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I'm still reading my LJ friends page, but since so many folks have either jumped ship entirely or have partially moved over to Dreamwidth, I'll be mirroring posts over here. If you're switching to Dreamwidth or building a profile there, I'm here: http://tytaniastrange.dreamwidth.org/ Please feel free to friend or add or whatever it is we do on Dreamwidth. Or just leave a link to your account there and I'll friend/add/pin/bludgeon you.

I have no plans to bring my entire LJ contents over to Dreamwidth. I'm figuring that I'll clean up the good stuff to repost and the rest will probably stay where it is until the site shuts down. Most of it will be friendslocked and I may end up locking everything so that LJ will be a space where friends can comment privately if they so choose as opposed to Dreamwidth which I plan to keep public. I will probably kill/hide one of my websites and I'll decide what's to be done with the other. I'm just thinking that I could be spending my webhosting money on shoes. I like shoes.

Moving on.

My pick for Worst Musical: Narnia the Musical

Lately, there's been a meme going around my Facebook where people list off musicals they love or hate or worship like creepy weirdos or think are "gamechangers" which makes me want to say "Okay, give me three paragraphs explaining how and why this show was a "gamechanger" and before you start, just be aware that "I was in this show and it was awesome!" or "I want to do this show" are not acceptable answers. I'm a horrible person. Also, some people have been getting upset when people put a show they love in the "worst" or "hate" category.

Personally, I am not qualified to tell you what the worst musical ever might be. I have not seen all the Broadway musicals never mind the Off-Broadway stuff and the touring shows and the regional shows and the shows that never even made it out of previews. I've also seen tons of "Broadway Jr" shows and shows written for youth theatre of varying quality. If I had to name the worst show I've seen, the one that had the least redeeming value and probably shouldn't even exist and will make you really embarrassed for everyone involved in it, I'd go with Narnia the Musical, a musical adaptation of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Here's some bad news, I am not going to link any videos of Narnia the Musical's more, ummm, ill-conceived musical offerings, because this thing seems to be mostly performed by kids and college students. Usually, I wouldn't snark on a show that's written for kids but this thing began life as a for reals professional show that premiered in 1986 and toured until 1993. Alas, that was before youtube so I doubt we will ever see footage of a cast of professional Equity actors singing The Turkish Delight Song.

Now, I am not going to tell you that I hate Narnia The Musical. I don't hate it. I think it's terribly misconceived but it isn't a show that makes me want to hack my true love to pieces with a meat cleaver. Oh trust me, we'll get to that show, oh yes we will. Narnia's tone is just too darn goofy to build up any real rage. I mean, yeah, it might have ticked me off if I was a huge fan of the book, but even so, it isn't as if this thing is an unavoidable smash hit. It isn't as if people who have seen some godawful version of this are going to sing it at you in the street. It isn't as if you'd say "Oh I enjoy fantasy novels" and anyone will immediately answer, "Oh yeah, me too! I love Narnia the Musical!" Not happening.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe does not adapt easily for the live stage. The movie version is probably about as good as it gets and I know a couple of fans of the book who weren't all that thrilled with the film, but even they didn't think it was awful. Yeah, it was meant to be a Lord of the Rings clone and they may have pumped up the battles but the acting was decent and a CGI lion will never look anywhere near as ridiculous as an actor in a fuzzy lion suit trying to sound like feline Jesus. I have seen multiple productions of at least two Narnia play adaptations in addition to the musical and thus far no one has found a way to make this thing work. The material is serious but the actors are all wearing furry suits. In the best productions, the actors seem to be having fun and in the worst ones, it's a slog. Luckily, whoever wrote the musical decided that if the show is going to look silly anyway, why not just run with it? Why not make this thing as stupid as it possibly can be. Why not have the White Witch sing "Hot and Bothered" because it will be funny because she's an ice witch and she's singing about being hot. Get it? You get it, right?

I have seen some awkward shows. You would not believe the number of Disney knockoff kids shows that are out there, but those things were never performed by professional actors. Those shows are written for kids. The subject material is light. None of the main characters get tortured and killed on a stone table. When I was a kid, Narnia was my nightmare fuel. I saw some version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe on TV and I was horrendously upset by it. I didn't even make it to the part where Aslan returns as a Christ allegory. I was out of there as soon as I realized that the whole death thing was actually going to happen and what the hell is wrong with people? Who would write this? Who would think this up? What a sicko! So, clearly, you can imagine how well this fits in with a goofy show where you're supposed to giggle at the villains until it's death time. It simply does not work.

Even worse, Narnia the Musical doesn't sell itself as a farce. If you see the show, you'll notice that all the performers are trying to take their roles seriously. This show is not a commentary on fantasy tropes or what happens when we try to put something fantastical on a live stage. It's what would happen if The Lion King suddenly decided that when Mufasa's spirit appears in the clouds, the actor playing the role should be flown in from the ceiling wearing a furry lion suit. That's how Narnia operates. You want to laugh. The show is daring you to laugh at it. The show seems to want you to laugh with it, but you can't because Mufasa is flying in wearing furry lion PJs from Target and oh dear lord, what am I watching? All I want to do is watch videos of this on youtube so I don't have to feel like such a horrible person for wanting to laugh at this poor man in a lion suit trying to pretend to die with dignity.

Narnia's songs probably aren't all that terrible but they aren't good either. Trust me, I have a lot to say about bad shows with good songs. There are also plenty of goofy shows with good songs or shows that aren't all that great except the songs are okay. The problem here is that, once you're done making fun of The Turkish Delight song, you're not going to remember it. There's nothing that makes you say "Well, the show wasn't all that good, but I did like that one song." There is no one song. All the songs are okay, but not especially good. They're just there, trying to entertain you and to somehow make a serious story that's going to look stupid no matter what you do seem as if it's stupid on purpose.

So, Narnia the Musical is the worst musical I've ever seen. I don't hate it. I can't say there are parts of it that didn't entertain me. I can't even say that it could have been better because I think the writer and composer did as well as you possibly can when you're writing a stage show that stars a bunch of animal characters, one of whom is a Jesus metaphor who will be horribly murdered by your nightmare fueling villain that is going to have to appeal to kids. If some intrepid theatre company in your area decides to stage this show to appeal to a "family audience", be sure to buy a ticket because this one doesn't come around often. Luckily, you can watch the entire thing on youtube. You're welcome.

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Tytania Strange

April 2017

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