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  • Kate

Musical Diary

Updated: Jun 12

While there is Goodreads to log ratings of books, IMDB to logging ratings of movies and tv shows, there's no dedicated website for logging ratings of musicals. So here is my personal rating of musicals I've seen!

words MUSICAL DIARY RATINGS & SHORT REVIEWS in yellow on a background that is a stylized drawing of fake musical posters on a brick wall

The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1960, Movie adaption from 1964) - 1 out of 5 stars

Not historically accurate which is really bothersome when in real life Molly Brown was a strong feminist, they've changed her life story and her personality to build a romance that was not true.

Conclusion: I wouldn't want to see this in any form as it's not historically accurate.

Company (1970, Ethel Barrymore from 2006) - 1 out of 5 stars

A single guy deciding he wants to go from being a player to getting married after interacting with his married friends is interesting, but the minimalist set styling and minimalist book creates a shallowness that does not justify the long run time. "Marry Me a Little" and "Another Hundred People" are good songs.

Conclusion: I wouldn't want to see this in any musical form as it's too long to say a basic story and lacks any real comedy.

A Little Night Music (1973, Lincoln Center from 1990) - 1 out of 5 stars

I did not like the stage design of the Lincoln Center version but even if it was a better set, this is fundamentally a remake of a sex comedy that should have stayed a 108 minute film. There is no reason to have remade Ingmar Bergman's movie as a solemn 3 hour slog and even other people's attempt to remake his movie as a movie have failed. However, "Send in the Clowns" is great.

Conclusion: I wouldn't want to see this in any musical form as it's too long to say a sex-comedy with no comedy.

Merrily We Roll Along (1981, Harold Pinter Theatre Pro Shot from 2013) - 1 out of 5 stars

My general feeling with Sondheim musicals is he can write great songs and the books would always make an interesting movie, but 3 hours is too long to say so little.

Conclusion: I wouldn't want to see this in any musical form and if it was a mini-series, more of the characters' issues would need to be fleshed out.

Sunday in the Park with George (1984, PBS Pro Shot from 1986) - 1 out of 5 stars

The acting between Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin is great as they elevate the tension between model and artist. The set and concept is quite inventive. However, I didn't laugh. The crowd was going wild and I was not feeling it. The plot goes on too long, this could be a 90 minute musical. To top it off, the musical isn't historically accurate as Georges Seurat's model and partner never left him and the pair and their kids all died young from disease. I'm fine with a musical about how frustrating a model-artist relationship can be, but it's in poor taste to impose this plot on real people. I like the music for an art-themed playlist and it'll get stuck in your head!

Conclusion: I wouldn't want to see this in any form as it's not historically accurate.

Passion (1994, PBS Pro Shot from 1994) - 1 out of 5 stars

This has the worst plot of any Sondheim shows I've seen so far.

Conclusion: This is YA-dying-teen level of hot mess. No thank you.

Falsettos (2016, PBS Pro Shot from 2017) - 1 out of 5 stars

Conclusion: Not for me, but I definitely understand how this could be someone else's favorite musical.

Legally Blonde (2007, MTV Pro Shot from 2007) - 2 out of 5 stars

This improved on the movie by developing the love story with Emmette and reprising bend-and-snap in the courtroom. However, the musical doesn't capture Elle's happy-go-lucky outlook. It misses that special "pizazz" that Reese Witherspoon brought in always having confidence to move forward. Also, the musical has bad racial stereotypes, makes the evil professor less evil, and reinforces some gender norms that the movie never fell into. I specifically dislike that Elle isn't the one that comes up with the common-law marriage rule for Paulette's dog and that's instead Emmett's idea. That means more to me for Elle's independence than whether it's her or Emmett that proposes. None of the songs are added to my playlist but they're not bad as it's the Mean Girls and Heathers musical team.

Conclusion: I look forward to a movie musical version that combines the best of both the movie and stage production, but I wouldn't want to see this live. I also would like a movie cover of the songs with less talking in the songs.

The Band Wagon (1953, Movie) - 3 out of 5 stars

The initial argument between the two love interests is what every rivals-to-lovers, Hallmark movie, and rom-com strives for in that 'heated tiff.' Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse really sell their relationship well. However, the actual musical portion is bad. Besides "That's Entertainment" and "A Shine on Your Shoes" most other songs feel like a folie or vaudeville snippet with no relation to the story, with "Dancing in the Dark" as a great jazz number.

There is a re-tooled stage adaption produced in California. However, in that show they change the original show-within-a-show from a children's book author sucked into the world of true crime writing, to a shoe-shine boy with a girlfriend in Louisiana whose caught in a lie. This is clearly an attempt to connect the actual folie element songs, but it would be better if they committed to just doing the original show-within-a-show with new songs so they can keep the original heart and best choreography (Dancing in the Dark). Would be much better if the musical-within-a-musical was all jazz, while the outside stuff in NYC is the traditional musical elements like That's Entertainment and A Shine on Your Shoes, with the "bleed" song being the jazz dance in Central Park.

Conclusion: Any romance writer should watch this for notes, but this is only worthwhile for a stage adaption if it's really re-written.


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