Welcome back to the Musical Theater Lover’s Corner. Here, put on this turtle neck. Yeah, there you go. Would you like some Shiraz? It’s room temperature. Haha, that’s what I thought. I like your ankle boots. Are those made by Frye? And the scarf? Woven by the indigenous children of Meghalaya on a hand loom as part of non-profit movement to stimulate cottage industry in the third world, you say? Brilliant.
Ah, the musical. What a hilariously antiquated form of entertainment. What was once the great American contribution to story-telling has become a lazy punch-line for everything from Scrubs to Hamlet 2. Who’s to blame? Philistines from Ohio who storm the boulevards of Broadway for matinee tickets to “Legally Blond”? Under-educated writers who think lampooning Grease suffices for biting cultural critique? Eh, probably both. But from the mired muck of the modern musical’s mediocrity will rise the forms of its saviors, and their names will be Colbert, Schlesinger, and Javerbaum.
On November 23rd Comedy Central will air “A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All,” a one hour musical special hosted by Colbert and featuring, according to Yahoo News:
Elvis Costello, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, Feist — and “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, who’s slated to sing a duet with Colbert of a song simply titled “Hanukkah.” (The song Colbert is to sing with Nelson appears to be a version of “The Little Drummer Boy” — called “Little Dealer Boy.”),
Great, another ironic musical comedy routine rhyming words to make jokes about current events, politics and world issues, you might be saying to yourself. What about the lovers, stoners, hippies and burnouts who were to revitalize the form and kindle a renaissance of the American orchestra pit? Well, Cheech, it looks like your highdeas are coming into fruition. Most of the show’s music will be original compositions, presumably when not parodies, with music by Adam Schlesinger, bassist for Fountains of Wayne, and David Javerbaum, executive producer for “The Daily Show.” The two achieved a modicum of success in 2008 with their stage adaptation of John Waters’ “Cry Baby” at the Marriot Marquis Theater on Broadway. Though the show closed within a few months of opening, it generated serious amounts of media buzz. The musical, it seemed, graced by the Midas touch of the Daily Show Brand, had become cool again.
It’s only appropriate that Stephen Colbert be the Dick Clark to this American grand stand. An alum of Northwestern University, Colbert finds it difficult, like many of the school’s graduates, to keep that inner gay in check. Colbert routinely sings on his show, demonstrating a surprisingly strong baritone, changing keys with ostentatious ease and encouraging his guests to harmonize. Perhaps he even beat-boxes in the shower. The point is, American musical theater is beginning it’s slow and gradual march back into the hearts of a cynical audience, and it will rip into those ventricles with sharpened obo attacks and piccolo runs, so help you Adam Schlesinger, so help you God. It’s a Colbert Christmas and the musical is born again. Chanakalujah.