Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BrookArtsCenter 2005-08-08 10:41:16.0

Let it be known the first shot was fired by MJLC. But, I think this round goes to Mr. Shaiman. OK, back to your corners.

http://www.talkinbroadway.com/allthatchat/d.php?id=158675


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by wildcat 2005-08-08 10:42:38.0

Well said, sir! Young whippersnapper...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Elphaba 2005-08-08 10:45:28.0

hehehe, LOVE IT. You go Marc!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-08 10:45:41.0

As per an email from Marc: (please note that Marc's email is very similar to the original post on ATC, but has several additions/changes as well)

Dear Friends,

I was recently linked to an article legendary composer/lyricist Michael John LaChiusa wrote for the current issue of “OPERA NEWS”. Despite the title of the magazine, his article is all about the death of The Broadway Musical.

(to read the WHOLE thing, go to:

http://search.atomz.com/search/?sp-a=sp1002e461&sp-f=ISO-8859-1&sp-q=lachiusa&x=0&y=0&sp-p=all&sp-t=universal_jan05&sp-k=Opera%20News%20Online&sp-i=1

and then click on the link called "The Great Gray Way".)

Anyhoo, he seems to have quite a problem with most all the musicals currently (or recently) playing on Broadway. Even the good ones!! I do hope you'll read his entire tome, but I have, in this letter, only quoted him when it is for the most part regarding “HAIRSPRAY”.

So listen, here's the thing. I don't have his Email address, so I send my letter to him to you my friends in the theatrical community, in hopes that someone can pass this along to him.

Marc

-----------------------

Sir,

I just finished reading your essay on the death of the American Musical in “OPERA NEWS”. I'd like to take a moment to address some of your remarks (which I've placed in quotes).

“The American Musical is dead.”

Michael John LaChiusa, The Coroner Of Broadway!

“I'm old-school about what makes a musical a musical.”

Me too, pal.

“Lyric, music, libretto, choreography - all work in equal parts to spin out the drama. And the best of craftsmanship is employed, craftsmanship that nods to the past and leans to the future: a great song is something we think we've heard before but haven't. A real musical makes perfect symmetry out of the muck of diverse and eclectic sources, and transcends those sources. A real musical is organic in all its parts. It's equal parts intelligence and heart. It can never be realistic theater, only realistic in its humanity.”

Wow, that is what we, who created “HAIRSPRAY”, strove to do. Please don't tell me at this late date that we failed. Oh dear!

“Faux-musicals are just that - faux. “The Producers” is an example; so is “Hairspray”. If that label sounds disparaging, it's not meant to be. The creators of these shows set out to make musicals based on formulae, and they delivered. Neither transcends its source material (both are based on wonderful cult films)”

How odd, Mel Brooks and John Waters seem to disagree with you there. I guess you have more understanding of those films than they.

“...but as facsimiles of the real thing, they do very nicely - and the box-office receipts prove that.”

Thank God, you should see my monthly nut!

“In no way do these two shows aspire to be the next West Side Story or Sunday in the Park with George.”

Ahhh…now I think we're on to something! Maybe if certain theatrical undertakers stopped trying to be Stephen Sondheim, we could all 'rest in peace'.

“There's not even an attempt to deliver an old-fashioned, knock-'em-dead, lodge-like-bullet-hook number à la Jerry Herman.”

Gee, every time I've run into him, Jerry Herman joyously disagrees, but what does HE know compared to “Mr. Razzmatazz” himself, Michael John LaChiusa? Personally, I can't get “You Can't Stop The beat” outa my head after I see “HAIRSPRAY”. Well, it came outa my head (and heart), so I guess I'm partial to it.

“All sense of invention and craft is abandoned in favor of delivering what the audience thinks a musical should deliver…There is no challenge, no confrontation, no art - and everyone sighs with relief.”

Good God John…er, Michael…er, John…er, Michael John, what happened to you as a child? I mean, to write “All sense of craft is abandoned”?! For that line alone I feel entitled to bitch slap you silly!

“The creators (and subsequently very rich producers)…”

Ok, ok, we get it. Next time we get together, dinner's on me!

“…of these pieces consider them to be “loving valentines” to the musical, by their very act of imitation. A philosopher might consider them simulacra: Plato's “copy of a copy,” a fake that seems more real than the real thing.”

Ooh, such big words!

“There are film adaptations of both “The Producers” and “Hairspray” in the works - that is, movie versions of the stage versions of the original movies.”

Yes? And? So? They made a movie from the musical “Mame”. The fact that “Auntie Mame” was a book and a play and a movie before it was a musical, does that make this evolutionary process ok for you? And more importantly, what exactly did they PUT on that lens for poor old Lucy's sake?

Mikey, what is the exact line one mustn't cross when adapting? You yourself wrote a “musical/opera” based on “Medea”. How could you! Don't you know it's been filmed??!! How dare you recycle that old story!

And, while we're on the subject of "Marie Christine", may ask a more burning question? How could you write an opera/musical of “Medea” and leave the most dramatic event off stage, leaving poor hard working Mary Testa to make that face towards the stage right wings? What a thrilling, frightening and yet darkly entertaining aria that would have been. (Oops, I used the “E” word.)

And yes, I know in Greek Tragedy, catastrophic events like these often take place off stage. But you are a man so against reproduction. Come on man, challenge us!!

“The faux-musical…creators pride themselves on producing “escapist” entertainment for a troubled time. But even that's a faux supposition, more P.R. than genuine sentiment. Escapist theater still should be theater.”

Oh MJLC, where were you when we were writing “HAIRSPRAY”? We were stuck with that damn Jack O'Brien, who knows so little of what makes good and nutritious theatre.

“Once [Nathan & Harvey's] replacements [took] over, the shows revealed themselves for what they are: machines. Instead of choreography, there is dancing. Instead of crafted songwriting, there is tune-positioning.”

Insulting me is easy, I'm short and weak, but damn, you are brave insulting Jerry Mitchell like that! He is one big, tall, STRONG mother hen…I advise you to stay miles away from Shubert Alley after dark, that queen 'll clock ya' clear 'cross town!!

…”mocking the unrealistic nature of musicals has its limits. "The Producers" and "Hairspray" celebrate that quality, no matter how mechanical or sloppy the execution may be to discerning eyes and ears.“

Them's fightin' words.

“”Hairspray” and “The Producers” seem to endorse the hateful operatic adage: no one listens to lyric.”

Listen bub, I take great pride in the lyrics Scott & I crafted for “HAIRSPRAY”. Striving to stay true to the vernacular of our characters time and place, we fretted over every damn syllable. Speaking of words, I have a few in mind right now for you, but I will leave them to your more “discerning” imagination.

“… I'm talking about the “green.”…Theater owners need the green to pay the rent. Producers need the green to pay the theater owners. Writers, directors, designers, actors, technicians and musicians need the green to pay for their living costs in order to create and perform in hits. Advertising a show to get the green requires the green. The Great White Way has always been about the green.”

Professor LaChiusa, you have finally brought up a subject you are clearly in touch with. Green. As in “with envy”.

(Ooh!!!)

Ya know, Mr. Michael John L'Accuser, I used the "find" feature on your article.

It is 2, 826 words (impressive!)

And yet, in an essay on what makes (to you, Mr. Michael John L'Excuses, that is) a great musical:

The word "HEART" appears only once

The word "SOUL" does not appear at all

The word "DREAM" does not appear

The words "JOY" or "JOYOUS" also do not appear at all.

Good gracious, dear, no wonder your idea of a musical is dead...what could, how could ANYTHING living survive without Heart, Soul, Dreams or Joy?

In parting, may I offer one last (bitchy) rebuttal? (Come on, you owe me). True story. In your musical/opera/thingy “MARIE CHRISTINE”, there was a moment where the Greek Chorus sat in the front rows at Lincoln Center, in full view. Unfortunately the night Scott & I saw it, a theatergoer with a bright white shirt (making him truly impossible to ignore) was seated right next to them, mouth open, head back, dead asleep. (And this is with Mary Bond Davis singing right next to him!!) Mr. LaChiusa, it is MY opinion that you made the CARDINAL sin of theatre. You BORED the audience.

But that is just my opinion, just as your vicious attack was yours, although stated as fact. I just have to remind myself what the say about opinions and assholes, everyone has one. But who asked to see yours?

-Marc Shaiman

p.s. Folks, I do hope through all of this "fun with words" that someone might notice I don't/didn't point at "HAIRSPRAY" as the definition of a great musical. But I do point to my collaborators as wonderful people of the theatre, who approach their work (and their lives) with great heart and spirit and yes, CRAFT. As well as the other folks who he attempted to demean or, at best, condescend to (I'll let you all find his article and take it all in), people who have been as blessed as he and I to have had the privilege and honor of writing a show that actually made it to The Great White Way.

I know I am a lucky guy to have had just one chance to have a musical on Broadway. So is he. Why he would choose to disrespect (in print) the HEARTFELT creations of his brothers and sisters in theatre will always boggle my mind.

Ah well, whether friend or "faux", I wish him the best. I really do.

-Marc




re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by M J R 2005-08-08 11:01:16.0

"Maybe if certain theatrical undertakers stopped trying to be Stephen Sondheim, we could all ‘rest in peace’.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I literally applauded you for that one, Marc!!!

It's easy to dismiss the artform when you can't find success in it.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by broadway betty 2005-08-08 11:10:47.0

Marc: You're one fiery queen, and I love you for it! Don't people know by now that they shouldn't mess with you?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 11:16:34.0

I am sure he's read it by now.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ljay889 2005-08-08 11:22:10.0

Composer drama. I love it. This is better than backstage performer drama.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-08 11:22:37.0

I love a good cat fight.

I wanna see these bitches got at it with vaselined-up faces!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JoeKv99 2005-08-08 11:24:05.0

So who the hell does Micheal John LaChiusa think will produce/Direct/Design his next show? One of the Living dead he's insulted in this article? Or does he think he doesn't need collaborators or producers? Odd.

What a bitch. I think Marc has hit in right on the head. Jealousy. And perhaps a touch of "If the public likes it, it must suck" elitism. I don't think MJLC will have that problem- he hasn't managed to produce anything the public has liked.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Borstalboy 2005-08-08 11:33:58.0

Oh, dear. Hate to resort to cliche, but can't we all just get along?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BobbyBubby 2005-08-08 11:45:24.0

Why must Shaiman wage a campaign against EVERY attack on his work? Surely Hairspray isn't above any kind of criticism.
La Chiusa has A LOT of valid, solid points in his article.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 11:47:23.0

I think you said it in a nutshell there, by using the word "attack"!!

'nuff said!

(me?? 'nuff said?? HA!!!)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Aigoo 2005-08-08 11:50:19.0

Hmm..interesting. Good way to start my morning. Bravo, Mr. Shaiman.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ljay889 2005-08-08 11:50:23.0

The thing that's getting me mad is - EVERYONE is taking sides on ATC.

Why can't we all realize that BOTH men are talented, and are worthy of our respect, and worthy of success?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BobbyBubby 2005-08-08 11:59:28.0

I don't know, Marc. I just think freaking out every time someone says something negative about Hairspray (La Chiusa, Mordden, Kander and Ebb) doesn't bode very well for you. These are respected sources who are entitled to their opinions, as you are yours. Portraying everyone who disagrees with you as an ASS may not be the fairest way to combat such criticisms.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 12:08:38.0

it's only when they say it in "ass like fashion"! And what's so terribly wrong about defending one self? You guys online constantly defend your right to your opinions, can't I practice that same right?

And though I'll never be known as a classy guy, I just think it's tacky for fellow composers/lyricists to attack a brethren. To quote one fabulous, legendary lyricist: "Whatever Happened To Class?"

anyway, LOVE your icon! Let's be friends!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by pianodan 2005-08-08 12:15:23.0

Wow, Mr. Shaiman. You didn't have Michael John's email address? And none of your friends in the biz could have provided it to you? I find that very hard to believe. Even I (i.e. nobody) have his email, because Mr. LaChiusa has emailed me privately twice, in response to postings on ATC. (Once to thank me for extolling HELLO AGAIN, once to critique my critique of LITTLE FISH.)

It's well-known that Mr. LaChiusa reads the boards - his BWW username is apparently "businesssuit", and I've seen an occasional post from "MichaelJohn" on ATC. (If you weren't aware of that fact, Mr. Shaiman, you would have been after reading all the replies to your ATC thread.) So did you think Mr. L. *wouldn't* see the discussion there? He could have fired back, or contacted you privately (that is, if he could somehow locate an email address) but apparently didn't.

So IMO, taking your case to the Land of Email Forwarding crosses the line to "uncalled-for." I think you had every right to respond publicly on ATC, and I loved your rant, even if half of the "rebuttals" were cheap shots that didn't address a relevant issue. (Personally, the only sentence in the OPERA NEWS article that I think is way off-base and undefendable is: "All sense of invention and craft is abandoned [...]" - obviously it took incredible craft to write HAIRSPRAY. But is HAIRSPRAY not 100% pastiche? which is part of Mr. L.'s point.)

Mr. Shaiman, you knew you were going to win the "PR battle" as soon as you clicked "submit" on ATC. Why not be the bigger man and leave it at that? What good does it do to e-blast your friends/colleagues, except to make yourself look better and Mr. L. look worse?

Signed,
A conductor/arranger who wishes he had one-eighth of Marc's talent


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheatreDiva90016 2005-08-08 12:15:36.0

Marc,

I can't belive you brought up me sleeping in the front row at MARIE CHRISTINE!

I TRIED to stay awake, but it was just SO BORING!

Anyway, I thought no one would notice.

I didn't snore did I?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Winokur_fan 2005-08-08 12:15:50.0

Agreed, Marc. Not to mention that he also attacked some of the greatest people in the entertainment business in his little rant. Such as Jerry...noboby messes with Jerry. Wouldn't you defend your friends, BB?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Michael Bennett 2005-08-08 12:16:04.0

I adore Marc's work and love a great deal of MJLC's material as well. I think both have valid points.

I did want to comment, though, that I do agree with Marc's comment about the poor choice in MARIE CHRISTINE of having the death scene take place "off stage." I get they were going for a greek tragedy approach, but it didn't work. And while we're at it, wouldn't it have been a more interesting choice if Mary Testa, rather then throw her magic trinket away in disgust during the big reveal, instead craddled it - held it close, having witnessed first hand the "truth" of Marie's powers?

I actually fault Graciella Danielle, though for that, and for a lot of the other flaws with MARIE CHRISTINE. I think she skirted around a lot of the unpleasant aspects of the character (maybe it's a female thing), and I recently shared that with Mr. LaChiusa, who despite how he might have come across in that article, does have a real love and respect for the art form.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 12:23:03.0

pianodan - I don't think you should have given out LaChiusa's username.

He PMs those he wants, rarely (if ever) posts...

Number 2, I don't think Marc is THAT dumb to post on a PUBLIC message board and not realize that someone such as LaChiusa, himself, may see what he (Marc) wrote. Give him a little credit.

Anyway, Marc, why not write a "real" (meaning get it published) article entitled, "The American Musical is Still Alive?" (title can be changed, it's too early to be creative).


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-08 12:25:00.0

I think it's important to note that the thrust of marc's post isn't about defending hairspray, but about the issues raised in the article. It just so happens he is connected to hairspray, so he obviously has more knowledge about that "subject". Why wouldn't he defend his child? Furthermore - why does one have to be put down to make the other "greater". Marc didn't start the "war" - (nor did he start the Fred Ebb thing)- he was merely responding to comments made about him. If he had written how hairspray was the mother of all musicals and MJL couldn't write a worthy musical, I'm sure he'd be flamed from now until the end of time. Especially since it would come off gloating in his successess.

As for Marc eblasting his friends. He's in perfect right to. Just as MJL (who I should add I have NOTHING against and FULL ON RESPECT FOR) has the right to put pen to paper and have his thoughts published for the world to read, why would Marc not have the same right? Call it petty, call it ishmael, it doesn't matter. Michael raised an issue of importance, and having brought several composers in on the discussion, they, along with anyone else, has the right and priviledge to respond.

my .02 anyway.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JoeKv99 2005-08-08 12:27:15.0

Hey, Marc's got every right to answer "every" attack on his show. It must be hell to read someone rip into one of your "Children" like that. And Marc also has every right to respond just as publicly as he wants.

And to me the offensive thing isn't that JMLC ripped into Hairspray (To each his own, right?) but that he ripped into everything-- EVERYHTHING playing now and just about everything that played the last 10 years. Really, if there is NOTHING on Broadway right now that you can enjoy, maybe you just don't like Broadway-- head to a NASCAR rally or a Duck Hunt.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 12:28:45.0

pianodan,
You make no sense at all. None. Why the hell should he take it to private e mail? What would be the fun in that?

I loved your post Marc. And I also want to add that I will be seeing hairspray again ( My 5 th time) on a tour stop very soon. I saw Marie Christine once. It was not only a waste of money and time for me.. but a excercise in patience of "theater for the snobs."


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ljay889 2005-08-08 12:29:44.0

What is this whole Fred Ebb thing I am hearing about?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-08 12:30:43.0

http://www.broadwayworld.com/viewcolumn.cfm?colid=196


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 12:33:19.0

I think LaChiusa knew EXACTLY what what he doing in his OPERA NEWS article. It was written to be inflammatory and provocative.

Some of what he says is easy to dismiss as being the grousings of a bitter Betty, but I found is statements about URINETOWN and SPAMALOT on the money (and I loved URINETOWN):

"SPAMALOT, on the other hand, shares with URINETOWN the premise that musicals are stupid. If you start there where do you go? Mocking the unrealistic nature of musicals has its limits. AVENUE Q is a model of good parody, SPAMALOT is not.... it's faux faux, a parody of a parody. It not only mocks musicals - it mocks us for liking musicals."

I also think that nobody is enjoying this exchange more than LaChiusa.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 12:38:43.0

uh, I don't know, I think over at SPAMALOT they are just trying to make you laugh...and Broadway, like anyone else, can stand to laugh at itself, no?

If you don't laugh, you tell your friends over a lovely dinner.

What's dying isn't the Broadway Musical, it's a little something that used to be called "professional courtesy"!!

m'wah!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 12:41:45.0

I guess his bitterness and envy are too strong for any sense he might have about professional courtesy.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 12:42:22.0

DAME, ya ol' Dame, how ya' been!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 12:43:47.0

I am so good Marc. Life is good. Thank you for asking... you sweet, talented ,hussy... you.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 12:45:01.0

"...and Broadway, like anyone else, can stand to laugh at itself, no?"

Sure! But I don't think SPAMALOT does it nearly as well as FORBIDDEN BROADWAY -at a fraction of the budget and and ticket price, too!




re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 12:45:23.0

I also wanted to add Marc that I finnally saw the Gladd media awards on TV and what a pleasure it was to see you up there with my idol Liza.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 12:48:56.0



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 12:53:53.0

I for one think LaChiusa has an excellent point. I mean it's one of the reasons why Jason Robert Brown has sort of left the Broadway scene. I guarentee that if Sondheim were up and coming today, he wouldn't be able to get produced. We wouldn't have Sweeney, Overtures, or Company. It's too damn hard to try to produce something that's of any artistic merit because people are worried about it turning a profit. While that is a legitimate concern, there's a point where it's got to end. Producing broadway shows is a rediculous risk now. Ticket prices are even more rediculous. The bottom has got to fall out sometime. We can't keep going like this.

I say Bravo Mr LaChiusa for having the balls to say publicly what he thinks. One may not agree but he did do it in an intelligent way. I don't think it was bitchy or asshole-like in any way. It was what he thinks. He didn't say that any of the creators are talentless and don't have it in them to be better. But I suppose attacking one's work can be rather personal. I would really love to read Mr. Shaiman's rebuttal to the actual points he made. I'd love to hear how he sees where Mr LaChiusa went wrong. Hint-hint!!

Oh, and he didn't rip into everything. Certainly not in the last 10 years! He mentioned about 15 shows. Hardly all the shows in the last 10 years. And I saw his point on most of them. He actually praised a couple of shows also. I don't find it offensive at all. Hal Prince shares many of his views. He said "go to regional theatre, that's where the edgy work is being done". I like edgy and there's not enough of it on Broadway.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-08 13:01:09.0

I sat in on a talk with LaChiusa once. After having read some previous (and similar) articles he's written, I honestly expected to see a pumped-up, full-of-himself guy.
He's absolutely not. He just clearly has a love of musical theatre, a desire to craft musicals that are quality, and a desire to see this type of theatre remain at the forefront of American theatre.
It sounds snarky in the article, but I gleaned enough from him when he spoke to know he says it because he loves the form, not because he's jealous he's not getting produced.
They might not have been huge runs, but he's had several Broadway shows, the Public is producing his latest venture, and I, for one, think time is going to look back on his version of "The Wild Party" as a seriously fantastic piece of theatre.

That said, I enjoyed "Hairspray." A lot. I also saw "Spamalot" twice and love, love, love "Urinetown." I still see his point in the self-referential, self-mocking musical theatre form. It's a dead-end road and it's unfortunate that it's one of the only kinds of theatre that is being produced.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by best12bars 2005-08-08 13:04:37.0

Oh, don't worry too much, Marc...

He'll hit the mat from his own sour attitude long before you or Jerry (the "Knife") Mitchell ever has a chance to throw a "bitch slap." What a shame!

For someone who is a rising Broadway professional, he sure comes across as a rank amateur. I only wish he'd spent as much time on understanding how commercial theatre works as he did on that article. We'd all have better shows of his to listen to.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 13:08:16.0

I don't know, I THINK that if an audience in these "terrible" days heard the brilliance of any minute of "SWEENEY TODD" or pick a song, any song from "COMPANY" they would still hail Sondheim for the genius he is. And "PACIFIC OVERTURES" was tough on "general" audiences even then (in the "glory" days), as it was last year, making it no less brilliant a work from someone truly touched by the gods of theatre.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by pianodan 2005-08-08 13:08:24.0

>> pianodan - I don't think you should have given out LaChiusa's username. <<

Wayman did it first (on the other board). Anyway, Mr. L. has signed his name to most of his sporadic posts, so I don't think he was keeping it secret. If he was, I do apologize.

>> Number 2, I don't think Marc is THAT dumb to post on a PUBLIC message board and not realize that someone such as LaChiusa, himself, may see what he (Marc) wrote. Give him a little credit. <<

Exactly my point. All I'm saying is he didn't need to press the advantage, keep it going, appeal to his friends for even MORE sympathy/outrage/agreement. As Craig said, he has every right to do so - I'm just "call[ing] it petty"!

But Craig, I think you're completely wrong about this:
>> the thrust of marc's post isn't about defending hairspray, but about the issues raised in the article. <<

Say what? Almost all of Marc's retorts are specifically defending himself and his work or "attacking" LaChiusa and his work. Again, nothing wrong with that, but it was far from a substantive reply that engaged the issues.

Finally, DAME should read more carefully before insulting me:
>> You make no sense at all. None. Why the hell should he take it to private e mail? What would be the fun in that? <<

I was saying he *shouldn't* have taken it to private email, as stupid as that seems out of context...

Believe me, I respect Mr. Shaiman (and HAIRSPRAY) and especially love the fact that he posts here and elsewhere, educating laypeople and emerging professionals alike about this industry we all love. I enjoy most of Mr. LaChiusa's work but don't agree with most of his article. And now I'm wondering what the "Fred Ebb thing" was, since the article Craig linked to has had the apparently controversional section excised...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BobbyBubby 2005-08-08 13:08:32.0

He has given us many great things to listen to. Many.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by DAME 2005-08-08 13:13:38.0

pianodan,
I stand corrected. OOPS.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 13:16:21.0

Marc, my point wasn't that Sondheim would be less brilliant, it was that he just wouldn't have been heard. The Hal Prince kind of producing doesn't really happen anymore. I was just saying that producers wouldn't produce him as much because his work does pose a higher risk of financial failure than say Mamma Mia!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 13:17:19.0

"PianoDan",

I tried to only address his HAIRSPRAY "facts" since the other writers he ATTACKS might have felt "Marc, thanks but don't bring me in to this"

His words are downright shocking towards his colleagues, not just towards my work.

Sorry, but if you don't think phrases like "All sense of invention and craft is abandoned", "Instead of crafted songwriting, there is tune-positioning" and "no matter how mechanical or sloppy the execution may be to discerning eyes and ears" aren't wildly, personally insulting, then boy, you must be Jesus Christ himself. Let's have dinner. Meet 'cha at Angus'!!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JohnPopa 2005-08-08 13:18:47.0

But Mr. Laciusa and JRB have gotten produced, several times, with the full backing of large producers and with star names in the cast and as designers/directors. They're hardly on the outside looking in as they would like people to believe.

People seem to forget that many of Sondheim's successes are from the early part of his career. He earned the trust of producers and investors early in his career and that allowed him the freedom to explore his more bold endeavors later. It seems LaChiusa wants all that freedom and trust without ever earning it, other than to constantly tout his own genius.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 13:20:31.0

can't we just settle this with a mud wrestling match in Shubert Alley?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Michael Bennett 2005-08-08 13:21:59.0

As a benefit for BCEFA? That would be amazing!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by EddieVarley 2005-08-08 13:22:18.0

It's always a pleasure to read inspired discourse, well said and AMAZING!

I also think that Marc gave a very substantive and informed reply that did indeed engage the many issues raised.



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 13:23:44.0

my side will have MUCH more fun cheers!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 13:24:33.0

Nobody loves a well-constructed, smart musical comedy more than I do, but I do think there is a real hunger out there for a musical (serious or not) that DOESN'T constantly poke you the ribs and rather gets you emotionally involved with the characters. As great as the score to HAIRSPRAY is, it has the good fortune to be coupled with a solid, smart and involving book. I was bored by WICKED, but I can see why it has a fanatical following, one that is shared in a smaller way with rabid PIAZZA fans - to many of us, it's a relief to see a juicy, serious musical that is both adult and unapologetically romantic.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Michael Bennett 2005-08-08 13:24:39.0

I don't know Marc. Audra screams like a Mo'Fo.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BroadwayBound06 2005-08-08 13:25:29.0

I'm going to have to agree with LaChiusa. You can re-invent somthing over and over again, as much as you want. Entertainment is full of it. But I hardly think that adding music to a movie is hardly worth any artistic credibility. And every musical that opened this season was based on a previous work, be it movie or novel (I'm not sure about Spelling Bee). But where is the creation? I thought Caroline of Change got royally screwed last year. I'm glad that shows like Hairspray and Producers and Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang give work to preformers, technicians, and orcestra members, and pay the rent for the creative team. But I don't see the substance in them. They're shows with the same lines from the movies and songs. They're fun and I enjoy them every once in a while, but they don't give new views or stir the soul. The art today seems to lie in the plays, which are also suffering from high ticket prices, people sleeping in the audience, and lack of box office sucess.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JohnPopa 2005-08-08 13:25:35.0

Yeah but LaChiusa's crowd would then point out how much more sophisticated their taunts were.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by EddieVarley 2005-08-08 13:29:26.0

Can we have the guys from VH1's Strip Search join in with the mud wrestling?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 13:31:24.0

please!!!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by WildhornFanatic 2005-08-08 13:31:32.0

Marc, what are your thoughts on Wildhorn's music?

PS - Loved the rebuttal and I agree with everything you said in the post.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 13:35:49.0

All but a tiny handful of the greatest musicals ever written are based on some previously existing work, be it a novel, play or film. Heck, even two of Sondheim's finest works were adapted from movies (A Little Night Music and Passion). And who cares?

The only thing that matters is the execution. Just because a musical is based on something else doesn't automatically make it good or bad.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 13:36:57.0

I don't think you have to be a tasteless yahoo to enjoy MAMMA MIA or SPAMALOT, and I don't think that you are a snob if you loved MARIE CHRISTINE or LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA.

Over the last few months, I've heard lots of exciting theatre songs by such up-and coming talents as Steven Lutvak, Mark Campbell, Jeff Blumenkrantz and Peter Mills (and heard enough of Debra Barsha's score to RADIANT BABY to make me regret that I missed it). These songs were all tuneful, smart and by turns heartbreaking and funny. And many of these scores had interesting and risky original books.

But who are the producers that will take a chance on them?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 13:37:40.0

Margo, I don't think that was the point. Broadwaybound was trying to support the point of originality.


Master, I agree. That's the point I was trying to make when refering to Sondheim.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BroadwayBound06 2005-08-08 13:42:04.0

That's true Margo, Merrily was based on a play. Unfortunatly I am unfamiliar with A Little Night Music (I am very ashamed) and I don't know the Passion movie. But basing somthing on a previous work is much different than the slew of musicals which seem to just add song to the previous movie. I am saddened by the disney musicals, because they are THE movie, with the same songs, and just added tidbits. I'd like to pass judgement on Tarzan now, but I'll await to see what happens.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 13:46:48.0

Tarzan may actually be suprising. i've heard some of the dialog and it's actually pretty smart. I've only heard a bit of the music and it has lots of potential. We'll see what happens to it. I certainly wasn't looking forward to it until I heard a bit of it. No, I'm intrigued.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BroadwayBound06 2005-08-08 13:47:27.0

I just don't want it to be like Beuaty and the Beast or Lion King


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 13:49:38.0

Yeah I know! Don't hold your breath.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 13:49:49.0

TLK is Hamlet.

Hell, even Sweeney is based on something...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by pianodan 2005-08-08 13:50:11.0

Mr. Shaiman,
I don't disagree with anything in your response to me (last page)! I was disputing Craig's (now Eddie's) opinion that your "screed" was issue-based and not "personal". Of course it was personal, as you said - you were offended and responded in kind!

> Sorry, but if you don't think phrases like [...] aren't wildly, personally insulting, then boy, you must be Jesus Christ himself. Let's have dinner. Meet 'cha at Angus'!! <<

Well, I don't think they're WILDLY insulting, but I'm not the one being insulted. If I can convince you I AM Jesus Christ, will you have dinner with me? :)

I said before I thought the "craft is abandoned" line is way off-base and demonstrably untrue. "Mechanical or sloppy execution" is more a matter of opinion - though how he could call HAIRSPRAY "sloppy" baffles me (I haven't seen PRODUCERS).

The "tune-positioning" line I can understand, since we know LaChiusa's M.O. is "sung-through" pieces where the score is inextricably linked with the libretto and often doesn't consist of discrete "songs". Maybe that's the kind of "craft" LaChiusa prefers, as opposed to HAIRSPRAY'S traditional "given this story, we'll have a song here, a song here, a song here" - which could be called "tune-positioning". I don't agree with MJL here either, but I'm trying to understand where he was coming from.

Just trying to shift the discourse towards the "issues"!* I may not be able to participate much more, as I have a Fringe Festival smash hit (http://www.fleetweekthemusical.com) to rehearse and orchestrate...

*As I was writing this - slowly as usual - the discussion took a turn for the interesting! Nice.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BroadwayBound06 2005-08-08 13:50:53.0

Well Sweeney was based on history, but there were many plays that Sondheim looked to. I think he took the general plot from one, and may have spiced it up a bit.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 13:52:15.0

And my point was I don't care if a musical is wholly original or if its based on a previously existing work. Originality is WAY overrated. The fact is that 95% of the musicals that were "wholly original" were major flops -- financially and more often than not artistically. The vast majority of the time, their books just don't work.

But, then look at the artistry that went into the creation of Showboat, Porgy and Bess, Guys and Dolls, Fiddler, Man of La Mancha, Forum, West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, etc..... Are those shows somehow less worthy because they were based on other material?

It's hard enough to craft and construct a first rate score and a first rate book, even when you're starting with previously proven material. Starting completely from scratch and creating your own characters and plot and metaphors and conflcits, just increases the odds that the show won't work 100 fold. Yes, I love Caroline and Follies and A Chorus Line and other so-called "original" shows, but I don't love them any more or less than Sweeney or West Side Story or Porgy. All I care about is the finished product and it doesn't matter to me one iota if the show is based on something else or not.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Cages or Wings 2005-08-08 13:52:21.0

Personally I'm waiting for Brian Lowdermilk to have a full production in NYC. Hopefully he will get that chance soon.

In regards to Marc's rebuttal... You were attacked and have every right to respond and defend yourself, and you did well. I personally enjoy Marie Christine and The Wild Party, but i feel like the work of LaChiusa and others like him is intentionally (and unnecesarily) esoteric. In attempt to be intellectual they come off as elitist. It's okay to entertain an audience in addition to making them think. They aren't mutually exclusive goals, even though sometimes they are treated as such by writers and composers.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 13:52:30.0

Jazzy, you know "I Won't Mind", right? This Jeff Bluemcrantz-Annie Kessler-Libby Saines song is from an unfinished musical called THE OTHER FRANKLIN (based on the relationship between Ben Franklin and his illegitamate son William) - with "Hold My Hand" (from Jeff's in-progress musical, HUSH) these songs touched me more than anything in PIAZZA (and I loved PIAZZA) -

but will I ever hear these performed on stage in a full-scale musical?

And will Peter Mills' PUSUIT OF PERSEPHONE ever come back to life?

Damn, talk about moments where I shoulda slipped my recorder in my jacket pocket....


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JoeKv99 2005-08-08 13:52:39.0

Broadway Bound, have you ever seen Lion King? Let me remind you what you just said: "I am saddened by the disney musicals, because they are THE movie, with the same songs, and just added tidbits."

Not even close.

And since it's so easy to "add songs to a movie" and have a hit, why don't you do it? Right now? Then come back here and tell us all how formulas always work and how simple it was.

You think that only because the shows that succeed make it look so easy.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-08 13:58:45.0

'I am saddened by the disney musicals, because they are THE movie, with the same songs, and just added tidbits.'

I'm sorry, but this is blatantly untrue. BATB...yes...that was it's problem. It wasn't a reimagining of the movie...it was quite a literal translation. Disney was taken to task for it and, for their very next musical, they went to one of the most creative minds working in theatre today: Julie Taymor. They gave her complete artistic control over the piece and the result was an astonishing evening of theatre that married eastern and western theatre forms, as well as tribal sounds and storytelling with modern technology. It was simply overwhelming and moved me to no end. AIDA followed and it certainly wasn't a Disney film simply brought to life.

Ya know...I can understand people's reactions to Disney's presence on Broadway. But I will always give it to them for adjusting their artistic goals between BATB and Lion King and delivering populist entertainment that is also artistically exciting.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JoeKv99 2005-08-08 14:00:26.0

"Sweeney Todd" is based on Christopher Bond's play "A String of Pearls." Sondheim has said that he took the plays entire structure and musicalized it almost line for line. And look what was produced! A Masterpiece!

I believe Brooklyn was completely original. And look how that turned out.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-08 14:01:09.0

re: addings songs to a movie doth not a hit make

Urban Cowboy
Footloose
Saturday Night Fever
My Favorite Year
The Goodbye Girl


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BlueWizard 2005-08-08 14:01:43.0

What I don't understand is why MJLC didn't attack MAMMA MIA and the slew of juke-box musicals clogging the Broadway theatres -- they're much more damaging to the artform than musicals with original scores. I don't believe the popularity of self-referential musicals spells the end of Broadway; it's hardly a new phenomenon, and if anything, it reflects the public's current taste for irony. It's not just present in today's musical theatre, it's in all forms of popular art, from film and television to rock music.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-08 14:04:20.0

Oh...and Pianodan...please get to work on taking 'Ask Me, I'll Tell' a whole step higher.




re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 14:06:03.0

Sweeney is based very specifically on Christopher Bond's play of Sweeney Todd that Sondheim saw in London in the early 70s. There had been dozens of Sweeney Todd plays for more than a century in London and none of them interested him. The Bond play was different because it provided underlying motivations for why Sweeney did what he did, unlike the others the just made him a mindless crazed killer. He purchased the rights to Bond's play and Wheeler crafted the book closely based on Bond's original work.

A Little Night Music is based on Ingmar Berman's film "Smiles of a Summer Night." "Passion" is based on Ettore Scola's film "Passione d'Amore." Forum is based on the plays of Plautus. Company is based on a series of unproduced one acts by George Furth (so I guess it technically wasn't based previously existing work, but one could quibble). Merrily, as stated, was based on the Kaufman and Hart play of the same name. Into the Woods is inspired by fairy tales and Bruno Bettleheim's "The Uses of Enchantment." Assassins is based on actual historical figures (as was Bounce). The Frogs is based on Aristophanes' play of the same name.

And none of any of that diminishes the extraordinary achievements of Sondheim or any of his book writers.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BroadwayBound06 2005-08-08 14:06:34.0

Margo, in no way was I saying they are less worthy, they all are incredible shows, fully worthy of their acclaim. But they are not like the ones emerging now.

And JoeKv99 I didn't mean to offend anyone. And never did the words easy escape from my mouth, and I'm sorry if it sounded like that. I Lion King just wasn't my cup of tea, and I am not familiar with Aida so I don't know, but the few songs i've heard i enjoyed.

I'm sorry I didn't mean to start a fight.

And Craig, message well recieved.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JohnPopa 2005-08-08 14:16:36.0

Much of Sondheim's imagery in 'Sweeney' does come directly from Bond's play and it's also pretty much a scene-for-scene adaptation.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheColorOfFlame 2005-08-08 14:16:38.0

Excuse me, but:

If a show is the Broadway pinnacle of entertainment and high art, it WILL succeed. Financially and critically.

I don't think I need to list past examples, we are all seasoned enough to be familiar with those perfect blends of heart and brains, shows that ran for years, that thrilled audiences and critics alike.

If a show is really good, it's gonna do well.

This is a fact that Mr. LaChiusa, in regards to his own works, seems terrified to admit.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by pianodan 2005-08-08 14:18:42.0

OK, now I'm off-topic.
Robbie: you got it, but it'll only be the first verse/chorus because the 'group' chorus won't be as strong up a step...

LCZ: "And will Peter Mills' PURSUIT OF PERSEPHONE ever come back to life?"
Yes, it certainly will, but you gotta be patient! :) There are song snippets up now (piano/voice only) on Pete's site, http://pcmills.tripod.com ... and there will be a "concert reading" at a major venue in the fall/winter, date TBD.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MagicToDo82 2005-08-08 14:20:53.0

Marc Shaiman - you are a rock star!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 14:22:05.0

ok, to lighten things up here...

http://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=862575&dt=080805021923


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-08 14:27:11.0


As always, JohnPopa, you are the lone voice of sanity/reality crying out in the wilderness.


TheEnchantedHunter
Ted Hunter, Cane, NH


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by HotelActorBrooklyn 2005-08-08 14:54:18.0

I usually just read the message boards to see what others have to say about random theatrical topics..but I was able to read MJL's essay and Marc Shaiman's response. I have to say that I am a huge fan of MJL's "The Wild Party" and "Hairspray" respectively but I really don't think that Mr. La Chiusa should be expressing his clearly passionate views on the topic of the American Musical if he wishes to continue getting his works produced luckily on the Great White Way. I know that in the stage artists' mind, the "green" is the farthest thing from his/her circle of thought but look at the success of Hairspray and the not-success of MJL's shows. That is just dollar wise. Has anyone ever heard the phrase "burning bridges"? How can Mr. LaChuisa accuse and bring down these extremely succefull artists such as Marc Shaiman, Jack O'Brien, Jerry Mitchell, Mel Brooks, ect...? They are all "working" in the theatre and paths are bound to cross at some point. I must have seen the same actor at the last 10 auditions I have went on and after the 3rd run-in, I said to myself , "I am going to work with him one day"! Although I do appreciate criticism and open discussion about the theatre world, I can honestly say that MJL's essay was a little much but I also do appreciate Mr. Shaiman's response. I think everyone should kiss and make up!!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 15:11:27.0

I'm sorry but that's spoken like a true actor who's always looking for work. Which I am one. I for one don't agree with "Keep your mouth shut or you will offend someone who can help you". Please, LaChiusa's article has been tilted here because 1 person reponded to it. It really was a general cry for change as opposed to a personal attack on 1 show. I honestly don't think LaChiusa will have hurt his chances of being produced. I really don't think he cares. I don't see what's 'too much' about his critism. You also should consider the readers. It was intended for opera enthusiasts and most opera singers I know, share his views.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by pab 2005-08-08 15:37:32.0

I am so tired of this "original musical" argument.

I never saw the movie version of "Hairspray" and I never saw the movie version of "The Light In The Piazza" but I did see both musicals on Broadway and I enjoyed the hell out of each of them. As a matter of fact I've seen "Hairspray" three times because after seeing it first time I decided that friends of mind should see it as well so the next two times I went, I took people with me.

I go to the theatre to be entertained and that could mean to laugh or to cry or to be provoked. I don't care about the genesis of the piece as long as it's done well. It could have been created by Satan for all I care.

I recently saw "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and throughly enjoyed it. I own the DVD of this movie and I had seen that a few times but I was totally entertained the evening that I saw this show on Broadway and I'm sure that I will see it again.

I think that there is a bit of snobbery involve in this "original musical" argument. Somehow it's more "pure" if it's written from scratch? What kind of bullsh*t is that? Who is supposed to decide for me what I should go and see see? "Hairspray" works because it's a good and entertaining show and it's still doing good business because people want to see it.

I don't care if it originated as a play, movie, novel, short story or newspaper article. If it's enjoyable and entertaining people will go and see it and I don't need someone trying to tell me if I should be enjoying it.

Yes, there are musicals out there that I don't particularly enjoy but that's a matter of my personal taste and everyone's taste is going to be different when it comes to any kind of entertainment.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by WindyCityActor 2005-08-08 15:37:36.0

I know, it's rather bad form to ask.....

But does any one have a copy of the "Opera News" article that they can forward to me?

I don't to comment until I've read it.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 15:39:16.0

send over that guy in your icon, and I'll personally hand it to him!

(the article, the article!!)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 15:40:25.0

ummm there's a link connected in the first couple of posts, I think anyway...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Hanna from Hamburg 2005-08-08 15:41:20.0

http://www.metoperafamily.org/operanews/issue/article.aspx?id=1261&issueID=50


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by WindyCityActor 2005-08-08 15:52:37.0

Well....to be honest....Michael John La Chiusa sounds very arrogant and pissed off, and looking for a fight. So if he gets a huge bitch-slap from whomever, he shouldn't be surpised.

I agree about his comments rearding Mamma Mia, and all those juke box muscials...but whole piece seemed to be about raising a stink.




re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 16:04:05.0

oh no!! does this mean your icon isn't coming over to get a hard copy??

(of the article, the article!!)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-08 16:04:10.0

This argument would be a little more exciting if I could honestly say I had ever liked a Michael John La Chiusa musical.

But I was annoyed by First Lady Suite, bored by Marie Christine and angered by The Wild Party.

So game and match to Shaiman, who consistently entertains.

MasterLCZ--you know I respect your taste, but I think that MJLC hurts the cause of getting new "serious" works produced by boring his audiences so much. Producers look at the work of the emerging writers you mention and say, "Why should I produce THAT? No one wanted to see The Wild Party."

I suggest Mr. LaChiusa rent Preston Sturges's film "Sullivan's Travels" and read S. N. Behrman's play "No Time for Comedy." Both are about pretentious writers. Both are COMEDIES. And both would make excellent, timely musicals.

But you know what? I'd rather see the Shaiman/Wittman versions than the LaChiusa versions.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:10:02.0

Too bad MJLC never criticized the work.

Would it mean more or less if he were an outsider?

He never said, "Hairsrpay sucks big time."

And Marc never criticized LaChiusa's shows in his comments.

I suggest you follow Marc's lead and (not) do the same!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JohnPopa 2005-08-08 16:11:19.0

"As always, JohnPopa, you are the lone voice of sanity/reality crying out in the wilderness."

I am? That's probably a scary proposition for most everyone else but thanks!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 16:11:26.0

Just because YOU don't like it PalJoey, doesn't mean everyone's bored.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by JohnPopa 2005-08-08 16:12:26.0

Well, just because YOU like it, doesn't mean everyone else isn't bored, either.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:16:43.0

HELLO!

OK!

I like how the level of this "debate" just dropped thanks to PalJoey.

LaChiusa's never said anything about a show being good/bad...neither did Marc....

You missed the point of the article by saying that LC's work is boring, etc.

And I never saw it live, but I quite enjoy listening to the "boring" CD of Marie Christine. And, to be a hypocrite for a minute, I can listen to that way more than Hairspray.

(Sorry, Marc, I still love Hairspray...And I gotta see Darlene! She was Miss Gardner! ::sigh::)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 16:18:09.0

Umm when did I ever say that Johnpopa?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by leefowler 2005-08-08 16:22:55.0

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my guess is that Benjamin Britten had too much class than to attack Irving Berlin, or others who wrote hit songs at the same time he was writing modern English Operas. God, if Mahler could love Johann Strauss, you'd think Chuisa could muster a little affection for Shaiman.

Of course, Britten was quite a bit more successful than Mr. La Chuisa, so he had less of an axe to grind. Not to mention the fact that he was able to get along with just 2 names.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-08 16:25:47.0

Don't blame me. I only went to see three of his musicals.

And I'll go see the next one too. Maybe I won't be bored this time.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 16:38:37.0

Actually LeeFowler, this talk about class and such has me a bit confused. Since when is it classless to talk about work you think should be better. It'd be classless if personal attacks were made which they weren't. Wagner attacked I don't know how many composer. Either way your point doesn't fully hold up because Britten wrote operas and Berlin didn't. I've heard on several occasions in print and in person people like Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim critique other composers work. For instance, it's no secret that Sondheim is not a fan of the lyrics of Lorenz Hart. He has pointed out what he finds faults in them. I think that's totally valid and that's what LaChiusa did. It has nothing to do with success or failure. Sondheim is one of the most artistcally successful composers of musical theatre.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-08 16:39:56.0

I guess it's always more acceptable to be critical of the dead. They can't fire back!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-08 16:41:29.0

Robbie, as soon as I'm dead, you can feel free to agree with Thenardier about me.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:43:45.0

I have not yet made a personal attack against you.

You could only be so lucky.

No, just kidding.


Aw hell no!
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-08 16:45:36.0

Child...I'm like Florence...Nobody's side and all!

Mama learned a loooooong time ago that it's best to watch a catfight from the sidelines...preferably holding one of the participant's baby...or earrings, at the very least!


Aw hell no!
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-08 16:47:10.0

I love you too, 'Nardie.

If we can't disagree about musicals on broadwayworld--where the hell are we supposed to go?!?


Aw hell no!
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:48:58.0

:-/ Shay Stadium


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by kidmanboy 2005-08-08 16:50:35.0

I think people are too quick to clump shows together, and should instead look at shows individually. There are also different groups of people that different things appeal to. There isn't just one broadway audience giving everything a thumbs up or down. For example, I didn't find Light In the Piazza to move me as much as it moved some others, however it did affect someone and therefore the writers were successful. Every show is going to have someone who likes it and someone who is bored out of their mind.
Personally I am kind of sick of the "musical theater is dead" arguement. There have always been good shows that haven't made it and bad shows that run for years and years. I think writers should be more concerned with creating a piece that does what it sets out to do and uses the theatrical setting to its advantage. That said I highly anticipate both Mr. Shaiman's next work and Mr. LaChiusa's next work


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Hanna from Hamburg 2005-08-08 16:51:17.0

Marc is displaying what class is all about. He responded to attacks on his artistry, but didn't bring anyone else into it -- even when someone asked him what he thought of another composer. La Chiusa COULD HAVE made his point about the funding of new projects without bashing other shows / artists that have been successful. It is a shame that getting new works heard is a difficult venture, but unfortunately it's a reality; especially when some of these works will not be embraced by a large segment of the population. Anyone who is successful in reaching a wide audience should NOT be attacked.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 16:52:14.0

Only a big theatre queen would misspell the name of "Shea Stadium."


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:54:26.0

actually, there IS a shAY stadium




(I had a counselor that played there.)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 16:57:51.0

Yeah, I'm sure you were referring to that "world famous" soccer stadium in Halifax Town, UK when you wrote "Shay" before.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-08 16:57:52.0


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 16:59:32.0

carry over from the soccer thread


PLUS, I've always wanted to go abroad.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 17:07:30.0

"Not to mention the fact that he was able to get along with just 2 names."

Lee, that statement is more offensive than ANYTHING LaChiusa has said about Shaiman/Wittman.

I am not a fan of LaChiusa's work either - and I admit to be being bored by MARINE CHRISTINE (haven't seen the others). And I think HAIRSPRAY sounds better and better with each passing season. But I know there are people who really love the score to MC (WILD PARTY even more so) just like there are who like Phillip Glass, Charles Ives or other composers I don't care for.

To give him credit, LaChiusa is writing exactly what he wants, even if most people don't like it or are bored by it. He's following his own drummer. And to rag on him because he hasn't had a hit show and is bitter (and yes, he sure sounds that way in his article) would be like an art dealer saying "Hey, Van Gogh - you haven't sold one friggin' canvas! Why don't you get hep and be like Bouguereau and paint some big-eyed kids or big boobed nymphs? THAT'S what the public really loves!"

And Thank you Joey, but I honestly don't think LaChiusa hurts the others because "nobody liked Wild Party" - One could say that about most Sondheim shows, too. "Yeah, yeah, the Musical elite loves them, but they don't make a dime." I don't think one has to do much with the other.

But It's funny...for many years I was bored by a lot of Sondheim too. And paintings by Poussin elicited big yawns from me. Then one day I actually find myself actually liking them - they both got under my skin in positive ways. That's what some art does - sometimes ones first exposure just annoys the sh*t of you. I don't totally understand Sondheim all the time, but now I look at Sodheim and Poussin and pictures and scores that I used to think were cold and overly cerebral I think are now passionate and exciting. Maybe in the future I'll find myself listening to MARIE CHRISTINE and loving it. Or maybe I'll still be bored senseless.

And just maybe, LaChiusa might have a PIAZZA in his future.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Borstalboy 2005-08-08 17:12:50.0

Well put, Master.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 17:14:14.0

Master - excellent job.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 17:14:41.0

P.S. go listen to WP


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ljay889 2005-08-08 17:16:28.0

Definitely well put, Master.

I just honestly think both of these men deserve our respect. They obviously pour their heart and soul into their music. I think it's completely rude and unfair to start knocking LaChiusa because he hasn't had a hit musical. It's obvious to me, that he puts his heart into everything, and I can only wish him success in the future.

I am also so glad that PIAZZA found it's audience. It's a shame LaChiusa's shows didn't find an audience like Piazza did.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 17:19:29.0

I think Idina will be the best thing to happen to his career...

Then again, Mandy and Eartha MADE WP great.

LC definitely knows how to write for his characters and he has been fortunate to get great actors.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ljay889 2005-08-08 17:21:20.0

I really do look foward for SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE..

With, Idina, Marc, and Mary. What a cast!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by gettinhep 2005-08-08 17:22:15.0

Are they selling tickets to the Shubert Alley Slapfest?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by WonderBoy 2005-08-08 17:37:25.0

While I wholeheartedly agree with what Mr. LaChiusa said in general, I don't think it was necessarily the best way of arguing his statement. While I really love both composers work I find that Mr. Shaiman would have taken the higher road by not publicly responding to him. I feel that Mr. LaChiusa's sting hit home a little to hard for Mr. Shaiman and that is why he felt the need to reply. Childish behavior, foolishness and ego are terrible things but unfortunately they do indeed run rampant in this business. I look forward to both of their new works in the near future.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-08 17:37:47.0


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by leefowler 2005-08-08 17:40:18.0

Jazzysuite82,

You say that my point doesn't hold because Britten wrote opera and Berlin didn't, but I don't fully agree. What La Chuisa does and what Mel Brooks does is as different as what Britten and Berlin did. And Britten did in fact write for Broadway...The Rape of Lucretia premeried on Broadway, and his first opera, Paul Bunyan, was intended to be on Broadway. I don't recall Britten slamming Jule Stein when The Rape Of Lucretia didn't run as long as High Button Shoes.

You're right that many classical composers have attacken fellow, composers, but these writings have not worn well, and now read as indeed somewhat classless. When Schumann writes a list of the gretaest composers of his day, and purposelessly leaves off Liszt and Wagner, or Wagner writes horrible things about Mendelsohn, these articles don't reflect well on their authors with the passage of time.

Ultimately since La Chuisa has never had a financial success on Broadway, and since he wants this so badly, it's hard for me to read his article as anything other than sour grapes


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by melissa errico fan 2005-08-08 17:44:46.0

If LaChiusa is hankering for Broadway success so badly, why does he continuously work with non-for-profit companies like The Public and LCT?

He doesn't care about success; he cares about creating theatrical art. And he does.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by leefowler 2005-08-08 17:56:12.0

I can only ssume that LaChuisa DOES care about acheiving Broadway success, since he has on several occasions created Broadway shows, and Broadway is a commercial venue. If LaChuisa's shows made a mint, and Shaiman's didn't, then I don't imagine he would have even mentioned The Producers and Hairspray in his article.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by melissa errico fan 2005-08-08 17:59:10.0

LaChiusa's two Broadway ventures, THE WILD PARTY and MARIE CHRISTINE, were both produced by non-for-profit theatres (The Public Theatre and Lincoln Center Theatre, respectively).


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sanda 2005-08-08 18:04:28.0

IMHO, this is a very bad counterattack post, boring , hard to read.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by leefowler 2005-08-08 18:10:27.0

If I remember correctly, Lincoln Center produced "Contact," and the Public Theatre produced "A Chorus Line," both of which generated a great deal of profit. Although these companies are indeed "non-profit", they are willing to accept profit when it happens, and I assume that had LaChuisa's productions been more popular, they would have indeed created profit, a part of which I can only assume LaChuisa would have happily accepted.I guess it's possible that LaChuisa indeed disdains such mundane things as "profit", but somehow I doubt it.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Jazzysuite82 2005-08-08 18:23:50.0

You're confusing things. The argument isn't whether profit is good or bad. It's when things are made with a formula for the sole purpose of creating a profit, with no consideration of craft and detail. That's the argument. Art can turn a profit and it's great when it does. LaChiusa is saying you shouldn't set out to produce what sells. Secondly I don't see how Mel Brooks and LaChiusa are doing different mediums. They're both writing for the theatre. Thirdly, how does one present the argument without giving examples. It'd be pretty damn hard. He didn't zero in on any one show. He was speaking in general, mentioning 15 different shows.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sabrelady 2005-08-08 18:30:19.0

Yes it is my turn to way in.
Firstly Mr Shaiman you ARE a "classy guy". And first class too in too many respects to go into detail here.
Reading the orig article- there definately seems to be an axe to grind here and if this was truly an objective critical piece I'd have expected a little more substance to his arguments and a little more inclusion/reference to other works in his arguments. Perhaps his bias is unconcious but it seems fairly obvious. NOTE I am not disagreeing w him ENTIRELY but I don't feel he truly argues his case adequately .
I find myself thinking that Mr Shaiman's arrow struck the bulls eye too accurately w reference to "green" envy/resentment/cash/success. Hopefully this emotion will pass & Mr LaChuisa can enter into a discussion in a more collegueal(SP?) ( or @ least less bitchy) manner.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Sumofallthings 2005-08-08 18:53:00.0

Broadway is a community. Theatre is a community. It is all a very tight and close knit community. There are bitches and there are queens and everyone will get hurt feelings at one point or another. I think Mr. LaChiusa is certainly entitled to his opinion, but to insult the members of his family, specifically, was very rude. He is certainly no Stephen Sondheim. His talent is nowhere near Sondheim and I certainly hope he doesn't fancy himself as such.

Adam Guettel is the only one who I believe is truly forging himself a new name and a new style and a new signature much as Sondheim did. Mr. LaChiusa is extremely gifted and as much as he would like to act as if he is different than everybody else, he is still working in the same vein as everybody else.

Mr. Shaiman I applaud your response and your courage in speaking out against this tactless and immature essay. Mr. LaChiusa may not appreciate your body of work and may consider himself above such forms of music but I am not and I don't think most people are.

Mr. LaChiusa in order to write musicals you need to love musicals. You need to learn something from every single musical you see, whether Sondheim or Shaiman! Brown or Idle! Tesori or Herman! You need to understand that the theatrical community needs unity, not division. Respect the fact that Mr. Shaiman and others are giving actors work if nothing else! At this point in your career with only 2 mildly successful shows under your belt I wouldn't take out my frustration on anybody. You are a sophomore in the world of Broadway. I go to a high school and let me tell you it is not wise for a Sophomore to insult the Freshman, Juniors, Seniors or Teachers who want nothing more than to see him succeed.

You may not want "commercial" success, you may only want "artistic" success but it is not one or the other. Making money does not mean you have sold out. Losing money does not mean you have created a masterpiece. The purpose of the musical is to take an audience on a journey with you. To entertain them, to teach them if an audience doesn't understand you it is because you haven't done enough to educate them. Audiences are not stupid. Tourists and Artists are not enemies. They are allies who want to end the journey with you waiting for your next adventure.

Mr. LaChiusa, I adored The Wild Party but I was bored by almost everything in Marie Christine except "Way Back To Paradise" which I adore. Am I stupid? Am I inferior? Am I artistically challenged? I had no trouble with "Sweeney Todd" , "The Light In The Piazza" , "A Little Night Music" or "Caroline or Change". Maybe I am just to small minded to understand your true artistic vision. Maybe I am to emotionally shallow to understand the characters. Caroline Thibodeaux was no problem. Marie Christine doesn't have to be any different.

In conclusion, Mr. Shaiman please keep doing what you're doing. You are a musical favorite of mine and will always be.

Mr. LaChiusa, you're one for two. Let's see if we can get two for three.



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-08 18:54:58.0

It's funny, sabrelady... but I also thought that LaChiusa's piece isn't as well written as it should have been. He sort of noodles around a bit too much. It's too choppy and at times it's hard to follow. And he's a brat - in his discussion of the several recent books that proclaim "the demise of the Broadway musical, he praises Mordden's "Happiest Corpse", yet ignores the far superior RISE AND FALL OF THE BROADWAY MUSICAL by Mark Grant (probably because Grant makes a snarky comment about LaChiusias opinion that TV sitcoms are "one of our great artistic contributions to the world" and tweaks the composer of being a product of "the faux-Sondheim effect." (Speaking of "faux")

I honestly don't understand what his criticism of HAIRSPRAY and THE PRODUCERS are exactly about. They are "faux-musicals"? What? "Plenty of theatricality, but no theatre?" "Instead of Crafted songwriting, there is tune positioning." Huh? To his credit, he loves Nathan and Harvey. He dismisses both as "machines" , but unlike LaChiusa, I don't think that's a bad analogy - a good musical IS like a beautifully crafted well-oiled machine with all the required components clicking into place and whirrs merrily along. But I degress.

At this point, he should have a hot fudge sundae and rethought his points. He makes much better arguements later on.

But I gotta make dinner - more later.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 19:07:53.0

I guess I'm partial now due to his (or hers?) sweet words regarding me, but if this SumOfAllThings person is really still in high school but writing so thoughtfully and with such balance and clarity, I have no choice but to retire!! I am SUCH an old fart!!

meanwhile, I am terribly hurt that the mud wrestling idea petered out so quickly!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 19:13:27.0

Alright, I have just been listening to Marie Christine.

I didn't know what the hell was going on because I was listening to the music.

I have three things to say (I think three - don't quote me)

First off, some songs have a smilar sound to WP...particularly "Tell Me." And with that, I LOVE the score. I was entertained, didn't get bored. Unfortunately, The Simpsons came on and I had to shut it off. HAD TO. But I think it is very entertaining as well as interesting.

The beginning is very Aida-esque (in the plot - sort of...no, I dunno - strike this point)

The score seems very different from beginning to the end. This is important as they seem (I think) to have a location change.

Lastly, I enjoyed this IMMENSELY!

(And I am not a huge Sondheim fan, and prefer these two works to some of Sondheim's. Thrash me now, go ahead.)

And MARC, if you brought a pool full of mud to Shubert Alley, no one would stop you. Call it HAIRSPRAY CASTING.

"Only the Strong Links Survive"



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by EddieVarley 2005-08-08 19:19:34.0

Wait, the mud wrestling idea is dead?!
DAMN, I so wanted to see Strip Search's Sean Cassidy give a dirty smack down to the La Chiusa team's Mandy Patinkin!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 19:26:02.0

Eddie, I knew I could count on you


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sabrelady 2005-08-08 19:35:29.0

But never "down for the count"!!
( instead of mud could it be jello- there is always room for jello!!!)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 19:37:00.0

But will Marc and Michael John have a battle royale in the mud tub?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sabrelady 2005-08-08 20:02:10.0

I still want it to be jello if only so we can get some alky-hol and do shots!! Woo Hoo!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-08 20:18:52.0

"For instance, it's no secret that Sondheim is not a fan of the lyrics of Lorenz Hart. He has pointed out what he finds faults in them."

But the point is that Sondheim has (smartly) NEVER commented on any of his living contemporaries' work, unlike the untalented and graceless LaChiusa.

TheEnchantedHunter
Ted Hunter, Cane, NH


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 20:21:02.0

"untalented and graceless LaChiusa"

back back BACK up there.

untalented?

HA!

Graceless?

Have you met him?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Hairspraydoll 2005-08-08 20:23:24.0

No, No No go back to the mud/jello wrestling plans!!! I'm booking a flight from Vegas now....


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 20:25:10.0

Only if Idina and Sho can fight.

Not that it's a close match - Idina is fierce!

But I'd rather Idina and Kellie duke it out...Kelli did make fun of Idina..."green face... AHHHH"

But Kelli seems to admire what Idina can do.

That'd would be a great fight.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Iris Chacon 2005-08-08 20:27:39.0

These damm bitches are thread jacking.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-08 20:55:43.0



The assumption that shows that are opaque, "difficult", dissonant, emotionally inaccessible or audience-unfriendly are automatically 'art' is just so much bulls**t. Most of these shows fail, not because they're 'art' (that abused, overused and misunderstood word should have a moratorium placed on it on this site), but because they're BAD, period. It's a no-brainer.
Correspondingly, someone like Jerry Herman is no less an artist for knowing his audience and writing for their enjoyment.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-08 20:59:52.0

Well, I enjoy what LC writes.

VERY much.

In fact, he's one of my favorite, if not most favorite, composer.

But I guess his work isn't art.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by ElphabaRose 2005-08-08 21:56:31.0

Mr. Shaiman, I just found this thread, but I would just like to say how classily and respectfully you responded to Mr. LaChiusa and that you refused to drag any of your colleagues into the discussion.

P.S. I would love to see the mud wrestling!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by AuditioningWaitress 2005-08-08 21:56:59.0

Go Marc! : )


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bestofbroadway 2005-08-08 22:20:10.0

I haven't posted in a while folks, but I felt like I had to come back for this one.

As many of you may remember, I am not a fan of Hairspray. I find it to be uninspired and a far second to Water's movie. I've come to terms with the fact that I am in the minority here. While I find Mr. LaChiusa's article to be harsh, he makes several worthwhile points.

LaChiusa's comments do seem to come from some sort of jealousy. The musical is dead? I don't think so. For me, Guettel's Light in the Piazza alone proves that to be wrong. But I'm sure there are plenty out there who didn't care for Light in the Piazza, and plenty of composers who don't wish to write a show like it. I would never expect to see a show with the same emotionally complex score and dramatic plotline from Mr. Shaiman...nor would I expect to see it from Mr. Brooks. These are not the musicals that they seem to care for, so why would they, or should they write them?

Shouldn't Broadway have something for everyone? Shouldn't I be able to see new musicals by LaChiusa, Tesori, Sondheim, and Guettel while my friends who enjoyed Wicked, Hairspray and Spamalot see Mr. Shaiman's new musical comedy across the street? Wouldn't that be ideal?

Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case. When was the last time we saw a new LaChiusa musical or Guettel musical in a Broadway house? Wait...when was the last time we ever saw Guettel in a true Broadway house? Does everything with a little emotional depth have to be picked up by LCT to even get seen? This is where I believe the Broadway producers are failing us. And this is where I believe Mr. LaChiusa makes a good point.

I would be fine with Spamalot and Hairspray if only I knew the truly inspired and intriguing composers, like the previously mentioned, could get produced. I just wish everything in New York wasn't based on a cult movie or a spoof on previous musical theater. We are a recycled culture...and for some reason we have facination with remaking things. I mean simply look at your local movie listings. Wonka? Bad News Bears? Why do I need to see these remade. And why do I need to see a movie as a musical? Well I guess I don't...but when it's all that is being produced it sure does feel like my life line is being cut off. For the producers out there...I promise you there is an audience for new and exciting works. Please give these talented composers a chance! Stop playing it safe!

There's my rant. Now simply waiting for the responses from Mr. Shaiman.

P.S. As to not dragging his collegues into it...I do believe he dragged in Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Herman, and Mr. Waters.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Sumofallthings 2005-08-08 23:37:44.0

"I guess I'm partial now due to his (or hers?) sweet words regarding me, but if this SumOfAllThings person is really still in high school but writing so thoughtfully and with such balance and clarity, I have no choice but to retire!! I am SUCH an old fart!!"

You're not an old fart Marc! I've just been listening to a lot of Sondheim and South Park(you tend to use bigger words ala Sondheim and you need to get your point across ala South Park)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-08 23:57:00.0

BestOfBroadway, as I live and breath!

Wouldn't you be surprised BoB (maybe even disappointed?) to know I agree with practically every word of your entire post...as a matter of fact, who wouldn't? Except the part where you somehow decide I "don't care" for LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA. Um, sorry, I loved it. Twice.

But ya know, BoB ol' boy, not every producer out there is guilty of ignoring the "seemingly" less commercial pieces that come to their attention. Two years ago, a LOT of producers felt emotionally responsible to place "CAROLINE, OR CHANGE" on Broadway, where is unfortunately was (shockingly, I thought) met with just a bit too much indifference for it's long term survival.

And if it is what he wants, I pray Mr. LC. gets his kind of show up along side the rest of the lucky folk who can get the nightly thrill of watching and listening to an audience eat up their work on the cemetary he calls Broadway. There are many, many producers with BIG BUCKS out there. But they WILL have to be moved, emotionally, intellectually or (hopefully) both. I wish him all the lu...I mean, break a leg!

But there is still no excuse for unprovoked public condescending words and the statement of opinions as fact

Party on, BoB, party on!!

p.s. Oh, and if you read my posts, you will see I said I "tried" not to bring in any of the artists (artists being MY word, Lord knows not "his") that he 'took umbrage' with. And since he did not take Messrs. Herman or Waters to task (lucky THEM!), I 'invoked' the feelings they have shared with me. And Mr. Mitchell was delighted (as I knew he'd be) with his colorful description!

Now, can't we talk of SOMETHING else? At this point (and hour) even I am bored by the sound of my own voice!! (Not to mention the voices of a few others in here!!)



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Cages or Wings 2005-08-09 00:17:20.0

Lets talk about how Billy Ocean's Get outta my dreams get into my car is the most amazing piece of music (insert James Lipton's voice) ever written.

Okay maybe not but after hours of spanish homework it certainly feels like it right now.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 00:19:01.0

"(Not to mention the voices of a few others in here!!)"

Bitch....

I tried to talk about Idina in a mud wrestling match, but I was met by queeriticism


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Peter 2005-08-09 01:05:14.0

Well I just got back from the LA gay rodeo, and I see more rears being slapped here than I saw the entire weekend, and honey, those were some tight rears in those levis.

Theatre is all about PASSION. It's refreshing to see someone like Marc so passionate about theatre. On the other hand, Mr. La Chuisa comes across as biter and destructive to me. Maybe he just needs a really good bitchslapping...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Mistress_Spouzic 2005-08-09 01:27:17.0

Marc,

Ive seen 'Piazza' more times than you

xo.
C


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-09 01:37:02.0

just for that I'm gonna have them remove the wheelchair access!!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 01:43:42.0

ooo

But who has seen Hairspray more?

Not counting rehearsals...I mean actually sat in the theatre - and watched (and didn't take notes)....


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by wickedrentq 2005-08-09 01:49:19.0

Wow good question Thenadier!

If you wanted to try to make it a tad fairer or closer, we should keep it to only the NY production, since even though I know Mistress saw a bit in LA, my guess is Marc's seen a bunch more performances outside of NY, that would at least make it closer.

And if you did take away wheelchair seating at Piazza, you'd most likely be stuck having to carry Mistress to a regular seat for the 28th...I dunno, threaten to run you over or with her arm thingies that can be used as weapons, which she has threatened or offered to me quite a few times...


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 01:56:56.0

Ah yes - B'way only.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by chinkie azn jai 2005-08-09 02:06:18.0

I can't believe I just read this whole thread in one sitting.

After reading the original article, I feel that I was insulted by being a fan of these "faux musicals." I do believe in free speech, but I don't think it was wise of Mr. LaChiusa to insult a theatre community that decides if one of his shows is a success.

Anyways, I have nothing new to add, but I do agree with everything Marc has said. and I echo what Sumofallthings has said (btw sum, you're my new hero )


haha and I'd be in support of some mud wrestling in Shubert Alley. of course it would have to be when I am in nyc .


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BillFinn 2005-08-09 02:16:10.0

(walks up to the microphone)

Michael Arden makes me harden. Thank you.

(walks away)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Mistress_Spouzic 2005-08-09 02:59:31.0


seriously Marc, if you want to carry my fat ass that badly, all you have to do is ask- no rebuilding of Lincoln Center required.

as for Hairspray, I lost count quite a while ago, but I think Im at around 50 or so visits. Seeing it 2.5 times in one week last month was fun!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Pinguin 2005-08-09 03:05:52.0

I can't believe this thread didn't really catch my attention till now.

I think the most important thing to take from LaChiusa's essay is found here: “All sense of invention and craft is abandoned in favor of delivering what the audience thinks a musical should deliver…There is no challenge, no confrontation, no art — and everyone sighs with relief.”

-in my opinion there is nothing wrong inherently with borrowing source material or anything like that, but I think what we need is for more producers to take a RISK, push the envelope of the musical form. Musical theatre has so many possibilities, and while I don't think shows like Beauty and the Beast are the "death" of musical theatre they are part of stasis. Even shows that nowadays I find to be crappy like Oklahoma when produced today because they seem so archaic and commercial at the TIME were transforming and artistically DIFFERENT.

And to the people who were talking about the profit/not for profit situation -every composer wants his stuff on Broadway, and that's not just a "wanting to make money thing"; it's also a "wanting people to see your work" thing, and you're more likely to get people to see your material if it's on Broadway.

That said, Marc's reply was fair, and of course funny, with a lot of truth behind it. I would love it put in a more essay form, 'cause then you could more easily compare them as essays about what musical theatre should be, an always fun argument, but whatev. Do what ya want, Marc ;0)


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Albin 2005-08-09 03:38:28.0

number of performances of LaChuisa musical on Broadway: 110
number of performances of Shaiman musical on Broadway: 1240


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 12:07:39.0

what an asshole. and for the record, i think Andrew Lippa's Wild Party is clearly superior to mjl's.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Wax Lion 2005-08-09 12:15:55.0

Wax Lion loves you BillFinn.

Love,
Wax Lion


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by BoxFive 2005-08-09 12:22:08.0

When I went to Hello Again I got a headache, when I went to Hairspray I got laid afterwards, 'nuff said.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-09 12:32:05.0

Wow, if only I got royalties on THAT!!

well, that is a FANTASTIC review!! Can we put the on the marquee???

"When I went to see HAIRSPRAY I got laid afterwards" - Box Five, BWW

I am calling the marketing department PRONTO!!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Wax Lion 2005-08-09 12:34:03.0

Hell, Wax Lion got laid DURING the show. You can't stop the beat...you really can't.

Love,
Wax Lion


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by luvtheEmcee 2005-08-09 12:37:48.0

Damn. Maybe I should go see Hairspray again - such testimonials!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by EddieVarley 2005-08-09 12:40:20.0

*frantically dials Telecharge for one seat on the aisle*


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-09 12:42:33.0

Eddie - you double your chances if you aren't on the aisle. Think m'boy - you'd have someone on each side of you!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sidneybruhl 2005-08-09 13:16:29.0

I couldn't resist weighing in on this one. I bought the recording of "Marie Christine" because of Audra and have to admit that I never listened to the whole thing. On the other hand, my "Hairspray" OBCR is in constant rotation in my CD player. There is an art to writing something that is both clever and catchy. How many of you hum songs from "Marie Christine?" "You Can't Stop the Beat" ranks up there with the best "11 O'Clock" numbers ever written. FINALLY the tourning show is making a stop in Louisville and I can't wait to see it. If you read this Mr. Shaiman, keep on doin' what you're doin!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-09 13:21:01.0

...ok, now where was I?

He's established that HAIRSPRAY, PRODUCERS, DIRTY ROUNDED SCOUNDRELS, LITTLE WOMEN (Little Women?) and BROOKLYN are "faux-musicals" except that I'm not sure what he means by that, or what is the alternative is. I would have liked to have known what other shows he thinks are "faux" over the past fifty years or so. Very odd.

OK, he likes RENT, CAROLINE, MOVIN' OUT and AVENUE Q. But except for Q, (yay) all these shows have "Yes, but" qualifications - RENT is "unfinished", Larson's death preventing him from "Fine-tuning" his creation, and he thinks Kushner's words don't QUITE fit Tesori's music. Interestingly, he praises Guettel for his lyrics to PIAZZA, yet says nothing about the music.

Though he goes on about the glut of jukebox musicals,he surprisingly has good things to say about MAMMA MIA! noting that the ABBA songs are inserted into the narrative "with a modicum of sly wit" and inferring that unless one does a jukebox musical as well as MAMMA MIA! "the result can be disaterous".

Then he goes on a lot about the expensivce economics of Broadway, blah blah blah...that audiences don't want to sit through "cerebral", "emotional" or "earnest" works for the cost of a Broadway ticket, so Broadway always plays it safe, etc. etc. etc. ...bemoaning the fact that a live pit orchestra may soon be a thing of the past...but that lively theatre is being done outside of Broadway, in regiounal houses.

It's a strange and meandering piece. He makes some good points, but he needed a good editor who could prod him to explain his points more. Even so, he could said as much in half the words.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 13:58:47.0

How many people read this article? Show of hands? After reading it, I didn't come away with ANY of the conclusions you guys are drawing.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Ourtime992 2005-08-09 14:15:56.0

I read it and saw his point. However, I felt that he took the creators too much to task for creating something that our culture will support. I don't think Urinetown, Hairspray, or the Producers are guilty of pandering to their audiences as much as delivering a product of our times. The self-referential style is present in every medium presently (Seinfeld is perhaps the greatest example yet, but The Simpsons isn't far behind). We live in a postmodern society that alternates between a suspension of disbelief and knowing glances at the facade of drama in any form. I don't think the above-mentioned shows are mere spoofs of previous styles; rather, they are amalgams of those styles and evolutionary advances that merge the traditions of the past and the culture of the present.

Is that forward-thinking (I hear "trend forward" is the buzzword for this) enough? Perhaps not, but even if it doesn't advance the art form, it still creates works of art. The sculptor Frederick Hart (see http://www.frederickhart.com/ )was often taken to task for sculpting in a naturalistic, Renaissance style rather than following the lead of his more "modern" contemporaries. So he didn't create a new style, but does that in any way diminish the fact that his sculptures are amazing in their composition and execution? I think not, and regardless of whether Shaiman and Whitman's work on Hairspray is pastiche or derivative, it is GOOD.

For what it's worth, I'm a big fan of LaChiusa's work. I hope he continues to write for Broadway and eventually finds success doing so. But I hope he also realizes that as a composer he needs an audience, and he isn't doing himself much of a service if he writes articles in Opera magazines disparaging musical theater, especially as he has repeatedly asserted that he writes "musicals, not operas."


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 14:19:46.0

Ourtime, well put.
However, go back and read his original opening paragraph. I don't think he's disparaging the death of musical theatre, he's really highlighting the shift in the nurturing of musical theatre away from NYC. THat he focuses the rest of the paper on New York and what's going on here only serves to highlight what all these other people (I believe he mentions, among others, books by Ethan Mordden) are bemoaning as the death of Broadway.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Ourtime992 2005-08-09 14:23:39.0

bwaysinger, well put. I think I mixed together about four different arguments that had been lingering in my mind while reading this thread. I do think the real issue at hand here is how and if writers get nurtured and produced, which is a real problem in the commerical theater today.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 14:34:24.0

Getting laid is definitely a perk to carry my ASS all the way down to the Neil Simon.



re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sweetiedarlinmia 2005-08-09 15:00:46.0

bwaysinger & Ourtime992:

I think you two have contributed some great posts that aren't just knee-jerk reactions, but rather well thought out responses and something that has made my headache from reading this thread lessen.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:08:24.0

No problem, Mia.
I love Marc Shaiman (I will never forgive him for making me laugh as hard as I did the first time I saw South Park in the theatre). I also love Michael John LaChiusa (I will reiterate my belief that The Wild Party is one of the great unsung shows of the last 20 years).
I think that Marc had reason to take issue with some of what LC said, and he did so. I just think everyone had a knee-jerk reaction here to kiss up to Marc (sorry, Marc, but I do think you're great!) and bash LC. I don't think it's going to cause Marc to hand out free tickets to Hairspray or anything, so...

But that said, I don't think most of the people here really read the article or put on their critical thinking caps to listen to what he was trying to say. As a soon-to-be English teacher (I hope), it's a missing talent I could also bemoan in a very similar fashion to LC's treatise on the demise of varying forms of theatre existing on Broadway.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:12:39.0

Does that mean no more mud wrestling?

Honestly, some of you are siding with Marc, some of us are siding with LaChiusa.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:17:16.0

I don't think it's a matter of my taking sides. Again, I totally see why Marc would be upset at, and take LC to task for, his comments re: Hairspray.
But, it's an opinion piece, as these things always are. So Marc's entitled to a rebuttal. And, to his credit, he confined his comments to those things specifically regarding his own "baby." You have to respect that above all else, or even if nothing else.
However, I think a lot of people who jumped on the Bravo, Marc, bandwagon didn't bother to read the article and are jumping to conclusions. LaChiusa didn't write a "Marc bashing article."


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 15:17:27.0

so anyone who doesn't agree with mjlc is only kissing up to marc shaiman? i think for myself -- i can only believe la chuisa wrote those words to be provocative -- and i think he is a self-aggrandizing asshole.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:19:59.0

"i think he is a self-aggrandizing asshole."

Oh, do you know him?

'Cause, see, his work is great. He writes shows that will be, in years to come, masterpieces, highly revered.

I judge what he does for theatre, not what he's like personally.




re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:21:55.0

Did I specifically choose you, Garland? Nope.
I do, however, notice you haven't admitted whether or not you read the entire article.
A lot of things can sound self-aggrandizing if you take them out of context.
And he doesn't use the article once to say his works are better at the expense of others, which would be self-aggrandizing.
In fact, when he mentions the failure of shows like Caroline, he could have easily puffed up his own self-worth by including The Wild Party or Marie Christine. Yet he did not.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-09 15:22:37.0

So...I've finally gotten the chance to read the article in depth (instead of just glancing through). I must say I certainly can understand Marc's reaction and apprectiate Marc's viewpoint.

What I don't understand is everyone else's reaction. I mean...in the end, it's not a war between Marc and MJL. It's a serious discussion about musicals and their future (and present) on Broadway. MJL never said the Broadway musical is dead. He's simply responding to those who are sounding the death knell...using specific examples. Now...whether we agree with those examples or not is another thing.

My one big problem with the article is not the word 'faux', but the word 'theatre'. MJL doesn't ever define theatre for us. Now...that may seem unnecessary, but it's actually not. I remember getting in an argument with someone in college over a production of THE BALD SOPRANO. I thought it was thrilling; my friend thought it was decidedly not theatre. We simply had different ideas of what theatre is or could be. Knowing MJL's personal definition of theatre, I would then understand his use of the word 'faux'.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-09 15:23:41.0

Bway, I read the article! I did NOT post what I posted to kiss up to Marc Shaiman, and I find your accusation dismissive and insulting.

I posted because I was felt the article was sloppy thinking and facile negativity. (As a future English teacher, you should learn to spot those faults!)

The fact that it was written by a composer who seems to embody none of the qualities he extolls made the article seem hypocritical too, as if he might have written it merely to create this very "buzz."

Not only did I read the article, I have also seen--and been bored by--four of his musicals! (Not three, as I stated previously--I forgot completely about "Hello Again.")


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:31:13.0

Pal, did I accuse you, though? Don't have a knee-jerk reaction to something I didn't say. I'm not dismissing people who read the article and attempt to comprehend it. I'm dismissing people who come out of the woodwork to applaud the working professionals who frequent these boards (ever wonder why we don't hear from Anthony Rapp anymore?).

I also don't think he's necessarily employing sloppy thinking. He brings up specific points in his opening over what other people have written about the death of Broadway (in which, by the way, they cite the same examples LaChiusa uses to sound the death knell themselves).
So, he then proceeds to write, in his own opinion, why those shows are this death knell. He also says he doesn't necessarily believe it to be true.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:32:09.0

PalJoey - not everyone was bored by his musicals. Just because you were, does not mean it is fact and in no way makes him a hypocrite.

I think I know plenty of people who were bored by Hairspray, wanted to walk out on it, etc. But again, this was not the point of the article.

The point is, spectacle over meaning. Many shows are written to appeal to the tourists. Sadly, tourists want big flashy shows. They don't want more serious works of art.

And by art, I mean something that can both entertain and enlighten.

The only thing that brought me back to Hairspray was "I Know Where I've Been."

I mean, I enjoyed it. But sometimes I want to be challenged. I want to leave the theatre and say, "hm, what does that mean? What does this mean?"

I think that's what LaChiusa is trying to say - we have tipped the scales in favor of entertainment over enlightenment.

Now, that's what I got from the article. But I may be off completely.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 15:36:06.0

yes, i have read the article. i would not be offering my comments if i did not. of course he's not going to mention himself, but it seems inferred. he's definitely tossing down some sort of gauntlet. i don't care for his pronouncements and generalities. i found it specious, sloppy and misguided at best.

he is a big bore, imo.





re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:37:09.0

*Yes, he's also not the first person to say this...and to use those examples.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by sweetiedarlinmia 2005-08-09 15:37:53.0

bwaysinger, as an English major, I too bemoan the lack of critical thinking and reading skills in today's society.

I stayed away from posting on this thread during this soap opera because people relegated potentially meaningful discourse to a popularity contest of the worst kind(a la Mean Girls).


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:38:14.0

Oh, this is sort of a sidenote and probably belongs on another thread but I'd like to point it out: I think it's a HUGE misconception (or fallacy or somesuch) that Broadway is the home of the advancing art form of musical theatre.
I'd have to counter that it's never really been. The logistics of commercial theatre pretty much forever exempt it from nurturing the form.
It's true it really found its creation here, but I think we only have to blame those rare, truly artful, pieces of musical theatre (from masters like Gershwin to Rodgers to Bernstein to Sondheim) for the idea that Broadway is a place to meld all of the things that make theatre. The craft is always different depending upon intent.
To say that the creators of HAirspray didn't endeavor to create Hamlet is kind of - well, specious, I suppose - because their intent was to create something aesthetically pleasing if not genre-altering.
NOt all theatre has to be all things. Thank god we get a variety (I wouldn't want to have my choices of Broadway to be only Hairspray - we also get Piazza and Avenue Q and the so on) of choices on Broadway and also in our regional theatres.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-09 15:39:15.0

OK...I've stated why I had a problem with the article (lack of a definition of 'theatre', therefore not knowing what 'faux' means in this case).

But calling something 'specious' and 'sloppy' and 'misguided' without explaining why you think those things does nothing the further this argument.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:40:53.0

bwaysinger - this is also a very good point.

Hence, Off-off and plain old off-broadway


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 15:42:20.0

i don't think that's a side note. it's very well put and precisely why i object to mjlc's words.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 15:43:52.0

mjlc's words...please!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 15:52:03.0

Intriguing. But again, I think people are misreading LC's opening paragraph. The article was specifically to discuss what's on Broadway and why one might not find "art" there.
That's all.

Robbiej, I agree with you re: the definition of faux theatre. Given his examples, though, I think he means it as defined by self-referential shows. It's more a postmodern thing, I suppose. Self-referential shows toss that knowing wink of "hey kids, we're in a show!" Rodgers et al used to do shows about kids putting on a show (Babes in Arms anyone?) but it was never with that knowing of a wink.
And I think LaChiusa's correct when he suggests it is sort of a dead end row to hoe in pushing musical theatre forward. I don't necessarily agree it's automatically bad theatre, though.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MojaniD 2005-08-09 16:29:40.0

I read the article in its entirety and it's not as bad as I expected, though I didn't like his use of the term faux musical. I don't necessarily see the support of Marc Shaiman on this thread as a** kissing in comparison to the other board where someone came right out and asked for a job!! Now, that's a different story.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 16:35:47.0

Wow. Someone actually did that? And they actually, somewhere in their mind, thought that was a good idea?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MojaniD 2005-08-09 16:40:40.0

bwaysinger, this is for you (taken from one of the posts at ATC):

"If you ever need an adoring drummer to play a show for you, call me, at this point I'll do it for free"


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 16:42:16.0

Hmm, well, that could just be silliness at play. I mean, god knows I'd sing for Shaiman or LaChiusa for free if they ever, you know, do a concert at Joe's Pub. But I know there are people who really, truly, sincerely contact people like that and attempt to get some job out of their previous brown-nosing. And it's disturbing.

*the offer to sing for you guys for free stands, though*


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 16:42:56.0

i just threw up in my mouth, a little.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 16:50:57.0

Oh, I've seen far worse. I've seen people introduce themselves to composers and such, resume or business card in hand, and start working it.
I swear, this profession is worse than prostitution.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2005-08-09 16:54:30.0

I almost feel sorry for La Chiusa. With two new musicals headed to the NY theater scene this winter, he's managed to insult more than half of NY's theater world. I wouldn't be surprised if both closed early due to a lack of ticket sales.

However, there are classy individuals who will still go to see these shows because they ARE theatrical pieces.

What a shameful display, Mr. La Chiusa. And to think I was about to pop in one of your scores onto my CD player. And to, dare I even say it, I had JUST been listening to HAIRSPRAY!!!!!!

Off to the firing squads, I go, I presume?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-09 16:56:21.0

That HONESTLY is what you think the article is saying...about you?

Then you completely misread it.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2005-08-09 16:58:09.0

robbie, who is that directed to? Mr. Shaiman?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Garland Grrrl 2005-08-09 16:59:01.0

i haven't given a thought to HAIRSPRAY since i saw it. i think that musicals are evolving, not dead. look at what we've been through in the last 4 years since 9/11. i think the happy/escapism is fulfilling a need.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by CostumeMistress 2005-08-09 16:59:23.0

Something to ponder...

Broadway musicals, as we know them now, are still very much a young and emerging art form. People have been painting vases and playing symphonies FAR longer than anyone's been strutting a kick-line to an upbeat tune in Act II. How can anyone say Broadway is fading, or dying? It's still so young! I think that the next several decades will see much innovation from composers as varied as the Jelly Bellys in the every-flavor bin. (Sorry, just got off work from the candy shoppe...) Just looking through the variety in my CD wallet - from Songs for a New World to Mame to Song and Dance to Nine to Pippin to Tick, tick... BOOM! to Li'l Abner to The Secret Garden to Myths and Hymns... there is SO much variety and growth happening that there's no way the "artistry" could be dying, it's only just budding. To say that art is dying on Broadway is to look at the buds on a new rosebush and say that the bush is dying. No... the flowers just haven't fully blossomed yet.

And, say I'm kissing @ss all you want, I fully agree about the wrestling - be it in mud, jello or banana cream pudding... of course, do the pudding and I'd not so much be kissing @ss as lick... wait... this is getting inappropriate...

*goes off to a fantasyland that includes butterscotch pudding*


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 17:03:04.0

But you're just using the wrong terminology here, Mistress, because some of the shows you mentioned weren't on Broadway and never will be.

SO musical theatre is evolving yes, but Broadway is, I think, stagnating. Look at the spate of movies-to-musicals we have forthcoming (even the Color Purple, which apparently first attempted to shake the spectre of the film, is now embracing that connection). There's a uniformity of product that exists in commercial theatre on Broadway for the most part.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-09 17:06:16.0

You, iluv. I can comprehend Marc's reaction. MJL criticized his work. But if you're taking away that he's trying to make you feel bad for liking HAIRSPRAY, then you're wrong about this article.

Look...calling something 'faux' without explaining what 'real theatre' is (at least in his opinion) does his article no service. Perhaps it is as bdwysinger said and it's referencing all the knowing irony that is contained in many of the shows cited. Or perhaps he meant something else. It's tough to really have an argument about it because I'm not on 100% solid ground regarding his thesis.

But nowhere in his article did I get the feeling that he was saying that YOU have a deficiency for liking HAIRSPRAY. It has nothing to do with you...or me. It has to do with the state of Broadway (not theatre...which people confuse regularly and shouldn't).


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by son_of_a_gunn_25 2005-08-09 17:06:44.0

I love Marc's rebuttal! Makes me even more determined to enjoy Hairspray tonight.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by CostumeMistress 2005-08-09 17:08:19.0

Granted, I mixed some B-way in with some Non-B-way...

But is Broadway REALLY so separate from the "rest" of the theatre world that it doesn't reflect what's happening elsewhere???


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Ourtime992 2005-08-09 17:10:49.0

Yes.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:12:36.0

WAIT!

The mud wrestling is the ASS kissing part?

Well, damn! I didn't know.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Ourtime992 2005-08-09 17:17:05.0

OK, my last post was too terse, I admit it. Hit a regional theater some night, then go to a plays-in-progress series, then visit a dinner theater in your community, then go to a cabaret, then visit on off-off-Broadway space. There is a wider variety going on in the "theatre" than Broadway can possibly encompass. That's the nature of having limited space for productions, and it's exacerbated by the high financial stakes of mounting a Broadway production, especially a for-profit musical.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:23:11.0

The only thing that pissed me off was putting DRS with BKLYN.

But I'm over it cause I just finished listening to SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE for the umpteenth time.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Holbee 2005-08-09 17:24:42.0

I have to argue with your take that "Wicked" isn't a "serious" musical. Though couched in very typical musical comedy language, the show touches on some very serious issues. At the onset very funny and melodic, the score becomess politically pointed and at times very dramatically charged. The lead roles are very complex women. As Glinda sings in Act II "There's a sort of a kind of cost/A couple of things get lost/There are bridges you've crossed/You don't even know you've crossed/Until you've crossed." That is an exceptionally character specific lyric, very layered, not light. More so, it shows such a growth in character from Act One's Glinda! This is the best kind of serious musical theatre. The kind that acknowledges traditional musical idioms and transcends them. Though I still would label "Wicked" a "musical comedy" the "laughs" eventually give way to actual unironic "thoughts" and deepen the comedy as well as the drama.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by melynnee 2005-08-09 17:27:57.0

Wow, this is a hot topic! Anyway, I read the article a few days ago before all of this started and was so glad to see that people were responding to it, especially people who are in the industry as heavily as Marc. My two cents on the article is that it had absolutely nothing to say. I am with RobbieJ in saying that the thesis is never clear and his idea of "real" theatre is never defined. The entire article seemed to go in circles without ever making a clear point. Now, I'm not claiming to be the smartest person on these boards at all, but by the end of it, I was thoroughly confused on why he was writing this article, and moreover, why he continues to write and produce his work for broadway if it is a lost cause. I actually have a better grasp on what he was trying to say from reading people on here trying to defend it.

And an interesting line I couldn't quite make sense of was his comment on Idina Menzel "hollering an incomprehensible pop-ballad" in reference to Defying Gravity. I know for many this is a valid definition of the song, but I somehow couldn't tell if this was a jab at Schwartz or Menzel, both, or neither. I think I would feel ill-at-ease if such a thing was said about my performance in my last show before I started working on a show by the article's author. I could very well be misinterpreting, but I just thought it was an interesting situation.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:30:47.0

It's "There's a kind of a sort of cost"

And besides, the book is layered. The musical is fun. It lightly touches in the political arena, without going all the way.

"There's a cry
In the distance
It's a voice
That comes from deep within
There's a cry
Asking why
I pray the answer's up ahead
'Cause I know where I've been

There's a road
We've been travelin'
Lost so many on the way
But the riches
Will be plenty
Worth the price
We had to pay

There's a dream
In the future
There's a struggle
We have yet to win
And there's pride
In my heart
'Cause I know
Where I'm going
And I know where i've been"

And then...

"'Cause just to sit still
Would be a sin"


That song is much deeper than any rhyme in "Wicked" and perhaps stands out more from the purple fluff.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:32:46.0


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:34:19.0

melynee - I don't believe it was a jab at Idina. I can't speak for Schwartz.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by melynnee 2005-08-09 17:37:52.0

I doubted it would be. I didn't want to get any of those "you don't know what you're talking about posts" some people leave when discussions get heated, but just thought it was interesting because it's a comment that, like most of his article, seemed somewhat vague and like a disguised jab at someone.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Hanna from Hamburg 2005-08-09 17:40:59.0

These comments about the meaning of shows or songs from shows are exactly why La Chiusa should have rethought his statements. The purpose of art is to provoke. To say that you PERSONALLY aren't provoked by a piece of art doesn't make it NOT art. Thenardier is very moved by the lyrics of "I know where I've been." Maybe it hits a personal note for him that it doesn't for others. Holbee is moved by the journey that Glinda goes through in Wicked, how she changes from Act I (Popular) to Act II (Thank Goodness). And that's what art is supposed to do. And while works of La Chiusa and Sondheim may make broader statements or are filled with more instances of "stating a point," that doesn't make these works better or worse -- it just makes them different. There are people out there (believe it or not) who have NEVER seen a musical. And if "Wicked" or "Hairspray" catch their interest and make them crave more, then we all are better for it.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:40:59.0

Yeah, I'm not quite sure about that point - especially since the lyrics are probably some of the few that tie the show together with the Wizard of Oz (not to mention repeating the Wizard's "A Sentimental Man").

So, I dunno.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-09 17:45:04.0

" I think it's a HUGE misconception (or fallacy or somesuch) that Broadway is the home of the advancing art form of musical theatre.
I'd have to counter that it's never really been."

That is absurd. Since day one, advances in the form, from whatever source, gain acceptance and become incorporated into the genre ONLY when they are embraced by a Broadway or Off-Broadway paying audience. They don't spontaneously appear in a vacuum or a writer's garret or in a community theater in Podunk. The amazing development of American musical theater from its inception to its present incarnation evolved before a Broadway audience's very eyes.

TheEnchantedHunter
Ted Hunter, Cane, NH


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 17:48:25.0

To believe that, Enchanted, is what makes it a misconception.

Look at it this way. How many people here love Piazza? Well, after the arts festival, before Seattle, it laid dormant. Imagine if they decided never to go on with it...There's a great piece of theatre that never made it.

Same with many shows. They get heavily recognized after making it to Broadway. This is different than "the advancing art form of musical theatre."

Consider Hollywood and Independant films.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by bwaysinger 2005-08-09 17:56:20.0

Yeah, gotta go with you being wrong, Enchanted. The development, the NURTURING, of musical theatre does not and never happened here on Broadway.
Avenue Q? Got its start at BMI, a little refuge, if you will, of nurturing (sometimes) in the New York City theatre scene.
It's not designed to make Broadway shows, though.
Same thing with NYU's graduate writing program.
Even shows where the primary goal was Broadway in the Golden Age did their refining and went through their shaping process out of town.
Theatre is nurtured and created outside the Broadway scene. It comes here to turn a hefty profit.
I'm not saying it's bad. I love, love, love being able to go see a show with a splashy $10 million budget and huge casts and (sometimes) large orchestras.
I love more, though, those little theatres across this country that take chances on shows such as Avenue Q (thanks, Vineyard), Das Barbecu (was it 5th Avenue?), and places like La Jolla Playhouse, or the Alley for taking a chance on some new guy who might be the next SHaiman or LaChiusa.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-09 18:38:44.0

Indeed, bwaysinger! The two best musicals I've seen this year weren't on Broadway, but at the Connelly Theater (Prospect Theater Company) on E 4th street (THE PUSUIT OF PERSEPHONE) and the New York Theater Workshop a few blocks away (SONGS FROM AN UNMADE BED). And ---someone refresh my memory - what festival did ALTAR BOYZ start at? Thanks!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Craig 2005-08-09 18:43:25.0

Variety Weighs In

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117927224?categoryid=15&cs=1&s=h&p=0


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 18:56:13.0

LaChiusa then draws stage blood when he surmises, "A philosopher might consider them simulacra: Plato's 'copy of a copy,' a fake that seems more real than the real thing."

Wasn't that comment referring to Spamalot? Which is one of the worst musicals on Broadway, IMO.

Anyway, wow. This thing really did BLOW up.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by iluvtheatertrash 2005-08-09 19:04:08.0

La Chiusa's just a bitter queen because his work doesn't fly off like others' work has.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by EddieVarley 2005-08-09 19:30:23.0

"My one big problem with the article is not the word 'faux', but the word 'theatre'. MJL doesn't ever define theatre for us. Now...that may seem unnecessary, but it's actually not. I remember getting in an argument with someone in college over a production of THE BALD SOPRANO. I thought it was thrilling; my friend thought it was decidedly not theatre. We simply had different ideas of what theatre is or could be. Knowing MJL's personal definition of theatre, I would then understand his use of the word 'faux'."


Well said as usual Robbie, I did read the entire article and after a bit I started losing focus because a)I'm a dummy and b) I couldn't embrace the idea of one definition of what Broadway theater is, or should be...right, wrong or CARRIE (which parts of I loved!).


All I know is I want me some joy, and musical theater gives it to me like nothin' else, well expect for maybe my beloved star wars action figures or VH1's Strip Search...oops, off topic again, um where was I?, oh YEAH, the death of "Broadway" well the way I see it whether it's the AMAZING Cheyenne Jackson shakin' it out in ALL SHOOK UP, or that pesky Phantom haunting the Opera House, when those house lights dim and the overture starts up I don't care if it's Sweeney Todd slicing or Tracy Turnblad dancing, YES DANCING..I feel very much alive,happy in the fact that Broadway ain't anywhere near dead yet.....well, not to this dummy anyway.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-09 19:34:13.0

You're no dummy. Not if you appreciate that the same composer who wrote "Show Boat" also wrote "Very Good Eddie."

It's all good. Unless it's boring.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 19:44:13.0

Carrie


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-09 20:06:28.0

Let's take this to the Off Topic Board!

Let's cast BROADWAY BITCHSLAP, THE MUSICAL COMEDY!

Let's Cast BROADWAY BITCHSLAP, THE MUSICAL COMEDY


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-09 20:09:43.0

Immaturity knows no bounds.


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Right Said Rick 2005-08-09 21:19:56.0

I agree with you Mr. Michael John LaChiusa. That "Marie Christine" is a real hoot! You ain't been entertained until a real, live Greek Chorus starts a'singin' at ya. Makes a boy wanna kick his heels up and hoedown Broadway-style. Now, ya'll may prefer the traitorous race-mixing of "Hairspray" but I likes my musicals to be pedantic. Now, don't start callin' me a racist or a pedophile or a racist pedophile. I am just an American. A real American who likes his women compliant and his musicals real highbrow and smart-like. Like one of those nerds that ya pick on in high school when you steal his lunch money and force him to perform certain acts in the locker room. It don't make you gay. He did it, he's the gay one. Ya'll see what I'm gettin' at?


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-09 21:32:02.0

FINALLY!! THe voice of reason!!

Welcome back RSR!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by Akbar-n-Jeff 2005-08-09 21:46:00.0

"Like one of those nerds that ya pick on in high school when you steal his lunch money and force him to perform certain acts in the locker room..."

So, THAT'S the cut scene from HAIRSPRAY!


re: Marc Shaiman responds to Michael John La Chiusa
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-09 22:49:06.0



Bwaysinger, your post concerned itself with "advancing the art form." I stand by my statements. The simple fact is, if Avenue Q and any other show did not succeed on Broadway, it wouldn't matter WHERE it was fostered, nurtured, developed, it wouldn't matter how good or bad or different it was--the only thing that ultimately matters is how it fares on commercial mainstream Broadway. Then and only then does it stand a chance to make any long-lasting impact on the form. It's the old philosophical conundrum: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If Avenue Q shuttered at the Vineyard after its initial run, there would not be a theater being built in Las Vegas to accommodate it.

The sung-through musical is another case in point. If it weren't for Lloyd Webber's SUCCESSFUL pioneering efforts on recordings, the West End and Broadway (no matter what you might think of them), it's very possible you NEVER would have had a Les Miserables. Without the success of MAMMA MIA!, for good or ill, you would not have the subsequent rash of jukebox musicals. And so goes the market: t'was thus and t'will ever be.

TheEnchantedHunter
Ted Hunter, Cane, NH


Hairspray Review 8/9/2005
Posted by son_of_a_gunn_25 2005-08-10 02:17:37.0

I saw Hairspray tonight and wanted to try to give a bit of a review on how the show is holding up given the recent hullabaloo. Bear with me as this is my first review.

I went to dinner at Barrymore's with the friend I am staying with and three other friends. We also ran into someone else who I was really pleased to meet albeit very briefly but don't want to sound like a name dropper especially when I only briefly met him. From there, I went to the Neil Simon and got seated with about 5 minutes before curtain. I was seated in Row N Seat 7 (left side of the auditorium) but the seats were great. I didn't have any problem seeing anything, though I was a bit miffed because a few rows ahead there were some latecomers who were taking forever during the initial blackout but luckily they go out of the way in time for me to see Tracy (Shannon Durig) begin Good Morning Baltimore. Her energy from beginning to end was wonderful. Shannon had me convinced from moment one that she was Tracy. She was just a ball of energy.

Tracy Miller was hilarious as Penny. Great comedic timing. The pauses after she would say one of her obvious or random statements and the look on her face made me really laugh hard. Also loved how this huge voice comes out of nowhere in You Can't Stop the Beat.

Jonathan Dukowitz was great as Corny Collins. He played Corny very well. There is not too much to say about him since Corny actually doesn't talk too much in the show, but I especially loved how he pulled off the threat to Velma VonTussle while staying sugary sweet.

Becky Gulsvig did well as Amber Von Tussle. A very immature and childish personality that was well suited to the character.

Richard Blake did a great job with Link Larkin. He convincingly and comedically fell in love with Tracy which I did not feel was a very easy thing to pull off. It could have easily been very cheesy and unbelievable if played wrong.

Bruce Vilanch as Edna was comedic gold. He was amazing. He could sit there and not say a word for a good minute at least. Just by slowly moving after Velma insults Tracy in the record store had the entire audience going. Another golden moment was during Timeless to Me while he is sitting there absolutely silent with Wilbur cupping his breasts. He cracked three jokes in the pause and it had the audience laughing good and long. As I said before genius!

Barbara Walsh as Velma did well. I had pictured the part as less cartoonish than she played it. It wasn't overly cartoonish but it was more than I was expecting. (Serves me right for going in with preconceived notions.) It wasn't bad, just a little different than I expected. I enjoyed her.

Todd Susman was hilarious as Wilbur and he fit the part well. (I am pretty sure I own the same green belt he was wearing in one of the scenes but that is neither here nor there.)

I was sad to see that Jim Bullock wasn't in tonight as I had heard great things about him from my friend I am staying with, but Blake Hammond did not dissapoint. I especially loved him in the part of Mr. Pinky.

Loved Chester Gregory II as Seaweed. He had a great voice and his interaction with Penny was hilarious.

The Dynamites blew my socks off. So great! Can't even put into words how much I loved them! (Carla Hardgrove, CJay Hardy, Candice Woods)

Liz Larsen stood in tonight for Julie Halston and I loved her! The first thing that struck me was she had great stage presence but did not stick out when she wasn't supposed to at all. I loved her in all her roles. She was hilarious as Penny's mother. She was crazy and spot on for the gym teacher, and sexy, funny, and forceful as the matron. Each of her roles were very well played and I would have never guessed she played more than one role if I hadn't been paying attention to her listed roles. I didn't even realize she was playing Prudy until after the show. I have a few cds with her on it and have loved her singing so it was great to see her on stage.

Nia Soyemi was good as Little Inez and I absolutely loved Darlene Love as Motormouth! Her voice is amazing.

The cast was very strong overall and had great energy. Not once did the show drag or did I feel like the energy wasn't there. The show is clearly in very good shape right now.

One thing entered my mind as I watched Hairspray. What makes musicals so magical to me is how music tells what cannot be expressed in mere words. Musicals not only have that magic but that magic is an integral part of the plot which transcends it to a place where it could not reach using mere words. It isn't the lighting, or sets, or costumes that move me. They help point me in the right direction but it is the actors, the music, and the plot which provoke you to the point where the show is inside you rather being viewed on a stage 14 rows away. Where emotion and thought blend seamlessly. That is what I think makes a musical great and Hairspray definitely succeeded in that.

(It's late and I'm tired so I hope that this all is well thought out. I am scared I just started rambling and became nonsensical at the end, but tere you go.)





Hairspray Review 8/9/2005
Posted by Roger-the-Cabin-Boy 2005-08-10 05:16:49.0

"And so goes the market: t'was thus and t'will ever be."

Congrats, kid. You've managed to sound even MORE pretentious than Michael John LaChiusa.


Hairspray Review 8/9/2005
Posted by zzannahk 2005-08-10 06:19:09.0

I do sometimes wonder why there isn't anything original on Broadway and when there is it flops, but as a poet I sometimes also wonder if it's possible that everything has been thought of already. I would rather pay $3.75 to rent a movie than $100 to see a broadway production of the same movie. But it seems like there are other show out there, other playwrights who are original ie Brian Lowdermilk and they are simply not produced because they don't have a the mass appeal of Disney or something else already famous.

It's become an industry, not an art form!


Hairspray Review 8/9/2005
Posted by Sumofallthings 2005-08-10 07:43:32.0

Broadway Musicals have always been an industry. The amount of money they generate for New York City is astonishing. To deny the commerical and industrial force that is the Broadway Musical is ignorance. Only recently in the past 25 years has the turn from commercial to artistic success been in full swing. The problem is not with the industry, the problem is with the focus of that industry.


Hairspray Review 8/9/2005
Posted by ErikJ972 2005-08-10 09:03:35.0

EnchantedHunter...

I see some of your points regarding Broadway and advancing the art form. However the flip side of that is shows like Avenue Q etc probably would have never made it to Broadway without establishing itself in a nuturing environment off broadway first. Like SOAT said...Broadway musicals are an industry and Producers are not usually willing to throw their money at a show that's considered a big risk.
Is this is a good thing? I don't think so. But it's also nothing new.
I read MJL's article and agree with some others on here that why he does have some valid points the article seems to go around in circles. I certainly don't think using Hairspray as an example is justified. Just because the music/lyrics from Hairspray is catchy and funny doesn't mean it's also not intellegent and clever. Since when have these two things become mutually exclusive?
I also don't agree that Hairspray is a send up of Broadway musicals. If anything it's a send up/tribute to a certain period of music. In fact, the only part of Hairspray that I DON'T like is when Edna stops and makes riffs on current pop culture (Harry Potter, Britney Spears, etc) during Timeless to Me. That makes sense in a show like Spamalot...but seems jarring and out of place in Hairspray.


LaChiusa's THE MILD PARTY
Posted by BoxFive 2005-08-10 10:50:09.0

"LaChiusa could not be reached for comment. ... he was rehearsing "Wild Party" at the Blank Theater in Los Angeles."

What a perfectly named theater for his version of the work.
Next stop should be the Bitter Theater in Teaneck.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by WonderBoy 2005-08-10 12:15:28.0

This whole thing has gotten way outta hand. Everyone should just grow up and act like a big boy. It's all petty and childish. My recommendation is to just get over it.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by StickToPriest 2005-08-10 12:31:21.0

The only thing I really want to say is that, even though I respect both composer's work and had a blast both times I saw Hairspray, I tend to agree with MJL's mindset that entertainment (even wildly amusing entertainment) does not always (and many times doesn't) make it art. And the entertainment side has recently, and in essecnce always has, overshadowed, the art side.

I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. After all, the first job of show business is to entertain. But it is a shame when the art side of this "art form" is completely shunned by producers and audiences.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-10 12:31:38.0

1) Gunn, great review - but you wrote Tracy Miller twice, wrongly as Velma. May want to Edit that.

2) What you are all forgetting is LaChiusa did not come up with this. There have been other published sources saying what he said and using similar examples.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by TheEnchantedHunter 2005-08-10 22:08:12.0


The sad fact is that both LaChiusa and Shaiman in their polarized ways are representative of what is wrong with contemporary musical theatre. Surely there must be a happy medium between esoteric, arid scores that please no one and generic, hook-driven pop scores that are indistinguishable from any number of formulaic songs. It is exactly this middlebrow (in the best sense of the word)sensibility that once informed the core group of classic American musicals and which has virtually disappeared from our stages.

TheEnchantedHunter
Ted Hunter, Cane, NH


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Joshua488 2005-08-10 22:24:05.0

Marc Shaiman's attitude makes me sick.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-10 22:25:52.0

"that please no one"

Am I no one?


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-10 22:29:22.0

Your stupid girlie smirk and your pseudo-preppy clothes make ME sick, Joshua, and they have for months. We all have our crosses to bear.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Sumofallthings 2005-08-10 22:38:22.0

Hehehe.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by chita33 2005-08-10 22:42:08.0

I don't think Joshua has an appreciation for us fags who are out there. You want us to be quite and respectful of our place.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by chita33 2005-08-10 22:46:00.0

Hey wonderboy!...I know you are but what am I?


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-10 22:49:50.0

Oh Joshua's a fag, when that avatar first appeared I thought it was a slightly more feminine Macy Gray. Without the stoner charm. I could barely believe the creature was male.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-10 22:55:04.0

Heh - Macy Gray.

I try.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by son_of_a_gunn_25 2005-08-10 23:49:21.0

My review is fixed. Thanks Thenardier and DottieD.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by MargoChanning 2005-08-11 01:46:38.0

The Times' take on the feud:

"Not content with the exposure the Internet might bring, Mr. Shaiman then sent the "open letter" to colleagues like the director Joe Mantello, the playwright Terrence McNally, the producer Margo Lion and the librettist Thomas Meehan (not to mention at least one journalist).

"Let's be real: I sent that e-mail out and posted it hoping to stir up a reaction," said Mr. Shaiman, speaking from Amagansett, on Long Island. "I was surprised - and this is so ironic, because I'm known as a loose cannon among the people I work with - that he would go so on record to badmouth so many of the people working alongside of him, all with the same goals. And then he places it down in his article in such a scholarly fashion, to make it seem that this is fact. I'm not sure that he ever says 'In my opinion' or 'Just not my cup of tea.' "

Mr. LaChiusa, who is in Los Angeles rehearsing a production of "The Wild Party," responded to a request for an interview with a prepared statement: "I'm sorry I'm not able to speak as I'm in rehearsal. I'm pleased the essay served its purpose, which was to generate discussion."

Mr. LaChiusa has been a steady presence on Broadway and Off Broadway stages since emerging as a talent in the 1990's. He has two new musicals scheduled for the coming season: "See What I Wanna See" at the Public Theater this fall, and "The House of Bernarda Alba" at Lincoln Center Theater in early 2006. Nevertheless, his musically challenging shows, which draw on sources ranging from Euripides to Arthur Schnitzler, have often generated mixed reviews and disappointing box office receipts.

Those among Mr. Shaiman and Mr. LaChiusa's colleagues who agreed to comment on the spat expressed surprise at Mr. LaChiusa's public attack. "It's almost an unwritten thing that you don't knock other people," said Mr. Meehan, who collaborated on the books for "The Producers" and "Hairspray." "It's a tough business. Everybody who's anybody in the theater has had failures, up to and including Stephen Sondheim."

Ms. Lion, who produced "Hairspray," said, "What makes my blood boil is the notion that 'Hairspray' was some kind of contrivance and that the impulse behind it and dedication to creating it was somehow lesser than things that may be more - I don't even want to use the word serious - that have a more limited audience, to be honest."

David Yazbek, whose musical "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" was one of the shows deemed as "faux" in the essay, saw significance in the soapboxes chosen by the combatants for their respective arguments. "Can you pick a more pretentious vehicle for an article than Opera News?" he said, laughing. "Then, on the other hand, you have Shaiman posting to the bulletin boards where everybody loves him because he's condescended to go on."

Mr. Yazbek added that the situation brought to mind not any past theatrical skirmishes, but "Sullivan's Travels," Preston Sturges's classic 1941 movie about a Hollywood director of comedies who wants to create a film with a social conscience. "Maybe LaChiusa wants to make 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and maybe Shaiman wants to do 'Ants in Your Pants of 1938,' " he said. "You know what? As long as it's good, I'll take either one."

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/11/theater/newsandfeatures/11spat.html?


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-11 01:53:33.0

Thanks, Margs.

I love Yazbek. He's so cool.

Rico Suave.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Joshua488 2005-08-11 02:01:38.0

That actually made me laugh!

All I was saying was that there really isn't any need for Marc Shaiman to be disrespectful back. I know that Michael had no class or respect in his writings, but neither did Marc. I just don't understand the whole feisty attitude thing. I respect Marc and his talents, but I just think that being classy and the proverbial "bigger person" is always much more efficient in defending yourself.

But of course, I don't matter, so why do I bother?


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by DAME 2005-08-11 02:06:29.0

Thank you Margo. Wow what a exciting year Marc is having. First Mathew Brodericks date for the Tonys and now this. This is so Bette Davis - Joan Crawford. I am loving it.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by jw28 2005-08-11 02:13:09.0

Wow, this is crazy, haha.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by Hairspraydoll 2005-08-11 03:20:56.0

All I can say is wow, this really blew up. Crazy.


FOOLISHNESS
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-11 05:05:12.0

I think Yazbeck just put the lid on it.


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-11 08:49:48.0

Hey, Yazbek! I mentioned Sullivan's Travels FIRST!

(Maybe he's reading this thread?)


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-11 10:19:57.0

He wouldn't condescend to come on here.


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by Borstalboy 2005-08-11 11:23:42.0

Sending copies of the retort to professional colleagues? This is getting out of hand.


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by Thenardier 2005-08-11 11:26:39.0

I'm awaiting Sondheim's response:

"What I do?"


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by keggss23 2005-08-11 14:03:14.0

I have to say this and if I get flamed for it then so be it. Mr. LaChiusa is totally out of line here. It is one thing to say "The American Musical is dead," but for him to single out and personally attack others is quite another. Who does he think he is and what makes him think his work so profound? Why does he think he is the judge of what is art and what isn’t? His arrogance and disregard for others is astounding. I don’t recall him being part of the creative process for Hairspray or any of the other shows he names; yet he speaks about them as if he was actually there. Marc absolutely has the right to publicly defend himself and his work since LaChiusa made his criticism so public. The part that gets me the most fired up is the fact that he publicly criticized Marc and Hairspray and then when Marc publicly fires back, LaChuisa doesn’t have the nerve to respond. Instead, LaChuisa says, "I'm sorry I'm not able to speak as I'm in rehearsal. I'm pleased the essay served its purpose, which was to generate discussion." He made his bed and now he needs to lie in it and not hide behind his fancy “no comment”. LaChuisa should have been prepared to face the backlash that his remarks have caused. In the long run, LaChuisa is going to be the one hurt by his remarks, not Hairspray or any of the other shows he mentions. I doubt the box office for Hairspray is going to be affected by this at all, but LaChuisa’s colleagues and those involved in the theater community will remember LaChuisa’s disregard for their work. LaChuisa will be hurting when the community he so flippantly criticized turns it’s back on him and his “art”.

Borstalboy - Looooooove your avatar.


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by MasterLcZ 2005-08-11 14:36:38.0

I think Yazbeck is Humpers the Camel.


Brother, Where Art Thou?
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-11 17:10:51.0

Oh, I hope not!


The Great Gray Way
Posted by shortydudette 2005-08-12 03:47:45.0

I'm new to this thing, so let me know if I'm doing something wrong. I actually signed up just to post something about this...feud, for lack of a better word.

Am I missing something here? I didn't realize the article was a criticism of Marc Shaiman. Or anyone for that matter. An observation, yes. Criticism?: Well, one takes offense to those things one believes are insults. To put it plainly, LaChiusa never said "Hairspray is bad because..." or "Marc Shaiman is bad because..." or even "faux-musicals are bad because..." If Mr. Shaiman (or any reader, this article was not a direct attack on Mr. Shaiman or Hairspray, nor was it mostly focused on either of the two) takes offense, it is because he believes that LaChiusa's description of his work is negative. In fact, LaChiusa writes, of the "faux-musical" title, "if that label sounds disparaging, it's not meant to be."
I, personally, and this is my opinion, which you may disagree with if you like; it is something that I think, and the following thoughts were formulated in my head, and I do not presume to impose them on the heads of any reader:
I, personally, believe that LaChiusa is brilliant.
Is it wrong to believe someone is brilliant because he shares my same views?
It's wierd, I see LaChiusa as anything but pretentious, catty, envious. His music, his writing, is as real as anything. Marie Christine, The Wild Party, even the (admittedly) little I know of Hello, Again...they are anything but boring. They are eloquent, beautiful, emotional, honest, and more exciting every time I hear them. Just because they are not full of fluff does not mean they are not interesting and, yes, entertaining. Only, instead of being aware of watching a show, the audience is sucked into the story. We care about the characters. I don't give a **** what happens to Tracy Turnblad.
He just challenges everything with his music, doesn't he? Well, now he's done it with journalism.


The Great Gray Way
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-12 06:34:52.0

as I said to my good friend PianoDan earlier in this endless thread

"PianoDan",

I tried to only address his HAIRSPRAY "facts" since the other writers he ATTACKS might have felt "Marc, thanks but don't bring me in to this"

His words are downright shocking towards his colleagues, not just towards my work.

Sorry, but if you don't think phrases like "All sense of invention and craft is abandoned", "Instead of crafted songwriting, there is tune-positioning" and "no matter how mechanical or sloppy the execution may be to discerning eyes and ears" aren't wildly, personally insulting, then boy, you must be Jesus Christ himself. Let's have dinner. Meet 'cha at Angus'!!


Well, the offer goes for you too. If you can honestly look me in the face and tell me those phrases (among others) aren't direct insults, than there is a hamburger with your name on it!

meanwhile, I am (and aren't you all) so bored by this ageless discussion, I am now going to GO SEE HAIRSPRAY IN HELSINKI!!!!


The Great Gray Way
Posted by shortydudette 2005-08-12 09:35:48.0

Well.
I think I can make the argument that the perception of those phrases as insults depend upon one's aesthetic. I read them as disparaging because, I hope, I have a similar aesthetic to Mr. LaChiusa in my theatrical taste.
I hate to nit-pick, but I do want to respond to the specific quotes you mentioned.
"No matter how mechanical or sloppy the execution may be to discerning ears" is actually preceded by a compliment. The musicals to which the phrase refers are, he is saying, not without the joy of the musical. They have not lost their exuberance or become jaded against the genre (which, for all his criticism, LaChiusa does not seem to support).
"All sense of invention and craft are abandoned" and "instead of crafted songwriting, there is tune-positioning": well, I won't pretend that's a good thing in my book. But, actually, I didn't see it as an insult in my read of the article. The aforementioned musicals are not bad because of their (as he asserts) lack of innovation. They simply aren't innovative. They are thoroughly enjoyable and pleasing to their audiences and executors alike. Not everything can be ground-breaking. If nothing ground-breaking is supported, however, there is a problem. Lack of improvement leads to stagnation leads to decay. The musicals LaChiusa mentions, I think he is saying, are not contributors to the decay, they merely do not help to cure it. I think the article is less a criticism of the musicals in question and more a criticism of the musical theatre audience.


The Great Gray Way
Posted by DottieD'Luscia 2005-08-12 09:42:49.0

I think with that last remark regarding the audience is definitely going to open another can of worms.


The Great Gray Way
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-12 10:18:52.0

Blame it on the bossa nova.


The Great Gray Way
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-12 10:27:44.0

I think somebody could write a really funny play based on the groundbreaking insights in the original article. Let's face it, whether we agree with how La Chia wrote what he wrote or not, nobody has ever articulated it before. The article resonates with us, good or bad, because we may have had a vague sense of what he's writing, but it takes a true original genius to explain it for us in a way it has never been explained for us before.

I have sort of a fun idea for a comedy play. You know how La Cucha wrote that the musical is dead, well, the comeback could be, "It's not dead, it's, uh, um, a FABULOUS INVALID!" We could call the play The Fabulous Invalid. It would be, in a word, fabulous, and for the first time in the history of theater, dramatize these cogent ideas La Konkie wrote for the first time in the history of the written word!


The Great Gray Way
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-12 10:29:51.0

Can I be the invalid?

I play a mean gimp.


The Great Gray Way
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-12 10:34:32.0

The way I'm conceiving the play, "the invalid" is more of a metaphor for The State of The Dead Theater. See, there's ghosts. Ghosts of an actor and an actress. And I'm seeing you, Robbiej, as that actress. They haunt a theater over the years, as fashions and styles come and go.


Invalid
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-12 10:40:58.0

So I don't get to limp?


Invalid
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-12 10:44:22.0

If you want to create backstory that involves a reason for her limping, you have a go of it. But please don't collapse during the performance like Audra McDonald or whatever.


Invalid
Posted by robbiej 2005-08-12 10:45:24.0

Oh no...never collapse!

I was thinking more a touch of the gout. Something subtle, but noticeable!

They don't give Tonys unless you have a game leg, ya know!


Invalid
Posted by Fosse76 2005-08-12 10:46:09.0

Anytime someone says "this isn't meant to be a criticism..." that person is about to criticise. Anytime someone says "I don't mean this as an insult so don't take it that way..." that person is about to insult you. That is a fact. If I were to say to you: "I don't mean to insult you so don't take offense, but you are stupid." you would most certainly be insulted. Semantics in no way changes what is occuring. That whole article was meant as an insult toward much more successful artists than he.


Invalid
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-12 10:49:49.0

Yes, but you have to admit, nobody ever had those ideas before. And nobody has been brave enough to write them down. I think "The theater is dead" is such a startlingly original concept that a LOT can be done with it. Sometimes, brilliantly original geniuses have to hurt a few feelings to break new ground.


Invalid
Posted by Marc Shaiman 2005-08-12 11:04:23.0

Namo,

Did I ever tell you you're my hero?


Invalid
Posted by Brodybaby03 2005-08-12 11:07:03.0

I don't know if it's just me...but I think Marc's so called "attack" on the audience at the end is DEAD ON!

Maybe it's just me....and I will no doubt bury myself with some of you with this comment, but as an actor and as an audience member....JUST FRIGGIN ENTERTAIN ME!

I mean , do it intelligently, and make me laugh yes......but it's not rocket science....while I am not a fan of The Producers...I do love that they along with Marc, Scott and Jack O'Brien seem to have kind of resurrected Broadway..or classic Broadway. Believe me I think there is always room to grow, and room for something new. But I also would like to have a career one day and want Broadway to continue to prosper, and Marc and Scott seemed to have found a way to give people what they want without a loss of intelligence or integrity. Jerry Mitchell also makes ANYONE feel like the art of dance is well within their reach but he is still giving us gorgeous and fun choreography that will continue to last for years and years! I applaud you Marc for taking a stand....basically where the HELL does anyone get off stealing your thunder???
I enjoyed MJLC's music in Wild Party.....I'll be damned if I ever am able to enjoy Marie Christine....I hope this new show he's doing with Marc Kudisch is good (because I love me some Kudisch)but I just think he's really missed the boat with his stance on what makes a great musical.
Bravo Marc!


Invalid
Posted by Brodybaby03 2005-08-12 11:18:48.0

By the way Marc.....I want to bring XANADU and GREASE 2 to Broadway.....
You interested????


Invalid
Posted by FindingNamo 2005-08-12 11:19:47.0

I'm surprised La Chimichanga didn't test out his ground breaking ideas in a less widely circulated publication than the one he chose. The way he did it was like a big splashy opening on Broadway without benefit of an out of town try out, where he could have honed his originality to a laser-like intensity. Opera News is one of the biggest magazines in the country, I think I read somewhere that three out of four American households have a subscription and that there's a 120% pass along rate. That's really something for a nation that has the reputation of not liking to read.


Invalid
Posted by Fosse76 2005-08-12 11:49:03.0

People have been saying the theatre is dead, for decades! It certainly isn't an original argument, and the argument towards today's musicals isn't that much different than the arguments made against some of the musicals of the past.


Invalid
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-12 11:55:37.0




"Oh, I've been hearing about Broadway disappearing ever since I put on long pants. I mean, it's been the fabulous invalid. You know, but it survives, it survives."
--Illustrator Al Hirschfeld


Invalid
Posted by PalJoey 2005-08-12 12:12:41.0

From a Talkin' Broadway review of a revival of the play with Alice Ripley at Emerson College two years ago:

The original 1938 play, whose title has been used ever since to describe Broadway under duress, ends with a modicum of hope after battling a 10-year decline fueled by the "talkies," the popularity of radio and the Great Depression. And all this after having survived the advent of the automobile, the Great War and the Crash of 1929, not to mention an actors' strike, unionization and the inflation of ticket prices. (Any of this sound familiar?).

The Fabulous Invalid


Invalid
Posted by alli2 2005-08-12 12:42:14.0

hey, does anyone have a copy of the article from the new york times that was published in yesterday's paper about this? let me know, i'd love to have a copy! and on the same note, the day before yesterday, on wednesday, an article was published about Kevin Cahoon, does anyone have an extra copy? i'll pay! email me!


Invalid
Posted by miss pennywise 2005-08-13 00:40:34.0

Link to NY Times article about "feud":

August 11, 2005
2 Broadway Composers Do Inharmonious Battle
By ROBERT SIMONSON

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/11/theater/newsandfeatures/11spat.html

Link to NY Times Kevin Cahoon article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/10/theater/newsandfeatures/10chit.html




Invalid
Posted by DGrant 2005-08-13 00:48:15.0

". . . you have Shaiman posting to the bulletin boards where everybody loves him because he's condescended to go on."

'Condescended' to go on? That's a very interesting choice of word. And as for the thought that 'everbody loves him,' I'd read through this thread to get a more balanced opinion.

For the record, I can say that people in the industry far outside of the realm of these boards have been made aware of what's been said on them. And ultimately, that may be the point.