Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Five Top Ten Theatre Things for Which I’m Thankful This Thanksgiving

High School and College Directors—In the last few weeks, I saw a number of college and high school drama productions. One was strong, one was mediocre, the other was downright awful, but they reminded me of the importance of those programs. For some, those directors and teachers will create lifelong theatre-goers; for others, it’ll open the door to an exciting new hobby; and for another group, it’ll simply give them a chance to belong and to feel good about themselves.

Right out of college, I directed plays at a high school. I loved the directing, but let me tell you, I put every ounce of myself into those productions, often working 80-100 hours a week. After two years, two plays, and developing curriculum, I couldn’t do it anymore. I was literally fried out.

It’s in remembering those years when I am thankful for those people—good, bad, or mediocre—who step out every season to put on a show, to balance teaching (or other day jobs) to work with kids in creating theatre. It is a tremendous personal sacrifice.

I am personally thankful for my own college director (and professor). Because I came from a high school with an amazing drama program (which I never took part in), I don’t think I ever fully appreciated my college director/professor who labored so tirelessly to put on great shows. I also think of the depth of knowledge she passed on to us. What to me seemed elementary as a high school director (because of my training), I see as severely lacking in many of the high school and community theatre productions I’ve seen. I was so blessed to have her in my life, so incredibly blessed.

My Readers—The biggest struggle for a writer is not the writing part. It’s getting people to read what he/she has written. When I started this blog, I didn’t know what kind of readership I’d earn or how long I’d hold onto them. I only knew that I needed an outlet for my theories and thoughts that naturally arise when you study something you love so much. I figured that if I’m not getting my dramatic work read, at least I can get something theatrical out there. I am so very thankful for all those who check in to see what I may be rambling on about.

The Resurgence of Movie Musicals—As a teenager, I fell in love with The Sound of Music. Oh, how I longed for more movie musicals, though I always knew we were past that prime. That’s why, when Evita hit the theaters, I saw it five times; I knew it would be a rarity.

Now we are in a resurgence of the almost-lost art form of the movie musical. Within the past year’s time, both Dreamgirls and Hairspray have been solid hits, with Enchanted receiving great reviews and likely to be another hit for the genre. We are set to get Sweeny Todd, Mamma Mia, and Nine, not to mention another High School Musical. The more profits these movies generate, the more of them that will be produced.

I am also thankful for the interest in musicals for television. I wonder how many years down the road we’ll be hearing about people’s interest in stage musicals being ignited by the MTV broadcast of Legally Blonde and Disney’s High School Musical franchise.

Ghostlight Records—The division of Sh-K-Boom devoted to Broadway cast recordings often gets my thanks. When I shop for CDs and I peruse the labels, I often think of how fortunate we are to have Ghostlight to preserve so many shows. There are some shows that would get recorded anyway—Legally Blonde, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, for example—but there are so many more that wouldn’t. Little Women, for example, wasn’t a great show, but I enjoy revisiting the CD. I don’t know if that one ever would have gotten recorded otherwise. Certainly Amour and High Fidelity wouldn’t have made it, and The Last Five Years, Bernarda Alba, and See What I Wanna See would have been iffy otherwise. And those are the short lists.

The problem is that the profit margins for cast recordings are so small, and it requires patience to earn any sort of profit on them anyway. I don’t know how Ghostlight has been able to do it, but they have become a bright light in the Broadway community for their work in preserving shows.

Today’s Acting Talent—I know I sound like a broken record, but I can’t help but be thankful for the massive amount of talent we have on Broadway today. My first contact with Broadway was with the talent of Carol Channing, one of the warhorse talents (and an amazing one at that) of the Golden Age. They don’t get much better than Carol Channing in any way.

However, as I’ve seen many other shows since the day of Hello, Dolly!, I find that her performance isn’t a shadow looming over the youngin’s. Yes, no one will ever be like Carol Channing (or Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, et al), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have phenomenally talented performers in our day. They may not be the same, but that doesn’t mean they are any less talented.

the Broadway Mouth
November 21, 2007

No comments: