11
Jul
07

Desperately Seeking a Tony

A musical-loving friend of mine informed me recently that a new musical drawing from Desperately Seeking Susan, with songs written by Debbie Harry, is making its world premiere on London’s West End this fall.

A musical version of Desperately Seeking Susan seemed like a terrible idea to me at first, but the more I think about it, the more it seems the ridiculous storyline — amnesia, mistaken identity, escape from suburbia, true love vs. love at first sight, magic shows, “dangerous” jewel thieves — is PERFECT for Broadway!

I have read that the show will feature classic Blondie songs, including “Heart of Glass,” “Atomic,” “One Way or Another, and “The Tide is High,” “brilliantly” woven into the story. The show will also feature the debut of a new song by Debbie Harry, “Moment of Truth.”

Too bad Madonna isn’t penning the songs, I say. But Debbie Harry’s catalog feels more ’80s these days to me anyway. Time sort of stood still for Debbie, whereas Madonna is far away beyond the ’80s.

Apart from an original score by Thomas Newman, who went on to do write such masterpieces as the theme from Six Feet Under, Desperately Seeking Susan featured one song: “Into the Groove” — which, tragically, won’t be included in this production! I wonder about these musicals being written from movies that had one song. Young Frankenstein, the musical version of which is to hit Broadway in the fall, had “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” Is that enough to work from? Who knows… Mel Brooks’ The Producers made it big. Spamalot, based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which featured “Always Look on the Bright Side,” was a runaway success.

9 to 5, another one coming up, has … well … “9 to 5” — an absolutely brilliant Oscar-nominated song — to work from. At least Dolly Parton is writing all new material.

My friend and I agree that there have been too many musicals that aren’t using new songs and music. Or even worse, musicals that shoehorn pop songs into the drama (Mamma Mia!) — or yet worse: musicals like Movin’ Out that simply string songs together with Scotch tape and distraction in order to jerk the action forward and dull the audience into an undeserved standing ovation.

Desperately Seeking Susan made Madonna’s career. That is the only reason I am interested. And Debbie Harry is enjoying a resurgence in caché with her recent involvement in Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour. Let’s hope this one works out.

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