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Sunday, July 16, 2006


**Yes, that is Usher on my blog...don't be shocked.**

Those crazy Weisslers (yes, as in Fran and Barry) are at it again. In a strange turn of theatre news this weekend, not only is Usher appearing on my blog, but is coming to Broadway as Billy Flynn in Chicago and the South Park guys are writing a musical. Wait, what?! Stranger things have, they haven't...this is about as crazy as i think it gets in the theatre world!

One at a time now, shall we?

I'll say it again, Usher...on Broadway...really?! According to, the crazy Weisslers who love getting the biggest "names" to headline their Broadway shows certainly has a big one on their hands. Everyone's favorite Grammy-Award-Winning-R&B "Peace up, A Town Down" lovin' Usher has been tapped to play Billy Flynn for six weeks beginning August 22 (note my shock in a blog post last year when I found out Huey Lewis was cast in the same role). Should we be shocked by this news though? Maybe not entirely. I mean, musical theatre isn't completely unknown to Usher, he was in uh...Geppetto. Hmmm. I guess that's the power of love.

Really, what else can be said about that? Right? Nothing. I'm moving on...

With the success of Avenue Q, I guess I shouldn't be surprised either when this arrived in my inbox at work on Thursday evening:

'South Park' Guys Heading To Broadway
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are headed to the Great White Way. The Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning creators of South Park have confirmed to us exclusively that they are working on their first Broadway musical. “We’re working on something with the guys from Avenue Q,” Parker revealed while promoting his hit cartoon show Thursday in Pasadena. “It’s not puppets or anything. It’s people. It’s kind of an updated Rogers and Hammerstein thing. But we’ve learned that that world is the kind of world where you get an idea and ten years later, you see it on Broadway.

Um, did Parker dare to mention himself, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx in the same breath as the iconic Rogers & Hammerstein?! To make such a loose comparison is rather nervy (right!?). I understand Parker was trying to describe the style of said new musical, but such a bold comparison rather shocks me. I admit I'm a theatre snob (I even spelled it "theatre," yes, I know) and possibly even closed minded when it comes to chatter about what is being staged, but I have my reservations with an announcement such as the one above.

I don't doubt the creativity of writers Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx or Trey Parker and Matt Stone, because their success has to come from some source of intelligence and wit. HOWEVER...a musical...for Broadway?! Those South Park guys yes, seem to like that the musical genre, after all, did anyone see that film of theirs (oh shock of shocks, I admit, I didn't). With the staging of Avenue Q, Lopez and Marx added a new dimension to the Broadway stage with the creation of characters like those monster-types (Trekkie and Kate) as well as Rod the closeted-gay-Republican and potentially introduced an entirely new generation to the Broadway stage. In the end though, is that what it's all about; creating art and and trying to find new ways to share or introduce it to others? Sort of.

I will admit that a show like Avenue Q has in some ways made musical theatre more accessible to a new generation by being funny, crass and by being the polar opposite of the kind of musical that was popular during the era of preceeding generations. While I'm sure I've written about it before, I wonder how shows like Avenue Q and the new Lopez and Marx/Parker-Stone will affect the future of musical theatre? At what cost will introducing a new generation to new musical theatre affect the art form going forward? A lot of crap gets staged these days and it doesn't mean its any good. Thank god there will always be writers for the musical theatre like the Adam Guettel's or the Jason Robert Brown's of the genre who look to write shows with quality and substance by looking for new ways to stage intelligent, complex shows. The over-commercialized shows will go down in history for their originality, but besides that, what else?


Mitch Glaser said...

Now, if you had Usher and Huey Lewis in a musical written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, that would be something.

scmusicals said...

I pretty much had the same reaction as yours regarding Usher, but I read that Ben Vereen has been something of a mentor to him. Perhaps he'll surprise the Broadway community? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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