April 10, 2012

"But a musical with so much death and despair is a hard sell in commercial theater these days..."

"... even Margaret’s religiosity is wildly out of sync with current Broadway portrayals of faith as comic, romantic or subversive plotlines in 'Godspell,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' 'Leap of Faith,' 'Sister Act' and 'The Book of Mormon.'"

Religion... keep it light. For theater.

Remember when theater was heavy going, bent on shaking you out of your complacency?

Remember when religion was?

Or is it still, where you are?


leslyn said...

You can still get as much death and despair as you want. Just go to Spring Green.

You can get as much hard-hitting religion as you want. Find the church.

If people do or don't want those things, they will do what they have always done and gravitate to what they want.

Anga2010 said...

Thanks for that Easter Egg Prof Althouse! 2 dayz late and it kinda stinks. :p

Bender said...

Was Les Miz light? Didn't see the musical, but the story is pretty heavy.

The play "A Man for All Seasons" -- timely today -- is also pretty heavy.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

"Current"? Jesus Christ, Superstar? Godspell? Both works are from 1971. Children born the year they opened have grown-up kids now. Yes, there are Broadway revivals of both, but honestly.

rcocean said...

Yes, to Broadway "Carrie" is a religious musical.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...


I saw Les Miz (in SF). It was effective in its way, but the audience reaction at Javert's suicide has stuck with me.

See, there was a miraculous visual effect, when he threw himself into the river. And everyone broke into applause.

Had they been following the story, rather than gawking at the really cool barricades and listening to the not-all-that-impressive music, they would not have done that.

edutcher said...

Remember when musicals, like movies, had, like, originality?

David said...

In 1965 I took my beautiful girlfriend Phyllis to New York to see Richard Burton in Hamlet. I did it because she was the smartest person I had ever met as well as the most beautiful and I wanted her to believe that life with me would be interesting. I also took her to see Lawrence of Arabia on film. I have no recollection what else was on in New York at that time, which is understandable because for me the purpose of theatre was to amuse and impress Phyllis. But these were pretty meaty shows. Phyllis and I did not remain together even though we loved each other but that is another story that I will never tell.

wyo sis said...

The question for me is: Why go to all that trouble to revive a play that failed in the first place? Doesn't it's first failure tell you something important? How do you get away from the elements that people didn't originally want to see? Wouldn't it be better to start with something new? I don't usually like remakes, maybe lots of other people are like me in that way.

Quayle said...

Remember when musicals, like movies, had, like, originality?

Someone once said there are only twelve unique stories in all the world.

Political Correctness has taken that number down to four.

Five, tops.

traditionalguy said...

For heavy I would pick the Cain Mutiny Court Martial. That was a play first and a movie later. The play is intense with human drama for lawyers.

True Religion is not heavy, but light. Jesus said for all of us to come to him who are weary and burdened and He would give us rest for our souls, for if we take His yoke upon us then we will find that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

It takes a legal system either outside of church in Secular Land or inside of a church in Pharisee Land to make our lives into a heavy load of guilt.

traditionalguy said...

For a fun time go see a musical play that was a hit movie first, Legally Blonde.

It has a blonde lawyer who also has Professor Althouse's light heartedness...not the one who cuts off liberal's heads on Bloggingheads...that other one who wouldn't hurt an insect stuck in her curtains.

Ralph L said...

It seems like much of Christianity was degenerated into seeing how many ways one can use "God" and "love" in a sentence.

But then, I've mostly been to church for weddings the last 20 years.

Kirby Olson said...

It's so polarizing that Christianity stuff! What if Santorum had had just a touch of Warhol? Would it have helped confuse the MSM and gotten him through their gauntlet, or would it also have confused and put off those who came out of the woods to support him, so that they wouldn't carry his cross for him? There's a fine line between being a zealot and being a goofball. OBL knew how to walk that line, while in the privacy of his own apt. in Abbottabad, he was spinning porn. Or was that just the spin?

I'll miss Santorum. I likd his clarifying aspect. Abortion is the world's worst sexual perversion.

Archie Waugh said...

I'm glad it's dead. I only wish the same could be said of current plans for a remake of the DePalma film. The 1976 movie really was lightning in a bottle, with an extraordinary cast and a script superior to the source novel.
Leave it be.

howzerdo said...

I don't know if contemporary theatre is heavy-going. Probably the most recently written play I've seen is Woman in White (2004), and I'm not sure what is "was." (Also it is based on a very old novel.) Not long ago I saw Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971); that definitely "was." In terms of religion, my husband converted to Catholicism at the Easter vigil. It came as a surprise to me last year when he told me he planned to do it. I knew he's thought about it from time to time, but I neither encouraged nor discouraged him and I did not think he would ever make the decision to do it. My mother-in-law passed away in February, and the process has been extremely helpful to him. Heavy-going? Yes, but peaceful would be a better descriptor. (I've always loved Godspell, btw. JCS, not as much.)

Carnifex said...

Oh goody! Another religion thread! Where's Crack at to make fun of us believers? It ain't a religion thread without Crack.

This is surely a play looking for the right audience.(and don't call you Shirley). The producers were duped by the success of "Little Shop of Horrors" I suspect. I imagine that they saw the live version, or better, the movie(the second one), with Steve Martin as the Sadistic Boyfriend/Dentist, remembered their youth, shivering at what is seen in slaughterhouses daily, and thinking "Score". Not even once realizing that LSofH the Musical has very little to resemble LSofH the original movie.

And when it turned out that they didn't even have to write a script or a score?! Money! and the chicks are free.

As far as religion, I have experienced the range, from repression to uplift. The uplift kind is the kind I hold in my heart. I want to help others reach their potential as beings in Gods grace, I don't want to repress anybody. I won't stop someone from sinning, but I can suggest alternative actions, the rest is up to you.

Over the weekend I confessed to chatting with a young lady in Manhattan KS who was a quadroplegic. It wasn't a genetic trait or disease that afflicted her though, it was a medical accident. While being born, her mother had a complication of some sort. The doctor tried to save her mother. Misty(the young lady) was still trying to enter the world, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. By the time this was noticed she had suffered enough damage to put her in a wheel chair for life. Her Mom died. I bring this up because of the church her father took her too. The pastor told her that her mother was wicked, and that is why God took her, and God was punishing Misty too. If I could have been there, that POS preacher would have found out how heavy and oppressive this ex-alter boys hands can be.(I know, contradictory position from above, but sometimes ya' just gotta' bitch slap the assholes of the world)

Chip Ahoy said...

Jesús cristo
súper estrella,
¿crees que eres lo que dices que eres?

No, waitwaitwait.

Jesús cristo
súper estrella,
¿Crees que eres quién dices que eres?

Sorry, changed it a little .

Peter said...

I think most consider "Broadway theater" to be a subset of "theater." And that "Broadway theater" is intended to be light (but elaborately produced) entertainment.

So, yes, some theater engages the audience in ways that may be "heavy going." But whatever Broadway is (or has been), it's not that kind of theater.

Perhaps a better question might be, what can this play offer that the movie did not?

TMink said...

Still there. Christianity is there to bend me to His will, to transform me from dust and excrement to a loving image of Him.

Not light and breezy at all!


Freeman Hunt said...

Remember when theater was heavy going, bent on shaking you out of your complacency?

Remember when religion was?

Or is it still, where you are?

It is. Depending on the church one attends.