The sporadic ramblings of Emily C. A. Snyder - devoted to God, theatre, writing, and much randominity.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Artistic Director and Co-Founder of TURN TO FLESH PRODUCTIONS. | Author of "Nachtstürm Castle," "Niamh and the Hermit." | Playwright: "Cupid and Psyche," "Math for Actors." | Classical director and educator.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Look at the time!

Or rather, don't. So, yeah, I know it's the Lord's Day but I was feeling all unproductive and so I thought, "Well, I'll just edit the next scene (Sue Me) from G&D and then call it a night." Only, of course, it was so close to the end, that I kept saying, "Well, I can just do this scene (Sit Down) and this scene (Marry the Man Today) and well I'm already here (Finale) so I think I'll just finish(Bows)." Good golly. So, yay, now just for extras! Huzzah!

Anywho...so I saw Jekyll and Hyde today on YouTube, which has been wunderschoene for uploading musicals, such as selections from the original Sweeney Todd as well as the (I think) far superior concert version with Patty LuPone as Mrs. Lovett.

Of the first, J&H, I found myself giggling uncontrollably. And I realized it was a combination of three atrocious things (in no particular order):

1) The Score: It's simply trying too hard to be the new Les Miserables and it isn't yet The Scarlet Pimpernel. The music is just TOOOOOO over-the-top. Not one bit of it rests, or allows for comedy - or, heck, even a metzo-piano! Everything is so gosh-darned serious from the get-go. It's like the play's trying to be one long climax - but it just ends up being silly. Also, the lyrics are often painful. I tried to forgive them, I tried, I tried, because I know I'm not the world's best lyricist, but seriously it sounds like the guy sat down with a rhyming dictionary and felt determined to use every single bloody rhyme listed in whatever stanza he was writing. They actually rhyme "pain" and "insane" - which I really had been put to rest by Goth Freshmen Girls. Boooooo.

2) The Casting: I think if Jekyll/Hyde weren't the "I'm-trying-REALLY-hard-to-ACT!" Hasselhoff, it might have been more salvageable. But his random American accent next to British ones, his overacting unhelped by the role, his - let's face it - ginormous barrel-chested body is better suited for Gaston than for a mild-mannered man who turns bad. And he isn't helped by a mealy mouthed soprano for a plot-point fiancee and dour-faced chorus members. When the second-banana prostitute is upstaging everyone, you know you're in trouble.

3) The Director: First, the casting would have been solved had the director cared to solve it. Half his problems would have been gone. (Example: the upstaging prostitute almost made me forget her horrible lyrics and flailing dramatics.) The other half of his problems, i.e., the score, he could have at least alleviated by not asking his actors to sing everything at the top of their lungs. He might have had a hand in allowing the (surely) frustrated choreographer to do more with the actors than have them either reprise the hunched movements from "At the End of the Day" from Les Mis or random hands-in-air a la every and any community theatre. He might, in fact, have had a vision worth seeing. (He might also have demanded rewrites....)

Oh, it was bad. It's just bad bad bad. But much fun to watch and laugh at and enjoy (and mourn) those bits that do work, and try not to be thrown by the Scarlet Pimpernel notes that make their way incessantly into the second act. Let this play serve as a warning of how not to write a musical. Sigh. Perhaps I'll tackle a version one day. After all, there've been several Phantoms out....

As it is, my brain is fried, I've got a day full of practicing Birdie songs, voice lesson and then fun with Jills planned, so perhaps sleep might be on the calendar, non? Because if the wild Emily does not sleep, she looks like this:

Sky and Sarah (Funny)

Mood: Smug. Two birds. One stone.
Music: Mental Snow Queen ("Philosophy Song") - can't shake it, don't want to just yet. It's still percolating....
Thought: It's gooooooooooood to be closer to done.

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