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there's a blaze of light in every word

1.19.2010

If you have the time, go read this post by my friend Kj on atonement, sacrifice, and the cross. I don't know how you'll take it, but I think I need to read it every week like a devotional.

The cross should not be a symbol of sacrifice God required, but instead, a proclamation from God, saying, “No more."




If you are lonely then you will know, when someone needs you, you love them so. I won't betray his trust though people say I must.



I have a confession to make that may surprise you. Until last night, I had never seen Oliver! (1968) and was wholly unfamiliar with the show except for recognizing a handful of songs. It seems wrong to me that I haven't seen it until now, musical lover that I am, but now I don't feel it was much of a loss. I won't say I hated it. If anything, many of the songs were very quality and I liked the choreography. But let me say that having never read Oliver Twist, I was very unprepared for (SPOILER) Nancy's death. You know, the one by the hand of her boyfriend Bill. In a cruel beating in the street.

My immediate reaction was "I AM NEVER SHOWING THIS MUSICAL TO MY CHILDREN." Such explicit domestic violence! Such a horrendous abusive relationship! A woman singing a love song of devotion to a man who is not only a criminal, but an absolute ASS to her. And she's lovely and good! (Not that her moral fiber makes a difference--she doesn't deserve it no matter her character or behavior.) I couldn't believe it. Is Nancy and Bill's relationship the same in the book? Because they should have changed it for the musical.

But then I started thinking, wait, do you show this musical to your children but with great intention, discussing with them afterward what they saw and fully explaining it's total wrongness? Technically the film doesn't excuse Bill's behavior--it definitely makes him out to be the villain. But I'm more concerned about the character of Nancy, and how her fierce devotion to Bill is somehow to be praised and admired! Give me Anna in The King and I any day over her, who doesn't stop at admitting the faults in the man she loves, but actually calls him out and confronts him over them (plus, the King is a much more complicated character than Bill Sikes, so it's not really a fair comparison).

I mean, GOOD GRIEF. It's on par with Julie in Carousel ('sometimes a slap feels like a kiss!'), but even worse! (Weird how the abusive man in Carousel has the name Bill as well.) The character of Nancy is all-around great, except for her ridiculous and terrifying love for this abusive, sociopathic criminal, giving me enough reason to not want to show this to kids, EVER. What do you think? I guess it depends on the kids age, but there are some things I think I would just refuse to expose to them, no matter how quality it may be on other levels (music, other redeeming characters, etc.). I'd much rather their favorite musicals contain strong female characters like Maria in The Sound of Music, Anita in West Side Story, Nora in Pete's Dragon, hell, even Sally Bowles is a better role model!

My Oz.

1.15.2010


This is the new love in my life. He's 3, loves to be petted all the time, and I got him at Cat City. Beware: dedications and tributes to him may become the bulk of this blog. He's worth it.

"He's just the same as anyone, I know. He scares me so! When he's cold and dead will he let me be? Does he love me too? Does he care for me?"

1.13.2010

A few years ago I watched Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) for the second time and something just clicked. Suddenly the score was all I could listen to for weeks (its fantastic in the car), I spent hours comparing the original concept album to the film soundtrack, and researching the show's history and origins. It quickly became one of my top 10 musicals.

Unfortunately most people who I subsequently try to 'share the magic' with are underwhelmed. If you are one of these people, no worries. If you don't feel it, you don't feel it. BUT HOW CAN YOU NOT FEEL IT? I don't understand! I would never have guessed that this show was written by two atheists with only one musical under their belts. But the genius and power of it is undeniable.

Of the two musicals about the events of Gospels, I love both Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. But the tone of each is very different--specifically in the portrayals of Jesus. Victor Garber's Jesus in Godspell is goofy, good-natured, sweet, and light-hearted. He's tender and friendly with his followers, treating them as companions. In Jesus Christ Superstar, Ted Neeley's portrayal of Jesus is so striking because he shows how hard it must have been for Jesus during his ministry on earth, and the weight of his responsibilities and destiny. I love how in "Gethsemane" he is clearly scared and confused and angry with God about his fate, but ultimately trusting. Or that moment during "Hosanna" when everyone sings "Hey JC, JC, won't you DIE for me" and the look of surprise on his face (2:49)! Did Jesus always know that he would need to die? And as they ask in "Superstar," did he need to die like he did?

My friend Jennifer got us tickets to see the one-night only performance of Ted Neeley at the local theatre last night. I'd never seen the show on stage, so it was such a delight. It's hard to know though how much the version we saw is like the original staging, or if its been adapted to be as much like the movie as possible, since Ted is in it and all. Either way, it was thrilling.

I always love an opportunity to see a beloved actor reprise the role I've come to associate with them, so know that seeing Ted Neeley was a complete delight. Despite his age, he was still able to impress us with his rock-wails. The only problem was that he's maybe become a bit too comfortable in his role, foregoing all the commanding power and heavy burdens of his Jesus in the film. He was great at his interactions with the disciples, but during scenes when he was supposed to "look worried" and "hold on to problems that upset [him]" he looked way too happy. He also tended to pretend to talk to God a little too much, something he rarely if ever did in the film.

Seeing Ted of course made me wonder what it would have been like to see Carl Anderson, the Judas from the movie. Last night's Judas was cute and had a decent voice, but his acting was sub-par. His emotional intensity was nowhere near where it should have been. I've come to realize that Carl's Judas is pure perfection to me. I certainly like Murray Head, but Carl Anderson is THE SHIT as Judas.

Watch him in "Judas' Death," the song that I've quoted in the title of this post. His reprise of "I Don't Know How To Love Him" is just beyond belief (skip to 2:49). And don't even get me started on "Heaven On Their Minds."



Ok, ok, enough about Carl Anderson. Last night's production was low-key in effects and choreography, but it was still moving. Some scenes were a bit clunky ("The Temple", "Trial Before Pilate"), and "Superstar" wasn't as hair-raising as it could have been, but overall the show was gripping, fluid, and memorable. There's something so satisfying about the music in this show that is different than shows like Wicked or A Chorus Line or even Company (Sorry, Sondheim). It's just a stellar rock opera, and when those notes are hit--both musically and emotionally--GAH, it takes no prisoners!

I can't wait to see it again!

God lives in Frederick's "La-ti-ti"

1.04.2010



If you ever get the chance to go to a Sound of Music sing-along, TAKE IT.