Saturday, February 21, 2009

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ya

Sad news today. The Story of My Life, a show which opened literally one week ago, is closing tomorrow. It played a whopping five performances. Five. Apparently, it was actually good. Such a shame. This one will go down saying, "At least we lasted longer than Glory Days!" It's a sucky economy. Unless your show is based on a movie, stars a Hollywood actor, or starts with W and ends with icked, you aren't going to be around for very long. That's why I don't think Next to Normal will do so well. Toss in the fact that it's a show about mental illness and this one's dead in the water. Oh, well. I'm going to do my best to go see it, but I've already got a lot on the itinerary for spring - Guys and Dolls, Phantom, Blithe Spirit, West Side Story, and a return visit to August: Osage County. At least In the Heights and August are still around. Some Sondheim: "A toast to that invincible bunch/the dinosaurs surviving the crunch!" (That's a lyric from the 2006 revival of Company, another show that left us too soon.) Of course, Next to Normal could turn around and be a massive sleeper hit. People said Spring Awakening was too offbeat to make it, and look how that one ended up. To give you an idea of just how incommunicable Spring was, here's a little dialogue, taken verbatim from an intermission conversation my dad and I had the first time he saw the show.

Dad: "Is that kid gonna kill himself?"
Me: "Yes. He dies and one other character dies."
Dad: "One of the girls?"
Me: "Yes."
Dad: "Who, the one that gets beat?"
Me: "Yes."
Dad: "What, does she hang herself?"
Me: "No."
Dad: "Drown herself?"
Me: "NO. She dies, but she doesn't kill herself."
Dad: "Does she die having a baby?"
Me: "Close."
Dad: "Abortion?"
Me: "Yes."

I promise it didn't sound that creepy as it was actually happening. The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes the shows that seem destined to crash and burn can be successful. To quote Stanley from A Streetcar Named Desire: "That just goes to show you, Blanche, you never know what's comin'." Of course, what was comin' for Blanche was a complete spiral into insanity and a nice cushy bed in a mental institution, but you all get my drift.

Before I go: The most beautifully sad song I have ever heard: "At the Glen" from the short-lived, little known musical Dessa Rose. If this song does not make you cry, then you most likely do not have soul. (Then again, I cry at everything. I cried at Monsters Inc.) Ignore the odd Sims 2 animation. It was the only video I could find for this song. It's sung by Rachel York and composed by Ahrens and Flaherty. They are the ingenious duo responsible for Ragtime. I don't care what anybody says, Ragtime has the greatest musical score I have ever heard. Keep in mind that I'm a Sondheim fan. Digressing again. Anyway, this song is great for the days when you're feeling randomly depressed. Disclaimer: If you are always depressed, this song with most likely not help. In that case, you should speak to a trusted parent or teacher. You're probably gonna need some pills. Wow. I kinda can't believe I just said that. Psychopharmacology is NOT a laughing matter, children. I myself was rather offended by the line "This little piggy needs some Paxil!" in Shrek the musical. Antidepressant jokes are not okay. What's next? "This zebra needs some Zoloft?" "This lizard needs some Lexapro?" "This velociraptor needs some Valium?" Okay, I'm done.

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