Thanks For The Movie Musicals, But I Want Proshots

As you should have read in my Monthly Look Ahead, September brought unto me a lot of musicals, which is wonderful, and honestly, all the other months should step up their game and do the same. Now, I’m not someone who’s great at critiques, but I wanted to talk about some of the content we’ve gotten this month and why some of it hasn’t been as great as I wanted it to be.

This is not your best work gif.

Dear Evan Hansen is a good musical. I’ve seen it on stage and I do love it. The music is great, the story is interesting, and I think Ben Platt was great in the role…six years ago. Ben Platt reprised the awkward teenage role at age 27 for the movie version of the musical that came out this month, and it was not stellar. Even from the trailer, it was clear that this movie was not capturing the magic of the Broadway version. One tweet I think about a lot said it looked like a low-budget Christian movie, and that’s very accurate, despite big names in the cast. Maybe it was poor direction or maybe it was just that such a heavy show couldn’t translate to a movie as well, but the movie was lackluster. From cutting out the opening song to Evan’s constant whispering to the slight plot change at the end, I have some qualms. I’d see the show live again in a heartbeat, but I’m certainly not itching to see the movie anytime soon.

Ben Platt in the Dear Evan Hansen movie gif.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a story similar to Dear Evan Hansen in many ways, but its movie was a lot better. I still missed some of the cut songs, but I think the changes they made to adapt it to a film were mostly well done. Why did Jamie succeed when Evan failed? I can’t say for certain, as again, I am not a critic.

What I do know, though, was a proshot of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie already existed. The movie was good and all, but if you want to see the musical in the way it was intended to be seen (without actually seeing it live), go watch that. Proshots are underrated forms of consuming theater, and I’m mad they’re not more available. The Come From Away proshot came out this month and it’s wonderful. The show is wonderful, and seeing it in HD is great because you still see the magic of the production but close up and without losing aspects to a movie format. The stage allows for a big performance, so it can get more dramatic or silly when it needs to be because we expect and enjoy it on stage.

Show me the good stuff gif.

There’s this big argument that’s often thrown around when talking about the b-word (bootlegs) and it’s that the reason why proshots aren’t too common is because of all the licensing fees and contracts and stuff that’d be needed for proshots to exist. And I’m sure that’s all true, but—and people are welcome to correct me here—it seems like a more cost-effective way of getting musicals into the world than making a full movie musical. No expensive actors, no building full sets, no rewrites, just filming/editing a show people already love and want to see in the way people already love and want to see it. And it can still be shown in theaters like Newsies was years ago.

At the end of the day, as much as there are some great movie versions of musicals in existence (I will defend Mamma Mia until the day I die), something is always lost in translation, and it’s unfortunate that in some cases, like Dear Evan Hansen‘s, it will ruin the reputation, no matter how good elements may be. Movie musicals should be for the fans and while I can’t speak for all of them, I feel like most of the fans just want to see the musical, not the artsy, stunt-casted watered-down version that we often get from these things. Case in point: Cats.

Cats Movie GIF.
Zero people asked for this. Zero.

What are your thoughts? Are you running to theaters to see Dear Evan Hansen? Are you disappointed with the quality of some movie musicals? Do you not care as long as we’re getting some musical content? Comment below your opinions!

 

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Monthly Look Ahead: September 2021

Well, this summer has flown by. But I’m not too sad about it because, as you’ll see from the first three bullets I have here, September is a very musical month, and it should not be news to you readers that I do love me some musicals. There’s actually a lot of interesting media out this month that I’m looking forward to. Usually I try to have at least one not-media thing on this list, but not this time!

monthly look ahead logo

  • A recording of the musical Come From Away, starring most if not all of the original cast, is out on AppleTV on the 10th. I love this show so much, and I highly recommend getting a box of tissues and watching it. It’s so sweet and so well done in a simple way.
  • The Dear Evan Hansen movie is coming out on the 24th. It’s kind of weird that Ben Platt is still playing a teenager, and I’ll be interested to see how this show translates to a movie given that the music is kind of deep and not as dance-y as most, but I’m still excited. I do really like this show.
  • After getting delayed several times because of the pandemic, the movie of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is finally coming out via Amazon. I only got into this show last fall, but the music is very good, and it’s a fun show, so I’m looking forward to it! (Also on Amazon this month but it doesn’t warrant its own bullet is a Cinderella musical. No one asked for another live action Cinderella, and I can’t say I’m a Camilla Cabello fan, but it is a musical, so I likely will watch it eventually).
  • Though I know very little about the character, Marvel’s Shang-Chi is out on the 4th, and I am excited to see it because a) there’s a dragon(!), b) it’s starring a Canadian, and c) it’s Marvel, and Marvel movies rarely disappoint.
    The dragon in Shang-Chi.
  • On the small screen, The Morning Show is back for a second season. As heavy as the first season was, it was very entertaining for my mother and I, so we’re looking forward to more. Other small screen returns this month include A Million Little Things and Doom Patrol.
  • I can’t even believe it’s time for fall TV already! Maybe because Arrowverse shows aired all summer it feels like there wasn’t a break (as if 2020 wasn’t a break in itself), but I’m looking at the calendar and yes, new shows will be starting! There are only a few I have my eye on, though, including The Big Leap on the 20th, and maybe a few NBC shows that I’ve yet to see trailers for.
  • The Emmys as well as a weird, delayed, and chopped version of The Tonys are this month.

Aaand that’s it (or, that’s all I can remember to include. It is 1am at the time of writing). It’s wild that this was supposed to be the month where I get my second vaccine, but Canada expedited things so I’ve been in the clear for a while now! I’ve been to a party!

What’s revving your engines this September?

 

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The World Needs More Multi-Song Songs

In the past several years, I’ve developed a love and appreciation for the music of my parents’ youth. There’s a radio station in Toronto that plays only 70’s, 80’s and 90’s music, and I would listen to it all day while writing essays in school and while at work. I now know songs from 1983 better than I do songs from 2019, which works out great when the curling club has dances because me and the boomers just vibe to the likes of Supertramp and Phil Collins, an experience that sadly does not happen when I go to an actual club with my peers.

Anyway, obviously, popular mainstream music has changed a lot since the 80’s, and one of those changes I’ve noticed a lack of are those multi-song songs (is there a better word for it?). Like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘, a song that has stood the test of time so well everyone knows it, even the kids of today. That song has four distinct sections all in one song, and it switches so well that you’re not even bothered. It completely throws out the basic format of a song, but it works and we all accept it.

We dig it gif.

Two other songs that are similar to this are ‘Scenes From An Italian Restaurant‘ by Billy Joel and ‘Paradise By The Dashboard Light‘ by Meatloaf. Like Queen’s song, these are amazing, iconic pieces of music that should be praised.

I’m sure there are other multi-song songs out there, but I don’t know any. From 2007 to about 2015, I kept up with mainstream music a lot so I can almost confidently say there were none in that time. I recently asked my brother if he knows of any, as he knows all the artists and rappers of today, and he said “oh, yeah, ‘Sicko Mode‘” but I had him play it for me as we waited in a Burger King drive thru and it really does not change at all, so no.

This is not what I want gif.
Me listening to ‘Sicko Mode’ as my brother tries to convince me he’s right

I will say that the recent exceptions are musical theater songs, but I don’t know if they count, because they’re formatted like that not as a simple artistic choice but so it can strategically be used to progress the show’s plot through song, and often the bits of song are melodies from other parts of the musical. (Fun side note: interestingly enough all three multi-song songs I’ve mentioned above have been used in musicals). I tried to find examples of some multi-song musical songs that don’t really reuse melodies but the only one I could think of was ‘The Duel‘ from Natasha, Pierre, And The Great Comet Of 1812.

In conclusion, the world needs more multi-song songs. They’re good and fun. Other than that, I don’t really have a point to this post. It’s just something I spend way too much time thinking about for no reason. And hopefully I’ve got you thinking about it now too.

You Better Think gif.

That’s all for now!

 

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My Least Favourite Songs From My Favourite Musicals

There are so many great musicals out there. My list of favourites only keeps growing, but it’s okay because my heart and ears have no limit. Of course, just because I love a musical, it doesn’t mean I love every single song, and today I wanted to discuss which songs are my least favourite in the shows I hold closest to my heart. Not every song can be amazing. These are just my opinions and just a fun way for us to discuss musicals.

that's my opinion gif.

‘When All Is Said And Done’ from Mamma Mia (Listen here)
This song isn’t in the stage production, but it is in the movie, and it is without a doubt the boring-est song of the show. We all know that Pierce Brosnan is not a spectacular singer, but this song really highlights this whereas it’s not nearly as evident in songs like ‘SOS’. Not to mention that it really doesn’t do much in terms of the plot.

‘Dear Old Shiz’ from Wicked (Listen here)
Wicked‘s great songs are really great but the other songs are honestly not anything amazing, and this song in particular is really unnecessary and slow and doesn’t really have any sort of lasting melody to hold on to. Plus, the musical barely focuses on Shiz, so I find it unnecessary.

‘Letters From The Refuge’ from Newsies (Listen here)
I’m technically cheating with this song as it was added to the show for the national tour and therefore was not on Broadway or the soundtrack, but still. As much as it was sweet to hear from Crutchie, using the same ‘Santa Fe’ melody again kind of made the song forgettable and we kind of already knew the refuge was not a great place anyway, so the song doesn’t really help much in getting that point across. I don’t think it needed to be added to the show at all. (If I had to pick a least favourite song from the soundtrack, it’d probably be ‘That’s Rich’ for no reason other than I love the other songs more).

Crutchie writing his letter to Jack.

‘Meet Me Inside’ from Hamilton (Listen here)
As someone who is not a huge fan of rap/hip-hop, there are a few songs on this soundtrack that musically don’t thrill me but they advance the plot well or are well written, but this song is not one of them. I can’t describe the heartbeat-esque sound that’s happening in the second half, but it makes me uneasy. Plus, this song just really shows how much of an idiot Hamilton can be.

‘Legally Blonde Remix’ from Legally Blonde (Listen here)
This is supposed to be a big moment in the show where things turn around for Elle, but I just don’t enjoy how this song was done. They add up the tempo of the song ‘Legally Blonde’ that was so deep and heartbreaking, made the lyrics so disjointed by having so many parts to it that feel so rushed, and then had this long dance break that isn’t fun to listen to unless you’re watching it on stage. Like, we get it, she’s legally blonde. You don’t have to say it 5000 times.

‘What A Woman Wants’ from Kinky Boots (Listen here)
I find this song annoying. The “whatta man, whatta man” bits are so annoying and the salsa-dancing vibes feel out of place in the soundtrack. I just skip this song whenever I listen to the soundtrack because I just do not enjoy it.

‘Climbing Uphill’ from The Last Five Years (Listen here)
I adore so much about The Last Five Years, but I cannot stand this song. I don’t mind the first part (though I don’t love it by any means) but when it turns to Cathy’s audition, I just hate it. I understand what they were trying to do, but I just don’t like it. And then the song does shift back to tolerable parts, but the Anna Kendrick version ends so suddenly, which is just awkward to listen to. Of course, is the Broadway version where it ends with Jamie snapping at Cathy better? Unsure. It’s bad all around.

Cathy at her audition.

‘Requiem’ from Dear Evan Hansen (Listen here)
I just find this song boring. It’s sung well and all, but just boring. And especially compared to other songs in this show that are just so powerful. I know a lot of people dislike ‘To Break In A Glove’ but I kind of like that one more.

‘Club Knocked Up’ from Waitress (Listen here)
I debated whether or not this 46-second nonsense really counts as a song, but it does. It’s annoying and an instant-skip for me.

‘Lead Us Out Of The Night’ from Come From Away (Listen here)
This show is so music heavy and every song has so much info and flows together so well that it’s hard to pick one that’s a least favourite, but I picked ‘Lead Us Out Of The Night’ because it’s kind of slow and haunting and uncomfortable. I know that’s the goal, but compared to the other songs, this one is weaker for sure.

‘Those Canaan Days’ from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Listen here)
I know this show jumps around in style a decent amount, but the French vibes in this song just don’t do anything for me here. Plus this song is far too long and droning. It’s the fourth longest song of the show, and all it’s saying is that Joseph’s brothers are not thriving. Pass.

Those Canaan Days.

If you’ve yet to see/listen to one of these musicals listed, don’t let this post deter you. Truthfully, while these songs are my least favourite, most are not at all bad and if it weren’t for this post where I actually had to pick them, I wouldn’t really have least favourites. Does that make sense?

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you agree with my choices for least favourite? What are some of your other least favourite songs in your favourite musicals?

That’s all for now!

 

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5 Musicals I Disliked While Everyone Else Seemed To Like

I love musicals, but I don’t love all musicals. There’s no musical that I hate, but there are some that I have no desire to see again. I mean, I wouldn’t turn down free tickets ever, but I would not pay to see these five shows in particular. However, I must note, that I have not seen these five musicals live on stage, and perhaps my dislike would change if I saw them in that format, but it’s unlikely.

1. Falsettos
The revival of Falsettos in 2016 got so much hype, probably because it had a pretty recognizable cast including Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, and Stephanie J Block. The show was even pro-shot! And then people were raging when it lost the Tony for Best Revival. But I was kind of glad because I did not like the show. They were all good singers, but I just found the music and the plot so boring. I was bored. I listened to the soundtrack too to see if there was at least a song that would stick with me, but nothing did. I understand that the show has some powerful moments, some sad moments, but it was not enough to hook me in. I was just forcing my way through.
falsettos musical.

2. SpongeBob SquarePants
I grew up watching SpongeBob so I was very familiar with the characters and setting. The musical did a lot of things right (for example, I like how they made them human-esque rather than in mascot costumes), but overall, I just did not love it. Maybe kids would. My two main issues with this show were that a) the music was kind of dull considering they had so many great, talented names behind the songs, and b) the plot was so different from the TV show’s shenanigans. SpongeBob is a fry cook. He works and catches jellyfish and hangs out with Patrick. Bikini Bottom is pretty normal. Yet in the show, there’s a volcano going to erupt, and it’s up to SpongeBob, Sandy, and Patrick to save the city while everyone else has a concert fundraiser so they can afford to evacuate. It’s just kind of not a typical SpongeBob scenario, and I was kind of disappointed overall.
Spongebob musical.

3. Moulin Rouge
I had friends who were obsessed with this movie, but when I watched it, I was not into it. It was just too weird, and I just didn’t like any of the characters. It was a little too artsy for me. That being said, if I come across a bootleg for the current Broadway production of Moulin Rouge, I will probably give it a go, if for nothing other than Aaron Tveit. I’ve heard that the soundtrack is good, and they picked some good modern songs to be a part of the medleys.
Moulin rouge.

4. The Book Of Mormon
This is a very popular show that’s toured all around the world, and while it is a very funny show at points and has a few good songs, I think it’s just too vulgar for me. It’s written by the people who made South Park, so it’s not a surprise that this show does not hold back on making jokes about any topic. A lot of it is just gross, unrepeatable jokes that you could not make in any other setting. For a society so concerned that everyone and their dog is politically correct, I am honestly surprised this show has survived. Either way, I was not a fan of this show. When we went to New York a few years ago, my mother innocently suggested we go see it, but I shut that idea down real fast because you could not pay me to sit next to my fairly conservative parents and see that show.
Book of mormon.

5. Chicago
The one and only time I saw Chicago was the movie version at a sleepover in grade eight, but I was not impressed and have no desire to watch it again. I’ll admit, I’m not usually a fan of older musicals because I don’t jive with the music, but I also just didn’t care for this plot. Even when Glee did some of the songs, I just was not into it. And yet, the show is the 2nd longest-running on Broadway, so clearly others like it.
Chicago movie.

There are a handful of other musicals I wasn’t too impressed with based on the bootleg I saw or the soundtrack I listened to, but they aren’t as popular and seemingly well-liked as these five are. Not every show can appeal to everyone, so I’m not embarrassed to voice dislike for these shows.

What are musicals you dislike even though everyone else seems to love them?

That’s all for now!

 

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