Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas and musicals

This past weekend, we got our Christmas decorations up, which generated a lot of talk about what our holiday is going to entail this year. See, my family is scattered throughout the US. Getting together at holidays doesn't happen. My husband's family is in the UK. His parents came to spend Christmas with us every year after we moved to CA in 2004, but when my mother-in-law passed away in 2012, things changed a bit. This year, my father-in-law is staying home, which means it's just the four of us to celebrate the day. For the first time ever, we're considering going to see a movie on Christmas Day. What could compel us to do that? Into the Woods.

It's not just me. My kids know the music back to front. I've taken them to see it live. I'm proud of the fact that I've passed along my love of musical theater to them.

Of course, it helps that I have a ton of soundtracks, some from more than one production. The one nearest to my heart is Les Miserables. It was the very first professional musical I saw live. It was spring break of 1988. I was a freshman in college, and I spent ten days in New York City. In that time period, I saw John Malkovich and Joan Allen in Burn This, Kiri Te Kenawa in Cosi Fan Tutte at the Met, and Les Miserables on Broadway. All three were once in a lifetime experiences, but it was Les Miz that tore me apart. We had cheap student seats. For less than $20, we had a seat in the last two rows in the very top and back of the theater, but from that vantage, I got to see the full effect of the choreography. The voices carried all the way to us without fail, and as someone who didn't know the story (I read the book afterward), it was heart wrenching. What young girl hasn't felt like Eponine at some point in her lives? I was ready to join in the revolution myself. It was just the first time for me. I've seen it in four major American cities, in London, and it is the one show I own in the most incarnations. I have the original London cast, the original Broadway cast, the complete symphonic, and the 10th anniversary all on CD. I also own the 25th anniversary on DVD. So...yeah. That one's my favorite.

There is no way I can list all the individual shows I own. I probably own most of Stephen Sondheim's work. As much as I love Les Miz, the original Broadway cast performing the first act of Sunday in the Park of George might be as close to perfect theater as I have ever seen/heard. I mean, come on. Mandy Patinkin in one of his greatest roles. A heartbreaking Bernadette Peters. An incredible supporting cast that includes Charles Kimbrough, Dana Ivey, Brent Spiner, and Robert Westenberg. Its commentary on the creative process as well as how brilliantly it mirrored pointillism in the score is masterful to say the least.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed about Into the Woods. I ended up being disappointed by the screen adaptation of Les Miz, so I was holding out on getting excited. Then the trailers started popping up, and it looks and sounds great.

I just have to work out my issue with spending Christmas afternoon sitting in a theater.

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