While viewing the road show company of a recent Broadway musical comedy called “Legally Blonde”, I began to realize that as a young New Yorker, I was fortunate to grow up during an era of great musical theater; Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Lowe, Kander & Ebb, Webber & Rice. All of whom were titans of the musical art form and wrote incomparable scores and lyrics. They followed greats like Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Rodgers & Hart. I guess I’m spoiled, because when intermission came during “Legally Blonde”, my husband and I decided to leave. I was hoping to be entertained but instead was thoroughly disappointed.
I’m a serious fan of Broadway musicals and was looking forward to seeing this show. “Legally Blonde” originated from a popular movie, of the same name, rather than vice versa which is the usual route. In this case, the movie was much better than the stage show. The show may have lasted a respectable 1 ½ years on Broadway and was nominated for 7 Tony Awards, but won none. It was a hit on MTV and was broadcast in its entirety six times. This indicates the show probably appeals to a much younger audience.
Where are the new artists, composers, playwrights? Most of the hits on Broadway these days are revivals. New musicals are few and far between and don’t last long on Broadway. These are sad times for the state of musical comedy. Perhaps it is a dying art form, I hope not. I felt bad leaving during intermission, as the hard-working and dedicated young artists who danced and sang their hearts out, deserved better material.
Maybe my disappointment in the show can be looked upon as a “generation gap”. So be it, but I really would like this younger generation to have the opportunity to see and hear great musicals that they will remember into their senior years. I strongly feel the memories of shows like “Legally Blonde” are here today and gone to tomorrow.
If you want to compare today’s musical with those major hits of the past, rent the DVD’s of the Sound of Music, King and I, Sunset Boulevard, Annie, and Phantom of the Opera. They are all part of a tradition that I hope will eventually be reignited on Broadway again.