Saturday, June 02, 2007

No Longer A Whack Job: Musicals Get Respect

No Longer A Whack Job: Musicals Get Respect

Taking note of how even characters from television's gritty powerhouse "The Sopranos" are no longer afraid of being caught dead seeing Broadway musicals -- although one was killed off (by stroke) after seeing Jersey Boys, Variety's David Rooney makes it official in his story, "Mainstream Embracing Musicals": the artform is back in vogue.

Why the re-emgergence? Rooney notes that Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer "credits the flamboyant, realism-flouting aesthetic of Baz Luhrmann films like 'Strictly Ballroom,' 'Romeo + Juliet' and 'Moulin Rouge' for helping to open the minds of a new generation to the language of musicals. 'There was a kitschiness to them that I think a lot of young people responded to,' he suggests."

It's certainly no coincidence that after "Moulin Rouge" made its way into theatres in early summer 2001, Hollywood once again realized the commercial potential of the musical artform and began looking in earnest at properties that had long been gathering dust, such as "Dreamgirls" and the Academy Award winning "Chicago." And the best part is that audiences have responded.

That audience response has resulted in, according to Rooney, musicals "once again becoming part of the pop-culture consciousness, exerting an influence on advertising, chart-topping songs and, of course, movies."

As Mayer so eloquently states, "There's a new chic to the concept of the musical that wasn't there before."

I'll drink to that!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Musicals Versus Plays: You Decide (January 5, 2007)

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At 02 June, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting article. I hadn't thought about the impact of shows like Ameican Idol in bringing musical performance into Americans' living rooms on a regular basis. And I didn't realize that musicals account for 90 percent of the Broadway box office. I knew the figure was high, but I didn't think it was that high! It reminded me of something I learned from Broadway: The American Musical documentary, that show tunes used to be "the" American popular music. Sounds like they're regaining some of that clout!

At 02 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther - You and I are "old enough" to remember all the great variety shows... "Ed Sullivan," "Carol Burnett" and even "Sonny & Cher."

Music had been missing on television for such a long period of time that I personally believe when the events of 9/11 unfolded, America was looking for a salve. "American Idol" came along at just the right time, as did musicals like The Producers (which made its debut not long before that horrific day), Hairspray and Wicked.

Perhaps then, it's no surprise that while real musicals -- unlike fare including Contact and Swing --have enjoyed a real bona fide renaissance (although I'm quick to add that it appears to come at the expense, to some degree, of plays.

At 04 June, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From your lips to God's ears!


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