The Gospel of Musical Theatre

A priestly (and sometimes profane) look at some of your favorite musicals!

1.7 Allegro!

July 30th, 2021

Today, we turn to some of Rodgers & Hammerstein's lesser-known (and less successful...) works, starting with the 1947 musical Allegro - a show that was ahead of its time but hasn’t been much produced since its original run in New York.

 

We talk about:

- Rodgers and Hammerstein as commercial Broadway producers, as well as a creative team.

- The rise of the “concept musical” and Allegro’s role in that tradition (and its influence on subsequent composers... like a kid named Stephen Sondheim, who got his first Broadway job as an assistant on Allegro!).

- Learning to love people by investing in their thriving and the power of vulnerability.

- Moments of epiphany in which everything seems to fall into place, why we might look for those moments on stage because we rarely in day-to-day life – and what it means to find your “true self”.

 

You’ll hear:

- Gloria Willis singing “We Have Nothing to Remember So Far” from the 1947 Original Broadway Cast Recording.

- Lisa Kirk singing “The Gentlemen is a Dope” from the 1947 Original Broadway Cast Recording.

 

You may want to check out:

- Episode 19 of Porchlight Music Theatre's podcast Classic Musicals From the Golden Age of Radio with Michael Weber. It contains the full 1951 radio broadcast of Allegro  - and a great introduction by Anika Chapin of Goodspeed Opera Company in CT!

 

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter and join the conversation at the Gospel of Musical Theatre

1.6 The Sound of Music!

July 16th, 2021

We're still diving into the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein - and today's episode is a good one... We're talking about The Sound of Music! Join us for this chat about both the 1959 stage version and the iconic 1965 film staring the incomparable Julie Andrews.

 

We talk about:

- How the “marriage trope” (symbolic differences reconciled in the courtship & marriage of two main characters) intersects a political story about fascism and resistance

- Maria von Trapp as both a redemptive figure and a prototypical “good German”

- The theology of “Something Good,” and Catholic versus Protestant understandings of love and human worthiness

 

You’ll hear:

- Laura Benanti and Christian Boyle singing “No Way To Stop It” and “How Can Love Survive” from the 2013 NBC Soundtrack Recording

- Julie Andrews singing “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” from the 1965 film soundtrack

- Peggy Wood singing “Climb Every Mountain” from the 1965 film.

 

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter and join the conversation at the Gospel of Musical Theatre

1.5 The King and I!

July 2nd, 2021

In our continued exploration of the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein, we explore The King & I (1951), a complicated and beautiful show about cultural imperialism, gender emancipation and the dangers of the white savior complex.

 

We talk about:

- The rise of the “star vehicle” for a diva actor, and the interesting racial & cultural background of Anna Leonowens (and Gertrude Lawrence, the actor who played her).

- The intersection of colonialism with Western values of equality, and when a “liberating” culture becomes an imposed culture that does violence in the name of greater freedom.

- The nature of forgiveness, and the possibility of real relationship across cultural, gender and ideological difference.

 

You’ll hear:

- Gertrude Lawrence singing “Getting to Know You” from the Original Broadway Cast recording.

- Lea Salonga and Peabo Bryson singing “We Kiss In A Shadow” from the 1993 Studio recording.

- Ruthie Ann Miles singing “Something Wonderful” from the 2015 Broadway Revival Cast Recording.

 

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter, and follow the Gospel of Musical Theatre on Instagram or Twitter @gospelofmt!

1.4 South Pacific!

June 18th, 2021

This week, we continue with our deep dive into Rodgers & Hammerstein with South Pacific (1949), their first “big hit” and a pioneering (but problematic) look at the deeply-embedded racism of white Americans during the Second World War.

 

We talk about:

  • Mary Martin, Enzo Pinza, and how Rodgers and Hammerstein created a love story where two characters never have to sing together.
  • The phenomenon of the Second World War and how Rodgers and Hammerstein began to craft a new mythology out the American experience of that war.
  • What it means for white Americans to be "carefully taught" to fear and discriminate against those who are not white.
  • Oscar Hammerstein’s social agenda, his early training in faith and religion, and how South Pacific embodies his theology of social change.

You’ll hear:

  • Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza in the Original Broadway Cast Recording (1949) singing "Twin Soliloquies" and "Some Enchanted Evening."
  • Matthew Morrison singing "You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught" from the 2008 Broadway Revival recording

 

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter, and follow the Gospel of Musical Theatre on Instagram or Twitter @gospelofmt!

1.3 Carousel!

June 4th, 2021
This week, we take a critical look at the 1945 masterpiece Carousel – perhaps Rodgers and Hammerstein’s finest score, but a show that has not aged well.
What can contemporary audiences – and theologians – do with Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow and their complicated and violent relationship?
In Carousel, we talk about...
  • Billy and Julie’s complicated relationship and the idea of the “conditional love song
  • The myth of redemptive suffering – and Carousel's theatrical depiction of the afterlife
  • Are we more than our worst choices?
  • Is it true that “you’ll never walk alone?”
  • Can a problematic show with a gorgeous score be “redeemed” for contemporary audiences?

You'll hear this music from the 1956 film version of Carousel:

  • Shirley Jones & Claramae Turner singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
  • Shirley Jones singing “If I Loved You”
  • Barbara Ruick, Claramae Turner, Robert Rounseville & Cameron Mitchell singing “This Was a Real Nice Clambake”

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter, and follow the Gospel of Musical Theatre on Instagram or Twitter @gospelofmt!

1.2 Oklahoma!

May 21st, 2021

This week, we begin a leisurely tour through some of the major musicals of Richard Rodgers (1902-79) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1865-1965), who are often credited with pioneering the “integrated musical” that largely defined the great musicals of the mid-20th century. In Oklahoma! (1943), we talk about:

  • Definitions of “the land” and who occupies it
  • The cultural impact that Oklahoma! had, and how it reinvented the Broadway musical
  • The hidden history of Oklahoma, “Indian Territory,” and the queerer, darker history of what lies underneath the surface of a deliberately white-washed world
  • Rene Girard, James Allison, and the theological underpinnings of the scapegoating narrative

Continue the conversation with Peter (@pgeinvan) and Nathan (@nathan_lerud) on Twitter, and follow the Gospel of Musical Theatre on Instagram or Twitter @gospelofmt!

1.1 What is The Gospel of Musical Theatre?

May 7th, 2021

It's Episode 1 of The Gospel of Musical Theatre, with your favorite cathedral deans and musical theatre queens, Nathan LeRud and Peter Elliott! Peter and Nathan are Anglican priests and cathedral deans in the Pacific Northwest with a deep and geeky love of musicals – and a love for pulling them apart and looking at them from a spiritual perspective.

 

In this introductory episode, we define terms: what does “Gospel” mean when applied to a work of art? What is “musical theatre?" And how can the musical theatre tradition act as secular scripture - helping us grapple with our North American culture, and the values and ideas we inherit from the past?

 

We talk about:

  • The intersection of liturgy (“a public work for the common good”) and art.
  • Finding good news in the Gospel beyond traditions of guilt and sin.
  • What it means to develop a critical lens in regards to literature (including the Bible) and works of art, particularly when it comes to questions of gender, sexuality, and race.

 

You’ll hear:

  • Julie Andrews singing “I Could Have Danced All Night” (My Fair Lady Original London Cast Recording, 1958)
  • “I Could Have Danced All Night,” as recorded by André Previn (piano), Leroy Vinnegar (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums) from Modern Jazz Performances of Songs from My Fair Lady (1956)

 

Continue the conversation on Twitter and Instagram @gospelofmt, and find all of Trinity Cathedral’s podcasts at trinity-episcopal.org/podcasts.

Introducing… The Gospel of Musical Theatre!

April 30th, 2021

Introducing... The Gospel of Musical Theatre: a priestly (and sometimes profane) look at some of your favorite musicals, hosted by two cathedral deans and musical theatre queens, Nathan LeRud and Peter Elliott!

In Season 1, we're diving into the works of Rogers & Hammerstein, talking about culture, race, sexuality, spirituality... and so much more. Episode 1 drops Friday, May 7, so be sure to hit subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Continue the conversation on Twitter and Instagram @gospelofmt, and find all of Trinity Cathedral’s podcasts at trinity-episcopal.org/podcasts.

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