Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Confessions of a Teenaged Theatre Geek

When I was 14, I hated musicals.  I didn't know who Stephen Sondheim was.  Heck, I didn't even know who Andrew Lloyd Webber was, and I didn't understand what was causing this phenomenon around something called Les Miz. The only musicals I really liked as a kid were The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. 

I have no excuse; I was a late bloomer.

Then fate intervened.

My English class was brought to the theatre auditorium to watch a "teaser" of my high school’s play.  A comedy called Play On by Rick Abbott (not the musical, that would come years later). I remember thinking two things, 1) I don't like theatre... theatre is dumb, and 2) but this is funny and everyone onstage looks like they are having a lot of fun.  

I had a difficult time reconciling those two things that afternoon.

But fate is fickle and it wasn't done with me, yet.

I was flipping through channels, since reruns weren’t doing it for me, and came across this bizarre show on KQED, or as I called it back then "Channel 9".

A girl was singing, not dancing, just singing.  And the story looked familiar… it looked like Little Red Riding Hood

The weirdest part was I was enjoying it.  This wasn't a movie musical, this was a real, actual musical (even if it was on TV) and I was enjoying it.  I sat transfixed. I watched the rest of Act 1 and all of Act 2 of American Playhouse’s Into the Woods.

It was the first time I'd ever seen a musical where the music actually seemed important to me. The music was mixed into the action. People didn't just stop and start to sing and dance. Yes they were singing, but most of the time it seemed like dialogue.

Maybe I had this musical stuff wrong. What was this all about? Who wrote this show?

Hadn't that Drama teacher said that they were going to need help on the next production? Maybe I should get involved.

And I did. I joined Drama Club at the end of my freshman year.  It wasn't a school big on musicals, in fact we only did one while I was there.  But it was an easy springboard from Drama Club to devouring musicals.  Starting of course with Stephen Sondheim, the man whom I thought had crafted the perfect (and for a time only good) musical.

It would take me a few more years to learn about Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, and the others.  I lived on the CastRec Listserv (an email group for people who liked Cast Recordings), spent most of my extra money on used cast recordings, and slowly realized that even Rodgers and Hammerstein and the other golden age musicals not only had a place in my collection, but were glorious.

Rodgers and Hammerstein weren’t "old hat," as I previously had believed.  They were the originators! The reason Sondheim was able to do what he did.  

But for me, it all started with Sondheim.  Sondheim brought me into musical theatre, a passion I have sustained ever since.  A passion that led me here to Moon!

And that's why I was so excited to find out that we were going to be producing a Sondheim show this season.  Since Sondheim is the composer that brought me to musicals and 18 years later, 42nd Street Moon; I believe that Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum will do the same for others.  Bring new audiences to fall in love with Musical theatre, and fall in love with Moon.  
If you have a friend that thought the way I did…  bring them to see Forum, I’ll bet Sondheim will transform their lives (maybe just a little) like he did mine!

Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Megan Cavanagh, plays through Oct 24th at the Eureka Theatre.  For tickets call 415 255 8207, or avoid box office fees and buy online.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Funny Plot Happened on the Way to the Forum

Alas, it is that time, the season is upon us.

Forum rehearsals started last night and MoonSpace (42nd Street Moon's administrative and rehearsal space) is jumping.

In this era of digital gossip, minute by minute updates, and texts replacing phone calls, I thought "How would I tweet about Forum?"

"How will I express what Forum is all about in just 140 characters.  I mean, after all, you can barely get the entire title of the show out in 140 characters!"

And then I thought, "You know... I'm not that clever, I should ask other people do it for me." And so I did.

Here are some plot tweets from our Facebook and Twitter friends!
  1. "A Roman slave plays matchmaker to his master’s son and the courtesan next door. Eunuchs, maids, and dirty old men make comedy tonight. "
  2. "Hilarity ensues as Plautus’ based Sondheim musical chockablock with prostitutes, freed slaves, soothsayers and cross-dressing is lovely."
  3. "Sondheim+ Plautus=Roman farce gone wild. Ev’rybdy ought to see this show."
  4. "Forum makes Plautus more fun as Pseudolus helps Hero win the girl next door. Hysterium will try to stay calm! If only he had a maid…"
  5. "Not a lost classic, but will you be in the end"
  6. "Slave dude (lady?) forgets the verses for the opening song while the rest worry about how their legs look in short togas." 
There you go... so... which do you think is the best?  Vote in our poll (on the right side of the blog page) and the winner will receive two tickets to opening night.  If you think you've got a better tweet-able plot, leave it as a comment!

Then join us for 42nd Street Moon's first show of the 18th Season, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum starring Megan Cavanagh.  Playing at the Eureka Theatre Oct 6 - 24.  For more information and tickets (415) 255-8207 or click here.