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Thursday, March 29, 2007

If It Ain't Broke...


In my experience in the arts, there are musicals that I dare to call "perfect".
The "perfect" musical is one that has the right balance of humor and drama, entertaining characters, tunes that plague you long after you've seen the show, and don't have The Hoff involved. Some of my choices for "perfect" musicals are Jesus Christ Superstar, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Shop of Horrors, Mary Poppins, and -at the risk of sounding like a real wet blanket- The Phantom of the Opera (every middle-aged woman's favorite musical), and Les Miserables. Jekyll and Hyde might be one, but Frank Wildhorn keeps bloody changing it.
Tanz Der Vampires or Dance of the Vampires is another such "perfect" musical. Based on the Roman Polanski film entitled The Fearless Vampire Killers, it tells the tale of a young apprentice and his eccentric, vampire-seeking professor companion and their encounter with an odd little town that is being terrorized by vampires. The naive young man falls for the town beauty who is, in turn, drawn to the vampire count Krolock who really knows how to live (for an undead guy).
The music, by Jim Steinman, captures the gothic elements of the story beautifully, as well as the eccentric silliness of the townsfolk or the playfulness of an amorous homosexual vampire. I don't care that he re-used some of his more well-known tunes (Total Eclipse of the Heart), although it was a little sensitive that he re-used a tune that he had composed alongside his good friend Ray Fox for a musical they had written together (The Confidence Man) as it was their baby. It doesn't seem to me that Steinman does any of that in malice, he simply knows a good tune when he's written one and I would hate for such beautiful lesser known tunes to fade into obscurity. All in all, the quality of the music is consistent, which is to say- excellent. I'm very much a fan of rock opera, and this is a prime example.
What never ceases to amaze me is how erotic the count was as played by the late Steve Barton. I can't say there are many songs or music pieces that actually inspire a physical reaction in me, but the combination of Steinman's music which strays anywhere between throbbing and caressing, and the growling seductive power of Steve Barton can actually get me squirming in my seat! Forget Marvin Gaye, put Steve Barton singing as Von Krolock and I'm aching!
Phew. Better stop thinking about it that.
I'm sure there are plenty of YouTube sources for clips you can check out, and you may be surprised to see that it has been performed in a number of languages in a number of countries. It's brief existence on the Broadway stage was disastrous as a grave mistake was made (no pun intended). Someone tried to change something that which was already perfect.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go take a cold shower. Or else take a look at my students. Same effect.

4 comments:

humble simpleton said...

Don't touch The Hoff! Hero of my childhood!
Hasel - hazel;Hof - yard(yard behind the house, not 0.91m); yard of the yummy nuts. Don't know why 's' and 'f' are doubled, maybe for the english speaking to pronounce it the german way, who knows.
In the communist era, people living along the borders with Austria or West Germany could catch the blody evil imperialist TV, which aired Knight Rider. What a cool chap this Michael Knight was. I could not understand a word, but when he pressed the 'turbo boost' button and jumped over the train or something, he simply ruled. With Bonnie the babe and the front red diodes of KITT going left and right my satisfaction was complete.
Of course, I stopped adoring him in some 10 years, because, you know, rising inteligence demands something more potent, so I turned to ninja turtles. But I must admit, I am once again acquiring some taste for him, because his 'dasher granddad' outlook in 'Jump in my car' is just amusing.
I suck, no? From the whole post I catch just some marginal remark. Well, I hereby promise that I will look on the youtube later, now it's time for bed.

TeacherLady said...

Hahahaha! I won't mess with Knight Rider, but the Hoff needs to stay away from musicals! He HAS got the enthusiasm and he IS in tune, but when there are so many far more talented people out there, I'd rather see skill from a newcomer than mediocre (at best) performances from a "name".

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of your "perfect musical" choices, except for Jekyll and Hyde. Most Wildhorn songs sound very generic and pop, and they could probably fit into any one of his shows.
I would also add Avenue Q and Reefer Madness to the list.

TeacherLady said...

Yes, I'm not as much a fan of Wildhorn as others, but of all his work think J&H had the most potential. Though not unlike George Lucas, he didn't know when to quit tweeking. The songs in Scarlet Pimpernel were VERY forgettable, except perhaps Into the Fire and that one song that implied the femininity of the guys...
I do enjoy listening to Avenue Q, but I'd have to watch it in its entirity to know if I like everything about it. I probably would, knowing my love of the Muppets and low brow humor...
As for Reefer Madness, I've only ever heard OF it, I don't know anything about it. I'll check it out!