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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Gray Matters:To each his own

Monday, July 7, 2008

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I usually try to avoid clichés but I'm afraid there's no way around it this time. Let me tell you how perfectly that old one, "to each his own," has recently been proven. It has to do with favorite musicals. A few weeks ago, I told you how and why Oklahoma! had become my unquestioned preference. Not long after that, for a part of the entertainment at a bridal shower, the mother of the groom enlisted the aid of a charming little five-year-old guest and together they sang songs from Sound of Music. In her introduction my friend referred to it as "everyone's favorite musical." When I later congratulated her on their precious songs, I did beg to differ with her, explaining that it wasn't everyone's favorite, as that earlier Rogers and Hammerstein opus was mine! I'm sure I didn't convert her. That would have been as impossible as convincing me that any musical ever could be as fine as Oklahoma!

Now fast-forward to a recent open air concert from the historic gazebo in Le Mars. When the announcer told us the next selection was to be a medley of tunes from South Pacific, the friend sitting next to me, veritably glowed. At the conclusion of that delightful presentation, she began her explanation by saying, "Of course, South Pacific is everyone's favorite musical." I knew, at once, there was no point in arguing otherwise.

So there you have it--clearly it has nothing to do with the songs, the story line or the settings. In these instances, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II are responsible for all three, so there have to be other elements involved. I would love to have your opinions as to what those elements are. I am beginning to suspect that the first stage musical to which one is exposed stands a chance of ranking pretty high. Experiencing that kind of theater magic for the first time is awe-inspiring. But I am still looking for additional plausible answers.

The last great stage musicals which I have personally experienced arrived on the scene in the late 80s. Les Miserables, the Victor Hugo classic, set to music by Boubil and Schönberg and Andrew Lloyd-Weber's Phantom of the Opera are two masterpieces. For whatever reason, I definitely preferred Les Miz, while my young adult grandchildren thought Phantom was far superior. Who knows why?

None of the excerpts from current productions which I happen to catch on TV, have impressed me one way or another. Times change, tastes change--a very evident fact-of-life which I guess we all have to admit. But I am still pondering the truth expressed in that "old cliché."

A quick PS: Shortly after writing this I was happy to read that the CCT selected "South Pacific" for its summer production. The rest of us are delighted with their choice while my above-mentioned friend is absolutely ecstatic!