Posts Tagged: Showtunes

You’ll Be a Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors

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I’ve heard some tragic songs, but no musical number has ever incited as many emotions in me as You’ll Be a Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors. When I hear this song a flood of painful memories come back to me…. spending most of my adolescence in braces, having my wisdom teeth pulled (on prom night and having to go looking like a chipmunk with a mouthful of acorns) and the worst, my orthodontist dropping a running drill on my lip….let’s just say that You’ll be a Dentist from the Little Shop of Horrors strikes quite a chord in me.
Unlike in this song, my dentists have always been the more sinister, silent type. Personally, I would much prefer Steve Martin’s maniacally violent character in Little Shop of Horrors. I feel like his character possesses a more comprehensible level of sheer insanity, whereas my dentists have just had an eerie intangible creepiness. The song even gives some insight into how he turned out this way, such as recounting his childhood spent terrorizing animals and showing him in his shrine full of mommy issues. To be fair though, I bet he did indeed make his mother proud by taking the dentist route rather than turning into a serial killer.

I really enjoyed how the song develops. Upon hearing the opening with the funky little synth line, I thought that Elvis was going to give us a song about cruising around the country picking up girls on a chopper. Instead, the Dentist Song from Little Shop of Horrors gave me about 2 minutes of a sadistic, yet hilarious, Steve Martin. The majestic and inspirational part of the song that follows the perky synth line gives everything an incredibly upbeat tone, despite the brutality going on throughout the whole thing.

While the entirety of the song was hilarious, my favorite part was definitely when the camera shifts to inside the mouth of the man who is getting drilled. Even though the sound of the drill brought back memories of the horrifying smell of tooth dust and an unbearable sensation in my mouth, watching the writhing tongue made it all worth it. In a close second place was the back and forth “AWWW” between the dentist and his gurgling victim. Although I considered these two bits the highlights, I had no problem watching The Dentist Song from Little Shop of Horrors several times over, and I feel like I got something out of it each time. If you have seen it before and doubt its re-watch value, give it one more try, but this time, pay attention to how he parks his motorcycle this time –I bet you didn’t catch that one before!

You’ll Be a Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors is great because it capitalizes on a deep rooted fear that is present in almost anyone who has ever had a cavity. It is a song of sharp contrast; with violent lyrics and actions, but insanely upbeat lyrics and melodies. However, above all else, it is a hilarious number that pretty much anyone with a sense of humor will love. Even my girlfriend liked it, and she hates donuts, puppies, babies and musicals. Don’t let my favorable review of You’ll Be a Dentist from Little Shop of Horrors make you think it didn’t scare me though – I’ll definitely brush extra well tonight.

Shana Dagny – What songs inspire her – Good luck on tour!

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When Adam Riemer asks you to write about your favorite broadway song you want to fill up his page with absolutely everything you know and dream to know about show tunes. As a professional singer raised in the Philippines (a country which hones very strong broadway singer competition for the world) I went down the list and grew drunk and giddy off of chorus after chorus in my head and out my mouth without regrard for the rest of the passengers (unknowing audience) at the boarding gate where I fortunately was at the time I encountered his request.

“Oh Adam! There are so many!” The man asks me to pick just one I can relate to. GREAT! Everyone in show, stage, presentation etcetera has the lucky inevitable advantage of experiencing a myriad of emotions through their art, and for people who have music in their repertoire be it a singer, instrumentalist or good ol’ music lover with no mention of professional or studious background, each song is a reflection of a different expression of said emotions, a different depth that they are able to tap into. So maybe I’ll slightly defy the request and mention just a few songs that I did start singing here at the boring boarding gate, and tag my thoughts on each.

Take Me Or Leave Me; Rent: The One Two Knock Out Punch every self respecting woman out there would want to sing. For those who are both career oriented women or relationship driven, this song speaks to both. It is a dialogue between two lovers, where one considers the other her “person”, the center of her universe, while the other defines the object of her affection as more multidirectional. It’s Sassy, energetic and above all strong!

Nothing A Chorus Line: This song is half singing half speaking. Here the singer gets a chance to talk her way through a verse, rest and get ready for the belts coming shortly after. Kind of like a flume ride. The performer here is an auditionee who complains her way through the song because the antagonist in her story questions her sense of meaning. The song is both playful and expressive.

This is Shana singing it:

He Was My Boyyyfriend Young Frankenstein: Oh Shush! don’t laugh… On second thought, you probably won’t stop laughing after experiencing this song number/dance break. It’s about a creepy looking landlady of Dr. Frankenstein’s mansion who retells her love affair with the reinamination scientist. It’s hilarious and I love it because it is so.

Defying Gravity Wicked: The first two songs were from musicals based on real life. This song is from the prequel to the story of The Wizard Of Oz. The symphony here mirrors the magic in the tale and by the time you start your first line in the song you already feel enchanted, fueled by some green glowy elixir that can only exist in fairy tales but then the volume of the song increases and turns so fierce that the fiction becomes real life.

My flight is about to board (finally!) but before I go I do remember one more song. It starts out, singing “Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth, but somewhere in my wicked miserable past I must have done Something Good…” Sung by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. It is a song about love and happiness. To me it says life becomes meaningful… and the magic in that meaning is because of the one “person” around for you. That one person could be anybody, family member, friend, boyyyyfriend;) an existential being, or yourself. As I draw this to a close I realize that this song is THE song. It is the first song I ever heard sung to me by my favorite woman in the world, my mom. I invite you all to listen, sing and use Something Good and explore the many heights it could take you to.

That’s my final boarding call.

Two Performances That Made Me Go Wow

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It isn’t often I hear something and go wow. That’s actually a complete lie since I am always impressed by people or shocked at how bad someone who is usually amazing is. These two videos got the wow thing from me. The one is a guy named Gabriel Lopez who randomly takes on Glitter and Be Gay from Candide and actually pulls it off without having to go into a high soprano. The other one is from Glee, which I stopped watching, and is Rachel Berry singing Being Good from Swan Song. I heard it last night at showtunes at MOVA lounge in DC.

We all know Rachel (Lea Michelle) has an amazing voice. Whether I am a fan of hers or not, I love her voice and think she is incredible. I don’t know how much of this song is the studio making it sound amazing, and how much is her actually singing, but it sounds amazing. She’s a bit like Barbara Streisand when she’s singing this song, but at the same time her character wants to be Barbara. It’s great to see that they are letting her show off what she can do with her voice and this song is absolutely amazing when she does it. When the VJ was talking about the song being a wow song, I didn’t understand why until he played the clip and you hear Lea Michelle belting it out. The way she performs it really is a wow moment and the song is absolutely amazing.

The reason Gabriel performing Glitter and Be Gay from Candid is a wow moment is because 1. he is a guy and 2. he didn’t have to try and go soprano. The song is insanely hard and takes a ton of control. To take it randomly and perform it without trying or practicing is insane. That is why I had a wow moment when I heard him sing this song and not even mess it up. It was a definite wow moment because I was waiting for him to go high and he didn’t or to have him mess up and he pulled it off perfectly.

Broadway’s Best Working Girls – 8 – Lucy

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In my series of Broadway’s Best Working Girls, we’ve gone over everyone from the ladies who are stuck selling their bodies, ones who enjoy it and even ones who use their looks to get what they want. What about a working girl that does it to save up enough money to escape? Unlike Fantine from Les Miserable, Lucy doesn’t have to support a child. Instead she is working as a dancer and escort in order to move on to a better life. She cannot read, is probably not educated, but she does have goals and she knows how to stand up for herself. That is one of the more admirable traits of her role. Unfortunately she also has to survive, so when her boss demands something, she does it.

Lucy is an odd character. She is very independent and seems determined, but she always gives in and never really pushes for what she wants. She hates her boss but lets him get his way, at least with her. She does actually avoid other things he requests. She also ends up giving in to Mr. Hyde when he comes to visit, even though she knows he isn’t good and is going to hurt her. That lack of being able to defend herself is what eventually causes her to die in the end.

Lucy had a huge crush on Dr. Jekyll and thought that he would be the person to save her. In a way, she was right. Dr. Jekyll sent money to Lucy via his best friend with a note to leave as fast as she can. Unfortunately, by the time she starts packing, Mr. Hyde has already broken into her apartment and knows what she is doing. The night before he had warned her that if she ever left, he would come after her. This is the one time she shouldn’t have given in and should have stuck up for herself. Instead, she thinks that by pretending she wasn’t leaving and by letting him sleep with her she would be safe. Unfortunately Mr. Hyde didn’t fall for it and ended up killing her. It’s ironic that the person she thought would save her tried to, but he also ended up being the person who killed her. You can’t help but love Lucy in the show.

Her role gives you hope and makes you fall in love with her. She is a nice person who has goals and wants to do more with her life. Most people can actually relate to her. Unfortunately she is stuck as a working girl in a club, and she never actually gets to escape being one. Everyone is upset when she is killed, but everyone also loves her and she is easy to think of someone to look up to as an inspiration.

Rodgers and Hammerstein Take on the Movies – A Full R&H Movie History

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This Sunday’s Curtain Call @ MOVA Lounge DC pays tribute to what is arguably the most prolific songwriting team in American musical theater history: Rodgers & Hammerstein. Particular attention is paid to the 6 screen adaptations of their most famous works, from OKLAHOMA! (1955) to THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965). During this 10 year span, the tunesmiths had their creations showcased on motion screens all over the world.
OKLAHOMA! was produced by Rodgers & Hammerstein themselves. They did not trust their “baby” to Hollywood. In fact, to guarantee a faithful stage-to-screen adaptation, the team enlisted the talents of those who had contributed to the Broadway hit: choreographer Agnes de Mille, art director Oliver Smith, orchestrator Robert Russell Bennett, and conductor Jay Blackton. Because Rodgers & Hammerstein were by then household names and the title equally famous, they did not have to solicit big stars to add luster (and expense) to the marquee. On location filming near Nogales, Arizona (because it was more photogenic than 20th century Oklahoma) and the decision to basically film each scene twice – once in 70mm TODD-AO and once again in 35mm CinemaScope– had already guaranteed this was the most expensive film musical up to that time. OKLAHOMA! also had the distinction as the first film musical to be distributed as a prestigious “road show,” one-theater-per city, at advanced prices, with just one screening per night (twice daily on matinee days), all seats reserved. Watch Gordon MacRae entice co-star Shirley Jones about “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”:

Rodgers & Hammerstein left production chores to 20th Century-Fox for their next film outing: CAROUSEL (1956). Frank Sinatra had been signed to play the lead, but he left the production early on. Star Shirley Jones once remarked her portrayal as Julie Bigelow would have benefited dramatically had she played opposite Sinatra. Seen today, the film suffers from poorly matched location shots and those obviously studio bound sets, often in the very same scene. However, this movie greatly benefits from what is arguably Rodgers & Hammerstein’s best score, and it was Rodgers’s personal favorite. One of the most popular musical number from the film was “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” shot entirely in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, as seen here:

THE KING AND I (1956), released just months after CAROUSEL, was personally produced by 20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck . Starring Deborah Kerr and reprising his Broadway triumph as the King of Siam, Yul Brynner, the production benefited from the stellar performances of its charismatic leads, a handsome production design, and superb musical direction by Alfred Newman. Brynner collected a Best Actor Academy Award and created a trend: many young men at the time shaved their heads after having seen THE KING AND I. Watch Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner in a brief clip from the movie.

Rodgers & Hammerstein returned to film producing for a final time, 1958’s SOUTH PACIFIC. Starring Italian actor Rozanno Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor, the film was 1958’s most popular. Like OKLAHOMA!, it was initially distributed on a “road show” basis in TODD-AO before it was broadly released later in standard 35mm Panavision. Watch several songs from SOUTH PACIFIC here, including “Bloody Mary,” “Younger Than Springtime,” “Happy Talk,” “My Girl Back Home,” and “Carefully Taught” here:

I once thought the film version of SOUTH PACIFIC was overproduced, with its garish, distracting color filters used in its musical numbers, until I watched the Glenn Close vanity production. This SOUTH PACIFIC television version suffers greatly from miscasting: Close was far too old and sophisticated to portray provincial Little Rock-born Nellie Forbush. When she sings “Cockeyed-Optimist,” it is not very convincing. The dramatic tension Oscar Hammerstein and Joshua Logan had created on stage and adapted in the film version between the naïve, racist navy nurse and French born island plantation owner was absent here. Only Harry Connick Jr. as Lt. Joe Cable was adequate.
1961’s FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961) was the first big-budget film to feature an all-Asian cast. Set against the backdrop of contemporary San Francisco, the film stressed the tension between the old and young generations (“The Other Generation”) and the Old World versus the New (“Chop Suey”). This movie faced formidable competition from the multi-Oscar-winning “West Side Story” that year but was a mildly popular success. Watch Nancy Kwan sing about San Francisco’s wondrous “Grant Avenue”:

THE SOUND OF MUSIC was the most financially successful film adaptation of all Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals. No one can deny its popularity. Premiering March 2, 1965, it was not withdrawn from its first release until Labor Day, 1969 over 4 years later. It was not unusual for the film to have runs lasting a year or more in major markets, and in Washington, DC, THE SOUND OF MUSIC had an exclusive run at the Ontario Theater for 97 weeks on a reserved-seat basis. Extravagantly underestimated by the critics, who took perverse delight in tearing it to shreds due to its “sugary” sentiment, the movie lured people again and again. Repeat business was phenomenal. It collected 5 Academy Awards including “Best Picture,” impressive when factoring its major Oscar competition, epic blockbuster “Doctor Zhivago.” Watch Peggy Wood as The Mother Abbess counsel Maria (Julie Andrews), singing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”: