steven-schwartz

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∞ musical numbers: Morning Glow from the 2013 Pippin revival; directed by Diane Paulus, music and lyrics by Steven Schwartz

The original Morning Glow was a gentle, folky 70s pop ballad. The backing chorus and religious setting seemed almost out of place against the gentle chimes of the musical arrangement and sunny lyrics. Such power that was subsequently achieved in the revival was potential, but not completely present in the original. The concept of the number had not yet achieved its possible zenith. It was more a filler than a defining pillar of Pippin’s, the players’, and the audience’s journeys through the psychological whirlwind of the show. It was a necessary response to a dramatic action, but it didn’t quite fit. Morning glow was almost here.

In the revival, Morning Glow is transformed into an anthem. It is a chorus of youth uniting, attempting to define themselves, preaching expressively of faith, united in prayer. The use of the past to define the psyche of the modern youth becomes clearer in this number than any other in the show. Of course, it begins with an uncertain monologue of shaking hands and a singular, shaking voice - the voice of a generation. Then it crescendos into a sea of colour instead of grey inside the circus tent sphere of dreams and fantasy adorned in life-affirming armour. What Corner of the Sky was for the original production, Morning Glow is for the revival. Tied to its time, it serves as an anthem that defines a generation. But this time they stand together, strong and ready.

Morning Glow expresses a desire for individuality with a kind of paradoxical unity in its huge chorus that fits the poetic but abstract imagery of its lyrics. The idea of self-invention, and more vividly self-re-invention, is transformed into a heavenly virtue as only youth has the power to do. They look upwards and out towards tomorrow with a prophecy of change and self-fulfilment, as they stand still upon the stage draped in blues and purples, gazing at the flooding brightness that lights them up. They feel important and they feel tomorrow. Pippin represents these youthful desires so fully in Corner of the Sky that he became an icon, and by Morning Glow, these themes have come full circle to be represented by the entire band of players. From then on in, an abstraction and manipulation of these ideas is carried out by the force that drives the show, the Leading Player’s influence and the direction’s cynicism that appointed her God. This ensures that the clarity achieved in Corner of the Sky and Morning Glow are not again achieved until Pippin’s humbling dose of reality in the Finale.

It is possible to separate this song from the textual circumstances after which it occurs without surrendering its thematic integrity. Pippin’s murder of his own father dissolves into the background once the chorus and the music chimes in. The result of divinely appointed grand meaning assigned, finally, to his life is more significant to him than the action that caused it. At all costs, Pippin is to discover the meaning he needs, and at any cost, the Leading Player will achieve her morbid goals of death and divine destruction. What a show it turns out to be. But in the moment, this is all transcended by the anthem itself as Pippin and the chorus of players lose themselves in the glowing promise of a brighter tomorrow. 

The Leading Player is a Shakespearean witch influencing her plaything with her plan, and Pippin the Macbeth in this medieval twist of tales. Her injected reprisal of Magic to Do is eerie, interrupting the last, climactic “at last” with conniving mischief that suggests a genuine evil. The themes overarching the show are so fully realised and interwoven throughout the show that at every turn they are there, and Morning Glow is an exceptional example. The angelic anthem is put on hold as the devilish leader injects her meanings and manipulations. The audience feelS compelled to join in song and rejoice with the players, but they then become a participant in the play’s many twisted actions. A perfect final song for act one - the audience is left both moved and unsettled for what has been and what is to come.  

Pippin is adorned with regal robes and crowned King of his staged reality. It is a transformation from mere mortal to an immortal saint. In committing his bloody act, he is no longer a person, but a dark player. Looking to the bright, shining corner of the sky for which he strives, Pippin and his holy chorus become it. They become a part of the unending infinity of the burning morning fire. It is just as the Leading Player intended, and just as soon as she can crown him as immortal, she has the ability to strip it away. That which inspired him threatens to consume him in the flames of its glow. “Long live Pippin the great” indeed - and it is not until the act two Finale, a mirror reflection of Morning Glow, that the ultimate price is due to be paid for Pippin’s eternal glorifying luminescence. 

watch me walk, I can walk and walk

Remember how I’m rehearsing to be in Godspell right now? As Peggy, the one who sings “By My Side” (and who, to be honest, is basically me)?

Well, I found this YouTube video posted by Peggy Gordon, who originated the role (and helped write the song), and since she was replying to comments I decided to take a chance:

Wow, the original Peggy is HERE on YouTube! What a beautiful video! I’m playing Peggy right now myself and it’s great because I can relate to the character a whole lot…since I’m rather shy and anxious myself, I feel like she’s ME and these are the words I would say to Jesus. I’m really feeling the power of this show, my cast has become like a big family. Peggy Gordon, if you have any words of wisdom for me, I’d appreciate them so much!

Lo and behold, she commented back a mere couple of hours later!

Wow, you so inherently understand my “girl,” that whatever I’d add would be superfluous! Just remember that he saved your life, imperiling his own in the process by going against the law of Moses. You are so transformed by his selfless act that you CHOOSE to challenge and overcome your fearfulness to follow him. Simple as that!

Can’t express in words how much this meant to me. (She calls Peggy “my ‘girl’!” And says that I inherently understand her!) 

I’ve been on top of the world. I’m ready to play this character like I never have been before. The words are in my mouth. I can dare myself. I can dare myself!

Thank you, Peggy!

My Favorite Broadway Musicals (as of right now) and My Favorite Songs from Said Musicals (as of right now):

Why, you may ask?  Because I have a lot of emotions and opinions that led me to spend an hour in the shower figuring this list out I just want to share a little bit more about myself with you guys. ;3

#1. Hamilton: An American Musical 

Originally posted by tashatheterrifying

Now, hold on.  Before you just write me off as someone who just hopped on the bandwagon for the sake of hopping on the bandwagon- let me explain.  

Like many people, Hamilton means a lot to me for many different reasons.  Also like many others, it’s a piece of art that has moved and touched me in ways that very few others in any type of media have.  

To start with, it had a million things going for me before I even gave the album a listen.  

  1. The American Revolution is my favorite subject in history.  Always has been.  Always will be.  I actually remember learning about Hamilton’s decision at Yorktown to empty all of their bullets out and charge in practically unarmed, and thinking that whoever was in charge was straight up insane.  I also remember turning around to my 7th grade classmates saying, “That worked?  That actually worked?!” Surprise: no one cared.
  2. I am a young writer, suffering from incredible amounts of self doubt like every other writer ever constantly wondering if choosing such an uncertain career path is the right thing to do, and if it’s even possible to make a real difference armed with nothing but words and ideas.  This musical is “a love letter to writers”.  
  3. Alexander Hamilton and I are birthday buddies.  Not kidding.  I’m also the same personality type as John Laurens, so if I could time-travel and Alex and I could meet up…I think things could go well. Just saying.
  4. I also have a bit of a legacy complex. Nowhere near as severe as Hamilton’s, but it’s real. It’s a thing.

My Top 5 Hamilton Songs because I like to torture myself

1. “My Shot”
2. “Non-Stop”
3. “Burn”
4. “Satisfied”
5. “Who Lives Who Dies Who Tells Your Story”

I’m not going to go into detail because I have three other musicals to get to, and this post is already way longer than I expected. But if you really want to know- feel free to ask me, and I’d be happy to go in depth about it.  Assuming people are still reading this. 

#2- The Phantom of the Opera

Originally posted by bobbyfraser

Alright, I’m not going to go into this too much, since I know this musical gets a lot of flack, but here are my reasons: 

  1. It was the first non-Disney musical theatre show that really got me interested in the world of Broadway and musical theatre in general.  
  2. Say what you like about the story, but the music is gorgeous and also incredibly catchy.
  3. I’m a soprano 1.  I live for high notes and well…Christine’s last note in the title song is what I aspire to. I can hit it and notes above it, but I need more training in order to go about reaching and sustaining it properly without straining my voice
  4. I love roses. And masks. And Christine’s dresses except for that God-awful brown one in “Past the Point of No Return”. Plus the “Masquerade” one is a bit gaudy, but mainly the brown one. Ugh. The whole production is just very aesthetically pleasing to me. My dream is to attend a real masquerade ball once in my life…let me dream.
  5. It was my first Broadway show. ‘nuff said

My Top 5 Phantom Songs: 

1. “Think of Me”
2. “Music of the Night”
3. “Phantom of the Opera”
4. “Past the Point of No Return”
5. “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”

I really wanted to put in the Finale, but I felt it was kind of cheating due to how many melodies resurface during it.

#3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame Stage Musical  (La Jolla and Papermill Playhouse)

Originally posted by playbill

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “But Ink!  You said BROADWAY musicals.” Listen.  This should have been on Broadway.  It met all of the qualifications.  It was dazzling, had an unbelievable cast, gorgeous score and lyrics by Alan Menken and freaking Steven Schwartz for crying out loud!  It was incredibly well received by audiences, but it is rumored that the cost is what killed it which is a load of horse crap in my opinion due to the fact they had a full choir.  Honestly, I’ve heard tons of theories.  All I know for certain is: this musical is phenomenal, and I’m glad that the rights are available to professional theatre companies, that way the show can continue to live on.  They also have a magnificent album on iTunes and YouTube, so check it out!!  So, here very quickly are my reasons: 

  1. Michael Arden.  From his angelic, powerhouse of a voice, to his integration of Quasimodo’s hearing impairment which leads to his affected speech in the show, his insane physicality, and the vulnerability and honesty he brings to his performance.  He’s just a phenomenal artist in every respect, and I felt like I learned so much as an actor just by listening and watching his performances. 
  2. The story is incredibly rich.  This incarnation serves as the perfect balance between Victor Hugo’s original source material and the Disney movie’s beautiful songs along with brand new orchestrations and songs that just add so much life and depth to the story.  
  3. The storytelling.  The choices in set, design, and costume adds so much to this tale.  It has some of the most brilliant choices I’ve seen on stage.  I just- you have to see it, there are too many things to touch upon.
  4. The freaking symbolism.  There’s so much of it in this show, but not too much that you feel overwhelmed.  Just enough that you walk away feeling inspired and wanting to dig deeper and really reflect on life and society and the value of life and death….it’s just awesome, okay?!  
  5. The moment Michael Arden transforms from an ‘ordinary man’, walking upright in a plain tunic to Quasimodo on stage with nothing but some black lines he smears on his face to represent his facial deformities, a green cloak, a pillow on a rope tied across his body to be his ‘hump’, and the way he twists his body to make it all come together.  Every time I watch that part of the scene, where he turns around to face the audience as Quasi and he rings the bell, I get chills.  

My Top 5 Favorite Hunchback Songs:

1. “Made of Stone”
2. “Someday”
3. “Esmeralda”
4. “Hellfire” 
5. “Finale”

This show has the best Entr’acte I’ve heard in my entire life.  If you love epic choral pieces- definitely look it up.  Also, you haven’t heard the definitive version of “Hellfire” until you’ve heard Patrick Page do it justice.  And I’m not just saying that because he always likes my stuff on twitter.

#4: Les Miserables

Originally posted by javertfan

I really don’t think I have to explain myself very much here.  It’s a classic piece of musical theatre with an epic, sweeping score, rebellion, revolution, gorgeous ballads, all surrounding a message of hope and redemption during humanity’s darkest moments.  It’s right up my alley.  But, I’m not gonna lie- like many of you, the movie was my first real introduction into the show, but since then I’ve watched the 10th anniversary concert and I’ve done my homework on the show’s history. Colm Wilkinson rocks my socks. God bless him. 

My top 5 Les Mis Songs: 

1. “One Day More”
2. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”
3. “Bring Him Home”
4. “Valjean’s Soliloquy”
5. “I Dreamed a Dream”

Now, please don’t skewer me on your pitchforks for not including “On My Own”.  It was a very close 6 for me.  “Valjean’s Soliloquy” has a lot of personal significance for me, and I just couldn’t overlook it.  Plus, I listened to Susan Boyle’s version of “I Dreamed a Dreamed” wayyy to many times on my iPod nano to let that one slide.  “Do You Hear The People Sing” is of course incredible, but it’s just really, really short. 

Anywho, there you have it.  That’s like three hours of sleep I’ll never get back.  I hope you guys enjoyed it.  If you did, go ahead and tell the world what YOUR favorite shows and songs are and why!  Make it a tag if you like!  That might be cool.  

If anyone out there enjoys my ranting and wants to see me dissect each of my favorite songs or musicals- feel free ask me and I’ll dedicate a whole post to each answer.  

Have an awesome day everyone!!! 

Originally posted by realitytvgifs

Now to sleep into oblivion

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Julia Murney - Spark of Creation.