“What bothers me is the softening effect [amplification] has on the audience’s concentration. Hal Prince pointed out to me that sitting in those ceiling-scraping seats, hearing an orchestra hundreds of feet away, and squinting at Mary Martin’s face, which was the size of a dime, we had to concentrate. Mary Martin had a small, coy voice, and in order to hear her, we had to lean vertiginously forward. None of the luxury of sitting back and letting the show come to us - we had to lean into it. The concentration required was so great that we had to shut out the real world, and in so doing we became participants in the experience, all of which made it easy to suspend disbelief and enter another world; and the more of that in the theater, the better. With the advent of amplification, ears became lazy and audiences now tend to visit rather than enter. The issue is not one of volume, but of concentration.”—Look, I Made a Hat by Stephen Sondheim (via coherentexistence)
Out Tonight // Siobhán Donaghy // RENT Remixed (First Preview. London. October 3, 2007)
The bizarre 2007 revival of RENT in London was actually less of a revival and more of a misguided re-working of Jonathan Larsons musical. Among many changes, It was updated to be set in London in 2007 (rather than New York City in the early 1990’s). Gone where the rock arrangements in favor of a pop/techno/electronic sound that was produced from a band consisting of mainly of synthesizers. Gone are the electric guitars and pounding drums in this version of Out Tonight and in is a more casual seductive sound. This song (and the piano, slow rock, solo version of “What You Own”) where among the worse reworkings in this revival.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas- The Carpenters
Tomorrow, we remember songwriter Hugh Martin, who wrote the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas for Judy Garland. Martin, who died in March at age 96, is the subject of a new CD of rare and unreleased recordings.
This song has been covered by everyone. What’s your favorite? Mine is Twisted Sister.
I may just reblog every version of this song that I encounter over the next few days. This is a particularly lush, Carpentery edition.
Side note: a poster sized version of the below image is on my bedroom door:
Babara Robinson’s 1972 novel THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT ever was always one of my favorite seasonal pleasures. The story is simple—a family of hooligan kids invade a small town Christmas pageant and everyone ends up with a better understanding of the Christmas Story. My mom frequently read it aloud to me (and one year performed an edited version as part of a Christmas eve or advent service in my Dad’s church). I also frequently watched the extremely faithful made-for-tv-movie version starring no less than Fairuza Balk as the the daughter of the pageant director who serves the novel’s narrator. (The torrent for that movie can be found here.) Sometime around Jr. High I started a tradition of reading the slim novel in its entirety in my bed every Christmas Eve. Two years ago, a friend of mine who works at Harper Collins mentioned that Elaine Stritch had recorded PAGEANT as an audio book. He brought me a copy, which I in turn gifted to my mother, but not before ripping it for myself. Stritch is ideal as a the wry narrator and catches all the humor and sincerity of the story without letting it become too earnest. I thought I would share this wonderful recording with you all.
It takes Stritch about 83 minutes to read the novel. Though it doesn’t proselytize, it is about the Christian Christmas (Jesus and and wise men and all that). So while I don’t think it would offend those who weren’t raised Christian, I could understand if it holds less appeal. But one of the reasons I enjoy it so much—and make sure to read it every year—is that I find it the most delightful way to review the Christmas story, and reiterate that it is not at all preachy. No mention is made of sin or redemption with the focus instead being on how the instinctive and unorthodox response of this family of bullies prompts a community to take a fresh look at a story that had become routine. And did I mention it was Elaine Stritch?