Some Small Things

Hey there hi there ho there,

I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff in this week’s Metro that I think you should read.

First, here are some calendar blurbs. These are probably the best I’ve done so far:

Goodbye Elliott, appearing Jan 22 at the Refuge in Cupertino:

So, big confession here: I love Degrassi: The Next Generation. I wasn’t even in the target audience when I started watching it, as a common guilty pleasure between some friends of mine in my later years of high school. Whereas the rest of them grew up and moved on some time ago, I haven’t. The entire original cast has timed out and graduated; replaced by a new generation of high schoolers with, somehow, an entirely new mess of trouble to get into. Goodbye Elliott is the kind of perpetually pleasant, endless-summer music that teen shows cue up to. And why shouldn’t these guys sound like an antidepressant haze? They’re young. They’re from Hawaii. Right now, life’s all about school being out, hanging with friends, and hoping to catch the eye of a certain girl (all paraphrased from actual lyrics). If the Beach Boys actually practiced what they preached, they’d be Goodbye Elliott.

…and Reason To Rebel, Jan 21 at the Caravan:

Be careful when Googling this band. One slip of the mouse and you’ll end up on Amazon.com, wondering how you got to the listing for a real bodice-ripper of a romance novel, entitled A Reason to Rebel. I’m not necessarily saying this happened to me. I’m just saying…be careful. I can’t imagine fans of one taking an interest in the other. Reason to Rebel is like a slightly less coherent version of System of a Down, all spastic and screaming and alluding to political and social injustices every now and then. Reason To Rebel are fond of weed, the female form, and, judging by the frequent use of Carlin’s Dirty Seven in their lyrics, the First Amendment. Having conquered Southern California, the band is wandering up north to the Caravan. Maybe they’ll sign a few copies of A Reason To Rebel afterwards. Wait, I’m logged into Amazon on this computer, aren’t I? Damn it, this is going to throw off my recommendations for months…

(I always forget that formatting goes out the window in the calendar due to space issues, so I apologize that all of these look like lunatic ramblings.)

And lastly, the big one, an interview with composer Paul Gordon, whose new musical, Daddy Long Legs, premieres at TheatreWorks in Mountain View this week. I’ve done a few interviews for the Metro so far, and this one was by far the best. Really nice guy; had a lot of really interesting information. I think it shows.

THIS WEEK, Palo Alto’s TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of Daddy Long Legs, a new musical based on the novel by Jean Webster. Daddy Long Legs had a long journey to realization, and composer Paul Gordon was there from the beginning. “I had worked with TheatreWorks before,” he says. “John Caird and I had just finished Jane Eyre, and we were looking for a new musical to start on.”

Caird’s wife suggested Daddy Long Legs, a story in the same vein as Emma and Jane Eyre, two novels that TheatreWorks had adapted for the stage in the past. “In the United States, most people are familiar with Daddy Long Legs through the Fred Astaire movie,” says Gordon. Cairns’ wife, who grew up in Japan, where the book is very popular, knew a different Daddy Long Legs.

Daddy Long Legs is the story of Jerusha Abbott, an orphan sent to college by a mysterious benefactor, whom she nicknames Daddy Long Legs. The American film, produced in 1955, was made near the end of Fred Astaire’s career. The film was made almost solely as a vehicle for Astaire, who was in his mid-50s at time of its release. His co-star, Leslie Caron, was 30 years younger and spoke with a French accent, clashing with her character’s American roots. “We’re extremely faithful to the book,” Gordon says. “We’ve brought it back down so that the age discrepancy isn’t nearly as great.”

Gordon has previously worked with TheatreWorks on similar projects, scoring the musicals Jane Eyre, based on the Brontë classic, and Emma, modeled after the Jane Austen work. “The music is different from what I wrote for Emma and Jane Eyre; I tried to make it a little more contemporary,” says Gordon. In Jane Eyre and Emma, he adds, “the songs sort of went along with the scenes.” Gordon says there are more “stand-alone” numbers in Daddy Long Legs. “It has a little more of my own personal influences in it. You can hear Sondheim, but you can also hear the Beatles.”

The TheatreWorks performances are the second stop in a co-premiere with theaters in Cincinnati and Ventura. Daddy Long Legs is being performed with a six-piece orchestra containing a violin, cello and piano alongside the drums, bass and a guitar. “I was trying to do more contemporary, pop songwriting,” says Gordon of his score. “But mostly I was just trying to write good songs.”

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