Monday, July 18, 2011

Periodically Bursting into Song

I spent a lot of my childhood watching musicals. Yes, musicals, where the characters are walking along, and suddenly an orchestra swells and backup dancers appear, only to conveniently melt into the shadows when the number is over.
In high school, I would sit on the bus with my walkman and the Les Miserables soundtrack I pinched from my sister, playing it over and over and over. I've since purchased it in CD form, and my fascination has not waned.

Not all musicals are equal, however. The catchiness of the tunes depends on the composer, and while some movies or Broadway shows are pleasant to watch one rarely walks along singing the tunes to themselves. Try humming "Trouble" from Music Man. Robert Preston, poor dear, couldn't really sing, like Rex Harrison, so the two perfected "talk-sing." Sometimes all the songs can sound the same in one musical.

For those at all interested in that lovely time (the '50s, mostly) where magnificent musicals took place (Sound of Music doesn't make the cut because of its overexposure), I'm starting a new segment: Knowing Your Musicals

Today's recommendation: 

Gigi (1958), which tops my list. If I'm channel surfing and this is on TCM, I stop. The topic matter (a family of courtesans) went completely over my head as a kid thanks to the discretion of the time, but it is superbly done, not over-acted, which has a tendency to occur in early films (hats off to Vincente Minnelli, the director).
I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore, which contains many gut varts, which bored me the most as a child, is now my mantra.
Below are the lyrics: 

I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore

(Lyrics : Alan Jay Lerner / Music : Frederick Loewe)

Poor boy! Poor boy!
Down-hearted and depressed and in a spin
Poor boy! Poor boy!
Oh, youth can really do a fellow in!

How lovely to sit here in the shade
With none of the woes of man and maid
I'm glad I'm not young anymore

The rivals that don't exist at all
The feeling you're only two feet tall
I'm glad that I'm not young anymore

No more confusion
No morning-after surprise
No self-delusion
That when you're telling those lies
She isn't wise

And even if love comes through the door
The chance that goes on forevermore
Forevermore is shorter than before
Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore

The tiny remark that tortures you
The fear that your friends won't like her too
I'm glad I'm not young anymore
The longing to end the stale affair
Until you find out she doesn't care
I'm glad that I'm not young anymore

No more frustration
No star-crossed lover am I
No aggravation
Just one reluctant reply
"Lady, goodbye!"

The Fountain of Youth is dull as paint
Methuselah is my patron saint
I've never been so comfortable before
Oh, I'm so glad that I'm not young anymore


Sefardi Gal said...

I wish we could have musicals in real life. Like people just randomly bursting into song at Cafe K or Kosher Delight. :D

%Shocked% said...


What a great song that you embedded. I got to hear what you meant about the talk-sing type song for the first three quarters of the song. It was hilarious!

I was just discussing with a friend the other day about how I would enjoy going to a musical (*sigh* to be a girl for a few hours lol).

lawschooldrunk said...

Sefardi Gal, that idea has been done, for example, on Scrubs, where JD fantasizes what it would be like if life was a musical.

Sefardi Gal said...

Lawschooldrunk - the idea. I want to see it done in actuality :P

Princess Lea said...

Sefardi Gal: If we could do that on a regular basis, the world would be a happier place.

Shocked: Real men like musicals.

LSD: That was a great Scrubs episode ("Guy Love" was one of the songs, if I recall). It's up there with the Sesame Street one.

%Shocked% said...

I hate being snarky, but eh, you started and caught me in a bad mood. Real frum men don't like musicals.

I admit, my words were ambiguous, but wow, what a prick I'd have to be to make a comment like that on a girl's blog. I would have thought that anyone reading that comment would feel themselves forced to find an alternative explanation for what I wrote. Such as, I wish I could be a girl for a few hours so I didn't have the issur of kol isha to worry about.

iTripped said...

You just had to bring up one of my favorite obsessions- classic musicals. I absolutely LOVE Gigi.
Another one of my favorite underrated movies is Daddy Long Legs, also with Leslie Caron and Fred Astaire.

I was watching My Fair Lady for the umpteenth time last weekend and marveling at what a great job Rex Harrison does at talk-singing. It's ironic that he was allowed to sing, while Audrey Hepburn was forced to be dubbed by Marni Nixon.

Some other great musicals:
-Anchors Aweigh (I'm a sucker for anything involving Gene Kelly & dance, plus it has some catchy tunes)
-Kiss Me Kate
-Bells Are Ringing (lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green - they wrote a lot of memorable and familiar songs)
-On the Town
-High Society (with the stunning Grace Kelly)

Sefardi Gal: The real-life musical has been done before! Ok, so maybe it was staged… but still pretty funny.
-Food Court Musical
-I Love Lunch
-Grocery Store Musical

Sefardi Gal said...

I'm with %Shocked% on this one.
I remember once going to a broadway musical and being shocked (no pun intended) about how many kippa-wearing guys were there. Total kol isha.

Princess Lea said...

iTripped: I'm doing a segment on musicals - all will be discussed in time. Although I never like Fred Astaire much - he was ancient with really young partners in the 40's and 50's.

If My Fair Lady had Julie Andrews who played Eliza on Broadway, then Audrey would definitely have been superfluous.

Shocked & SG: My comment "real men like musicals" - I meant the sissy genre, not the possibility of kol isha. After all, there are plenty of songs that don't have women singers, like the ones I mention above.

iTripped said...

Also not the biggest fan of Fred Astaire for the same reason. But in this case it worked because according to the novel Daddy Long Legs, his character was supposed to be an older man.

Princess Lea said...

I've actually never seen Daddy Long Legs - I recorded it for my grandmother though, so I can get my hands on it. I didn't know Leslie was in it, and Leslie is my favorite.

%Shocked% said...

Sissy genre? As in, men that aren't "real men" call it a sissy genre but those who are real men appreciate it? I'm just asking you to clarify; for now the snarkiness will be placed back in its rarely opened tomb :P

My "wish" to be a girl for a few hours stems from me dying to go see a musical, Wicked in particular, but any of them would be amazing. But it's unlikely I ever will, because I don't think a heter exists to listen to a woman singing a solo, live. If you could name me a musical that has only men singing, that'd be brilliant and it would significantly diminish my desire for the issur of kol isha to not exist. It'll never disappear completely- I (unfortunately) enjoy women's voices more than men's- but it would be a great start.

Princess Lea said...

Try "Jersey Boys."

Sort of like, "real men cry." If a guy is mocked for liking musicals, I retort that "real men like musicals." And mute the woman's vocals.

%Shocked% said...

I'll take a look at it, thanks for the suggestion.

How exactly do I attend a musical and vote the women's vocals? And besides, the music and singing is, um, the whole point of the musical, no? :P

Even were I to watch it online (which I'd imagine completely takes away from the experience), half the fun of the show is the singing! Why bother watching it if half the time I can't hear anything?

Princess Lea said...

Fine, then, my musical recommendations will be for women only.

%Shocked% said...

And that's when I go back to whining about not being able to attend musicals :-/