All tagged Top Ten List

That Bleak Ol' Broadway - When "Jazz Hands" Are Just Too Loud!

As a bit of a follow up to my article on the "Brash and Bold Musical Comedy" and its growing obscurity, I thought I would devote this week's top-ten list to the other side of the coin: the bleak and depressing Broadway musical. The catharsis of a gut wrenching cry is, for many, as potent as a joyous showtune or a deep belly laugh. Indeed, there have been a plethora of these "jazz hand" silencing pieces that tug on our hearts and keep us coming back for an emotional cleansing.

The "Source" of Our Concerns: Top-Ten Musicals that Illuminated Their Source Material

Every season, we are inundated with a long list of musicals that are in development and that are based on famous source material. We speculate about their potential and wonder if they will work, often resigning ourselves to the fact that they will never live up to the movie, play or book that we adore. Sometimes, we are surprised when we enter the theatre and find that the music and lyrics, along with a fresh viewpoint, concept and/or casting choice can illuminate the piece in ways we hadn't imagined. This article is a valentine to the musicals that DID work and either captured their source material beautifully, or improved up them. I am limiting my list to pieces that I personally saw AFTER I had read the play, book or watched the movie from which they derived.  

Top-Ten Lyrics that Perfectly Capture the Moment and Character

As I was writing my piece on Falsettos earlier this week, I was thinking about how William Finn captured so much in the lyric "Keeping up my head as my heart falls out of sight" in the terrific "Holding to the Ground." It got me thinking about what lyrics stopped me in my tracks with their efficiency and complexity in summing up a character in just a few short words. This week, for my "Top-Ten List," I have decided to explore that theme a little further: The Top-Ten Lyrics that Perfectly Capture the Moment and Character. Since I have already delved more deeply into "Holding to the Ground" in a former article, I will leave that one off of this list (for the opportunity to explore an additional song). 

The Top Ten Musical Books - Bookwriters: The Unsung Heroes

The bookwriter of a musical is probably the greatest unsung hero of Broadway. He or she gets very little recognition when a show works, but when a show fails, the book writer is often the first to be blamed. It is perhaps a thankless task, but their work is essential to designing the framework of the story for the composer and lyricist to hang their score on. Indeed, some of the book writer's best writing is often transformed into musical moments, stealing the best of their thunder. Many books of a Broadway musical are amazingly strong and today's top-ten list is an examination of some of the best. I made my choices by the criteria of originality, intelligently designed character voice, and the book needs to follow strong storytelling structure. I know I will be maligned for leaving certain titles out and I'm glad to justify why I left them off the list. Start the debate and maybe I'll agree. Or...maybe not.