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Lecture 12

Lecture 12- Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll.docx

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Western University
Music 2701A/B

Music Theatre 2701: Lecture 12: Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll (RENT & NEXT TO NORMAL) Rock Musical:  Is a musical theatre work which contains rock music  First acclaimed rock musical was “Hair” – the American Tribal Love-Rock musical o Hair about anti- war, had nude scenes o Opened on Broadway in April of 1968 at the Baltimore o Ran for 1750 performances before it closed in the mid 1970s. o “Hair” solidified the genre of rock musicals as a legitimate form of musical theatre, although it was not the first to use rock and roll. o Hard to define rock musicals o Others shows that closed like “Hair” include “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”  Began in 1965 as a series of a workshops at Ellen Stewart’s La Mama Experimental Theatre Club  First performed at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre in 1967. Then it moved to the Cheetah – a Midtown Disco About Rock Musicals:  Some major marketers: o Use of rock and roll music o The rock band/combo o Declaring itself rock  Casting Subversions: o Found actors taken from the streets o Not at all trained, but rather real and raw  Music: o Rock, gospel, R & B, Soul-all alien to early Broadway  Ideological Subversions: o Not the America of “Oklahoma!” o “Hair” brought the ideal of the youth counterculture to stage o Sexual revolution, Drugs, Civil Rights, Anti-war, Irreverence of the American flag Show #1: Rent  Music, lyrics, and book by Jonathan Larson  An example of Rock Musical  Began previews off-Broadway at NYTW (New York Theatre Workshop) in late January of 1996  Opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996  Closed on September 7, 2008 Rent is a fusion of several elements, including:  Puccini’s opera “La Boheme”  Larson’s first-hand observations of the AIDS crisis – Larson’s own poverty and living situation  Considerable amounts of work shopping Rent – Work shopping  Billy Aronson, writer, was involved with the project at the start  Aronson wanted comedy, Larson didn’t  Larson picked up the project alone, but kept only three song Aronson had worked on  Work shopping was a difficult but necessary process for Larson  Larson ended up making changes based on dramaturg (playwright adviser) Lynn Thomson’s suggestions, as well as the director and producer of the show  The show changed considerably in the work shopping process  Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic dissection the day of “Rents” first preview. He was 35.  His death inspired much attention, but also derailed the usual editing process- collaborators wanted to improve the production during previews, but also to remain true to his vision  Another of Larson’s musicals (“Tick, Tick…Boom!”) was performed off-Broadway several years after his death  Sondheim shout-out in “La Vie Boheme” o “To Sontag, to Sondheim, to anything taboo”  Lineage of musical mentoring: o Oscar Hammerstein II o Stephen Sondheim o Jonathan Larson Reception:  Highly acclaimed show and was well received by critics.  Won 4 Tony Awards, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Drama  “Rent” helped the careers of its original cast considerably. Most of them have gone on to enjoy relatively successful music, television or film careers  Grossed over 2 million dollars its closing year Overview:  Plot is taken from Giacomo Puccini’s “La Boheme” (1896)  Opera is about a poor Bohemian artist in Paris facing tuberculosis (rather than AIDS)  Most of the main characters in “La Boheme” have direct analogs in “Rent” – similar names, professions, and love interests.  The most significant difference: “La Boheme” has a tragic ending (Mimi dies). In “Rent”, Roger’s song brings her back to life. Character Comparison: BOHEME Mimi: Seamstress with tuberculosis Rodolfo: a poet Marcello: a painter Musetta: a singer Schaunard: a musician GOOD FRIENDS Colline: a philosopher GOOD FRIENDS Alcindoro: a state councilor GOOD FRIENDS Benoit: a landlord GOOD FRIENDS RENT Mimi Marquez: an S&M dancer with HIV Roger Davis: songwriter-musician who is HIV positive Mark Cohen: Jeeiwhs filmmaker Maureen Johnson: bi-sexual performance artist Angel Dumott Schunard: gay drag queen percussionist with AIDS Tom Collins: gay philosophy professor at NYU with AIDS Joanne Jefferson: a lesbian lawyer Benjamin “Benny” Coffin III: local landlord PLOT:  Story of 7 friends (and one former friend)  Mark and Roger are best friends, and learn they are about to be evicted from their loft by their former friend, Benny  Their friend Collins comes to visit, and falls in love with Angel, a transvestite street-performer  Mark’s ex-girlfriend Maureen is performing a protest against Benny with the help of her new girlfriend, Joanne  Roger meets Mimi, an exotic dancer, and they quickly strike up a romance. Musical Quotation in “Rent”  Is the insertion of a recognizable motif from another familiar tune in a new composition  Melody from “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Boheme” appears several times throughout the show  Musetta and Maureen are same character and when Musetta sings in the opera its more provocative and she talks about how gorgeous she is and how men don’t know what to do when they see her. Maureen has the same issue in “Take me or Leave Me”  Remainder of the play works through these issues and relationships, as well as the existential crisis of Mark and Roger  Roger, Mimi, Angel, and Collins all have HIV/AIDS  “Rent” is also about living with the disease, and learning to live life to the fullest  Angel dies of AIDS in Act II, while Mimi almost dies  Slight irony, in that when “Rent” moved to Broadway, it became unaffordable for the very people Larson was writing about “Rent” – Double Meaning  The money that Mark and Roger owe Benny for their loft  Split/torn/separated: “Everything is Rent”  “Rent” I all about (often violent and unexpected) separation: due to death, fights, lack of money, etc. SONG: TAKE ME OR LEAVE ME  Sung by Maureen and Joanne SONG: YOUR EYES  “Your Eyes”: melody appears at the end of “Tune Up #2” o also appeared in “La Vie Boheme”  Roger will attempt to write a bitter-sweet evocative song that doesn’t remind us or “Musetta’s Waltz” – Mark  Ends up being a central component of Roger’s “One Great Song” – “Your Eyes” – which brings Mimi back to life Differences in the context in which the melody is used:  Sung in “Musetta’s Waltz”  Played on an electric guitar in “Rent”  Song about Musetta’s (Maureen) relationship with Marcello (Mark) in “La Boheme” - not Rudolfo (Roger) and Mimi  In “Rent”, it is symbolic of Roger’s failure (and subsequent success) as a songwriter  In “La Boheme”, it’s a song about Musetta’s beauty and flirtations (more in common with “Tango: Maureen”)  Unclear why Larson made this decision SONG: LIGHT MY CANDLE  Sung by Roger & Mimi  Direct parallel between “Rent” and “La Boheme” with the song “Ligh
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