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BWW Blog: Theatre Isn't Permanent

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That’s something that almost everyone has realized from being in school productions. Those shows usually run for a week or so, and then they’re gone.

BWW Blog: Theatre Isn't Permanent

Hey all! I'm about to enter tech for my show, so as you can imagine, I'm pretty stressed. However, this past week, I started an exciting new project. Every week, on Tuesday nights/Wednesday mornings from 12am-1am, I'm hosting a new radio show on my college radio station. I'm now the proud DJ of WSLC's "Midnight Radio" (named for the Hedwig and the Angry Inch song). During my hour of programming, I play a huge range of showtunes. I try to mix old classics with current standards, as well as shed light on some more obscure songs, both old relics and contemporary gems. This has been a great way for me to share my love of musical theatre with others through my favorite songs.

Personally, I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, so it came naturally to me to host a radio hour that plays "I Was Born This Morning (The Cicada Song)" from Joe Iconis' Things To Ruin back to back with Patti LuPone's rendition of "Anything Goes". I've been having a blast curating playlists that condense the wide array of the musical theatre canon into only an hour. The diverse and endless list of songs that make up the American musical fill me with nothing but joy. Especially at this moment in time, these recordings are one of the few connections we have to live theatre.

It's true that nothing can compare to sitting in a theatre, watching the house lights dim, and feeling that moment of silence hang in the air before the orchestra begins to play. However, it's looking more and more like that's something we won't be able to share again for quite a while, so we'll rely on cast recordings to get us through. This has made me notice the archival quality of cast recordings more than ever. It used to be that listening to the original broadway cast of Company was something entirely different than listening to Mean Girls. The original cast recording of Company was a record of something from the past. It was no longer living and breathing on a stage eight times a week. Seeing Dean Jones act the heck out of "Being Alive", or Elaine Stritch belting "The Ladies Who Lunch" was something relegated to archival footage and Lincoln Center library recordings. But now? Mean Girls might as well be as far off and unknowable as any long gone musical of the 1970s.

Theatre isn't permanent. That's something that almost everyone has realized from being in school productions. Those shows usually run for a week or so, and then they're gone. It pains me that I can't relive the sublimity of my senior year production of Sweeney Todd, but that's just how it's always been. Now, with the exception of proshots, we can't see the work of the village of artists that have helped mount the 41(ish) shows on Broadway. That's not even taking into account Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and Regional productions. Cast recordings keep the work of the composers and the actors alive, but what about the book-writers, choreographers, set designers, swings, and so on? It's incredibly disheartening to think that so many artistic triumphs are currently stuck in limbo.

I truly wish I had an answer. Some great insight or solution that would help us as a theatrical community come to terms with this. With the exception of a few well circulated and easily accessible professional recordings, what we do have is cast albums. A lot of people haven't had the privilege of attending live theatre. I was lucky enough to grow up in and around New York, and many vibrant theatrical communities. So even when money was tight, live theatre was accessible to me. That's not a luxury everyone can afford. There are a great deal of people who have only ever had cast recordings. And out of those albums has bloomed a love of so many shows, and theatre as a whole. Now is a pretty good time to remember that. I try to spread some of that bottled up joy every week by playing some of my favorite recordings on my radio show...

That got a bit depressing, eh? Thanks for bearing with my existential line of thought. I hope this helps at least one person feel a bit better about the current state of theatre. Now go out there and listen to your favorite cast recording. Me? I'll be listening to The Frogs today.

Wear a mask, and stay safe.



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From This Author Student Blogger: Michael Scuotto