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Eric Downtown


Posted on 2007.02.05 at 05:21
Current Location: 63114
Current Music: Chess
Tags: , ,

I love musicals. I love the music. If I had to choose between watching a musical, or listening to a musical, I would likely choose the latter - though sometimes watching a great musical is what leads you to the music. Many people aren't aware that many songs they've heard covered by other artists are from a musical. Well, at least that's how it used to be. The stock answer I get when I ask someone if they enjoy musicals is something along the lines of, "No, people don't just break out into song & dance in real life." Well I'm here to tell you some people do - I do! Probably more often than I should.

My father used to take us kids to the Dallas Summer Music Hall, where we watched on stage the likes of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Brigadoon, Show Boat, and Fiddler on the Roof. Later in life he took us to Ragtime and even Ruddigore. Oh the music and the dancing and the costumes! But all is not well for someone who has a passion for these things. About the only person I can talk to when I get excited about a musical is my father. And we do - and I love him for it. But outside of family...its tough.

I seek these people out. I want to share my love of the musical with someone, and have them be just as excited as I am about it. I want to hear their stories too! And nothing will kill a friendship with a gay man like asking him, "Do you like musicals?" Yes, because that's so very stereotypical, I have to wait an appropriate amount of time. And I'll tell you something else about that - most of them don't! How very disappointing when you can't even rely on stereotypes to further your own agenda.

I grew up watching all the Motion Pictures adapted from the musicals during their heyday. Name it. I've seen it. Everytime we travelled to another city, we'd try to catch a musical put on by a local company. I think we saw The Music Man in Corpus Christi. When kids in my 3rd grade class were bringing 'KISS' to music class, I was bringing my Mikado and Mary Poppins cassettes. What a nerd! What did I know? The only thing playing in the house were scores, classical, musicals & opera. 24x7! What a rich environment to grow up in.

The CD box set of Rogers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, Carousel, and The King and I got me through my European tour. Nothing brings back fonder memories than "The Lonely Goatherd" or "March of the Siamese Children." And who can't burst out in accompaniment when you hear, "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" or "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top?" Of course, this too had its drawbacks. I was at the Base Exchange in Germany and found Mary Poppins. I was quite excited. Can anyone say, "The Life I Lead?" Here's where it gets complicated. I snatched it up, but my wallet was back in my room. I asked my buddy, "Will you pick this up with your checkout and I'll pay you back when we get to my room?" He looked at me, he looked at the disc. He looked at me, "Aw hell no! Here's $10. You get it yourself. I don't want anyone to see me with that!" *le sigh*

Today, I have almost no Gilbert & Sullivan (though I personally consider that opera and I'll save my love for opera for another post) and I don't really care for Sondheim. And there's a lot I don't have...yet. Still, out of all my music, my musicals are probably my most oft-listened to albums over a lifetime of music. Mostly, I enjoy the Original Cast Recordings. There are times I'll prefer an Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - such as with The Pajama Game or the rare instance where I'll require both (Chicago). And to date, there's only one in which I greatly prefer a revival cast, that being the much maligned Annie Get Your Gun with Tom Wopat and Bernadette Peters. Trust me when I tell you I thought I was going to be sick when I heard they were doing it...that is, until I actually heard it. Wow. Wow indeed.

What is it about these jewels which make them so precious to me? I don't know. The magic, I suppose. My favorite Xena: Warrior Princess episode? The musical. My favorite Buffy: Vampire Slayer episode? The musical. Those were so well done I shiver to think of them now! I don't suppose musicals are considered 'high art' like opera (still, very close ties) perhaps due to the risqué lyrics which are often found in musicals. My father explained that they were often the vehicles for bringing issues to light in a public forum, and outside of most of Rogers & Hammerstein's works, that appears to be true. Even today, what with Avenue Q timely social issues are discussed.

RHPS is of course fun, and Grease. But I eagerly await my 1965 Original Cast Recording of Man of La Mancha! My father had that on vinyl and we listened to it ceaselessly. I can't wait. There are so many more. My Fair Lady being in the Top 5. But if I had to choose. Had to, mind you - and I was only allowed one for the rest of my life, well, that's easy - Leonard Bernstein's Candide. But perhaps that's because I feel I'm living in 'the best of all possible worlds!'


Tomas Gallucci
schpydurx at 2007-02-05 11:24 (UTC) (Link)
no one cares about musicals, d00d.
ehowton at 2007-02-05 11:26 (UTC) (Link)
I thought I just said that? Was I not clear? Dammit - I knew I should have written this at a third-grade reading level!
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2007-02-05 11:30 (UTC) (Link)
Good post! Maybe it'll encourage more people to come out of the, er, closet about their fondness for musicals ... ?

... anyone? :)

I grew up watching/listening to musicals too. My dad and I would sit and watch Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Kiss Me Kate and so on endlessly, and that's probably why I enjoy musicals to this very day. So you are not alone!

I am so very amused by Avenue Q, thank you so much. :)

New icon, BTW? It's nice!
ehowton at 2007-02-05 11:58 (UTC) (Link)
While I appreciate your enthusiasm, the more likely scenario is that this post will cause people to immediately drop me from their friends list. Admitting you enjoy listening to musicals is akin to growing an arm out of your ass. People generally shy away from you.

New icon, BTW? It's nice!
Thanks! Its a photogoot original! He took this one in his hotel last week when he was here. The full-size picture is great, I'm going to author a post with it later this week with the title, "Portrait."

Glad you're enjoying Avenue Q. I've noticed that even people who hate musicals enjoy the comedy of this one...not that you'd get them to admit it.
galinda822 at 2007-02-05 16:41 (UTC) (Link)
My best memories from childhood are watching the motion pictures of musicals like: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, My Fair Lady, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Gigi, etc. with my mother. I remember how as a special treat she would let me stay up late to watch the "That's Entertainment" movies. This was various MGM stars from yesterday presenting their favourite musical moments. I always loved those times spent with my mother and the clips from those movies.

I'm greatly enjoying my renewed interest in soundtracks and scores that you've inspired me to. Now when I'm watching a movie I pay close attention to the music. So, at least where I'm concerned sir, your goal of sharing your love of these things has worked!
ehowton at 2007-02-05 16:52 (UTC) (Link)
I feel it!
jaceman at 2007-02-05 18:13 (UTC) (Link)

Como so dice...

Hola mi amigo. I hope you will for to allow me a comment.

I notice you have said...


"The stock answer I get when I ask someone if they enjoy musicals is something along the lines of, 'No, people don't just break out into song & dance in real life.'"

I think you would have heard dees from me while munching on a couple of Tacos... Anyway, excúseme por favor, your response to those people is...

"Well I'm here to tell you some people do - I do!"


Now, interestingly enough... isn't the "Probably more often than I should." part... Como se dice, people's point?

With much sarcasm,
a.k.a. JaceMan
ehowton at 2007-02-05 19:24 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Como so dice...

danzigfried at 2007-02-06 03:05 (UTC) (Link)
"Do you like Musicals?" <-- Is that like asking someone 'Do you like Jazz"??

I still remember how sore my leg was the next day, after sitting next to Howton during the showing of 'Chicago' and him tapping my leg through-out the duration of the 'mov-sical'. My leg is hurting again just thinking about his meaty fingers gleefully tapping a crater-like bruise into the outer part of my knee...
ehowton at 2007-02-08 17:34 (UTC) (Link)
How much fun was Chicago? It was fantasstic!
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2007-02-06 04:51 (UTC) (Link)
What about Camelot?
ehowton at 2007-02-07 01:56 (UTC) (Link)
I never saw that one but I enjoy the music. You?
snapper521 at 2007-02-07 00:38 (UTC) (Link)

I love musicals and have found the same thing you have... that it just isn't cool to love musicals!! *sigh* Oh well I still love them.

My great-grandma kind of "raised" me on them. And my parents always made sure that we had at least one in the house, but usually it ranged up into the 4 or 5 range.

I probably have seen almost every musical made since Janet McDonalad/Nelson Eddy (1920-ish) The rogers and hamersteins are excelant. If I have it my way, I will be sure to watch those around my children, because quite frankly? Their good, clean, whole-some movies! Now, I will admit that as I've gotten older I dont watch them as much, but thats only because I've seen them all! I mean you can only watch so much before your beginning to get tired of it... so I stopped watching them as much to stop myself from completely tiring of them.

The real deal though? I love Janet McDonalds. :-( She didn't make enough of those with dear Nelson to suit me (and my grandma). Chick flick/romances to the end, always make me soggy/mushy/gushy when I watch them. I never cry... I just want to go home and cuddle with somebody! (so I usually do! *laugh* It's usually watching a movie at night with Dad, who is laying on the couch so I make him sit up and lay on his chest. :-) ) Yay for cuddles!! :-D
ehowton at 2007-02-07 02:19 (UTC) (Link)
I'm not as familiar with the musicals of the 20's but the ones I've seen are fantastic. Your great-grandmother has good taste.
Elizabeth Krumbach
princessleia2 at 2007-02-08 00:29 (UTC) (Link)
This entry made me smile. I secretly adore musicals. OK, maybe it's not so secret - half my CDs are Soundtracks and Scores, most coming from Disney cartoons (oh yes, these certainly are musicals) and some of my favorite musicals.

I just recently grabbed the theatrical release soundtrack of South Pacific. And My Fair Lady is probably my favorite of all time, with Doctor Dolittle coming in as a close second (uh, yeah, I have a thing for Rex Harrison). I still mourn the collection of musicals on vinyl that my father owned, I'm only slowly gathering up their replacements on CD.
ehowton at 2007-02-08 00:47 (UTC) (Link)
Of course - how could I have left those out? The Lion King is one of my favorite Disney soundtracks, and you're exactly right, it is a musical ;) A large portion of my CD's are scores as well - I love working to them. Lyrics seem to distract me.
(Anonymous) at 2007-02-09 07:10 (UTC) (Link)
I love the picture, thank you Paul. Make me one please Eric. I love your writing, you are so good at it, your welcome. I missed you telling about Daniel and the Pajama Game and how your brother refused to be intrested in your fathers music, but finds himself singing it anyway. And me. It's just there and I trust your dad to
always put on the right music for any situation. And I love how he listen to the very very LOUD music alone in the car. (42 years experience).
CeltManX, Devlin O' Coileáin
celtmanx at 2007-02-09 14:40 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Mrs. H. !!! Did Eric tell you about my new bundle of joy??? He looks just like his older brother.
ladykate63 at 2007-02-24 13:34 (UTC) (Link)
Hi there,

Stumbled on this post while doing a blogsearch under "Xena" (*LOL*... is that dorky or what). Are you generally a fan? (I love the musical, too -- at least the first of the two they did, The Bitter Suite.)

ehowton at 2007-02-24 18:28 (UTC) (Link)

My wife's a larger fan than I, but of course I used to watch endless episodes with her. Yes, it was The Bitter Suite I was referring to, what a magnificent piece of work! I only saw it once, the day it was aired, but I still vividly recall the goosebumps which crept upon me as Lucy Lawless belted out her lines in a most Wagnerian-fashion; Brunhilde would have no hold over her!

I also greatly enjoyed your article on Ayn Rand. Solipsism (and to a lesser extent, altruism) are common debate points on my blog and your critique of Ms. Rand was so well presented that I learned a little something more reading it. Thank you. (Though give me Dorothy Parker any day...)

Thanks for stopping by!


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