About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shows that knock you on your a$$

When I was about 11 years old, my town's high school put on its first musical in several years. My sister is a bassist and was playing in the orchestra, and a couple of her friends who I knew were in the cast. I think someone may have told me that Into the Woods was about fairytales before I went, but that's all I knew.

I laughed hysterically through the playful first act that shows Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Jack and the Beanstalk intersecting in various amusing ways. But then in the second act, something terrible happened. Actions began having consequences, characters started having disagreements; mistakes were made, impasses were reached, and everything did not work out the best for everyone in the end.

I remember clapping through the curtain call, trying to dry my tears and wondering, "What just happened to me?"

I had never done something like this before, but the next night I gathered up my allowance, came back to the theater on my own (sans parents), and I saw the show again.

This will come as no surprise to those who know me, but even as a kid I was drawn to stories that had an element of darkness to them; a twinge of complicated, adult emotions. Especially as an adult, I'm bored by stories about moustache-twirling villians who get their comeuppance, and innocent lovers who end up together in the end because, well, that's how things are supposed to work out.

While working on this article I realized that my other two favorite Sondheim musicals, Company and  Sweeney Todd had the same effect on me. I hate when writers play it safe--do you ever get the feeling that they're afraid to see their characters get hurt?--and in Sweeney Todd the characters pay a HUGE price for their actions. Company very intentionally takes the problems that middle class, middle age Americans attend the theatre to run away from, and throw them back in their (our?) faces.

There's a DVD available of the recent Broadway revivial of Company starring Raul Esparza. The plot largely deals with his character's 35th birthday, and I think it really affected me because most of my friends are in their mid-twenties to late thirties, so it really reflects where we are in our lives right now. And similar to my reaction to Into the Woods, after finishing the DVD, I had to go back and start it again...

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