Work, Work: Repetition and Circular Songwriting in “Hamilton”

Look at where you are. Look at where you started. Most songs, whether on the radio, on stage, on film, follow the basic "Verse-Chorus" structure. If the Chorus is the "thesis," or point of the piece, the Verse is the "body paragraph," providing specifics, examples, additional color to flesh out the key message of the … Continue reading Work, Work: Repetition and Circular Songwriting in “Hamilton”

If/Then (2014)

The house lights dim, the orchestra plays a short instrumental prologue, then a blackout. “Hey, it’s me.” Spotlight on Idina Menzel as Elizabeth, above us on a catwalk, talking on her phone. She recounts a recent experience which brought back an earlier memory, and she speculates how things might have turned out if she’d made … Continue reading If/Then (2014)

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2014)

The long-awaited American premiere of Disney’s musical The Hunchback of Notre Dame is nothing short of a masterpiece. This is not a transplant of the film onto the stage, nor a forced, drawn-out adaptation of its source material. Director Scott Schwartz’s vision is an undeniably artistic one, as daring as it is ambitious, rivaling even Les Miserables in … Continue reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2014)

Company (2007)

The 2007 revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company, and likely the original as well, is a show peppered with painful truths and emotional heartbreak, but filled mostly with caricature. The serious subject matter is unfortunately often reduced to cartoonish images of marriage, which bog down the true heart and ambition of this musical. Company explores … Continue reading Company (2007)

The Lion King (2012)

It’s amazing that even a huge spectacular, with a cast of dozens and lavishly expensive and profitable, can tell and effectively emote the most intimate human relationships. The Lion King is the rock-solid beautiful (visually, artistically, musically) stage musical adaptation of the modern classic Disney film. Faithfully adapted from the script of the movie, the stage … Continue reading The Lion King (2012)

War Horse (2012)

Nothing short of remarkable, War Horse is the deceptively simple tale of a young man and his horse who are torn apart by World War I. At its core, however, the play is a powerful reaffirmation of human compassion and peace. The narrative focuses on individuals, whether they be simple farmers or seasoned military officers, while speaking … Continue reading War Horse (2012)