Friday night I saw a musical (which I later reviewed). It was a good production (cast and crew worked hard and it showed), but I didn't really enjoy it. This is becoming something of a recurring thing in my life: seeing musicals with talented people but struggling to be interested by the story or the message. A few weeks ago I saw the tour of Kinky Boots and didn't care for it, although the audience seemed to be eating it up. (My own mother said "Well it's not fabulous." Must be genetic.)
This sent me into a spiral. Do I hate musicals? Are they not good anymore? Were they EVER?
It's possible that after reviewing a lot of them this summer I may just be on musical burnout. Or it's possible that I've grown since college and I need a bit more bite out of my theater these days. Or maybe after The Book of Mormon nothing else feels as clever.
Am I becoming a musical hater? Has the magic (and the music) left my soul? I think I'm just looking for something more with my art. Kinky Boots has themes of acceptance and gender roles being irrelevant; themes I agree with. But it plainly says them in the show, doing nothing short of spelling it out for the audience. I get that Broadway is theater at its most mainstream and that it needs to appeal to a broad demographic, but shit. Give audiences a little credit. There was nothing said in Kinky Boots that wasn't said in La Cage aux Folles, but it felt subtler then. Or maybe I'm not a Cyndi Lauper fan.
Anyway, don't come at me theater queens. I still love seeing live shows and musicals are counted among them. Maybe my moods are shifting and I'm in the mood for something really dark and messed up. Less Kinky and a little more Killy? You know, for the holidays.
Something to Listen to:
Something to Read:
Keeping with the musical theme, I just finished the graphic novel Fun Home which was adapted into a musical that just won big at the Tony's. It's a comic memoir of Alison Bechdel's childhood and the complex relationship she had with her father. Both Alison and her father were gay, but she didn't learn that until close to the end of his life. In the novel she examines things about him to try and explain who he was and how he could be cruel and distant. It's a terrific read and (presumably) a terrific show.
Something to Watch:
Also on Netflix is the documentary Tig. It focuses on comedian Tig Notaro when she found out she had breast cancer shortly after losing her mother (and dealing with the end of a relationship). Her feelings towards it all came out in a lovely set at the Largo (sold as an album called Live) that changed a lot about her work. Her strength to power through with her work is awesome and admirable, and she makes you cry as much as laugh throughout the documentary. She also has a comedy special on HBO out now, you should probably watch that too.