Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jukebox Dichotomy

I stumbled across this article about jukebox( aka catalog) musicals, and how they have nearly become ubiquitous in theatre these days.

I am not totally sure where I stand on the issue of jukeboxes. Their exponential proliferation does bother me somewhat, for various reasons. One is the copy cat syndrome. As the artilce states, they had been around in one form or another for a while. Yet once
Mamma Mia! and a few others became certifiable mega-hits, everyone and their cousin suddenly wanted a piece of the action. The theatre landscape became, (and in some ways still is) flooded with musicals based on the hits of fill in the blank. It would seem many of them turned out to be trash.

Honestly, though, I get annoyed and fed up with any trend. The reality trend on television is one example. The boy band trend of the late 1990's is another. The concept of people, particularly in the entertainment industry, doing exactly what everyone else is doing always reeks in my opinion. People fear originality. Particularly in American musical theatre, so it would seem.

That aversion to originality is another reason I am somewhat reluctant to embrace the jukebox productions wholesale. It seems possible to me, that the more we spoon-feed this kind of fan service in our live theatres, the less potential for artistry there is.

Yet it cannot be denied that several of these shows make good money. It is show business after all, and producers have the right to make money, I suppose. I furthermore admit that seeing some of the jukebox shows, would be quite fun for me. (Though as of yet I have not.) Actually being in some of them myself would be even more fun. So they do have their place, even if I do not think they should dominate the way they do. Like french fries. They are still food, and in the right portions are fine. I just would not want every meal to be mostly a plate of fries.

Maybe if these musicals could thrive elsewhere other than Broadway itself, I would be less conflicted. I suppose there is a part of me that wishes that the Great White Way would opt out of the genre, and leave it to the folks downtown. Just for the sake of making a point. That is unrealistic, I understand. Yet I would venture to say I am not the only person who holds that view somewhere deep inside.

In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should admit that if some theatre somewhere decides to produce an
REO Speedwagon catalog musical and offered me a chance to be in it, I would be there before you could say "Take It On the Run".

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