Monday, 30 March 2009

Cultural Magpie: New Musicals

Since new musical Spring Awakening failed to totally impress me, although it was great (read my londonist Spring Awakening review here), I've been on the look out for other new musicals, and having a think about some old ones too.

Exciting news here on the new Phantom of the Opera sequel. It's called Love Never Dies, which strikes me as a cross between a Bond film title, and a Celine Dion song. I wonder what it'll be like?!

Baz Bamigboye (not being a Mail (urgh) reader, I have no idea who he is) says a few interesting things about it. Here's the main stuff, so you don't have to read the Mail yourself:

From what I've heard, it sounds like the best work Andrew has produced in decades. I confess, I didn't know he still had it in him - it's a score of high passion, full of longing and regret.

Director O'Brien noted that the music - and the show's story - are about maturity. "Not only that, but a vast repository of his [Lloyd Webber's] own life and themes are coming back and being newly re-explored."

He added pointedy: "He's not phoning this in - it's all new stuff."

Indeed, it is a completely different sound to the main melodies in the original Phantom show - however, the composer noted that there are a couple of tiny motifs that will be familiar to the many millions who have seen Phantom on stage or screen.

Slater observed that the first Phantom was driven, emotionally, by youthful insecurities. This older Phantom is driven by adult regrets. "It's about choices and consequences," O'Brien added. "This is about the road not taken."

This has me swinging between toe-curling anxiety and appreciative nodding.
  1. Clever, making it about maturity (they've learnt something from Mamma Mia! etc)
  2. Good, it's got a new sound, but still keeps some "tiny, familiar motifs" (well, duh, it's ALW, isn't it?!)
  3. Positive noises, "full of passion, full of longing, full of regret" - all fine by me
  4. Yes, enjoying the use of the Jon Stewart favourite: "phoning it in." And pleased that ALW isn't. Cos I think it'd be quite a complicated process were he to try
But what do we do with the news that "the Phantom (is) living in a fairground on Coney Island. He is somehow reunited with Christine, now married to Raoul and with a son"??

Terrible, terrible, terrible ideas. "Somehow" in a plot summary has all kinds of alarm bells a-jangling, right?

I was thinking yesterday about some of the more dreadful lyrics from Spring Awakening, and wondering whether I was being a little harsh, being so down on them. Afterall, the programme notes made sure we were aware that they were deliberately gauche and teenage. But I can't see this as an excuse.

I was sitting on the bus, trawling the musicals of my mind, and this, from the sloppiest of them all, still makes my skin tingle:
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation,
Darkness wakes and stirs imagination,
Silently the senses abandon their defences
Helpless to resist the notes I write (Phantom)

Then there's this, which is still beautiful after all this time.
Don't listen for those bells, for love is only love
And if it's love you've found, your heart won't hear a sound
But if you're really wise, the silence of his eyes
Will tell you love is only love, and it's wonderful enough (Hello Dolly!)
I could go on. (Please don't.)

Let's hope, wherever ALW's musical odyssey is going with this New York Bond Film Phantom Sequel, he's got a decent lyricist on hand. Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, Don Black, that kind of thing.

Other new musicals I've picked up on my magpie rounds:
  1. Heathers?? Laurence O'Keefe, who wrote the score for Legally Blonde, is penning the songs; Reefer Madness director Andy Fickman and writer Kevin Murphy are part of the project; and it's got the blessing of the original movie's production team
  2. Ghost?? heading to the West End next year, with music by Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics, and Glen Ballard, who produced Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill
For this week's musical dose, I'm heading to the New Wimbledon Theatre for some reassuringly old school fun: Singin' In The Rain.

Altogether now: "Make em laugh, make em laugh..."

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