If you’ve watched the TV show Slings and Arrows, remember the musical “East Hastings” that Richard got swept up in, in the third season? It was a perfect parody of shows like “Rent”, but the bits we heard were such a good imitation of the modern Broadway musical that the tunes were catchy and the lyrics rhymed elegantly and it sounded like something I might actually go see if it existed.
Twenty-Five – I just finished watching this song cycle at the Fringe. I enjoyed it. “Song cycle” apparently means that it doesn’t have plot moving it along or narrative between the songs, just a set of songs loosely connected on a theme. I kept thinking how easily it could be expanded into that kind of successful Broadway show, with a bit of storyline and some costumes and probably a few more performers and songs … but on the other hand, it was really cool to be sitting in the second row in a tiny venue, catching the performers’ eyes at the parts I loved, and then buying the original cast recording for “five or ten bucks, whatever”.
I don’t have the vocabulary to say why the songs were such great examples of the kinds of songs in the idiom of the modern Broadway musical, and I don’t know enough about different lyricists/composers to say whose work they reminded me of. The absolutely perfect rhyme and meter of the lyrics, slightly prioritised over poetry and sense? The kind of predictable harmony? The way that the accompaniment and rhythm were less noticeable than the singers? The choruses and repetitions, and the title tune reprised a couple of times in different ways?
My favourite songs were actually the two that varied most from this genre, the one that sounded like a Scottish lament and the rap with beatbox about being caught up in G-20-related protests. The songwriter/accompanist Joel Crichton and the performers Darren Paul (baritone), Richard Lee (tenor), and Joelle Prefontaine (alto) are all young and seem to be local, so I will watch for them in other shows in the future. The singers all have good trained voices and a nice mix of losing themselves in the story while singing but being aware of the venue before and afterwards.
I’d say this is my second favourite show so far.
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