Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shiksa Goddess - from 'The last 5 years'

Ok. Let me just get out that I do not like musicals.

I also do not like cats. Sometimes, however, an individual cat manages to win some affection from me. I still detest cats (plural) but I am prepared to engage with cat (singular and specific).

This goes for musicals as well.

The last 5 years is really just quite brilliant, and sadly it premiered unexceptional critical acclaim.

The musical is about a couple, Jamie and Kathy, who are a writer and an actress. They meet. They fall in love. They get married. They fight. They break up. This process takes 5 years.
What makes this musical stand out is the way that this is approached. Jamie and Kathy are the only 2 characters in the musical and they are only on stage together for one sequence; their wedding.

Jamie moves through the musical in a chronological fashion, but Kathy's experiences begin at the end of the relationship and move backwards (so the musical begins with Kathy 'still hurting' as Jamie leaves her and ends with Jamie saying 'goodbye forever' while Kathy sings 'Goodbye until tomorrow'.

The music is exceptional. Set for piano, guitar, bass, two cellos and violin, Jason Robert Brown does a fantastic job of making this ensemble stand out. He uses all different styles ranging through jazz and klezmer, folk and pop and everything else he can integrate skillfully.

This particular song is Jamie's first in the musical and runs directly out of the end of Kathy's wistful and heartfelt opening number. 'Shiksa Goddess' is Jamie saying how glad he is to have met a girl who 'is not from Hebrew school'. Originally titled 'someone like you' Robert Brown had to change this song after being sued by his ex wife Theresa O'Neill for basing the musical too closely on their relationship.

It is a sort of salsa inspired latin song which has everything a cheerful number should have. It is not musical 'cheesy' and has some genuinely funny lyrics. The music is great (particularly the piano part). This song is sort of the equivalent for Jamies character that 'Summer in Ohio' is for Kathy. It's a chance to really belt it out and also let loose a bit.

This musical is really quite tragic... but I love the way Jason Robert Brown sets this concept.

Pay Attention to :
The lyrics! 'if you came from spain or japan or the back of a van, just as long as you're not from hebrew school...'
The music - The chords are really great and give real momentum to this piece
The instrumentation - With minimal instruments the piece is still very strong. The strings are used superbly.

Why you should listen to this:
If like me you are being continually left high and dry by musicals then this is a chance to find something wonderful in this very very very overdone genre.
If you adore musicals then I shouldn't really have to sell this to you, right?

This goes well with:
Any thing else from this musical. I do not have any other jason Robert Brown stuff, but I am chasing it up!
Check out 'climbing uphill for

AS always here is a link to a youtube video:

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