Singing my way to the Sacraments [Index]

theatre

In the run-up to my reception into the Catholic Church, I tried to talk a little about the process of conversion and the Christian faith in the language I'm most fluent in: the lyrics of Broadway musicals.“Reach out your hand, and see what it gets you” - The song is from Stephen Sondheim's Anyone Can Whistle, and the Gospel reading is from one of the Scrutiny masses in Lent.  I'm contrasting Bartimaeus, the man born blind, with Nurse Fay Apple from the show.  Both make themselves vulnerable … [Read more...]

“No one can be what he wants me to be”

picasso quixote

The last two song and sentiment posts have touched on problems of uncertainty. How does Floyd derive comfort from his series of questions about heaven? Why does being unblinded leave Nurse Fay Apple more uncertain that she was in ignorance? The last song I want to discuss is from Man of La Mancha. In “What Does He Want of Me” Aldonza’s song follows the same structure as Floyd’s--a litany of questions--but instead of finding comfort, she seems to be as discomfited as Nurse Fay Apple. You can liste … [Read more...]

“In a world of wondering, suddenly you know”

inside-the-cave-pinoltepec

About two years ago, long before I converted, a student was working on his performance of "How Glory Goes" in a musical theatre masterclass that I was sitting in.  The song is from the musical Floyd Collins, based on the life of Floyd Collins, a cave explorer from Kentucky who was trapped in a cave and starved to death alone.  (An obvious topic for a musical).  Before the rocks shifted and cut Floyd off from the surface completely, there was a narrow shaft open.  A very slight reporter could shim … [Read more...]

If you can’t take the heat… once more with feeling

singin

Can I interest you in a musical theatre illustration of my point from earlier today?I'm quite fond of the song "I'm Not Afraid of Anything" from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World, and I've embedded a nice performance of it below.Here, as in most cases when I've seen the song performed, the actress ends the song in a place of vulnerability.  The last line "Cause, after all, I'm not afraid" is pretty clearly a lie, and the character is at least a little aware it's a lie.  It's … [Read more...]

“Nobody human can stand all that everlasting affection!”

The quote is from Company, the subject is Passion, as the Sondheim Symposium goes on. This installment includes spoilers for 1984.At the climax of 1984, Winston is broken by the tortures in room 101. The moment that anihilates him and represents victory for Big Brother is the moment where he cries out: Do it to her! Do it to Julia! I don’t care what you do to her, but do it to her! Tear her face off! Do it to Julia, not to me! Do it to Julia! Not me! If this is betrayal, we might assume tha … [Read more...]

“What do you wanna [stay single] for?”

Bobby and his three girlfriends (the image links to the song)

I'm delighted to say that Christian H of The Thinking Grounds has sent in a guest post for the Sondheim Symposium.  Christian H is an English Lit grad student in Canada, and his blog is one of the reasons you should use RSS readers: it updates irregularly, but is always interesting.  Take it away, Christian!Sondheim’s musical Company might strike many as being strangely silent on the subject of what marriage is, and what it is for, considering that it is a musical about marriage. Or, rat … [Read more...]

“It’s not so hard to be married. I’ve done it three or four times.”

"Everything's different..."

Inspired by the Sondheim Symposium, my college friend Katharine Pitt offered a guest post based on her own experiences acting marriages in Shakespeare (She's pretty awesome, so I'm sure she won't mind me inserting a plug for Slings and Arrows in the intro to her post).  I think all the rest you need to know is she's awesome (bears repeating), the photos below were taken by William Sacco (captions courtesy of Katharine), and everything that follows is hers.  Take it away, Kate, the prettiest Kate … [Read more...]


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