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re: Bennett's original setting for "Story of Lucy and Jessie" was a minstrel show.
Last Edit: Delvino 08:05 pm EST 02/07/19
Posted by: Delvino 08:04 pm EST 02/07/19
In reply to: re: Bennett's original setting for "Story of Lucy and Jessie" was a minstrel show. - PlayWiz 12:24 pm EST 02/07/19

All astute observations, and I agree fully. I think in Phyllis's dark fantasy, she's the "star" of an entertainment that places the focused player in the center. She draws on rich traditions, including films, many of which were focused thus. I recently looked at lots of minstrel footage for a project I was helping on, and was struck one day by how much the presentation reminded me of this iconic number (which I know well, from two visits to the OBC and, well, a lot of ... still shots). As I said below, the number in no way creates a race-based subtext; rather, it takes a particular American entertainment idiom -- those tails and hands almost glowing in the dark through at least part of the number -- and juxtaposes interchangeable (identity-free) figures against a sophisticated player who is somehow "above" the ensemble. Phyllis has those odd finger wagging moments which have a whiff of the interlocutor (see references below), who was always in demeanor and presence a "critic" of the assembled chorus. Considering how the Loveland section lifts performance vocabulary from other pieces of Americana -- vaudeville and a follies -- it isn't surprising that Bennett and Prince (and Florence Klotz, a partner in this imagery) chose a form that would remind us of vintage movie sequences. Garland and countless male stars performed in minstrelsy settings, whether with blackface or not. I'm intrigued with the complicated ways these forms influenced musical theater (and Hollywood's portrayal of musical theater).
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