One of the greatest scores in the entire American musical theatre canon
Last Edit: GrumpyMorningBoy 02:45 pm EDT 06/10/24
Posted by: GrumpyMorningBoy 02:35 pm EDT 06/10/24
In reply to: "Floyd Collins" coming to Broadway in Spring 2025 at Vivian Beaumont Theater - wizrdofoz27 11:03 am EDT 06/10/24

This show put Adam Guettel on the map, and when I heard it for the first time, nothing thrilled my ears more than the first time I'd heard WEST SIDE STORY.

Yes, it is that good.

Adam Guettel's composition turned musical theatre nerds into nearly ravenous superfans, because between FLOYD COLLINS, SATURN RETURNS (later retitled MYTHS & HYMNS) and THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, no modern American musical theatre composer has written music this good.

The breathless praise from early critics (especially at New York Times) was unlike anything anyone had seen -- even the posthumous praise for Jonathan Larson didn't come anywhere near as overtly fawning as this -- with people giving him near "second coming" status as a wunderkind / prodigy / reincarnation of his grandfather himself, Richard Rodgers.

For those who are too young to remember, this was an era when Audra McDonald's rise to sudden Broadway fame included many references to her Juilliard training as a classical singer. Unlike typical Broadway stars, Ms. McDonald's vocal chops were the perfect match for the more classical-music approach to this entirely new generation of composers, including Michael John LaCuiusa and Ricky Ian Gordon, both of whom seemed that they'd be perfectly adept at writing opera or classical art song (which each of them has gone on to write). Ms. McDonald (whether intentionally or not) came to be seen as the muse and champion of this new direction for musical theatre, as chronicled on her debut full-length album "Way Back to Paradise," which every musical theatre fan I knew bought and adored.

But of that crew, Mr. Guettel always seemed to be the real star composer of them all, the one that everyone just went absolutely mad about.

Mr. Guettel wrote -- quite authentically and vulnerably -- that the pressure to succeed was immense. I'd like to think that now that he's had some years (and additional work, including a very public discussion on addiction, both before and during THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES) under his belt, a deeply moving, gentle show like FLOYD COLLINS can play in its own very special, delightfully cacophonous cavern.

I hadn't listened to FLOYD COLLINS or MYTHS & HYMNS in a while and put both of them on recently. It's nearly impossible to explain just how spectacularly brilliant that composition is.

With plenty of respect for others in his generation, many of whom have had more commercial successes -- Jason Robert Brown, Jeanine Tesori -- no one has written music that's both this musically ambitious yet also this pleasing. Mr. Guettel knows how to surprise and delight the ear in a way that actually does invite comparisons to the very best American composers (Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein, Barber).

And all of that musical history (and brilliance) is found in every freaking measure of FLOYD COLLINS, heightened by Bruce Coughlin's gorgeously textured orchestrations.

I cannot WAIT to see this.

- GMB
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