Image from The Daily Mail
In entertainment news Tuesday, Jay Z, Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and others are rumored to be joining together to remake the musical film "Annie." Reading about this got me thinking about Broadway musicals I love, don't really love and the one musical I hate more than nails on a chalkboard. What's bizarre is the musical I despise, I've never seen.
As a former lighting designer, theater holds a very special place in my heart. The last well-known musical I saw was "Jesus Christ, Superstar," which will always be my absolute favorite. I love "Les Miserables" for the emotion and the sets. My God, that barricade. The first time I saw "Les Miserables" was in Orlando, and when that barricade came down, myself and 3-4 other theater techs stood up and clapped. The other 500 or so audience members looked at us as if we were insane and we quietly sat back down. The rotating stage. The sewer gobo. Wow.
The same goes for "Phantom of the Opera." Yes, the lyrics are redundant, but Michael Crawford's voice combined with technical effects that cause the audience to gasp audibly make "Phantom" one of the most endearing musicals in history. "Cats" didn't do much for me, nor did "Chess." My parents had tickets to "Chess," read the review and generously (snort) gave their tickets to me. My date and I, along with 3/4 of the audience, walked out during intermission, muttering "What the hell was that?"
While working (without pay, gotta love theater) at Civic Theater of Central Florida, I made the mistake of singing in public. Someone heard me and suggested I try out for a role in our production of "Brigadoon." I did, and shockingly won a fairly large part. Cast members were asked to run one weekend of auditions, so two of my friends and I volunteered. How hard could it be? We sit at a table, take notes and listen to fifty or so Floridians sing. We were so wrong.
I was unaware at the time of the plethora of "child actors" in Orlando, but holy crap, I learned quickly. Over 100 kids showed up to sing their little hearts out, read from "Peter Pan" and other children's plays and they brought their stage mothers, which made it so much more festive. Guess what every one of those kids sang. Every one, even the boys, sang "Tomorrow" from "Annie." Every. Single. One. By the end of Saturday, our heads were pounding and we were twitching.
Sunday morning, we thought we were ready. Giant bottle of Tylenol: check. Several large cups of strong coffee: check. Someone brought Valium if I remember correctly. We grabbed our clipboards and began Day 2. What we were completely unprepared for were the stage moms from Saturday, prodding us and asking if sweet Stevie or precious Patti had made the cut. We didn't know-that was up to the director, but nothing stops a stage mom. We should have brought whips.
As Sunday drew to a close, I swore that if I ever heard that song again in my lifetime, I would drive a pencil into my own eardrum. Odds are slim that I will see the new "Annie" if it is released in my lifetime. I'm sure the plot will be darling, the little orphans will be darling, Daddy Warbucks will be darling and Sandy the dog will be darling. My fear is that the blood shooting from my head will be less than darling, thus ruining the entire experience for other theater goers.
Lord knows, we wouldn't want that.