Originally published on It’s Not Where You Start.
Don’t freak out, this isn’t a post about my love life. At least, not my romantic life. This is about my first love: musicals.
Within my general obsession with musical theater, there are a few areas I find particularly interesting, all of which can be grouped under the rubric of transformations. I am fascinated with the way stories are told and retold, and few storytelling arenas are as obsessed with retelling as musical theater.
I love to read/watch the books, plays, and movies that musicals were based on to see how the composers, lyricists, bookwriters, directors et al applied their craft. For example, my already huge admiration for Oscar Hammerstein II grew exponentially after reading Edna Ferber’s original novel Show Boat. The way that Hammerstein transformed the central metaphor of the book — Magnolia’s relationship with the Mississippi River — into the central metaphor of the show — Magnolia’s relationship with the musical stage — is genius. Continue reading
Originally published on my long-defunct Livejournal.
Watch the film version of South Pacific and take a drink every time the world changes color.
Listen to the cast album of Evil Dead the Musical and take a drink every time there’s a line that doesn’t even come close to rhyming.
Bring out the karaoke and take a drink every time someone forgets a lyric; alternatively, take a drink every time one of the queens shrieks “I was going to do that song!” when someone else gets up to sing.
Read selections from a novelization of a musical (my suggestion: the novel of Grease, by Ron DeChrisophero) and take a drink every time a song is awkwardly conveyed in prose.
Originally published on Fynsworth Alley.
Most people know you from Side Show, but before that, you had an Off-Broadway hit with PAGEANT…..how did that show develop and where did the idea come from?
Pageant has a long, involved history… In the mid-eighties a bunch of guys I knew were on tour with 42nd Street and had been for a while. They were in Boston and decided to do a drag pageant for the rest of the company. They were staying at the Bradford Hotel, so they called it the “Miss Bradford Pageant” and threw it together. Since they were all gypsies, they did some production numbers, one being “I Enjoy Being a Girl.” Bobby Longbottom was one of that group, and he called me to say he thought the idea had the makings of an off-Broadway show. I was dubious — I’d never been a big drag aficionado and thought beauty pageants had been satirized to death, but then I received a video of the “Miss Bradford Pageant” and couldn’t stop laughing. Also, because the cast was Broadway gypsies, the talent on display was considerably better than in real pageants. At the time I was collaborating on a revue called The Texas Chainsaw Musical with Frank Kelly and Albert Evans and got them interested in Pageant. We did a showcase production in 1986, which was very successful and extended, but it took until 1991 for a producer to take it to off-Broadway. Last year I directed the European premiere at the King’s Head Theatre in London (a fringe theatre), and that production transferred to the West End. I’m happy to report we just received two Olivier Award Nominations. I’m about to direct the show in Chicago. Luckily, pageants are so retro anyway that the show hasn’t dated… Continue reading