Theater Masks

Theater Masks

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I love musicals

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I love musicals. Caitie and I met because of musicals. I've loved them since I was a kid, and that love has grown and grown through my whole life. I have HUNDREDS of cast albums, seen hundreds of shows, own just about every commercial release of a show or movie available on DVD. Yes, I do enjoy a lot of other music - but even then, the groups or singers I like have a definite theatrical or story-telling edge: Bruce Springsteen, Ben Folds, Billy Joel.

So why musicals?

The last couple of days I've been thinking about it because
1)I just got the album for Sondheim on Sondheim (and really, I have hardly to say any more than that if you know musicals or at all - or more specifically, Norm Lewis singing Being Alive),
2)a result of listening to that, I watched the recording of Company of the revival a couple of years ago (which we saw)
3)just today I started to listening to a CD I picked up a while ago but hadn't listened to yet: The Story of My Life.

The first two on that list are, to me, the height of familiarity. Sondheim is my favorite composer, song writer, lyricist, artist of all time. The man is a genius. See my earlier post on the concert Caitie and I went to on March for more gushing. The thing is, Sondheim (as well as many other theater composers, he just does it the best) is so multi-layered. Songs in different singer's hands can take on different meanings. His lyrics, on multiple listenings, can gain extra layers. New things can be discovered, despite the intense familiarity I have with all of his shows. Musicals provide emotional connection that other forms of music simply can't. Watch Raul Esparza sing Being Alive or Mandy Patinkin doing Finishing the Hat or George Hearns spitting out Epiphany and you are instantly with those characters, understanding them on a level you can't with movies or plays. The closest that comes to being able to get inside a character to a musical is the novel.

Don't get me wrong. I've listened to/seen quite a few crap musicals. Not everything is brilliant. The show I turned on today, "The Story of My Life" is a little known, I believe off-Broadway show, but the music, from what I've heard so far, is pretty, the lyrics intelligent, and the characters interesting. The discovery of a new musical, for me, is wonderful. I'm so familiar with so much of the canon already, that discovering hidden gems or new shows is an experience I cherish.

I think my love of musicals connects to my love of novels and the written word. It's a medium for telling stories unlike any others. Musicals can get right to the heart of a character or situation in a way no other form can. The music can be alternatingly thrilling, funny, upbeat, or moving.

The convention of people bursting into song is not one that I think should be so hard to accept. People don't have much trouble accepting a character breaking the fourth wall in a movie and talking to the camera, a character singing isn't much different.

I truly believe there is a musical out there for everybody. Those who say they just don't like the medium have most likely never really given it a chance. I don't accept the stereotypes that "they're gay" or "they're stupid because they're not like real life." Tell me what's so gay about Sweeney Todd? What's so realistic about Star Wars.

My love for musicals is a huge part of who I am. I quote shows almost daily. Caitie and I will often quote lines to each other - going to the theater is one of our favorite activities. It's certainly played a role in our love for Disney.
I can't wait to discover that next great show, or relive another old favorite.

What's your favorite show? Why do you like or not like musicals? Sound off below...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

End of summer sadly approaching.

Going back to school next week. This summer has spoiled me on the writer's life. I love making my own schedule. I love writing and thinking about writing. I love the people in the writing world (or at least the ones I've met virtually). I want to publish, I want to work on my writing full time. Don't get me wrong, I still love working with the kids. I will miss that if I get to focus on my writing.

Sure, I know writing won't be perfect. There will be frustrations and insufferable people, there will be contract worries and story headaches, but I want all that. day...

In other news, I'm hard at work on my West Side Story/Veronica Mars mash up story. So far I think it's going pretty well. It's a little strange writing realism, but I like the challenge. I like my characters and the story is starting to take shape.

I hope I don't lose momentum on it.

Meanwhile, the query process continues. Here's hoping...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Check it out

My wife is having a contest to give away some great books -- take a look and enter!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Realistic Fiction? Never!

During Writeoncon, in one of the chats, some of the writers there were talking about their interest in reading a Veronica Mars-esque story. At first I discarded the idea - everything I've written has some fantasy edge - but something triggered in my head and I got an idea for a sort of male Veronica Mars mixed with The Outsiders/West Side Story...

I started writing and have about 12 pages so far. I think there's potential here...who knew?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writeoncon again

Writeoncon has been fantastic! It's been great reading so many queries and sample pages, communicating with other writers, and learning from the experts!

I hope I've made enough progress now with my books that I have a shot at getting an agent now...I hope :)

In other news, anyone have any idea how I can make sure when my name is googled, that this blog comes up first? Maybe I need to (JASON FLUM) write my name (JASON FLUM) over and over (JASON FLUM JASON FLUM JASON FLUM JASON FLUM) so that the filter will find it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I'm signed up for writeoncon this coming week. I'm not entirely sure what it will consist of, but I'm certainly hoping to make some contacts, get some tips, maybe help somehow advance my writing career.

The little I know about it is already starting to show me how daunting my odds are of getting noticed -- I think I read there are some 1400 people registered. That's an awful lot of writers, and just think of all the people who don't know about the conference trying to get published!

In all honesty, I still do feel as though Before White is SOMETHING. I think I have something special there, and maybe it's just writer-hubris, but I've gotten nothing but praise from those who have actually read it.

I'm keeping hopes in check though, and we'll see what happens.

On a separate note, Goodson Froog is going along GREAT. I have 30,000 words and definitely see the 40,000 mark in sight. While I have a real fondness for Before White, and I think Sparks is a pretty good story, I think Goodson might be my best work so far...

To those of you who started following me on here due to writeoncon - thanks and welcome!