Do you ever just hate something? Look, I mentioned before that I didn't really get into Bat Boy… and there are plenty of musicals out there that I may just not be into, but that doesn't mean I hate them, plus I’m sure they have an audience, and for some reason or another, it's not me. Or maybe even you.
I do have some shows on a list that I do hate, and I have a host of reason why I don't like them. I think at the top of my list is probably Phantom of the Opera.
The truth is that I struggle with my animosity toward this show in particular. To defend it, first, I have to acknowledge its place in history. Phantom premiered on the West End the greatest year even to pass, 1986. It then opened on Broadway in 1988, and has since become the longest running Broadway show. it is the first Broadway show to have over 10,000 performances. It is an opulent show, and for MANY theatre goers, it is the gateway drug to stage. Over half of my performing friends state that Phantom is the first show they saw. Whether is be on Broadway, or a National Tour of the show. For those things, and the dynamic of such a demanding score, the show gets, at the very least my respect.
The story-line of Phantom of the Opera makes my skin crawl. Understanding the culture and gender dynamics of 1880s Europe is one thing, but romanticizing a young girl falling desperately in love with a disembodied voice really creeps me out. Also, his means of woo-ing her, and basically playing on her Daddy-issues makes me upset. The lyrics to “Music of the Night” are trying so hard to be poignant and sexy at the same time that I get brought to a point of nausea every time I hear it sung. To get a little more in detail, I don't like Michael Crawford’s voice. I also do not like Sarah Brightman’s voice, but that is just a personal preference. I also, based on first-hand experience, have seen how this show, in all its grandness, and all its spectacle is extremely dated. the special effects on the stage were most likely phenomenal in the late '80s, but now it's comical. Also, when I saw it on Broadway in 2007, the actors looked so bored. It was tragic. The bottom-line is this musical (with the exception of one song) doesn't make me at all introspective, or mindful of anything. I don't personally feel any connection to what is happening, and none of the narrative transcends into my personal ideologies about life and love.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has a habit of composing shows that I don't like. Of the ones that I personally am familiar, the only one that I enjoy listening to, watching, or performing is Jesus Christ Superstar
Fun Fact In 1969 Andrew Lloyd Webber and frequent collaborator, Tim Rice, wrote a song for the Eurovision Song Contest called "Try It and See," which was not selected. With rewritten lyrics it became "King Herod's Song" in their third musical collaboration, Jesus Christ Superstar (1970).
Evita, which I feel is best summed up by Patti LuPone: “There are some very romantic moments in his music, and there is some real...trash that he doesn't even think about parting with. He's not a very good editor of his own stuff." There is a nostalgic attitude about Cats as well. The impression I get is that a lot of dancers really enjoy the work, and also, once again, the effects of the show with the over-sized set pieces, and “magic” from Mr. Mistoffelees, were all big “wow” moments, but are now super outdated. The whole thing feels like a joke now.
Sunset Boulevard and Starlight Express are shows that I am only aware of, and Whistle Down the Wind was just an abomination on the stage. I happened to be lucky enough to score tickets to the show, and while I feel the design of the show was stunning, the music, the dialogue, and the story were all just cloying. I was so annoyed with that show, I wanted to leave at intermission, but stayed out of a morbid curiosity.
In the past I have heard many other performers and theatre-goers talk about their dislikes as well. A large number of people have an aversion to the Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. I think Oklahoma, and Carousel are mentioned most. I never got a full feeling as to why, but I gather it's mostly for some of the same reasons I don’t like some Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, they are outdated, and over-played. One of the most interesting conversations I have had is with older theatre lovers, who were around when Stephen Sondheim started his climb into notoriety, and these people were never big fans on Sondheim’s styling with words and uncommon music detail. “it just doesn’t stick in your head like Lerner & Lowe would” or “I don't feel like dancing around like I would with Rodgers & Hammerstein”.
I felt that I had to argue these points, but they never went very far, and we are all allowed our own feelings, especially when it comes to the emotional connection to theatre.
Speaking of Lerner and Lowe, I feel a strong obligation to mention that Camelot is the most boring piece of theatre I have ever seen on a stage in my entire life.
It’s so interesting how polarizing entertainment can be. I remember starting high school in a new city, and the first thing people would ask me was “Are you a Rocker or a Rapper?” and I have seen some of my more passionate friends almost come to blows over which Star Wars is the more superior. I myself have scoffed over the mere mention of someone enjoying Cats.
What is polarizing for you? is there something that you just hate? Or something that you would throw a punch over that love so much? Let me know!