Yay for Christmas and Hanukkah!
I hope you had a great day yesterday. Are you ready for the new year? I saw this meme the other day that I think describes a lot of people. Don’t worry. We’ll get through the new year together.
Despite all the indicators pointing to otherwise, I did not in fact die from a gingerbread house overdose on Wednesday. I am here, fully intact, filled with holiday joy and chocolate*, and ready to inform you of something very important. When I started writing this I had two things I was prepared to inform you of. They were: I Was Invited To Go See The Preview Of A New Musical(!) (A Swan Was Involved) and Books And Musicals Go Together Like Crackers And That Fig Jam From Trader Joe’s.
Now here’s the thing. We all like fig jam. But the fact remains that we, as a populace, think swans are hip, magical beings, especially during the holidays. Plus the musical I was invited to was about a swan. Aka:
Last week I was invited to the preview of a new musical about a swan. The musical was called Swan Lake The Musical. I know. You can faint.
The thing is, I really love the story of Swan Lake. When I was younger I watched a Barbie remake of the classic tale of betrayal and swans and it sparked my interest. The music from the ballet is so beautiful too, my gosh, literally sitting here at my kitchen table, writing this, I feel tears pricking the backs of my eyeballs just thinking about it.
When the invite popped up in my email account I was p-retty thrilled, just saying. When the night of the show rolled around, I lost track of time because I was watching 30 Rock, but in spite of this, I was able to throw on a theatrical outfit, rush out the door, and get to the Montalban theater which is right near the Pantages, just in time. There was a long line outside the front door and the weather was biting, 56 degrees or so. Almost freezing, really. I hugged my theatrical coat around myself, and waved to my musical-theater-writing-class teacher was standing in front of me in line (he’d also been invited, as had my fellow musical-theatre-writing-class-students.) He had brought a friend with him, with whom he was talking, and we only exchanged a few words involving, “I’m seeing Amelie soon, but my god the Ahmanson is just too large.” If you were wondering, yes, I do have a theatre voice which I automatically assume when talking to other people who are using theatre voices. Because of the limited number of people available for conversation, I listened to the group of people behind me talking. They’d bought tickets and hadn’t been invited, I heard them say so, but I still felt a deep pang when their very gay, British friend, Mitchell, came running over to them, adorable black and white striped scarf trailing behind him, and kissed them on the cheek, all the while talking about the horrible cocktails he’d made out of vodka, a cucumber, mint leaves, and orange juice.
It’s time for me to admit something to you all. I have, in the past, been a lonely person. A lonely person who goes to the theater alone and eats large bags of jelly beans by herself while sniffing because, hello, Idina Menzel just hit the high g, people. And standing there in the biting Los Angeles weather, wobbling around on the patent leather character shoes I wear to most occasions, I felt a couple tears rising in my eyes. I pushed them down right away, of course, and so didn’t have to wipe my nose on my sleeve. Or anything.
Anyway, moving on. When I finally got to the ticket window and got my ticket, I was really cold. I didn’t have my ID but they still gave me my ticket. I’ve been known to accidentally take on a tone of voice that very closely resembles that of Snow White from the animated movie when I’m flustered and, word of advice, it works super good. Thanks genetics or whatever made me have that weird voice quirk!
P.S. When I’m having a super thought-provoking discussion or writing a musical with someone, I sound like Taylor Swift. I know.
My musical-theatre-writing-class-musical-collaborator (he’s one of the students. There’s a teacher and a collaborator and the collaborator is a fellow student. Stick with me here) was standing in the lobby. We have a slightly difficult relationship because we were paired up to write a ten-minuet musical together and sometimes collaborating with someone can give you anger issues. He was playing Super Mario on his phone so I just loudly hacked up some phlegm to show that I disapproved and walked into the theater. Can I take this opportunity to say that although I’ve never played Mario before, I still don’t like it because Mario is a Mario Brother (don’t ask me how I know so much about it) so his name is literally Mario Mario? I know. It’s really tough.
Anyway, when finally me, my collaborator, and my musical-theater-writing-class teacher (plus another boy in our musical-theatre-writing-class and his mom) were all seated in our specified row of seats (amahzing ones, by the way) the show began. Well, it began like fifteen minutes later but you probably don’t want me to recount my discussion about Okay, but Rogers and Hammerstein are kinda cringy. Just kind of, but still. Ya know? Wow. Super Mario, huh?
I guess I did recount that after all. Okay dokey then.
The lights finally went down and the show started. The first part of the first scene consisted of two ballet dancers dancing to the theme from Swan Lake the ballet. And I was like, throw-back to my Swan Lake Barbie days. No, just kidding. It was beautiful. The musical itself was in concert, so it wasn’t staged and the actors were holding scripts, and the music was completely original. I was so happy that they hadn’t done a replay of Diseny’s Sleeping Beauty where they used the music from the Ballet but added lyrics. Some of the songs were very pop, some were gospel, and a lot were pure Musical Theatre. Andrew Lippa, a great actor and the amahzing composer of The Addams Family The Musical was in it, and Carrie Manolakos and Carrie St. Louis who were both in Wicked played the two main characters, Odette and Odile and they were both stunning, of course. Speaking of Wicked, Swan Lake The Musical had a lot of Wicked vibes in the sense that a lot of the music was very Wicked-inspired and the story revolved around two young women who’s lives take very different paths. There was even a number that was so “For Good” inspired that I started tearing up. I think I was also tearing up because the song itself was so beautiful. I did learn some things about musical theatre structure, though and one of them was (surprisingly) Don’t Overdo The Power Ballads. Who says that, right? The songs we remember the most from musicals (at least for me) are the power ballads. “Defying Gravity”, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “Memory”. But Swan Lake had, I feel, too many power ballads and because of this, I couldn’t remember them quite as well. There was also a song at the end that was so much “A Little Fall of Rain” from Les Miz that I felt everyone in the theater gasp a little bit and I swear I literally heard people whispering “Les Miz, Les Miz, Les Miz” throughout the theater. In other words, if you’re going to be inspired by someone else’s song, do it more discreetly. Coming from the girl who wrote a song that she later realized had the same tune as Taylor Swift’s, “Everything Has Changed”. After the show was over, the writers came on stage and it was truly an amazing experience, especially for an aspiring musical theatre writer, to see the complete joy in these two men’s (yo, there’s gonna be a female musical theatre composer soon who’s gonna knock yo socks off!) faces as they thanked all the people who’d helped them. It was the very first (and only) performance of Swan Lake and I got to be there. Without Mitchell but still. Well I guess he was in the audience.
And collaborator, if you read this, which I am sure you will not, but if you read this, know that I apologize for laughing when you said you wanted to move to silicon valley.
Happy Holidays, my friends!
P.S. I made a quiz for you all so you can see which character from Swan Lake you’d be. Click Here. Hope you like it! Please, please comment below and tell me which character you got!
*There were a lot of free chocolate samples at the store near my house and I wanted to try all the flavors so I did. I’m immature like that.