Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prelude to a song which is a prelude to a dance which is a prelude to a kiss. Yes, I am guest posting on my own blog, courtesy of the power of show tunes. I am fascinated by the spoken prelude to the songs. This came about due to a completely wasted opportunity to burst unexpectedly into song, embarrass a friend and reference a film. On Sunday I was at a magazine meeting and the only people there were myself, Nicole and Jeremy. We were idly chatting while we waited for the others to arrive. Here I will abandon you to the script, as it should have happened. I think you'll be able to guess where reality stops and fantasy takes over...
Did you ride your motorbike last night?


Good. I was worried about you in the rain. I thought you might crash.

JEREMY (darkly)
I'm glad someone is thinking of me.

MEL (sensing opportunity to freak JEREMY out)
Oh, don't worry; I think about you plenty of other times, too.

JEREMY (disconcerted)
You do?

Oh yes. You see, Jeremy...

(sung) Each morning I wake up
Before I put on my makeup
I say a little prayer for you
While combing my hair now
And wondering what dress to wear now
I say a little prayer for you

NICOLE joins in the singing.

Forever and ever
You'll stay in my heart and I will love you
Forever and ever
We never will part
Oh how I love you
Together, together
That's how it must be
To live without you

Would only mean heartbreak for meeeee...

Music continues under

JEREMY (spoken)
You really think about me during your morning routine?

Of course I do, Jeremy. But that's not all...

(sung) I run for the bus, dear
While riding I think of us, dear
I say a little prayer for you...
Et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, in the real version of events I destroyed the conversation with the lame declaration, "I think about you plenty of times," to which Jeremy merely said, "Oh-kaaaay..." making me look like a lame weirdo and not the Dorothy Parker-esque mistress of bons mots you all know me to be.

For me, the best part of the fantasy is the spoken prelude and interludes. Another of my favourite exchanges is from The Wizard of Oz:
(sung) She brings you good news, or haven't you heard?
When she fell out of Kansas, a miracle occurred

(spoken) It really was no miracle; what happened was just this:
(sung) The wind began to switch, the house to pitch
And suddenly the hinges started to unhitch
Just then the witch, to satisfy an itch
Went riding on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch

(spoken) And oh, what happened then was rich!
I'm sure that some writing on musicals (perhaps Feuer, The Hollywood Musical or Altman, ed, Genre: The Musical - the latter text itself sounds like a show title, don't you think?!?) will analyse the diegetic and affective uses of the transition from speech to song, but somewhere I heard the maxim that in the musical, ideas and emotions that can't be expressed in words are expressed in song, and those that can't be expressed in song are expressed in dance.

To this I would add that often in a musical's key romantic sequence, the dance or duet builds towards a jouissant kiss that temporarily renders both parties incapable of speaking, singing or indeed doing much other than clinging to each other and staring into each other's eyes. The number finishes soon afterwards, although sadly never with one protagonist rolling over and going to sleep. (But then I haven't seen very many so-called postmodern musicals...)

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