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September 21, 2007

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Well, my dear Danny...I beg to differ with you on a couple of points...and some, not mentioned by you...FIRST: Let me say, I am deeply prejudiced when it comes to R&H shows...Seeing them in the theatre, AND with the Original Broadway companies has caused this prejudice in me. Seeing them---particularly OKLAHOMA & CAROUSEL on film---to my mind and my heart---in pale, pale, incredibly PALE versions of the "Original Broadway Shows" makes me feel that you have never really seen the power of some of these "Musical Shows"....Okay so, let's start with "Carousel"...One of the GREATEST Musical Scenes EVER WRITTEN for the Musical Theatre occurs in this show (and Billy is not mean or horrible to Julie in this scene...). The entire "If I Loved You" song/scene....Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant! To see it performed on a stage, as it should be seen, shows the "love" that these two people have for one another and screwed up though it may be...shows WHY they 'get together'...The entire Song/Scene, says it all, and moves the plot along....a rare happening in Musical Theatre, till "Oklahoma"....

"What's The Use Of Wonderin'" Shows Julie's ambivilence and shows that she knows Billy is a "bad boy", but she cannot help herself anyway. How human is that??? Oh yes, it may be sick as all get out, BUT, it represents millions and millions of people and their feelings and their dilemma's in relationships. This was part of the BRILLIANCE of the collaboration of R&H....!

And maybe it was an oversight, or maybe it is because in the film of "CAROUSEL", this was another example of a "pale" rendering of one of the most incrediblly moving amd powerful songs ever written for the Musical Theatre, but, you didn't even mention---The Soliloquey, which Billy sings. The changes he goes through in this 'musical' scene/song; the temnderness that he shows he is more than capable of, the love---however fucked up it was---(John Raitt....BRILLIANT beyond words...moved to tears doesn't even descibe the feelings)---that is such an important component of our "buying" this entire story, is ALL there in that fantastic musical sequence.

So, as you may have gathered by now, I personally never liked the the film versions of "CAROUSEL" or "OKLAHOMA"....again, Oklahoma was a very pale rendering of one of the greatest Musical Theatre experiences of my life, having seen it two short weeks after it opened on Broadway, and even at my young age, I knew I was seeing something amazing! The CHOREOGRAPHY by Agnes DeMille---Masterful....Expressing in dance, the story. Advancing the story, if you will, just as the "If I Loved You" Musical Sequence did in "Carousel". ALL things we take for granted now in Musical Theatre. (Well, not anymore, I guess....) The "Golden Age of Broadway" was 'the Golden Age' because of heightened moving experiemces like these mentioned, and the purity of the experience--it has stayed with me ALL these years, and I have seen many Stage Productions of both these shows since that time, including S.T.A.G.E.'s Tribute to R&H...Even the worst of them were better than those films.

I will stop for the moment, my dear Danny, and I hope I haven't offended you...

Again, I wish you and Kendall a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR, and a solemn Yom Kippur.

Offended, Naomi? Are you kidding, I love it! I'm just so envious that you got to see all these original shows, I want to hear every detail. You are so lucky to have been there during that Golden Age. I'm sure the movies do pale by comparison although they have their own good points. Wouldn't you say that the film of "The Sound of Music" is just as powerful as the stage version? And possibly "The King and I" as well?

I hear you about those "Carousel" songs and how they show the characters' struggles with their feelings. Perhaps I condemned Billy Bigelow a little too harshly (at least the Gordon MacRae version—and by the way, I really like Gordon MacRae!) but I still think I'd lock my daughter in her room rather than see her go off with a guy like that. Sure, he loved Julie, but he was T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

All I can think about when I hear the names of two of those musicals you mentioned, South Pacific and is how my not-so-ex-husband hates them because he finds them terribly demeaning to the indigenous population of the countries in which they are set. I have to admit, though, never to have seen The King and I, even the classic movie version with Yul Brynner.

Wow, this post brought back a lot of memories. My mother loved musicals. As a girl I knew all the lyrics to every R and H musical. I too loved Carousel and identified with the troubled daughter. Thanks for reminding me.

Danny, I'm sure Kendall has already told you this, but there's an Oakwood connection with Shirley Jones. Her youngest son, Ryan, was in my class from 4th to 9th (I think) grade. She chaperoned our 4th-grade whale-watching trip, and she was very nice. This memory is neither here nor there as far as your post is concerned, but I thought I'd mention it.

I've never been a fan of movie musicals, but your post has made me want to watch some. Last night I saw a few minutes of "Brigadoon" on PBS. The fact that I watched only a few minutes probably clues you in to my feelings about it. If you saw it and liked it, I'd be interested in reading your opinion.

Only you can find some Jewish themes in the most un-Jewish of all movie musicals (although we used to sing some prayer in Hebrew school to the tune of Oklahoma, much to the dismay of our rabbi).

Really enjoyed reading this one. :) I have always resonated to those quoted lyrics as well. I have to say, I have a hard time watching the film version of Carousel for all the reasons you mentioned. I like South Pacific better. :)

~S

Brilliant as ever, Danny. I've never seen SP; now I'll have to watch it.

It is strange how those old musicals change for us from kids to adults. I remember absolutely *adoring* "The Pajama Game" as a kid. I rented it as an adult a few years back, expecting to be delighted with it, and I was shocked to see all the "jokey" references to seriously inappropriate sexism and worse, sexual violence. I hadn't remembered any of that from watching it as a kid; and it made me really wonder about why not, and what I'd absorbed as acceptable.

Still, I do remember as a kid thinking "How To Succeed in Business Without Even Trying" was completely awful in its treatement of women--remember that song "A Secretary is Not a Toy" where the choreography expressed just the opposite? And I remember seeing Carosel performed as a really small girl, and being really disturbed by it. My father loved (and still does love) that musical (though he's a very kind man, nothing like Billy). he's always thought it was highly romantic story and presented it to me as such before we went, and when I saw it I just didn't understand. I distinctly remember Billy slapping Julie in the play, and being extraordinarily gruff and mean to her, and turning and asking my dad why she was staying with him when he was so mean. I think he must have said, "Because she's in love with him," or something; but I remember just not getting it, why Julie liked him when he was nothing but mean to her, why we were supposed to like Billy at all or care what happened to him.(Though I myself in later years have been guilty on occasion of falling for a "bad boy"--but not THAT bad.)

And I remember thinking the play was really scary and sad, and not understanding why anyone liked it. I still get a feeling of creepiness from that initial impression of it whenever I hear it mentioned or see it on TV. I've actually deliberately avoided watching it all these years since I've grown up because of it.

South Pacific, on the other hand, I've always loved. And I just saw Flower Drum Song on one of the classic movie channels a month or two ago and still thought it was pretty adorable, if naive.

I that was a really great post. I never thought to work Jewish thought into R&H musicals. Fantastic!

K.

I have only seen three of the musicals mentioned and, go figure, they do not include Carousel and South Pacific. However, now that I have read your personal review of those, I am intrigued. I will have to rent them, despite your disfavor of Carousel. Even though I will probably feel the same about Billy Bigelow myself. :)

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