"Some Girls..." article in NY Times
posted by davidt on Monday July 18 2005, @10:00AM

jtang writes:
New York Times (subscription required)

July 18, 2005
Mining the Drama in a Rock Catalog
By JON PARELES

LONDON - Rock's conquest of the West End here, and of Broadway, has arrived largely in the form of unchallenging oldies: familiar songs that mimic the recorded hits and are attached to revue vignettes or a cobbled-together storyline. Queen, Abba and Billy Joel are among those whose songs have found that kind of afterlife, and a John Lennon musical on Broadway is now in previews.


 
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New York Times Article on "Some Girls" (Score:0)
July 18, 2005
Mining the Drama in a Rock Catalog
By JON PARELES
LONDON - Rock's conquest of the West End here, and of Broadway, has arrived largely in the form of unchallenging oldies: familiar songs that mimic the recorded hits and are attached to revue vignettes or a cobbled-together storyline. Queen, Abba and Billy Joel are among those whose songs have found that kind of afterlife, and a John Lennon musical on Broadway is now in previews.

The Smiths - a band from Manchester, England, whose singer and lyricist, Morrissey, taught a generation-wide cult how to mope with melodramatic self-consciousness - are getting an entirely different treatment in "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others," a music-theater piece based on Smiths songs; the band lasted from 1982 to 1987.

The show is at the Lyric theater in the Hammersmith neighborhood (far from the West End) through July 23, and is booked for Ireland and Australia.

"Some Girls" seeks the spirit of the Smiths' songs by transforming them. The arrangements are not for rock band, but for string quartet with electronics. Morrissey's heartsick legato croon is reassigned to four women and two men, who deliver anything from keening, primal unaccompanied wails to swing-era harmonies. The Smiths' lyrics were proudly defenseless and unguarded: "I know I'm unlovable/ You don't have to tell me." Yet the staging doesn't wrap them in obvious scenarios. The show is an allusive, surreal, ever-mutating fantasia on love and sex, family and control, violence and death.

The women take on archetypal roles as a child, a young woman and a mother; there's also a red-headed diva. An older and younger man are like a father and grown son; and there's a young boy on video, at first isolated and frightened, but eventually smiling and stepping into the light. They interact in love and rage, but there is no simple story. The younger man, Garrie Harvey, sings, "I am human and I want to be loved" while dressed as a rabbit; the girlish Katie Brayben is at various times a cellist, a trapeze artist and a gunslinger.

"What I wanted to make was a world that was recognizable but somehow changed, very 'Alice Through the Looking Glass,' " said Andrew Wale, the director. "You go through this mirror, and it's somehow different, although you recognize all the elements. What I also wanted to do was to try and get a group of performers who would treat this very strange, dislocated and adjusted world as their normality, so that we could sit there and then go, 'Well, maybe we'll look at our own world and realize the abnormalities in that a little bit more strongly.' "

"Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" is the second major collaboration, under the name Anonymous Society, by Mr. Wale and the music director Perrin Manzer Allen. Both had been longtime Smiths fans. "I never even thought about why I loved them so much," Mr. Wale said. "It's a very teenage thing, that kind of teenage angst, that sense of not being taken seriously and being taken advantage off. There's definitely a kind of martyrdom complex in there."

"It's really effortful being young and trying to fit in with your peer group," he continued, "and this was an invitation to be completely outside that. Morrissey invited you to laugh at him, but the invitation implied that if you laughed there was always going to be something that proved you wrong. There were multiple inversions of sophistication in it."

"Some Girls" arrives as Morrissey himself has recharged his solo career. Last year he released "You Are the Quarry" (Sanctuary), his first album of new songs since 1997, and went on tour; he was also curator of the prestigious Meltdown Festival in London. But the theater piece was already in the works.

Mr. Wale, who is English, and Mr. Allen, who is American, met a decade ago while singing in a German production of "Les MisÚrables." (Both are now 40.) Soon afterward, Mr. Allen suggested that Smiths songs offered possibilities for "a singing actor." He explained, "It just occurred to me that there w

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Anonymous -- Monday July 18 2005, @12:00PM (#171949)
  • Ugh... by Anonymous (Score:0) Monday July 18 2005, @08:43PM
    • Re:Ugh... by bingol (Score:1) Tuesday July 19 2005, @01:05AM
      • Re:Ugh... by Anonymous (Score:0) Tuesday July 19 2005, @07:08AM


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