Could I be a musical theater nerd?

Scene that happened at work today:

::me, explaining some work stuff::
Coworker: “…and then you’ve got trouble in River City.”
My face:

Me: “Did you…did you just make a Music Man reference?”
Him: “Oh, I don’t even know where the phrase –”
Me: “Weeeeeeell you got trouble my friend. Right here, I say –”
Him: “Oh, you’re singing it. Well –”
Me: “…trouble right here in River City. Well sure I’m a billiard player, certainly –”
Him: “It keeps going. Okay.”
Me: “…mighty proud to say, I’m always mighty proud to say it. I consider –”
Him: “You’re not stopping.”
Me: “…that the hours I spend with a cue in my hand to be GOLDEN –”

I know some of you think of me as the Hamilton guy, but I absolutely never thought of myself as a theater nerd. I never *did* theater, so I thought that automatically disqualified me. And sure, I have a soundtrack or ten (or 20), but who doesn’t? Musicals are just pop culture, I thought, and I have a talent for picking up song lyrics.

I mean, it really probably wasn’t until about a year ago, when I was at a wrap party for one of Evelyn’s plays, and I got involved in a conversation with some of the adult actors. They were discussing topics like “best/worst Andrew Lloyd Webber show” and “best musical (not named Hamilton) in the past 10 years” and I was all

I had opinions man.

So that got me thinking. Have I been musical theater nerd this whole time?

I mean, okay, so I have an abiding love for Jesus Christ Superstar, but that’s really my mom’s fault, and yes, okay, if you really press me I can make a top 10 favorite musicals, but it’s not like I have it written down somewhere, and sure, I know all the words to all the songs forward and back to maybe 15 musicals, tops, but some of those are because of the kids, and yes fine, I’ve seen quite a few shows on Broadway, but we used to live in Philly, and we didn’t plan our Honeymoon specifically around Broadway, it was just a happy accident, and I know that perhaps it’s a little abnormal that one of my favorite movies of all time is Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, but when you think about it, for it’s time…

But that doesn’t make me a musical theater nerd, does it?

The Music Man

There is probably not a minute of my day in which I don’t have a song from the Music Man by Meredith Willson running through my head. We got the soundtrack for Christmas, and Evie has lately become obsessed with it.

I love musicals, but the Music Man was not one of mine. I know of it vaguely, having heard some of the songs (especially Gary Indiana and the Wells Fargo Wagon), and somehow knowing that this is a thing people like, but that’s about it. So I’m not really sure why we picked this one out of a hat, but I didn’t really expect it would take off as it has. Evie went through a huge Wicked phase (because I was going through a huge Wicked phase), but subsequent musicals were sort of meh. Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music never really became favorites, and the Wizard of Oz soundtrack keeps in the rotation but never really had that, “play it again, play it again!” quality that the Music Man seems to have acquired.

The thing is, I have to hand it to the Music Man: turns out it is a mighty fine musical after all. I’m not ashamed to admit I really dig the songs, especially Rock Island and (Ya Got) Trouble. Even Ollie has been running around singing the songs (his favorite is Shipoopi, but he likes Marion the Librarian quite a bit as well). I doubt Evie could pick a favorite.

Evie has always excelled at picking up song lyrics, but she’s just about got the whole CD memorized. Picking up song lyrics happens to be a talent of mine as well, but she’s got me whipped. She doesn’t always understand the words she’s saying (at least she knows that “a woman who’ll kiss on the very first date is usually a hussy”), but she’s pretty impressive. The words are *so fast* in the Music Man, I can hardly believe she can follow along.

When I see her enjoying this so much, my consumer-instinct is to buy more musicals. However, I’ve convinced myself not to (although we already have one more in the pipeline). The thing is, when I was a kid, we were fanatical about Jesus Christ Superstar. Was it because this is the greatest musical of all time? No, it is not. But it’s the one we had; the one we listened to over and over again until we could sing the entire musical from memory, start to finish (and still can!). Musicals are like anything: having 5 or 10 at your fingertips doesn’t make you like musicals more, it makes you uninterested in musicals and full of ennui. Needless to say, I’m resisting the urge.

In the meantime, if you come slinking around here, expect to hear the big trombones and the rat-a-tat drums, big brass bass, big brass bass, and the piccolo, the piccolo coming out of the kitchen radio.

He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s a MUSIC man! And when the man dances, certainly boys, what else? The piper pays him!

Yessssss sir. Yessssss sir. Yessssssss sir.

Joss Whedon

Nobody on the Internet needs less hero worship than Joss Whedon. He has plenty. However, I have always been a day late and a dollar short to the Joss Whedon party, so there’s no reason to stop now.

Although I was a very early supporter of the (now generally reviled) Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, I didn’t start watching the most excellent tv show until season 4 or so, and I had to catch all the back episodes on reruns, as well as catching up on Angel. I even managed to be late to the Firefly party, despite watching the first couple of episodes as they aired. I thought the show was terrible and stopped watching. Later, people told me, “You have to watch this show Firefly, it’s awesome!” and I said, “Ha, nice try! I watched it on tv and it was awful.” Well, it turns out that there were some issues with the show when it was on tv, specifically that the episodes were aired out of order. When I was eventually convinced to watch the show in the correct order (way after everybody else), it was indeed a pretty good show. And I’ve never even seen Dollhouse.

So, compared to most of the rabid Whedon fans, I hardly even register on the meter. Therefore, how do I find myself writing a fanboy blog post?

There are two big reasons: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and the musical episode of Buffy, Once More with Feeling. Here’s a guy who is a television writer/producer/what-have-you, and he’s written two distinct “musicals” that I would put up there with many of my favorite musicals. If you haven’t checked out the music from these, I would highly recommend it. Yes, you can tell they are a little more amature than a big budget production (especially in the case of Buffy, when the actors and actresses are not normally singers), but that makes them a little more endearing. And it also makes it all the more amazing that the songs are so catchy. (Heck, I started out hating the Serenity theme song, and even that eventually grew on me! Burn the land and boil the sea, but you can’t take the sky from me)

So lets give it up for a guy who has consistently provided smart, funny, quality entertainment since before I was out of high school, and who somehow managed to write a couple of pretty fantastic musicals along the way, with less to work with than a lot of people.