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Send in the Clowns???

Quasi
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Send in the Clowns???#0
Posted: 11/10/05 at 9:32am
Unfortunately musicalproductions of Sondheim are really rarely in Germany. I haven't got the chance to see A little night music. I always wondered what Send in the Clowns is about. My English isn't as good as it should be. I would like to know what happens before and afterwards and what the song tells. I know it's sung by Desiree.

Hope somebody can help me. Send in the Clowns???

Greetings from Germany
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best12bars
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re: Send in the Clowns???#1
Posted: 11/10/05 at 9:52am
It's a complicated setup... but I'll try to summarize as succinctly as possible. I'll leave out some details, but give you the basics.

Desiree (the show's leading lady) is a middle-aged actress that finally decides at this point in the play that she wants to settle down with a former lover of hers (Frederik, the show's leading man).

Frederik, who is also middle-aged but married to a girl that is young enough to be his own daughter, has been chasing around after Desiree for the majority of the play.

Suddenly, in the scene right before "Send In the Clowns" the two of them meet in Desiree's bedroom. She basically offers herself to him, agreeing it's time for them to get together and settle down.

Frederik, faced with the choice now, says that as much as he loves Desiree, he can't leave his young wife Anne.

Desiree then sings "Send In the Clowns." The title is a theatrical phrase, used as a metaphor here. Basically, when the chips are down and things are falling apart or going badly on stage, you send in the clowns quickly to liven and cheer things up again.

The song is about missed opportunities, irony, and bad timing. It's a bittersweet song, and works best with a bit of anger in its interpretation. Desiree has put herself on the line right here, and has been told "thanks, but no thanks."
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Updated On: 11/10/05 at 09:52 AM
fiatlux
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re: Send in the Clowns???#2
Posted: 11/10/05 at 9:59am
Early in the story of A Little Night Music Fredrik takes Anne,his eighteen year old virgin bride, to the theatre to see Woman of the World starring his ex-mistress Desiree Armfeldt. The role Desiree plays, a woman who steals the hearts of married men everywhere, is one she continues to enact after the curtain closes. Desiree and Fredrik reconnect; Desiree thinks that this time they will be together. However, situations in life do not always conclude as neatly as on the stage and Fredrik chooses to pass her by. In "Send in the Clowns" Desiree realizes she has been performing the wrong role in the wrong play and unsurprisingly, she uses theatrical imagery to describe her predicament.








Free Dictionary: Send In the Clowns
Updated On: 11/10/05 at 09:59 AM
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Elphaba
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re: Send in the Clowns???#3
Posted: 11/10/05 at 10:05am
of course, now he or she will HAVE to see A little Night Music, as there is so much more to the play, AND.....of course the ending.......

Quasi, there is a version one can buy here in the US, or at least rent....with Elizabeth Taylor, and Diana Rigg, Hermione Gingold, Len Cariou, and more. And while the singing isn't the best (or some of the acting), it may be available in Europe....and you could at least see it.

I just checked with amazon.de, and apparently they have none...but keep watching, as sometimes people sell them


It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story... AGATHA CHRISTIE, Life magazine, May 14, 1956
Updated On: 11/10/05 at 10:05 AM
fiatlux
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re: Send in the Clowns???#4
Posted: 11/10/05 at 10:21am
There is also a clip from the RNT's A Little Night Music with Judi Dench and Larry Guittard on the page below.
Judi Dench
AngusN
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re: Send in the Clowns???#5
Posted: 11/10/05 at 12:24pm
Whatever you do, don't buy the Liz Taylor version. It is truly awful. Elizabeth Taylor is such an overrated performer. Diana Rigg steals the show as Charlotte.
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Elphaba
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re: Send in the Clowns???#6
Posted: 11/10/05 at 12:34pm
no one said to buy it..I said rent it......especially if it's the only way he/she will ever get to see the show.
And yes, Diana was amazing.......
It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story... AGATHA CHRISTIE, Life magazine, May 14, 1956
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re: Send in the Clowns???#7
Posted: 11/10/05 at 12:51pm
I took some friends to see ALNM not too long ago. They had never seen it before and only knew the song "Send In The Clowns" from it's pop recordings. The production was very good.
After the show, which they loved, they all said that after all these years they FINALLY understood what that song was all about. So perhaps, as pretty as Judy Collins' version is, it really doesn't make much sense out of context.

By the way, 12Bars, that was an excellent summation.
PEACE.
Quasi
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re: Send in the Clowns???#8
Posted: 11/10/05 at 12:58pm
Thanks everybody....I have the song in German and once more it shows that some lyrics cannot be translated, the metaphor is totally gone. Now I understand what's going on. I hope I will catch anytime in the future a production of this show. I love Sondheim and his music. Actually I am a man singing this song. re: Send in the Clowns???

Gothampc
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re: Send in the Clowns???#9
Posted: 11/10/05 at 1:01pm
"The title is a theatrical phrase, used as a metaphor here."

Actually it's an old circus phrase. When a disaster happened, such as a lion hurting a performer, the management needed to redirect the minds of the audience. So the call would go backstage "Send in the clowns".
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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re: Send in the Clowns???#10
Posted: 11/10/05 at 1:51pm
There's another metaphor I've heard along the same lines that I like a lot -- Desiree's life has been a balancing act, almost like she's been walking on a tightrope, and when Frederik rejects her, she loses her balance and falls off. Thus, she sings "send in the clowns" to distract the audience from her fall.
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re: Send in the Clowns???#11
Posted: 11/10/05 at 1:56pm
The best version I've come across is Judi Dench's live performance from the HEY MR. PRODUCER concert (tribute to Cameron Mackintosh). It's available on CD and DVD. I know there's also a London cast recording with Judi Dench, but it's very rare.

My favourite part of the song is when Desiree sings, "Quick!, send in the clowns. Don't bother! They're already here" -- sardonically recognizing her own humiliation.
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Updated On: 11/10/05 at 01:56 PM
Jon
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re: Send in the Clowns???#12
Posted: 11/10/05 at 4:03pm
I always liked Krusty the Klown's version:

SEND IN THE CLOWNS
THOSE LAFFY, DAFFY CLOWNS
SEND IN THOSE SOULFUL AND DOLEFUL,
SCHMALTZ BY THE BOWL FULL CLOWNS
YES SEND IN THE CLOWNS...

Sideshow Bob: THEY'RE AL.. REA...DY... HERE!
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Elphaba
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re: Send in the Clowns???#13
Posted: 11/10/05 at 5:39pm
blue I found that London cast recording on EBAY.....didn't bid as it was very expensive....now I wish I had

AND, I just found it on EBAY now with a starting bid being asked for of $130
It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story... AGATHA CHRISTIE, Life magazine, May 14, 1956
Updated On: 11/10/05 at 05:39 PM