Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Was Always the Glee Generation

And so, it's Christmas for Theatre Geeks - Tony Awards day. In its honor, the New York Times tells me that the Youths of the Country are embracing their inner theatre nerds. So much so, that you're no longer a nerd if you love music theatre. It's hip to be geek. Or Gleek.

The author, who seems to be a decade younger than me(!), reflects on the differences between his teen days and now: "Whereas the high-schoolers of my era wouldn’t admit to liking show tunes for fear of seeming gay, those of today wouldn’t even necessarily conflate the two things, and besides, what’s wrong with being gay?"

Ah, whatever Gen we're on now, bless you. Bless you, kids, for your enlightenment. Although, to tell you the truth, in the Bad Old Days there was almost something cool (that's sick to you) about being so out of it you were almost in again.

Anyway, back to big-time theatre. They're reviving "Funny Girl." No, they haven't cloned La Streisand. They're actually going to get someone else to play the lead. And then they're going to find someone who sings "Respect" better than Aretha. And ... well, fill in your own impossible to beat standard.

Still, just the talk of that 60s classic musical got me in the mood to watch an iconic film musical moment. Funny Girl's "Don't Rain on My Parade" aka The Statue of Liberty scene.

And although there is only one Babs, I guess Lea Michele's version of the song itself ain't bad.

Now, I have my problems with aspects of Glee, in general. (Starting with my first question: Is it hyperbolic satire with broadly drawn caricatures or mushy sitcom - with broadly drawn caricatures?) But I do appreciate that it's introducing some great music - not only Broadway, but classic R & B and rock - to those Youths I mentioned above.

And listening to/ watching that "Funny Girl" scene got me thinking in general about something I don't say often - it is the ARTS of America that make me most proud to be from this country. The U.S., in so many ways one hot mess of a place, has given the world Broadway. And Jazz. And R & B. And on and on. And I'm glad I was born gleek enough to appreciate, to revel in, so much of it:

The Gershwins. Stevie Wonder and Stephen Sondheim. Streisand and Aretha. Holland Dozier Holland. Benny Goodman. Bruce Springsteen. Christina Aguilera. Gene Kelly. Fred Astaire. And that's just the first dozen or so names off the top of my head.

So, yes, I'll be watching the Tonys. Every musical isn't a gem. Every musical isn't my cup of tea. But it's still pretty cool that we've got so much, I can afford to be this picky. That I'm from MusicNerdNation.