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Would've worked much better as a book-musical
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Author:  Jaded Mandarin [ Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Would've worked much better as a book-musical

I have never seen "Aspects Of Love" performed live, but my immediate reaction upon listening to the original cast recording was: "this is ALMOST a good musical, but..."

I had read David Garnett's novella prior to listening to the CD and found the characters engaging and the basic storyline moving enough.

The main songs - "Love Changes Everything", "Seeing Is Believing", "Chanson D'Enface", "There Is More To Love", "Anything But Lonely", "Hand Me The Wine & The Dice", "Everybody Loves A Hero", "Memory Of A Happy Moment" - I found to be some of Lloyd Webber's best work, even though much of it sounded as though it was trying to be like Stephen Sondheim.

But what stopped me from really enjoying it was the recitative between the main songs... I felt that these moments would've been better served with spoken word dialogue, because:
1. There isn't enough variety, I got tired of hearing the same melodies repeated over and over again
2. The way in which they are repeated often seems oddly inappropriate... like the oddly triumphant swell of music when Alex is threatening to kill Rose, which makes an already melodramatic scene seem even more overheated.
3. At other times what's happening in a scene is so mundane and ordinary (like, I dunno, the characters ordering a coffee) that having these scenes musicalised seemed to just drag things out longer than neccessary. Things wouldn't have dragged so much if this had just been rendered as simple spoken-word dialogue.

Does anyone else here agree with me that "Aspects Of Love" would've worked better as a book-musical - if they had kept all the main songs and simply rendered the scenes in between as spoken word dialogue?

For that matter, does anyone else think that David Garnett's novel would've made for a good straight-play or straight-movie?

Author:  Hans [ Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Would've worked much better as a book-musical

Jaded Mandarin wrote:
Does anyone else here agree with me that "Aspects Of Love" would've worked better as a book-musical - if they had kept all the main songs and simply rendered the scenes in between as spoken word dialogue?


I do.

I made my own copy of the cast recording with only the main musical numbers, and it's acharming little show. Except Love Changes Everything ti far over the top, and the ensamble numbers Everybody Loves a Hero, Journey Of A Lifetime and hand Me The Wine And The Dice are too big for the show's good. They aren't particularly good songs either.

Author:  feather [ Mon Dec 07, 2009 8:35 am ]
Post subject: 

sorry - TOTALLY disagree.

my favourite thing about aspects of love is the dialogue, and the melodies repeated within the conversations. i think i prefer these to lots of the songs, and i believe they work very well. the book isn't even very good, but it was adapted brilliantly into this musical.

all this is based on my having listened to the recording for 15 years. i've never actually seen it performed, but have always wanted to!!! mainly because i think the conversations are performed so well and really develop the characters.

Author:  jackrussell [ Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Would've worked much better as a book-musical

Jaded Mandarin wrote:
3. At other times what's happening in a scene is so mundane and ordinary (like, I dunno, the characters ordering a coffee) that having these scenes musicalised seemed to just drag things out longer than neccessary.


That's true - one of the original critics commented that there are more drinks ordered during the show than during the interval.

That said, I'm glad ALW was still making the effort to set the entire story to music. Book musicals now always feel like a compromise to me - the introduction of the sung-through musical has raised the standard (when done well) and the challenge for a modern composer of musicals is to try to tell the whole story (or at least the vast majority of it) using music without falling into the traps you identify in your original post.

Yes, in Aspects there are too few musical themes, which means there is excessive repetition and occasionally the themes don't fit the character. But hey, this is ALW, what do you expect. The answer though is not to make it a book musical, but to make it a better sung-through musical.

(Despite the above criticism, I still think it's a very good show.)

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