Opinions of THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
I think that it is important to remember that The Beautiful Game
is a book show, like the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein shows, so its hard to judge how the songs work in the context of the show without looking at the book. In that regard, it is fairly atypical of what most people expect from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. I don't think that it's a bad show, but I do think it is a mediocre drama that can nonetheless provide an effective experience when translated into theatre.
Let's move on to the songs that you've mentioned. I think that "If This is What We're Fighting For"
is an incredibly effective piece of writing because of the way it imitates the conventions of an Irish rebel song of the period. It is also one of the songs where Ben Elton's craftsmanship as a lyricist is better, with only one divergence from pure rhyme in one of the later choruses of the song.
I feel somewhat ambivalent about "The Criac"
. Part of me just feels like it is a reject tune salvaged from Starlight Express
. However, I do think "Off to the Party"
, the song where they sing about being drunk, is spot on as a link between the match and the party. Elton's lyrics feature some rhymes that don't work, but these push the songs toward mediocrity rather than outright badness: a song that had lyrics that are half bad also has lyrics that are half good. The lyrics here represent poor craftsmanship rather than out-and-out bad lyrics, and there is a difference between those two things.
I do not think that the argument that the score is overly repetitive holds much water here. The show probably features less repetition than most Lloyd Webber musicals, possibly because this is a book show. I don't feel that it is more repetitive than any of the big Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
I don't know that the lyrics are the worst I've heard in any
musical, but the show does have it's fair share of clunkers from what I remember. I haven't listened to it in a while and should probably give it a spin again sometime soon. I wonder what The Boys in the Photograph
is like in comparison.