Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Some Thoughts on Juxtaposition on Tony Nomination Day

Happy Tony Nomination Day, everyone! I couldn't be happier for the folks from Once, who racked up 10 nominations, for Celia Keenan-Bolger, and most especially for the wonderful Jeremy Jordan on his Best Actor nomination for Newsies. Couldn't happen to a nicer or more talented guy. (Check him out singing in one of my favorite recordings of our songs ever, right here #3.)

The Tonys are a nice yearly reminder of why we're still in this game. Why we struggle on. Another set of folks who have a real knack for reminding us all where the inspiration is are the title of show folks, seen below singing about their "First Time" at a Broadway Show. Susan & Hunter's first shows are two of my favorites-- two shows that never fail to make me cry, but for very different reasons. 

The below is also an amazing lesson in juxtaposition. And how the right juxtaposition creates a kind of really special synergy. Anymore, it's hard to create something completely new that makes people feel something. But that is the point and always will be. To make people feel something. The real feeling of what it means to be alive-- which, let's be real: equal parts Annie & Angels in America is about as close a metaphorical cocktail for that as I can think of. 

What starts as comedy here, as something so light-hearted, something that takes itself so lightly becomes the reason. The reason why we do this. The life and death, and the life and art juxtaposition. 

I dare you to watch them hold up Annie next to Angels in America-- talk about Summer & Fall, the sun will come out "Tomorrow" and the light in Central Park at Bethesda Fountain and living with and dying from AIDS-- and not feel what they want you to feel. And not feel what you felt the first time you ever hoped to make a difference by working anywhere in the arts in a modern society that increasingly doesn't take what we do seriously or lightly. I dare you to do this-- the moment at 6:41 when Heidi's voice cracks after what Jeff just said, the moment just after that when "ice in the pipes" has the double force of both Jeff and Susan, and how the key change happens on "but in the Summer..." 

I was not prepared to feel what I felt at this juxtaposition. That's why it works. The silly art folks willing to try anything to throw us off our carefully guarded balance, to get in there and make us feel something. 

We are not going away. The World only spins forward. The sun will come out tomorrow. The great work begins. Leapin' Lizards. 

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