Sunday, May 10, 2009
Movin' Out Update......
I reread my post from last Friday night about the musical Movin' Out, based on the music of Billy Joel. I really should have posted this yesterday in honor of The Piano Man's 60th birthday (!), but I had the motorcycle ride thing going on.
I realized upon rereading the post that it sounded terribly negative, and I didn't mean it that way. I was posting from my Blackberry during intermission, so I didn't have time (or thumbs) to go into a lot of detail.
One thing I said was that I would be happy to tell you what was going on if I had any clue. It was a lot like a ballet in that respect. I probably could have followed the "plot line" if I had been a little LESS familiar with Billy's music. I kept wanting all the random pieces to fit together, when I should have just sat back and watched and listened.
I was also a little distracted by the guy who was doing all the singing. He had a wonderful voice, but I confess a rather large bias toward the original, and he was a bit too nasally for my taste. He could play the piano like nobody's business, but he was rather.....ummmm......laaaaaaaaarge to pass for the real Billy. I know, I know......he isn't really supposed to. But I couldn't get past that. There was another piano player, too, who joined in occasionally. But Big Guy did most of the playing. I noticed, however, that NEITHER of them were playing when the musical used pieces from Billy's classical collection, Fantasies and Delusions.* They are admittedly hard to play (Billy hired a classical pianist to record them because he didn't feel competent to play pieces THAT HE WROTE), but I found it odd that they incorporated them into the musical but felt compelled to use the canned versions.
On a similar note, I was excited to see "Angry Young Man" in the program. The prelude to that song is perhaps one of my favorite piano pieces in the world. The first time I ever heard a recording of that song (I don't think it was released as a single), I thought to myself, "There is no way one single human being is playing that song." There was just too much piano, and it was played so fast it sounded like at least two pianos. It sounds VERY angry. Then I saw Billy perform it live, and my jaw dropped. Granted, he had to stand up to play it, but he plays it alone.
That being said, Big Guy APPEARED to be playing the prelude to "Angry Young Man," but he was only playing part of it. I can't explain how I knew that. I just know that his hands weren't moving up and down the keyboard as fast as they should have been if he had been playing the whole thing.
We were sitting in the balcony, and we were looking straight across at the "band". They were on an enclosed platform above the stage. Picture a screened-in porch directly above the dancers' heads. Wanda the Warrior Princess said she didn't think they knew we could see them. Tee hee.
I also described the dancers as an ADHD nightmare. I didn't mean that to sound like it was BAD. It was just that there was dancing EVERYWHERE, and you didn't know whom to watch. If you looked at that couple over there, or that soloist, you might miss something over here on this side of the stage. You just couldn't look everywhere there was something going on.
I'm not familiar with Twyla Tharp's style; I only know her (peripherally) by reputation as a choreographer. Now I'm no trained dancer, but I believe in pointed toes. Twyla apparently thinks toe points are highly overrated. Occasionally a dancer would do a kick or some other move with the leg extended and the foot flexed instead of pointed. That felt to me like a golfer whiffing the ball. Or a basketball player going for a slam dunk.....and missing. Or a football player running into the endzone.....and dropping the ball right before he crosses the goal line. Something just didn't look right about it.
"Captain Jack" is one of the few Billy Joel songs that I will push the button to skip to the next song. It's partly because of its subject matter, drugs. But it's partly because it has the word "masturbate" in it, and I just don't think that's a word anyone should sing. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, they didn't do THAT in the musical number, but it was almost pornographic nonetheless. Not offensively so, but it certainly lived up to the song's musical intent. There was a whole lot of drugs, sex, and rock and roll going on. And a transvestite. He (she?) got a real laugh from the audience during that number.
I know this is going to sound petty and picky and ridiculous and all those negative things that normal people say to those of us who are obsessed by details. We are NOT OCD; we just want things to make sense in their natural order.
There is a line from Billy's song "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" that goes: "Brenda and Eddie were still going steady in the summer of '75. / When they decided the marriage would be at the end of July."
In the musical, it says "...in the summer of '65." I know they were trying to make it fit in with the whole 60's thing and psychodelia and the Vietnam War, but COME ON! Sorry, but I'm a lyrics purist.
All in all, it WAS a good show, and I would go see it again given the chance. Actually, I would go see almost anything at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. As I will do at least two more times this year, for Jersey Boys in June and Chicago in September.
*When I heard that Billy had written a collection of classical piano pieces, naturally I had to have it. It arrived in the mail just as Hubby and I were about to get in the car. I tore into the CD package excitedly and said, "Fantasies and Delusions. Wonder why he named it that?"
To which Hubby IMMEDIATELY replied, "Probably because you THINK you're going to play that in the car."