Life of Hardin in Paraguay

Laugh as you travel through life with Josh Hardin.

Location: Spring Hill, TN, United States

Josh Hardin began writing in high school and published his first novel when he was twenty-two. He won an EPPIE award for his mystery novel "The Pride of Peacock." His non-fiction work includes "The Prayer of Faith", a book aimed at making personal prayers both powerful and effective. He has traveled widely and taught a summer philosophy course at the International University in Vienna. Hardin grew up in Tennessee and moved to Paraguay in 2006. He moved back to Tennessee in 2008.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Life of Hardin Vol. V, No. 3

On and Off-Broadway

As a rule, I do not care for musicals. I can’t put my finger on just one little thing about them that turns me off. Is it the air of artsyness? The disjointed necessity of breaking into song at various intervals? The annoying mediocrity of the songs themselves, which are rarely catchy, have hard to remember melodies, and lyrics forced to conform to the story whether they are good and rhyme or not?

Oh, no! I’ve lost my ring!

--You’ve lost your ring?

Yes, lost my ring.

--He’s lost his ring! He’s lost his ring!

I do not know where I may find it! My wits have come up to their brink--

--Perhaps you dropped it in the . . . commode.

So on and so forth. I can’t put my finger on just one thing. Whatever it is, I am not a fan of musicals. Oh, there are exceptions to every rule. Astaire-Rogers. Singing in the Rain. The Sound of Music, although I have seen it through once in 25 years. But I tend to know whether I will like one or not if I hum the tune to one of the songs later, or if I can make up new lyrics to the song.

For instance, this little classic from Annie (“I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here”): “Cecille will pick out all your clothes,” becomes, “Cecille, be sure to pick your nose,” or possibly, “Cecille will take off all her clothes.”

From The Sound of Music (“Maria”): “How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” turns into, “How do you catch a (insert euphemism for gas) and paint it green?”

Those are the types of things that make a musical more enjoyable for me. Now, on to a comparative review of two recent musical productions to which I had tickets. One is a little show called Into the Woods, a Tony® Award winner by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. The other is Spamalot, a current Broadway show based on the comedy of Monty Python.

The production I saw of Into the Woods was performed in a small municipal theatre in Paraguay sponsored in part by the Embassy of the United States. The performers were Spanish-speaking English students from a local English school. Understandably, I did not expect much. However, the performance was enjoyable. The sets were adequate. The performers had very little accent (except for Little Red Riding Hood, who, while very energetic, could not carry a tune in her little basket, and whose main function in the show was to jump around while not bursting out of her dress. She could not sing, but was very entertaining). The direction was excellent. The acting was not good enough to win awards, but not bad enough to notice it being bad. Although I did think the play was over after Act I, I must admit a pleasant time was had by all, and the performers received a standing ovation. (But for the life of me I can’t recall a tune from any song in the show.)

Production number two was to take place on Broadway, in Manhattan, the capital of stage musicals. I never saw it. The doors to this musical and all musicals on Broadway were closed because of some argument over how many people it takes to raise a curtain.

So, when I compare both musicals side by side, the winner is Spamalot. The producers were kind enough to close the doors and not let me see it at all, which is the best thing a musical has ever done for me. That, plus I received a refund for two tickets, which I will use instead to pay my entrance fee to DisneyWorld. Mickey does not go on strike.


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