Saturday, April 26, 2008

La Musica!

Watching the great Forgetting Sarah Marshall recently and laughing hysterically at Jason Segel's Dracula rock opera, "A Taste for Love," I got to thinking about some of my other favorite fictional musicals. Maybe someday, they will be expanded into full-fledged stage extravaganzas.

"Springtime for Hitler" from The Producers -- Or maybe they already have been. This is the granddaddy of them all; the original musical within the movie. It's no accident that it became the basis for one of the biggest Broadway success stories in history. But as executed in Mel Brooks's original, with the indispensable Dick Shawn as "LSD" as Hitler -- a character later dispensed with -- "Springtime" achieves Brooks's stated goal of "rising beneath bad taste."

"Hamlet" from "Gilligan's Island" -- Who says Gilligan wasn't cultural? Well, everybody, but that's neither here nor there. The immortal Phil Silvers guests as a big time Broadway producer (see above) in the aptly named episode, "The Producer." Gilligan sings the Melancholy Dane's most famous soliloquy to the tune of "The Toreador Song" from Bizet's Carmen. Is it just me or was even the low-brow stuff smarter back in the day?

"O, Streetcar" from "The Simpsons" -- Marge Simpson, in one of her periodic spates of self-loathing, decides to get a little affirmation by signing on to the local community production of a musical based on Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. Jon Lovitz provides the guest voice of a Master Thespian-esque director, and Ned Flanders is revealed as one buff son of a Son of God. And Apu has a lovely falsetto. A highlight from the early years of the long-running cartoon. The lyrics about New Orleans caused the show to receive protests. Satirical shots from a cartoon should be the worst thing that ever happens to that town.

"Me!" from Death Becomes Her -- More Tennessee Williams. Meryl Streep gleefully galumphs her way through the opening scene of Robert Zemeckis's overlooked gem as the star of the musical version of Sweet Bird of Youth. She'll have to go a long way in the upcoming Mamma Mia! to match the mad delight of her Madeline Ashton.

As always, I'm sure I left off some great choices. List them in the comments section.

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