormon person.

In the movie Barnum’s marriage is tested by a woman named Jenny Lynde played by Rebecca Fergusson. In most Hollywood movies he would give into the temptation and betray his marriage. Not in The Greatest Showman. He stays true, even after she publicly shames him and implies scandal. He is true to his wife and the two make up and stay committed to each other. This is very appealing to a Mormon audience. It’s certainly more appealing than say the characters in La La Land who have premarital relationships and give up on their relationship fairly quickly. No such luck in a Mormon musical fantasy! LOL

Barnum is also very sweet with his daughters creating a world that shelters them from the troubles of his work and other stresses. This is encouraged in Mormon households as we have Family Home Evening and other family time to teach, fortify and bond as a family. The scene where Barnum gives the girls a special lamp might as well have come out of a church movie.

Mormons Are Theatrical

People that did not grow up in Utah or Idaho may not be aware of the theatrical traditions of the Mormon people. In fact, when the Saints arrived in Utah one of the first buildings they erected was a theater. Along the pioneer trek the Saints were known for having dances, reciting poetry and singing in choirs.

Today there are few places that support regional theater the way Utah does. Literally every town has their own little theater.  We also have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Ballet West and the Utah Shakespeare Festival- all institutions that have received national recognition (to name a few).

Utah is very dance focused and whether it is team dance or ballroom dance students are taught young and are encouraged to display their talents. These performances are usually clean cut, boisterous shows that are very similar to what you get in The Greatest Showman.

Look at this video of the BYU Young Ambassadors and tell me it does not seem right out of The Greatest Showman playbook:

Before every temple dedication there are cultural celebrations with grand theatricals and BYU is famous for its acapella, dance and show choirs. People eat that stuff up and it’s just part of the culture.

This is totally the style of The Greatest Showman. Big boisterous and cheerful:

You could argue that Zac Efron became a star based off of the Mormon template of entertainment. All the High School Musical movies were filmed here and are very emblematic of the type of musical that is popular.

Mormons have a Pioneer Spirit

I am well aware that the version of PT Barnum we get in The Greatest Showman is mostly fictitious, but I think that is largely irrelevant for the effectiveness of the musical. Nobody cares that The Sound of Music is wildly inaccurate to what happened with the von Trapps. Certainly no one should be looking at a fluffy musical for historical accuracy.

So, if we just take the character presented in the movie it is a very appealing for a Mormon audience. He is literally the man who invented the phrase ‘show business’. He gathers his group despite everyone laughing in his face and Mormons relate to that spirit. I mean most Mormons are either returned missionaries or related/married to one. The idea of being a bold thinker and being rejected is very attractive.

He is also kind of a prophet type character that leads with great charisma and enthusiasm. This type of evangelism is encouraged as we have no paid clergy and must all be responsible for public speaking and motivating our fellow church members. Barnum might as well be a bishop in this movie! LOL

Conclusion

The Greatest Showman is not a perfect movie. The script could be better, but it does a good job selling itself to a Mormon audience and evidently the producers thought so as well because they did a very early screening of it in September here. Whether that will turn out to be a good approach to take across the country will be interesting to see. It certainly selling out here! Pretty much all my local friends on facebook and twitter who have seen it, loved it.  Just it being a PG live action film alone is enough to excite people here but you add in grand musical spectacle and you have a winner!

It’s not often we get an old fashioned family friendly musical so go see it! Have fun and enjoy it whether Mormon or not. My Dad hasn’t seen a movie in the theater since Les Miserables but I know he will love this. 🙂

Pirate Queen Review (Hale Center Theater)

pirate queenAnyone who has followed this blog knows I love musical theater and that Hale Center Theater both in Orem and West Valley are two of the finest regional theaters in the country.  I would truly hold their productions up to anything I’ve seen on Broadway.  You probably also know I am a die-hard Les Miserables fan.  It was the first music, not just musical, that made a significant impact on me and I’ve seen it 3 times on Broadway.  So it was with a great deal of enthusiasium I went to see The Pirate Queen at Hale Center Theater written by Les Mis composers Alain Boublil (lyrics) and Claude- Michel Schonberg (music).

The Pirate Queen tells the true story of Grace O’Malley the daughter of an Irish Chieftan in the 16th Century.  She’s a fiery lass and wants to hit the open seas with her father.  There’s a lot of bold female talk in this musical including songs called ‘Woman’, ‘My Grace’, ‘The Choice is Mine’, ‘Boy’s’ll Be Boys’, ‘She Who Has All’ and ‘Woman to Woman’.  There’s a point where it goes from bold to a little cheesy and patronizing.  It’s kind of like if someone is telling you too often you look beautiful, you probably don’t look that beautiful…

pirate queen2Anyway, Grace gets on the open seas and ends up involved in conflict at sea, in arranged marriage, forbidden love, sword fights and even confronting Queen Elizabeth.  She even gets in a sword fight just after having a baby.  It is quite the lass indeed!

All of this is done with tons of flair by Hale Center Theater.  The costumes are particularly stunning capturing that Elizabethan feel perfectly.  The Irish dancing is a lot of fun  and feels right out of Riverdance!  As always with Hale, the singing was excellent.  I saw it with Bre Welch as Grace and Cecily Ellis-Bills as Queen Elizabeth.

You can get a feel for it in this little promo:

The problem is, and it pains me to say it, I thought the songs and music were really poor especially being they are from Boublil and Schonberg.  I left not wanting to download a single song.  Nothing was memorable or even stood out as a big number.  It all kind of meshed together.  B and S’s musicals are practically all music so if it isn’t good that’s a huge problem.

As far as the script the plot and dialogue were also weak. I get it is a true story but Grace felt like a stock, predictable character. There was no break out moment like Dreamed a Dream or On My Own and most of the side characters were completely forgettable unlike Les Mis. (I know tough to compare to Les Mis but I can’t help it when it is the same writing team). pirate queen3

It’s not like I was miserable or something.  If you want a generic, well put together play than you’ll enjoy it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.  The whole thing just felt very flat and soapy when it should have been epic and engaging.

But I certainly appreciate the effort put in by the cast and crew.  Like I said, they did everything they could to elevate the weak material, so I give them a lot of props.  Hopefully Boublil and Schonberg will be able to find their mojo and write something better that Hale can than elevate soon.

Have any of you heard of this play?  Does it sound intriguing to you?  In a way I kind of wish the story could be retooled and tweaked because there is potential there.  It reminded me of Hale’s production of Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro both which had way more memorable music and in a musical that’s kind of important. Oh well!

Friday 5: 5 Great Broadway Singers

This week on the Friday 5 we were asked to focus on 5 great female singers.  Well, I could have easily went with singers like Adele, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion etc but the more I thought about it the more I came back to Broadway.  For my money there is nothing like a Broadway singer in terms of quality of the singing voice.  Maybe you could make a claim for opera but I’m not as familiar with individual opera singers as Broadway.  Anyway, Broadway was my pick and I chose 5 singers I love:

  1. Julie Andrews- Does anything even need to be said to defend this choice? I mean Mary Poppins and Sound of Music alone seal the deal alone. The fact she can no longer sing makes me very depressed.  What an amazing voice and actress! Here she is singing Spoonful of Sugar
  2. Linda Eder- You might not be as familiar with Linda but she is an incredible talent.  She became famous playing Lucy in Jekyll and Hyde.   The most famous song from that show is Someone Like You.  I almost went with her rendition of Anthem from Chess but I couldn’t find a good 25 second or under section.  That’s the trouble with Friday 5 is you have to find a song that sell’s itself in a short section because of copyright issues. Not all songs do.
  3. Idina Menzel- My favorite belt singer is Idina and after seeing her live I am an even bigger fan of hers.  What a mastery over this particular type of sound.  It’s bold, striking and beautiful.  Here she is singing Defying Gravity from Wicked and Let it Go from Frozen
  4. Judy Garland- Ok she was not technically Broadway but she was in a lot of musicals and did a lot of concert albums, so I say it counts.  This particular song I went with because You Made Me Love You is such a heartbreaking reality of Judy’s life.  I also love her in Meet Me in St Louis and maybe I will use some of her songs from that show in later Friday 5s like the Trolley Song. . Of course I love Over the Rainbow.  Here she is singing it live in her famous London concert
  5. Kelli Ohara- Perhaps non-Broadway buffs might not be super familiar with Kelli but she has an amazing voice and has done just about everything on Broadway.  Recently she lit it up playing Anna in the King and I.  She’s also been amazing in Light in the Piazza, Nice Work if You Can Get It, South Pacific, Pajama Game and more.  Here she is singing Getting to Know You.  and here is Beauty Is from Light in the Piazza. 

What do you think of my 5 choices?  What are some of your favorite female Broadway singers both living and past on?  As a musical buff I would love to talk about it!  What’s your favorite musical?

Friday Five: Songs from Musicals

This weeks Friday Five is here and we are talking about one of my favorite genres of music- Broadway musicals!

It was actually kind of tough for me to narrow down my love of show tunes into 5 songs.  So, I decided to pick songs from shows I’ve seen on Broadway.  That left me 11 musicals to pick from and I feel like my songs show a variety and are from 5 shows I really love.

I don’t know if I would say they are my favorite Broadway songs but they are in the discussion for sure.  But here are my picks (in no particular order:

The Beauty Is from Light in the Piazza- musical about a young mentally special needs American girl going to Italy with her Mother and falling in love with an Italian. The musical in Light combines melodic and non-melodic sequences in the same song in a way I’ve never seen before.  Also the way they use harmonies and change keys within the songs gives them a uniquely beautiful song.

Stars from Les Miserables- Javert is one of my favorite villains because he isn’t really a villain.  He believes in justice which is a noble attribute but he  forgets about mercy.  In Stars he sings about his beliefs in upholding the law.

As We Stumble Along from Drowsy Chaperon- This show makes fun of musicals and is the funniest Broadway show I’ve ever seen.  It was also brilliant the way the story and the jokes came alive in the apartment of the Man in the Chair. This song lampoons the anthem songs of the modern musical and is very funny.

Defying Gravity from Wicked- As we saw from my last entry I love Idina Menzel and I think Stephen Schwartz did a great job with this prequel to Wizard of Oz (no small task considering every other film version has been terrible).  Defying Gravity is the most difficult song of the show and shows Idina’s amazing belt skills.  It is also the emotional heart of the show where Elphaba has made her decision and there is no going back.

76 Trombones from Music Man- Meredith Wilson’s Music Man will always have a special place in my heart because I saw this musical when I went to New York with my cousin Lisa.  She died 4 months after that trip. But even without that it is a story of redemption and how even a con man isn’t a total lost cause. Plus, there are some really catchy music to boot!

So that is my five choices.  What would you pick for your favorite songs from Broadway musicals?

Liebster Award Answers

A while back I got nominated by a fellow blogger for something called the ‘liebster award’ which is basically similar to a tag.

https://chowkimwan.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/78-liebster-award/

He answered 10 questions and then gave me 10 questions to answer.  Then I am supposed to create 10 questions for other bloggers and tag them.  Will do my best to come up with good questions and tag a few people I haven’t bothered in a while.

Who is your favorite Disney character of all time?

woody

An extremely tough question.  The first character that popped in my mind is Woody from Toy Story.  He’s nostalgic and old fashioned while expressing very human emotions of jealousy, regret, fear, joy, etc. Others I love Lilo, Cinderella, Genie, Maleficent, Baloo, Cruella, Simba, Wall-e, Remy, Elsa etc.

Which composer in the modern era do you look up to the most?

Tough call but Ennio Morricone is an amazing composer that creates music which doesn’t even need words to bring me to tears.  His score for The Mission (a fantastic film with Jeremy Irons and Robert Deniro about monks who try to convert a wild tribe in the Amazon in 15th century).  This song called Gabriel’s Oboe is stunning.  I love it so much there have been days I’ve put it on continuous loops and just listened to it again and again.

But he also has a lot of variety.  He has done songs for Joan Baez and Paul Anka.  He is a favorite of Quentin Tarantino and did the Kill Bill orchestrations.

He is so unanimously loved that he won an honorary Oscar for his contributions to movies even though he has not one a traditional statuette.  The year he did the Mission he lost to Herbie Hancock for Round Midnight which is a jazz masterpiece so it is kind of apples and oranges. Both great.

Which musical that you have seen is the most spectacular?

les miserables3

I don’t know if they are talking about stage or movie.  For stage it would be Les Miserables.  I love the story and its themes of mercy vs justice and forgiveness and hope. But more importantly I love the music.  Aside  maybe the Little Mermaid, Les Miserables was the first time I really connected with music and the story in a personal way.  I just saw it live at a local live theater and was still as in love with it as I was at 14.

As far as movies just watch one of my recent videos.

What is your favorite show tune?

I don’t know if it counts because it was in a movie first but it would be Somewhere Over the Rainbow. To me it is this fascinating layer of hope, optimism, despair, longing and a feeling of hopelessness all in one. I think back when my ipod was working I had 12 different versions of the song.

I also love Someone to Watch Over Me by the Gershwins.

Finally I’d say On My Own from Les Miserables.  It was like no other music I’d ever heard before.  It was raw but still beautiful. I still love it.

Which is the most horrendous song you have heard in your life?

I don’t know. I don’t like heavy metal or any songs about abuse, hate, and other criminal activities.

Which song represents you the most?

It depends on the era of my life but to be perfectly honest it would be a religious song like Amazing Grace or I Stand All Amazed.

Who do you model yourself after? (It can be someone in real life or a fictional character)

Jesus and my Grandpa.

Jesus-Christ-Lamb-Mormon

Nevin 1992

Where in the world do you want to visit the most?

I wish everyday of my life I was in Hawaii. As far as some place I’d like to go to that I’ve never been too I’d say Australia.

    happiness

If you drop by Florida to visit one theme park only, will you visit Walt Disney World or Universal Studios?

Disney World because it’s got all stuff I like where Universal Studios is just basically Harry Potter and I like HP but not a die hard.

What sort of career do you aspire to have?

Exactly the one I’ve got.  I want to keep working in digital marketing and continue to learn and grow.  Honestly as long as I am working from home I’m a happy gal. Environment is way important to me than the actual task at hand.

I guess I would love to be a writer and finish editing my novel.

My10 questions will be

1. Would you rather choose only reading, only movies, or only music for the rest of your life?

2. What’s the biggest thing you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?

3. If someone was going to play you in a movie who would it be?

4. Which is better? Lord of the Rings vs Harry Potter?

5.Name your favorite animated movie?

6. What qualities are essential to you in any kind of friend?

7.  What is your favorite poem?

8. What makes you laugh the hardest?  Could be stand up, TV, movie, book whatever?

9. If you could go back and live in any other era but our own which would you pick?

10. Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, which one? If not what is one you really hated?

I tag

Christine Plouvier at https://irishfirebrands.wordpress.com/

Burning Blogger of Bedlam   http://theburningbloggerofbedlam.wordpress.com 

Kristin All Eyes on Screen http://alleyesonscreen.me

Hubbards Cupboard http://hubbardscupboard2010.com/

All  Our Lemonny Things http://lemmonythings.com/

The Persistent Platypus https://thepersistentplatypus.wordpress.com/

Silver Screen Serenade https://caragaleblog.wordpress.com/

Where the Wild Things Are https://wherethewildthingsare14.wordpress.com/

The Simple Things https://jessicarlin.wordpress.com/

Perfection Pending http://www.perfectionpending.net/

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Best and Worst

best and worst

So I can’t sleep and lately blogging has helped me feel tired so I figured why not?

As I have mentioned in previous posts I’ve been thinking a lot lately about entertainment, movies and art.  What makes something memorable, beautiful, enriching and of course what inspires the opposite emotions.  I realize these feelings are inherently subjective, but my thoughts have not been on what moves society as a whole, but what inspires ME.

So tonight I am going to write up a best and worst on different categories.  It’s actually really hard thing to do.  It’s hard enough to come up with a top 10 list but to narrow it down to one worst and best is tough.  Try it along with me!

Best Book- I could pick Book Thief but North and South I could read multiple times a year.  I’ve talked about it a lot on this blog so I won’t repeat everything. I’ll just say it has my 2 favorite characters in literature.  I love their journey.  I love seeing them grow and change.  It’s so deep and takes time to develop side characters that are pivotal and fascinating.  I love it.  I think it is perfect.

Worst Book- Catch 22.  I hated all the characters.  I mean truly hated. I thought everyone was disgraceful, immoral, and unlikable.  The women in the story are either nurses or prostitutes and everything that is supposed to be ‘funny’ felt distasteful and kind of sick. I hated this book so much that it is the reason why I have a ‘someone must have read the book rule’ in my book club. Never again.

Best Movie- This is really hard but I have to go with Up.  I could watch it 4 times in a day and still love it.  I cry every time I watch the opening montage. It’s beautiful, sweet, funny and surprising.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen it and I love it more every time.  I love the music.  The voice casting is perfect.  The artwork is stunning. The message of finding adventure in life is wonderful.  I love it!

Worst Movie- Drop Dead Gorgeous.  There are only 2 movies I have walked out of in the theater, Drop Dead Gorgeous and Superstar.  Both are atrocious but this movie is so cold and hateful towards its characters and it is supposed to be funny that it actually made me cry.  I left the theater and my friends and sat in the lobby in tears until they had finished the ending.  I couldn’t take it any more.

It’s a mockumentary about beauty pageants that has one girl after another blown up, shot, murdered, burned and attacked.  A character mimics the crucifixion, a girl becomes deaf for laughs, a near dead anorexic girl is wheeled out in a wheelchair with an IV, the mentally ill are mocked, all the girls get food poisoning with its accompanying effects.  It’s gross, dark, cold and hateful so much so that 15 years after I saw it I still remember it far too vividly.

Best Sports Moment- This one is really hard and I wouldn’t say I’m the hugest sports fan in the world but I love the Olympics and there are so many good one’s to pick from.  Michael Phelps 8 in Beijing, Jason Lesak final lap in 4 by 100 relay, Sarah Hughes figure skating win, Dan Jansen finally getting his gold medal after 3 falls.  All would be great picks but I have to pick a moment that I actually was a part of.  This was 2002 Salt Lake and I was outside the stadium watching on a big screen when Apollo Ohno got the gold.  Everyone was cheering it was so exciting!

Worst Sports Moment- I have to go with the Lance Armstrong doping admission.  It was so disappointing. I know many suspected him for years and there was a lot of evidence but to be lied to for over a decade and the way he treated people while lying is pretty despicable.

I actually think the lies are worse than the actual enhanced training.  It was an era where he could not win and not do that and certainly not 7 times.  Even his peers have admitted that.  It’s the smug denials and the cocky attitude for years that makes it reprehensible.  Plus, he masquerades as an goodwill advocate which makes the lies even worse.

Best Meal- It’s really hard but I think for sentimental reasons alone I have to go with spaghetti and meatballs because I’ve been to Italy, I love Italian food and I had a moment of truth over the meal years ago that changed my life.  It is the ultimate comfort food.  (Thanksgiving food would be really high too)

Worst Meal- I have to go with menudo.  Whoever thought eating tripe was a good idea must have been nuts.  It looks like bubble wrap.  The soup is greasy with chunks of stomach floating to the top.  It’s gross!

Best TV Show- I have to go with the Simpsons because it has been consistently funny and engaging almost my entire life. It debuted when I was 8 and it is still on and I still watch it every Sunday.  Recently they’ve been doing amazing things with the opening couch montage which is incredible when you think about it- after 25 years they are still coming up with new ways to present a sofa with 4 people.

Worst TV Show- There have been some really bad one’s but I have to go with Fear Factor because it is just so gross. It existed only to make people want to throw up. Also, I would say The Tudors because I got it on neftlix thinking it was a Masterpiece Classic type show and about 10 minutes in I realized it was basically midevil porn and turned it off.  For shame!

Best Reality Show- Got to go with Survivor, although I love The Amazing Race.  TAR involves more luck and less strategy.  Just people surviving on little each day in the jungle would be compelling but the fact that a person get’s voted off every day is very exciting and makes people behave in intriguing ways. I also loved Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for a needy family getting a house.

Worst Reality Show- Keeping up with the Kardashians.  Why is this still on?  What’s wrong with America?  I resent the Kardashians because I actively try to not know about their lives and yet I know so much.  It’s like a disease that spreads whether you like it or not.  Go away!  I’ve watched one episode and I thought ‘these people are terrible, shallow people’ and nothing over the next whatever years have convinced me otherwise.

Best Dessert- Lemon meringue pie but it has to be very strong lemon flavor.  I’ve had it every year on my birthday since I can remember.  I love it!

Worst Dessert- I mean there aren’t many bad desserts but got to go with rhubarb pie.  I know some people say it is very good but I have never had it made where I like it.

Best Band- This is really hard.  The Beatles are the obvious choice and I love them. However, when I am looking at what was influential on me and not society at large,  I have to with REM.  Automatic for the People was one of the first albums I bought and I’ve listened to hundreds of time with pleasure.

Worst Band- Kiss. I am sure they have some catchy tunes but I heard Gene Simmons on local radio here once and he was such a jerk it turned me off the whole band.  Plus, they look stupid.  Anyone who is trying that hard to get attention isn’t all that talented in the first place.

Best Singer- Got to go with Josh Groban.  I love his voice.  His concert in 2008 was one of the coolest experiences in my life.  (He looked me straight in the eyes and sang to me. No joke).  I love Michael Buble too and he’s great live but if I had to pick one person to sing to me I’d pick Josh.

Worst Singer- So many to chose from…I have to go with Shakira.  She seems like a really nice person but when she sings it sounds like a goat throwing up.  I don’t get it.

Best Song- Over the Rainbow.  I love The Wizard of Oz.  I love Judy Garland.  I love the message of the song. I think I have 13 versions of it.  I love it Hawaii style, Ingrid Michaelson cover, classic.  I love the haunting words (if happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why oh why can’t It).  Ugh.  So pretty.

Worst Song-  Lovely Ladies- Les Miserables.  I have to pick it because it sullies what is otherwise my favorite thing ever.  I love Les Mis and I love the story of Fantine but this song is so gross and it along with Master of the House are total earworm songs.  They will get stuck in your head forever and given some of the lyrics that is not a good thing.

Best Broadway Musical- Is there any doubt?  It has to be Les Miserables.  Despite 2 songs I dislike, 2 songs that are so corny, I love it.  I love the message, story, most of the songs and it was the first thing I remember really inspiring me as art and music.  It taught me what those mediums could do and how powerful they could be.  I’ve seen it live 4 times, twice in New York and I always have a purse full of tissues at the end.

Worst Broadway Musical- Book of Mormon musical.  Ok I haven’t seen it but I’ve listened to the score, watched scenes.  It is vulgar, distasteful and it paints my faith as naive, stupid and my leaders whom I love as zealous sexpots.  No thank you but seriously read the book…

Best Candy- Reese’s peanut butter cups.  I especially like the Easter eggs. I’m not sure why but they are even better than the cups.  The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is just delicious.

Worst Candy- Good and Plenty.  I think you are either born with the taste for black licorice or you aren’t.  I wasn’t.  Yuck!

So that’s a pretty good list.  What about you?  What’s your best and worst.  You should try it.  It’s harder than you might expect.

The Theater, The Theater

“All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts” William Shakespeare in As You Like It

In this blog I have written about music, film, and books but have yet to add my thoughts on my favorite medium- live theater.  I have loved attending shows my whole life.  I am not sure how it got started but the earliest memory of the theater that  I have is when my dad took me to the Utah Shakespeare festival.  I believe I was 9 because it was before Anna was born (that’s brave to take a 9 year old to Shakespeare).  We saw Taming of the Shrew and a couple other plays and I enjoyed it so much that I saved the programs.  The first musical I recall going to was when my dance teacher in 5th grade played Anybody’s in a local production of West Side Story.  We went to see it and I remember crying along with Maria and loving the experience.  I also remember going to see Phantom of the Opera with my grandmother around the same time and that was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Amazing!

When I got to high school I embraced more theater by appearing in 5 school productions (A christmas medley, The Wiz, Up the Down Staircase, Bye Bye Birdie, Scenes from Shakespeare plays).  Each production boosted my confidence and made me feel alive.  I have often said that they should have recovering addicts participate in the theater. That may sound strange but it is so rewarding working together and then when the final applause comes it is one of the best highs I have ever known.  Of all of the productions I was in my favorite was The Wiz.  It’s fun music, lively sets and great cast made it memorable.

My favorite show that I have participated in- The Wiz
My favorite show that I have participated in- The Wiz

In addition to appearing in live plays I also took a huge step in high school.  In 9th grade I made my first trip to New York City, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  There are so many things I love about New York that I will have to do an entry solely devoted to the city.  However, the most incredible part of the Big Apple is Broadway! The first show I saw there was Les Miserables and it was beyond words.  I saw it again a couple of years ago and was reminded of how moving the story is and how beautiful the music.  When I went to see Les Mis I had seen the PBS concert many times and knew the soundtrack almost by heart and yet it did not disappoint. If anything it exceeded my expectations. In fact, it got me hooked on Broadway.  Since that first visit I have been 5 more times seeing the King and I, Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, the Rockettes, Light in the Piazza, Drowsy Chaperon, Lion King, Hairspray, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, Les Mis (again) and Wicked.  There is no doubt but that I have been abundantly blessed.

Each time I see a live show I feel excited.  It’s hard to explain but even the comedies move me.  I love everything about a Broadway musical.  I love the songs, the voices, the melodies, the stories, the acting.  It’s magic!

One of the things I actually like about living in Utah is the great local live theater.  In Maryland there was one local theater in our town.  Aside from that you had to go to DC or Baltimore and there was no guarantee that it would be family friendly and it was expensive.  In Utah you get all 3- family friendly, inexpensive and high quality.  There have been productions I have seen at Hale Center Theater (Orem and West Valley) that are Broadway level quality.  I saw the Secret Garden there last year and it was fabulous.  The little girl playing Mary was outstanding.

It’s interesting because I know people that feel the theater is a rare luxury.  For me, I would give up a lot before giving up my chance to see great productions (or even mediocre ones.  I love it all!).  I used to have a little theater group that got season tickets to the shows at Hale and it was always fun.  Unfortunately, the other members of my group decided to give it up for financial reasons 😦  Hopefully I can form a new group and if any of you are interested call me. It adds so much to my life that I try to go as often as possible.

I suppose I must close this entry by saying my favorites.  It’s hard to say but when push comes to shove my favorite musical is probably still Les Mis.  It’s the only one I’ve seen on Broadway twice and still loved.  It’s just so moving.  I also loved Wicked and the Drowsy Chaperon is my favorite comedy.  Other favorites are My Fair Lady, Hairspray, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Woman, and West Side Story.  I love Sound of Music but actually more as a film than play (its a rare exception and Julie Andrews! Amazing).  As far as plays go my favorite is Death of a  Salesman for its penetrating character development.  I also love the Christmas Carol every holiday season and any Shakespeare.

My love for musical theater has also introduced me to great talent on the stage.  Some of the many voices that amaze me even on the soundtracks are Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sherie Renee Scott, Pattie Lupone, Bernadette Peters, Laura Benanti, Sutton Foster (who I saw in Chaperon- amazing), Beth Leavel (who I also saw in Chaperon), Brian Stokes Mitchell, Adam Pascal, Raul Esparza, Kristen Chenoweth, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Idina Menzel, Laura Bell Bundy, Heather Headley, Kellie O’hara (who I saw in Light in the Piazza- amazing), Victoria Clark (who I saw in Light in the Piazza) , Audra McDowell, Anna Gasteyer (who I saw in Wicked- incredible) and more.  They are such talent.  I highly recommend checking out their CDs at the library or on ITunes and enriching your life by their truly marvelous music.

If you get a chance go see live theater.  It may be expensive but look at it as a chance to support the arts in your community and it may teach you something, make you laugh or cause you to ponder.

And remember when it comes to the theater…

“Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”

William Shakespeare As You Like It.

The best show ever
The best show ever