by Kathy Reilly, May 2008 Guest Blogger
In my last entry as guest blogger, I decided to present a mixed bag of ideas and information that I think might be of interest to singers and performers.
To begin with, while trying to keep up with reviews of shows and performances by a wide range of singers, song writers, etc. I came across a May 22 New York Times blog entry by Rosanne Cash titled, “The Ear of the Beholder.” I think it is worth reading. It can be found here.
In it, Cash discusses the art and craft of song writing and how she strives for artistic accomplishment. She advises writers not to get caught up in with the idea of being truthful and says that truth and facts are not the same, performers should live with questions and find their own truth through creation and discovery.
I extract one quote here from the blog: “Real artistic accomplishment requires a suspension of certitude. E.L. Doctorow said that ‘writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.’ “
This thought leads me to some comments on “A Catered Affair,” a show I saw last weekend in New York . Faith Prince and Harvey Fierstein were the headliners with others. The show is Ms. Prince’s and I am glad that I had a chance to see her as Aggie; she was great. Leslie Kritzer as Janey, Aggie’s daughter, was excellent and most of the cast was believable. The show is about the impact of Janey’s upcoming nuptuials on family members.
The story, an age-old one, did not have any fresh insights, nor did it take advantage of an opportunity to present a new perspective on what the lives of closeted homosexuals must have been like before it was OK to come out. Harvey Fierstein, who wrote the book for the show, gave a cameo performance. He was sometimes hard to understand and the audience was supposed to know that he was gay because Harvey was playing the role. At lease it seemed that way since the fact was never relayed in the story. He was just an odd-ball bachelor uncle. One irritatingly and corny scene, [which receives an ‘I know you Harvey" laugh], has the uncle returning home drunk to a family dinner where he behaves badly in front of the soon to be in-laws. He is frustrated because he has been left out of the wedding plans and, I assumed, because he is angry about his own thwarted love life and narrow heterosexual views of love. The scene didn’t work and, for me, Harvey ‘s Uncle Winston was extraneous to the story. We knew what the subtext was supposed to be because Harvey was in the role, not because we got to know of like Winston.
I did like the unusual sometimes operetta style of this musical and there were some very nice songs. One great song for young women singers is “One White Dress,” sung by Janey. I found Tom Wopat’s father – cab driver a bit too down trodden and Brooklynesque. He is up for a Tony for Best Male Performance in a Musical, and Faith Prince is, as well, for Best Female Performance in a Musical.
Finally, for the past month I have been looking for good resources for sheet music and lyrics. I was planning on sharing what I learned with the DC Cabaret Network blog readers. I did not really get to master or work with the new resources but I did notice that there seem to be more online resources available, which I have yet not tried. New to me are Sheet Music Direct and Sheet Music Plus. I have used Sunhawk and Musicnotes many times but there are still many songs that are difficult to find. Maybe Cabaret Network singers could share a listserv?
For lyrics, I learned that by using Google search for lyrics, one can find the lyrics to lots of songs and some of these are even translated into other languages. I tried to get “Lullaby in Birdland” in French and did but it was NOT a real translation written by a lyricist or the composer. The translation was a word for word one similar to what I would do. It lacked idiomatic phrasing and a sense of how things are expressed in French.
As for new (to me) technology, I found eMule, which I am still learning how to use. A friend got some sheet music on this site. It is described as “one of the biggest and most reliable peer-to-peer file sharing clients around the world.” Thanks to “it’s open source policy many developers are able to contribute to the project, making the network more efficient.” Limewire is another resource I heard about.
Would anyone care to elaborate on sheet music, lyric and technology resources? I would be happy to hear or read your ideas. Thanks and good luck.