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[Feb. 19th, 2007|12:59 am]
Took my grandmother to see my little brother & sister in their high-school musical last night.

It was State Fair, which I had never heard of before, but it's a Rodgers & Hammerstein from 1933, updated in 1945, and redone in 2006 on Broadway. It's about an Iowa farm family (with son about 21 and daughter about 18) who go to the 1946 state fair, and I'll bet you can guess the rest of it from there: mother wins underdog prize for cooking, something funny happens involving the father's pig, both son & daughter meet a love interest, heartbreak looms, but then in the final scene it all works out and everyone is married off. (I was really impressed right up to that final scene, because it seemed the point of the story was going to be "sometimes first love doesn't work out, and yeah, it sucks, but there will be other loves, and you shouldn't confuse infatuation with love," and that would have been really interesting, but then the final scene cheesed it up.

Anyway, I can honestly say that my brother was the best male singer in the whole show. And I think he was in the top 3 or 4 for acting. (He played daughter's love interest.) And my sister was pretty good, too, though she was only in the chorus. And I was quite impressed with the son (the best actor, a decent singer) and his love interest (great singer & dancer & good actress), so on that front, it was quite good for a high-school musical. The dancing was very good. The orchestra... the orchestra made me glad for the songs that were mostly percussion, because it's hard for drums to be out of tune.

Got to see Boyd & Emily in from New York, but didn't get a chance to see the new place or their baby, because by the end of it at 10, Grandma was fading. Not surprising -- she *is* 92. But it was nice to see family, if only briefly.

Oh, and that means that there are at least two musicals that feature Iowa prominently enough to have a song that's about the state, and that is way too many!.

[User Picture]From: zalena
2007-02-19 01:40 pm (UTC)
I don't remember the Iowa song from this musical, but I've always thought it was very sweet and appropriate for high schoolers. (There are many musicals I won't watch if they aren't being performed by high schoolers. The teenagers somehow make it less corny. I focus on, "Look how great those kids are doing," instead of how weird musicals are.) Judy Garland is in the movie version, and it features that song, It Might As Well Be Spring, which I've always liked, despite not being a R&H fan generally.

Luckly, R&H never got around to writing musicals for every state. (Iiiiiiiiidahooo where the wind comes rushing cross the range.)
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-02-19 05:20 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree about its appropriateness for the high school stage. The list of musicals that fit that bill is relatively small, so I was kinda surprised that I hadn't even heard of it before. Though maybe some of that has to do with it being on Broadway again in '96?
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2007-02-19 05:35 pm (UTC)
My mother has told me horror stories of elementary kids at her school performing Oklahoma! There was a very funny episode of Gilmore Girls, where the grade school is putting on a production of Fiddler on the Roof. They had to bring in a ringer for Tevya, who was an adult three times the size of most of the kids.

I just don't understand who the person is choosing these musicals to begin with? One of my all time favorites for high schools is Once Upon a Mattress.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-02-19 05:53 pm (UTC)
Well, once you eliminate all the musicals that are totally inappropriate or impractical for reasons of subject matter, difficulty of the music, number of characters, etc., I think a lot of it comes down to what's affordable. Which is probably why shows like Bye, Bye Birdie and Guys & Dolls are such perennial favorites...
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2007-02-19 06:13 pm (UTC)
Actually, R&H is still under copyright. You have to pay to perform their work. The shows you mention (while not R&H) are also still under copyright.

My sense of it is that many music teachers are just hoping for a crowd pleaser that everyone will recognize.

The reason everyone does Sound of Music is because while there are an irritating number of children in it, there are whole families of those performers who will show up to see it. In our town my mom was the perennial Mother Superior in every production of that darn show. I was only in it once.
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2007-02-20 03:07 am (UTC)
I agree about the "under copyright" bit. I got to perform in plays (including Guys & Dolls, actually) that were under copyright because I did plays at a school with a budget.

The largest problem with plays in general is that they tend to have a very uneven gender breakdown, and the gender of willing actors is usually broken down in the opposite direction. I'm currently in a production of HMS Pinafore— good old Gilbert & Sullivan— and there are a grand total of three non-choral female roles, one of which has two lines at the end of the play. A coloratura, an older alto, and a role that primarily consists of singing "And so do his sisters and his cousins and his aunts."

Yet there's three main roles and half a dozen other solo roles for the guys. Sometimes casting sucks. (I didn't even try this year. Coloratura I am not.)
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From: walrusjester
2007-02-19 03:46 pm (UTC)
Speaking as an Iowan, I can attest that our state fair is a fair state fair. I routinely miss it and/or am late. At one point, I was working on a photobook called "Large People of the Iowa State Fair," which sadly never came to fruition. But if you want food on a stick, it's probably your top summer destination.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-02-19 05:18 pm (UTC)
Is it at least the best in the state?
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2007-02-19 05:57 pm (UTC)
"The state of Iowa is a metaphor for the state of desire... It's a very bosomy country." -- Dar Williams, introducing her song Iowa
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2007-02-19 11:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, but can you stand touching noses for a week at a time and never see eye-to-eye?
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