Curtain Up, Light the Lights, Pause, Rewind, Play
Growing up in northwest Iowa, there weren't a lot of opportunities to see live musical productions. We could make the four hour trek down to Des Moines or up to Minneapolis (no, we don't say north or south in Iowa) to see a touring production if one came through, but there weren't local theatrical productions. I depended on movie musicals to learn about shows, acting, music, etc. Most importantly, I depended on them to give me some glimpse into the arts world that I so longed to be in. Hello Dolly with Barbara Streisand, Cabaret with Liza Minnelli, A Chorus Line with Michael Douglas....wait a minute...
Yup, somewhere along the lines, the production companies realized that these movies would sell better if you put some A list actors in the mix. Welcome Chicago. This movie destroyed what was my favorite musical in the late 90s. Sure, Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger did an ok job, but couldn't they have used Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking? Don't even get me started on the latest version of Phantom. The singing in that movie was so atrocious I had to watch it on mute. And, trust me, I love Johnny Depp and Tim Burton but really? Sweeney Todd? Why? It's truly unfortunate. Many people cannot see the live production and you throw this at them, leading them to believe this is as good as it gets? By cutting half of the music out of these films, how are we supposed to get it?
Even as recently as the closing production of Rent in 2008, some musicals have been recorded live. By making these versions available, the adoring public are able to get a real idea of what the shows are about, how the music is supposed to sound, what the atmosphere could really be. I always encourage my students to see a live production of whatever musicals they are learning or shows they are auditioning for. If that isn't possible, we search and search in hopes of finding a live stage recording of the show. Unfortunately, there just aren't that many available. What can we do to convince these musical production companies to do more live recordings? It is imperative that our young people have the opportunities to see these live productions as they were meant to be seen. Let me tell you, the folks living in Estherville, Iowa are not about to hop a plane to New York to see the Title of Show or the revival of Annie Get your Gun, but they deserve to be able to see the show as it was meant to be.