time to change the way we view music and the arts

Friendly neighborhood Whatsername

I hope all of you out there had a lovely Thanksgiving. I know I did. Got to introduce someone to the joys of the holiday, which inevitably made seeing my relatives that much more interesting than it has been in a long time.

Anyway, the arts hardly take a holiday, so let’s cut to the chase!

With Thanksgiving, my personal favorite after the fact aspect of the whole event is leftovers. It’s always been like that in my house. After the main meal is done, you can mix together a number of combinations and portions of all the dishes you’ve made. Hardly any plate you eat after the first looks like any other one. A mash-up of sorts if you will.

Well a mash-up of things have certainly occurred over the last couple of days that got me thinking, that’s for sure.

On the one hand, one Broadway team is presuming they will attract more audience members and possibly re-receieve previous members thanks to the (at least for now) full introduction of one key celebrity to their main cast. I would be speaking of Billie Joe Armstrong and “Team American Idiot” for Green Day’s currently active one act production based on their album of the same name. Armstrong has teased audiences already with a short run of the stage for American Idiot on Broadway back at the end of September into October for one week. The brief stint was extremely appealing to Green Day fans and extremely profitable for the quick timespan of a week we’re talking here. profitable meaning $1,092,334 over the previous week average of $480,566 and only slightly more than half the house filled. (Data courtesy of Playbill.com.)

If one week of singing on Broadway spikes sales that much over a “regular week,” imagine what 50 consecutive shows starting in January will do? Yep, 50 chances to see St. “Jimmy Joe Armstrong” šŸ˜› The thought intrigues, doesn’t it?

Reversely as intriguing, another Broadway team is climbing the monetary ranks as well but in just the opposite fashion. “Spiderman: Turn off the Dark” is being estimated at a [hopefully] final price tag of 65 million dollars when all is said and done just before the first official performance kicks off. The New York Times Arts Beat neatly stacks up the ever growing list of technical difficulties this show has accumulated since attempting to open last January. Scary that almost a year has gone by and there’s still a looming feel of testing going on here. Phrases like “Work in Progress,” “New Ending” and “Cancelled matinee performances” don’t bode well on anxious audience ears. Not to mention for the poor actors who have to roll with the punches and changes; occasionally at the expense of themselves. (Stunt man with a broken wrist anyone?) ouch. There’s not much mystery to this theater news. It just shocks me some how two opposites like the one-act American Idiot and the “Most Expensive Show in Broadway History” can garner such opposing results. One loaded with some of the most intricate stunts and special effects to date, the other very straightforward and grassroots…both with notable names attached. (Marvel comics and U2’s Bono and Edge in the same conversation? Now where would you expect to hear that kind of combination??) And yet the more minimalist of the two is holding itself steadier. Is bigger better? Can’t speak for the show yet, but thus far, less has certainly gained more.

….on a separate note, aside from referencing Green Day in my post title, I wanted to take a moment to mention someone who shouldn’t be remembered as a “whatsername,” even if she felt low like one while suffering from depression.

Roxana Briban was a classically trained Rumanian soprano, who is reported to have committed suicide on November 20, 2010. A short mention of the news is here at the blog Slipped Disc and despite the short clip of information; to imagine the internal grief Briban was feeling if she indeed took her own life as a result, even if only partially, of being let go from the Rumanian National Opera, is nothing short of tragic and heartbreaking. Pressure, Passion and Popularity are all undeniable factors that must be dealt with in some form or another when professional musicians are associated with larger organizations and groups. It’s just sad when a mis-proportioned combination of those elements creates a painful struggle within someone so as to drown out all the joy their gifts should bring to not only the people around them but ultimately themselves as well. That’s when you need to take a step back, breathe and take time to search for the fire inside your own heart.

Rest in Peace.

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