Sunday, July 09, 2006

Politically Incorrect Songs

Theatre query: looking for
"songs that are often cut from revivals today because they simply can't be sung anymore: they're too offensive. Songs like "I'm an Indian Too" from Annie Get Your Gun, for example."

Two seasons ago I saw Annie Get Your Gun complete with "I'm an Indian Too". Must say I enjoyed it. Also enjoyed the spectacular "braves ballet" with gorgeous dancers in itty bitty loincloths-- which I remembered in great detail from the time I saw the road show of the original in Toledo, when I was very young. Wow!

Someone instances The Rape Song (It Depends on What You Pay) from THE FANTASTICKS-- "it's hard to remember the innocence that could have made the word "rape" signify a harmless attack of stage bandits. There is a new song to replace it in new productions of the show."

I say, Pooh! The original one satirizes age-old Maiden In Distress Bodice Ripper rape fantasies in a witty and effective way, and is musically buoyant enough to lift the first act to a pre-finale peak. I was a fiery young non-innocent feminist when it was written, I'm a cranky old feminist now: and I say the original song, in context, is splendid-- and the replacement's a dud.

To the growing list, mostly misogynous, another person adds.... "In the current climate , almost all of Sondheim's Assassins is unperformable...."
I grump that... The term "unperformable" seems to be getting more and more metaphoric. I've seen almost all the "unperformable" songs listed so far performed in their native shows somewhere during the last decade. There have been at least 4-- count 'em--4! professional productions of "Assassins" in greater Boston recently, several additional college/conservatory ones, and even the high school in the suburb where I live featured it this season.
I don't know whether the show will remain "performable"-- one production I attended played to a nearly-full house, at another the cast plus orchestra outnumbered the patrons. But a postponement of the NYC revival scheduled to open shortly after 9/11 doesn't mean it has left the boards!


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