A few months ago, I was asked if I'd like to attend a musical - with the hopes that I'd review it. I declined.
I have conflicting personal policies in cases like this. Policy #1: I will go to anything for which I've been given free tickets. Policy #2: I try to accentuate the positive eliminate the negative latch on to the affirmative when it comes to the arts. Musicals are a conundrum because let's face it, there are no affirmatives. I avoid them like the plague, no matter how free the tickets are.
You can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine invited me to go see a musical with her. Invited is perhaps not the right word. She begged. She bribed. She offered scones. And in some sort of weak moment, I agreed to go.
It became evident to both of us early on that it was a mistake. "I owe you A LOT of scones," she whispered.
Maybe if she had gone with a fan of the genre, she would have had a better Musical Experience. She wouldn't have noticed that the band inevitably sounds honky and plinky - no matter how talented the musicians are. I think the music is just written that way. Or the person who arranged the music for all the musicals I've ever seen (in 6 states and two countries) has a deranged sense of humor and is going for "that plinky, honky sound."
Maybe if she had gone with a fan, she would have heard the intentional comedy and let the missed notes slide by unnoticed. Maybe she also would have found the incongruous nature of the songs endearing. Maybe she could have really enjoyed the dance numbers (which I found myself enjoying, in spite of myself).
I think it's safe to say that going to something with someone who hates that something will very likely ruin it for you. I am thinking of art films and old boyfriends. You just sit there and see it through their eyes. And it's not good.
And what is it about the musical genre that lends itself so easily to spoofing? I felt like I was watching either an episode of the Simpsons or a Christopher Guest movie. Except I love the Simpsons and Christopher Guest.
This one really nailed the musicalness of musicals: the distinct sound of the band; the relentless bursting into song; the sporadic shining moments of real comedy or memorable harmonies; the addictive melodies that are really best left at the theater.
Given my childhood, the sound of those melodies should fill me with waves of unicorn-and-soap-bubble-colored nostalgia.
But the scones? Made it all worth while.
(Marilee - I have never seen a musical Berke has played in. I am sure I would loathe it less than usual.)