Musicals

Unless you've been lucky enough to live under a rock for the past decade, you realize that thanks to the successful High School Musical series, we're living in a musical world. How can you survive while keeping your self respect (and penis) intact?

This is from a musical.

This is ALSO from a musical.

Even THIS is from a musi- oh God, is his hand in that man's stomach?

Just The Facts

  1. Musicals are plays or movies that incorporate singing and/or dancing
  2. They are often popular with teenage girls, New Yorkers, gays, or your grandparents.
  3. Some of them are extremely violent, sexual or disturbing. See images 2 and 3.
  4. Some of them are, well... see image 1.
  5. Most musicals are performed on Broadway, a place also known as "where American Idol contestants wind up after their careers fail."

What the FUCK is a musical?

Since the dawn of ancient Greek theater, there have been musicals. Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, noticing the way music can create emotion in listeners, suggested that the best plays should have musical numbers. After saying this, they retired to their homes to have sex with young boys. Since this was ancient Greece, no one batted an eye.

Plato. He's more than a teacher for your boy... he's a life experience.

The musical form fell out of favor for centuries, until the Middle Ages, when monks used short musicals to teach Bible stories to an illiterate public who couldn't learn to read for themselves. These musicals were performed entirely in Gregorian Chant form, though, making it hard to add jazz hands.

Sheet music from the original version of "Grease," circa 1175 AD.

Again, the musical genre died out for a few hundred years, until the dawn of the twentieth century, when Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht restarted musical theater with their play "The Threepenny Opera." It was this show that gave us the jazz standard "Mack the Knife," which is easily the happiest, sunniest song about a rapist and murderer ever written. For the next sixty years, musical theater would be a dominant, extremely popular form of entertainment. Scholars would call it the golden age. Eric Cartman would call it gay.

Your grandmother thought THIS was cool. Then again, she also thought smoking was good for her health and we'd never get to the moon.

Why were these musicals so popular? Well, television was still primitive, movies were censored, and since the internet didn't exist yet, pornography still cost money. So when a tired, horny businessman wanted to relax with a little eye candy after work, who better to oblige him than a line of showgirls? Enter Bob Fosse, director/choreographer extraordinaire. Today, Fosse is best remembered by the public as:

  1. Creator of a very flamboyant type of stage dancing, and popularizer of jazz hands.
  2. The guy who choreographed the dance in that "Walk it Out" video that inspired Beyonce's "Single Ladies.
  3. Nothing.

But what they often forget is that Fosse had a secret talent- he could make ANYTHING look like fucking. Whether it was the American legal system (Chicago), the Crusades (Pippin), or Nazi Germany (Cabaret), Fosse could fill the stage with beautiful women in lingerie, slithering about and touching themselves like masturbation was going out of style. Legend has it that Bob Fosse slept with over 1000 women a year, meaning that he would have to make love to at least three women a night, while still performing eight shows a week. Now, THAT is a true American hero.

Bob Fosse, preparing for a night of dancing and schtupping.

Fosse's dance porno ruled the Seventies, but then the unthinkable happened. The Europeans invaded again. And unlike last time, when they gave us The Beatles, free love and pills, this time they meant to flood the theater with something called "pop opera." Four hour musicals, nothing but singing, with ridiculously romantic plots and cheap special effects. If you've ever tried to sit through "Cats" or "The Phantom Of The Opera," you know that this is truly a dark era in the arts, giving us such hated standards as "Memory," "On My Own" and Susan Boyle's hit, "I Dreamed A Dream." Besides that, the musical "Cats" has been suggested as being responsible for the rise in Furry culture...

"I can has kinky animal sex? Kthxbai."

In the nineties, all that changed. Disney moved in, Rudy Giuliani cleaned up the city, and Broadway became a place where families could go to see nice clean musicals. Like RENT. Because what's more kid-friendly than a group of drug-addicted homeless artists experimenting with heroin, deviant sex and anarchy as a way of dealing with life in the AIDS era? You know- for kids!

Can you spot the transvestite? No, not that one, the OTHER one.... the OTHER other one.

Today, thanks (but no thanks) to High School Musical, singing and dancing is EVERYWHERE. Just when you thought the musical would die out, it returns, like a zombie, or an STD. Maybe a Zombie STD... Within the next twenty years, society will be so corrupted by the musical that the United States Army will look like this:

No need for weapons- the other side will just run away in confusion, fright and a curious, shameful arousal.

But Wait... There's Hope

Not all musicals are happy, singy-dancey sunshine rainbows that make you feel fabulous- not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Here are a few musicals that a typical Cracked reader would probably find semi-enjoyable. In today's post-musical-revolution world, knowledge of these will win you admiration, respect, and maybe even a few free blowjobs from girls at your local theater-arts school.

Sweeney Todd

Fact: If Tim Burton made it, it's probably awesome.

Some call it the most perfect musical ever written. Others call it the most unnecessarily violent film ever made. Perhaps it's both. Still, the film answers many questions we've always asked ourselves: "Can Johnny Depp sing?" "What is Borat's real accent?" "How big are Helena Bonham Carter's breasts?

This big.

HAiR

Now THAT's a rainbow coalition.

A bunch of hippies, sitting around, doing drugs, having sex and fighting authority to the sounds of crazy folk/world/rock music? If that didn't sound good to just about everyone, there wouldn't have been The Sixties to begin with.

Les Miserables

All singing, all dancing, all killing.

An ex-con goes on the lam to save the orphaned daughter of a hooker he knew in a past life. He is pursued by a tough-as-nails cop who, despite his sense of mercy, believes in justice above all else. As a revolution brews in France, the two of them enter a criss-crossing narrative of revenge, betrayal, death and love, all the while evading the traps of a psychopathic hotel owner turned grave-robber. It's like Quentin Tarantino's version of The Patriot.

Beware of These...

These are the musicals you have no choice but to avoid...

Wicked

No, they're not lesbians... that would have made it a GOOD show.

Your girlfriend loves it. Don't be fooled. Now, I'm not denying that The Wizard of Oz is a classic and a true masterpiece, but it's also, well, pretty gay. This is mainly due to Dorothy being Judy Garland, and palling around with the Cowardly Lion, a character so stereotypically camp that his status as a "friend of Dorothy" became synonomous with homosexuality. You would think a modern, rock-tinged version would be grittier, less campy, but... instead you get words like "Momsy and Popsicle," "swankified" and "rejoicify." It's like Dr. Seuss writing the sequel to Juno. This grrl-power fable tells the story of Ginda the Good Witch and her BFFL, Jill, er, the Wicked Witch of the West, and their love triangle with... brace yourselves... the Scarecrow. All this and flying monkeys.

The Phantom of the Opera

This is the manliest thing you'll see for the next four hours.

Phantom is the musical that makes people hate musicals. Four hours long, weepy and melodramatic, operatic, repetitive and slow, it's like if Battlefield Earth had been set in nineteenth-century Paris. True, a chandelier falling onto the audience would be cool, and that's just what the play delivers... except that it moves really, REALLY slow. And spoiler alert- he's not that ugly under the mask. It's a let-down, especially at hundreds of dollars a ticket.

Cats

I don't even have a comment for this one.

No words are needed. The picture says it all.