In trying to recover the ground that was its own before the miseries of the British invasion set in, the Broadway musical has put itself into a state that more and more resembles schizophrenia. Half of it wants to be old-fashioned fun in the Cole Porter-Irving Berlin-Rodgers & Hart tradition that produced such a profusion of immortal songs; the other half wants desperately to appeal to a television-bred younger generation that never heard of any of these people or their songs, and knows only rock and hip-hop. This involves straddling an aesthetic gulf far wider than the one the musical had always contended with, which was the necessity of pleasing people of many different tastes in the same evening. The traditional double plot, involving a romantic couple and a comedy couple, with a few raffish character actors and an occasional "specialty" artist thrown in, was enough to satisfy people of all ages and inclinations from the 1920s through the '50s, just as it had satisfied audiences in the days of Shakespeare, Garrick, and Boucicault. But to go from the old varieties of show tune to the overwrought arioso style of pop-rock or the verbal barrages of rap means going from one entire species of music to another, when the two are produced in very different ways for almost antithetical purposes. The results are not always disastrous, but they do tend to fall short in the effectiveness department, since the two styles cancel... More >>>