The TV series "Glee" has spawned a new interest in high school performing arts groups and musical theatre. This is evident at many high schools,my own included. My school is putting on an originally written and composed musical comedy. The term "musical comedy" is being applied very loosely here, as, from what I've seen, the production is neither funny nor remotely musical.
The premise of this original work is text-messaging. Try to envision an episode of "Glee" where the talented singers all had developed laryngitis and had to be replaced by passer-by off the street, and where all anyone ever did was pretend to text-message. The entire musical involves people singing their text messages, complete with text lingo, meaning that if they type in non-standard spelling, they sing the letters instead of the word so the significance is not lost on the audience. Teens text while driving and have fatal accidents during the production. Really funny stuff, isn't it? Teens break up with one another via singing text. Teens "come out" during singing texts. Two teens even text during a quasi-sex scene that they fought with the administration over including. There's even a subplot involving a West Side Story or "Capulet - Montague" story line involving star-crossed lovers who use Blackberries and Iphones respectively. The actors text during tests, during movies, during football games (including the players), and they all sing their stupid texts, and not at all well, I might add.
I've always thought the main reason for going to a musical comedy was for the music. If the plot was weak and the acting poor, I could still tolerate it if the music was of high quality. I'd just as soon it not be about Star Trek or something similarly inane, but still, oustanding performance of well-written music can apparently save even a musical on the topic of the Book of Mormon.
The problem here is that the music itself isn't good for starters, and that its performance is beyond abysmal. One drawback to "Glee" is that it has persuaded some people to sing in public whose singing skills would best have been left buried under twenty feet of quicksand. The singers, if they're even on key, which is far from a given, have such lousy delivery and so many vocal affectations they've gained from watching and imitating poorly-trained pop singers that the experience of viewing this musical will be much like watching the tryouts for "American Idol" would be if the "American idol" contestants were limited to singing songs written by someone chosen randomly from a phone directory who was tone-deaf.
I was originally involved as a consultant with this ill-fated production. Before I knew just how bad the production was going to be, or what it was even about, I actually composed two melodies for the production. I told those involved that if word gets out I had anything to do with any part of it, someone will pay in a major way. These people know I'm at least a little crazy, so even an open-ended threat carries some weight.
My parents are very supportive of music and the arts in schools, and even they are refusing to attend this debacle because they've heard just how unbearable it's doomed to be. My dad, who hates "Star Trek" with a passion most people reserve for baby killers and mimes, says that he would watch ten straight hours of "Star Trek: the Next Generation," which he's heard is the single worst incarnation of "Star Trek" in existence, before he would sit through a single act of the high school's musical. The major players can't even decide on a name. "Texting" is the best they can come up with, and even they recognize it's not a very catchy title.
If you have any ideas for what the students at my high school should call their musical, please answer via the "Comments" section ASAP. This musical is opening in just over three weeks. My final act of involvement will be to pass along any suggestions I receive. I am making it a point to go to Utah the weekend the performance is scheduled. I want to be able to say in all honesty that I wasn't even in the same state where it all went down when people start looking for scapegoats for this fiasco.