Another EXTREMELY EXTREMELY long review, this time with multiple embeds and links! Sorry about that. But this time, I'm going to remember to use an entry cut, so that when things start getting long and detailed, you can run away! run away! (Unless you're doing this via RSS, in which case, again, sorry about that.)

So this is something I've vaguely meant to do since last year, as will become obvious almost immediately. That said, it turns out that doing it now has a certain point, as will also become obvious.

The question starting today's entry isn't entirely rhetorical. It's pretty much the question that's the core of The Wizard of Oz, if you think about it, and the question more explicitly at the core of Straight Outta Oz, the version that Todrick Hall created. Straight Outta Oz is essentially a musical retelling of his early life and his first and possibly his second trip through the Hollyweird meat grinder. (His current career is his third, I think. As far as I can tell, one phase ends before he was really able to gain any traction; the second phase ends when his MTV show was unexpectedly and unceremoniously dropped by the network. Which, when you consider that he's only about 30, is a lot to have done already.)

Unfortunately, he's taken down the original version of Straight Outta Oz, put up back in 2016. Unfortunate, both for comparison's sake and because it hangs together as a coherent whole slightly better than the current version. Mind, that isn't to say that the original structure didn't have problems, which I'll get to -- and which remain, in fact -- but that the integration of the retrofits doesn't feel entirely seamless. How much of that is due to the fact that I know what it looked like before, I'm not sure.

Excessively Detailed Musicals Wonk stuff begins ... HERE! )

Very vaguely apropos of today's entry (VERY Vaguely.), you might consider this earlier entry. You don't need to listen to anything in it -- although I will note that as part of cleaning it up and updating links after the entry's transition to Dreamwidth (embeds fared very badly indeed), I found an extra item I hadn't run across before. The new item isn't relevant to today's entry, but it may be amusing.
More likely. Definitely more likely. Also, where was the smiting? There should have been smiting! (Also: Webcomic humor.)

Technically, nothing below this line in this entry is probably safe for work. Nekkid cartoon peoples doing nekkid cartoon things and referring to nekkid cartoon body parts ahead! (Also, apparently men are stupid.)

Morning Wood Nymph

Even prehistoric superheroes aren't supposed to do THAT.

I do not believe I have ever seen "magical thinking" made to mean quite ... that.

I actually know someone this happened to. Of course, what they don't say is that it requires a few configuration steps and web pages and whatnot, but nonetheless.

FINALLY, the storyline ends. I hope.

Depends on the circumstances, I should think. (Also, that's just weird. You should at least wait until someone's wearing one, ideally. Of course, in that case, you must fear the leaf blower and its deadly winds! FEAR IT!)

...EEEEEUUUUWWWW! (That last one, mostly.)

As mentioned in the previous entry, the restaged "Ladies who Lunch" from last year's revival of Company. Sound sync is a bit off, but you can see what I mean when I say that it's not allowed to stop the show:

Just for the hell of it, the only genuinely fun song in "Company", plus a nearly invisible John Barrowman for those who care for that sort of thing.

It is, perhaps, just a bit over the top in this performance. A bit.
There's nothing quite like watching someone being totally and completely scandalized by hot muppet(ish) sex. Especially considering that from the waist down, there's nothing but wrist.

Which is to say, I saw Avenue Q this weekend. (Media Relations piece below included in its entirety; more fun stuff continues afterward!)

Media Relations: a brief musical moment

Avenue Q played its local swan song matinee at the Cadillac Palace Theater this past Saturday. It's very good, although you really do have to have seen Sesame Street and the Electric Company to quite "get" it -- but having seen it, I now understand why Wicked, despite losing the 2004 Tony Awards to Avenue Q for best book, best score and best musical -- an impressively complete rout, that -- has seriously outlasted it here as a road company. Avenue Q barely made its month-long run here, while a few blocks away at the Ford Center's Oriental Theater, Wicked -- closing at the end of the year -- went for three years of overtime past the original scheduled run. Wicked is bizarrely depressing yet somehow uplifting, while Avenue Q is a happy bouncy musical about people seeming to overcome that throws a perky yet downbeat ending at you out of nowhere. Funny, and yet a general message of "Life sucks and you just have to give up your dreams for a while and deal like a grown-up (unless you luck into someone with ten million to spare)" just isn't likely to bring in the teenaged girl repeat audience the same way that the (seriously altered from the book) "girl empowerment" message of Wicked will -- or the grownups either, for that matter. And it's easier to accept, or even ignore, the fact that Elphaba doesn't precisely come to a good end because ... well, by god, she got her dream, more or less. She found her purpose. It may have killed her, but she found it. "Go for your dream, whatever the cost" is a much more palatable message than "give up your dream, it costs too much."

In the DVD documentary Show Business, they show the path to Broadway taken by both Wicked and by Avenue Q, as well as the ill-fated Taboo and Caroline, or Change. What they didn't show, and I wish they had because it must have happened, is the increasingly intense discussion between the composers and the producers of Avenue Q, who would have been looking at the final song and thinking, "Are you SURE you want to do this to this weirdly fun musical? Really? REALLY?" Because it really is seriously weird fun, and the moments just before the last song can only be described as Happy Endings Gone Seriously Weird, Yet Still Happy, and then the main character realizes that he hasn't yet found his purpose in life, and the entire cast sings a song that basically says, "Yeah, well, a lot of people never find their purpose, so suck it up and deal and settle like they do." And, well ... that's a freaky weird ending to stick on a show. It leaves you feeling sort of ... "Ha ha ha! Oh, my goodness, that was fun ... and now I never want to think about it again."

EDIT: And, as everything is on Youtube, I present the closing song from Avenue Q, "For Now":

"George Bush" gets a tremendous cheer from the audience, by the by.

Second: recently saw the DVD of Sondheim's Company, the restaging featuring Raul Esparza. Really interesting, and I kind of sort of understand why it would have been such a big deal in its day. And I really admire the restaging of "The Ladies who Lunch" in the current version; it takes a certain sort of chutzpah to restage a number specifically designed to be a show stopper in a way that absolutely does not allow it to stop the show -- it flows into the following scene in such a way that the audience not only doesn't get a chance to applaud, but kind of recoils because the character seems like she's about to have a bit of a breakdown.

EDIT: And, of course, this version of "The Ladies Who Lunch" is available on Youtube, as is everything else in the world these days.

Watching this production also made me feel a bit sorry for Esparza; given the particular way he was rebuilding his life at the time, it must have been like playing eight weekly doses of irony. But I am glad that I finally saw the thing in its entirety -- I've seen pieces here and there, and I don't care how good an actor he is, I really do not like thinking of Dean Jones in quite that way, thanks -- and now I can serenely ignore it forever more. (Well ... I tend to like Sondheim's music, but not necessarily the musicals that surround them. Company has the severe dramatic problem of having a character holding the center who is not only not really all that sympathetic -- which is fine -- but who is primarily both reactive and muted -- which is not.)

And finally, who the hell IS Cubby Bernstein, and how did he get La Lupone to do this?



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