You don’t have to have known me very long to know that I love Disney. I was born and raised on the box-office busting animated films of the late 80s and early 90s and have been to Disney World more times than you have fingers. We can say all we want about corporate greed and the waist size of princesses and consumerism and so on, but there’s one fact that remains true.
I love when musicals do something unique and different, which is why I loved this performance from the 10th anniversary concert of Les Miserables. They took the men who played the lead character, Valjean, all over the world and had them all sing the show’s banner song, Do You Hear the People Sing, in their native languages. The result is an amazing performance. Enjoy.
Okay. So that title is kind of a lie. Because I don’t think I’ve ever been to Memphis.
But, boy did I love the musical!
Last night I tuned in for the first episode of NBC’s new show, Smash. It’s all about the makings of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Marilyn fan (which is why it’s kind of funny that I’ve watched this and Oscar-nominated film My Week with Marilyn in the past month), but thankfully being a Marilyn fan is not a prerequisite for watching this show. In any case, since I’m a sucker for anything that involves singing and dancing, I thought it might be right up my alley.
I will say, for the first 30 minutes or so, I was not impressed.
The storyline is everything you think it will be. Writers get inspired by all the Marilyn Mania happening in pop culture, think “Why not a musical?”, get a kick-butt choreographer/director who no one likes, and we get to listen to some very Marilyn-esque songs. Yeah, there’s a lot of breathless, high-pitched “Ah!”s and “Oh!”s. In my opinion, if we wanted to listen to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, we can go to iTunes. I don’t need to watch someone else singing it while pretending to be Marilyn to get the point.
Thankfully, about a half hour in, Katharine McPhee FINALLY started to sing.
Now, I’m not an American Idol viewer, so I’d never really seen her before. Let me tell you, though, she lights up the screen. While her performance of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” was nothing to write home about, the emotion and feeling she portrayed while singing it were pretty darn good. As her storyline grew throughout the episode, it was easy to tell that she’s going to be the one who draws people in and makes them connect with the show. While Megan Hilty, Broadway veteran most well-known for playing Galinda/Glinda in my fave show Wicked (after Kristin Chenoweth, of course), is very talented, she didn’t make you want to feel for her the way McPhee does. She may have that chance in upcoming episodes, but she’s not there yet. (Check out this review of my favorite song from the episode – a McPhee and Hilty duet – called “Let Me Be Your Star”.)
Overall, I think I’d give the episode a B- with some room for improvement. If they stay away from the campy Marilyn songs, give Katharine McPhee a chance to shine and really give the audience something to connect with, I think success will be more possible. NBC’s been struggling with their primetime shows, though, so we’ll see if they can make a go at it with this one.
Did you watch the first episode of Smash? Agree with me or disagree? Would love to hear it in the comments!
The past six months have gone by in a blur. I graduated from college, moved 12 hours from home, started my first job, rented my first solo apartment, and bought my first couch, television and crockpot. I left the rural, small town life I was familiar with for a city that’s more familiar with hipsters than hay balers. I’m experiencing true independence for the first time and loving every minute of it.
Warning: If you’re looking for a post about agriculture, this isn’t one of them. Tune in for that in the future. For now, just learn a little more about my total geekiness and one of the things I love.
I am a self-admitted Gleek. I can’t help it. When I first heard of a show that was basically an hour long musical on TV every week, I knew this was the thing for me.
I love music of pretty much all kinds, but especially musical theater and musicals on film. There’s something about not just hearing a song on the radio, but rather using songs to tell stories. Ever since I heard The Phantom of the Opera on tape (which my parents picked up after seeing the show in Toronto), I was hooked. I knew all the words and tried to sing it like the great opera singers in the cast (probably to the detriment of my parents’ hearing). When I finally got to see it in the eighth grade, it was everything I imagined and more. Since then, I’ve been in the audience for The Lion King, Rent, a local production of Annie Get Your Gun and, my favorite, Wicked. There are so many more musicals I want to see, but I love every opportunity to get introduced to a new show and its wonderful music.
This is where Glee comes in. With its covers of Broadway and pop culture hits, Glee is everything a music fan (or at least one who can appreciate covers and high school drama) could ask for.
Now, I know Season 2 suffered. I think every Glee fan knows this and a part of them is saddened. Characters that could have been developed weren’t. Characters that should have stayed gone seemed to show up. Storylines changed and disappeared mid-stream. I think it got bigger than the show’s creators were ready for and, while there were a few shining moments (Rocky Horror, the Christmas episode and the hour and a half “Born This Way” episode come to mind), overall it got a little messy.
But I just finished watching Season 1 (streaming on Netflix!) and it reminded me why I loved the show so much in the first place.
There’s a part of me – the part that loves musical theater – that just gets giddy when writers can string song into a good storyline. It’s like the lyrics are dialogue, just like the rest of the script, only they’re able to convey so much more feeling and emotion than regular speaking can. Whether it’s “Don’t Rain on my Parade” from Funny Girl, a Journey medley, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga or “To Sir With Love” from the movie of the same name, there’s just something about musicals – in this case musical television, a completely new genre I think – that makes me happy.
In a few months, Season 3 will begin and I have high hopes for it. I don’t know if my hopes will be realized, but I remain optimistic. There’s a bunch of new writers and it’s the last season for series regulars Lea Michelle, Corey Monteith and Chris Colfer (a former FFA member!). I hope they send them off with a bang and remind me of why I came to love a show about a high school glee club so stinkin’ much.