Since You AskedÂ… February

By Paul Kix | Boston Magazine |


Why are there no musicals (anyone’s ever heard of) set here?

Leonidas Nickole, professor emeritus of performing arts at Emerson College: The best musicals are sentimental love stories: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy loses girl. I’ve often wondered why they don’t take place here. I think that, to people not from here, Boston seems a very Puritanical place. Those guys again? It’s been 400 years! Bruce C. Daniels, from his book Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England: [In Salem in 1635] the congregation’s young minister, Richard Levett, asked Boston’s leading theologian, John Cotton, for guidance [about dancing]. Cotton replied that one should not automatically condemn all dancing. He cited a passage in Exodus that supported dance "lending to the praise of…God." How somewhat progressive of him. Cotton continued, however— Uh-oh. He’s continuing.—that this did not include "lascivious dancing to wanton ditties." Bummer. Nickole: Not very long ago, I received a script from one of my students. It was a musical adaptation of The Crucible. And I thought, Oh, no no no. David Kirkpatrick, cofounder of Plymouth Rock Studios, slated to open in 2010: The great musicals always had some comedy spice. It’s just tough to find humor in John Adams, the transcendental movement, or Hester Prynne. But we aren’t such a dour people. I mean, Boston also gave the world "Love in an Elevator." Brett Milano, author of The Sound of Our Town: A History of Boston Rock & Roll: No, of course not. There was nothing Puritanical about, you know, Harvard Square in the 1960s and ’70s. I don’t think there was ever a feeling from any band that "we need to work harder to be rebellious because we’re from Boston." Then why no musicals? Charlotte Kaufman, founder and director of Boston Musical Theater: It might be because this was a big opening town. Shows were previewed here before they went to Broadway. So because we’ve been seen as a practice run for the production, the setting itself couldn’t be here? Blake Pfeil, host of WERS’s Standing Room Only: Curtains, which opened on Broadway in 2007, actually takes place at the Colonial Theatre. Yeah, but whoever heard of Curtains? It nabbed eight Tony nominations. Oh. Rupert Holmes, who wrote the book for Curtains: I lived in Boston in 2002…and I’ve loved Boston all my life. I couldn’t think of any musicals that had been set there, and felt it would be a great honor for us to be the first.

-Photo illustration by Heather Burke

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