Saturday, August 20, 2011

Musical Words of Wisdom: The Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals

A few weeks ago, I had a blog of Broadway musical lyrics that I (and you) found to be particularly clever, catchy or meaningful - sometimes all three.  Several of you have since been so kind as to send in lists of your favorites.

I am still collecting them, looking particularly for "words of wisdom" from Stephen Sondheim and Kander and Ebb.  So, please send them in!

Today, though, I thought I'd focus on quotes from the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Before I share my favorites and yours, though, I thought I'd share some insight you've shared and some that I've gotten by looking at what you sent me.  And I'm sure they aren't too Earth-shattering for real Webber-philes, but interesting nonetheless.

First, it is of interest that he and his collaborators focus on the fantastic, larger than life characters - real (Jesus, Eva Peron), fictional (Norma Desmond, Jeeves), non-human (cats, trains) - to shed light on the more mundane of human feelings and relationships.  Second, love and death, common themes in all art forms seem to work best hand-in-hand in his shows (Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love).  And third, whimsy and quirkiness are a common tone in his shows.

Jules from Paramus, NJ wrote, "As grand as Lloyd Webber's tunes are, his lyricists always manage to find a balance between the profundity of Sondheim and the Everyman quality of most other Broadway composers.  Being the masters of neither, just very good at both, is probably why his shows are so popular and critically reviled at the same time."  What do you think about that?

Here is a quote, sometimes two, from each of his Broadway shows.  Some are my contributions, others are singular submissions from one person, and others are quotes sent in from several of you.  In the interest of fairness, I will attribute the quotes to no one, except the lyricists themselves.  I think they are all kind of catchy and all of them at least clever and thought-provoking.

Aspects of Love - Don Black and Charles Hart

"There is more to love, so much more than simply making love -- that's easy."  from “There is More to Love"

"If death were given a voice, that voice would scream through the sky: 'Live while you may for I am coming...'" from "Hand Me the Wine and the Dice"

By Jeeves - Alan Aykbourn

"Time, they say, is relative.  Infinite as space, this must be eternity.  Neither time nor place..." from "Half a Moment"

Cats - T.S. Eliot

"Are you cock of the walk when you're walking alone?" from "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"

Evita - Tim Rice

"I came from the people, they need to adore me, so Christian Dior me from my head to my toes!  I need to be dazzling; I want to be Rainbow High!   They must have excitement, and so must I!" from "Rainbow High"

Jesus Christ Superstar - Tim Rice

"You're far too keen and where and how, but not so hot on why." from “Gethsemane”

"Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you.  Myrrh for your hot forehead - oh!  Then you'll feel everything's alright, yes, everything's fine.  And it's cool and the ointment's sweet, for the fire in your head and feet.  Close your eyes, close your eyes, and relax, think of nothing tonight." from "Everything's Alright"

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Tim Rice

"If you ever find yourself near Ramases, get down on your knees!" from "A Pharaoh's Story"

"We have never liked him all that much before. And now this coat has got our goat.  We feel life is unfair!" from "Joseph's Coat"

The Phantom of the Opera - Charles Hart

"In all your fantasies, you always knew that man and mystery ... were both in you ..." from "The Phantom of the Opera"

"Half your cast disappears, but the crowd still cheers!  Opera!  To hell with Gluck and Handel - It's a scandal that'll pack 'em in the aisles!"  from "Notes/Prima Donna"
(All three of you who sent this quote in added a few thoughts about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark)

Song and Dance - Don Black and Richard Maltby, Jr.

"Don't want to fight day and night, bad enough you're going.  Don't leave in silence with no word at all, don't get drunk and slam the door.  That's no way to end this.  I know how I want you to say goodbye..." from "Tell Me on a Sunday"

Starlight Express - Richard Stilgoe

"Don't try to show you can go faster than me.  This is my back view and it's all you'll see.  Don't stop now - we gotta keep it going all night!" from "Rolling Stock"

"Couldn't stand gravel and sand, being ignored, no-one aboard, nobody complaining we were late again.  I should hate carrying freight, nobody living in me.  Got to be a living, breathing passenger train." from "Freight"

Sunset Boulevard - Don Black and Christopher Hampton

"Of course, there's bound to be a little suffering. Eternal youth is worth a little suffering!" from "Eternal Youth is Worth a Little Suffering"

"Don't forget me when you're casting !" from "Let's Have Lunch"

The Woman in White - David Zippel

“I never walk when I can dance.” from “A Gift for Living Well”

From Jesus to a Jellicle Cat, these bon mots and clever turns of phrase really cover the gamut, don't they?

I am looking forward to hearing more quotes from you!

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