Tag Archives: Emo! The Musical

Bloody Buddy

I’d been bidding my time, putting off writing about the new musical, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

Why?

I’m not sure really. The musical sounds interesting enough, and The New York Times gave it a sparkling review. And for such a mainstream interpretation of emo, it’s got the idea of the genre in its current form down-pat; glittery pop-punk, that layers the romantic angst on thick… it’s a shame to admit that emo’s transformed into that, but in many cases, one particular strain of that is true to that form.

 

Image taken from The New York Times article

Image taken from The New York Times article

And the music certainly reflects that and it’s page-to-stage kind of performance. As Emo! The Musical creator Joey Price said in an earlier interview:

…they [emo and musicals] also have a lot in common since they both involve this incredibly over-emotionality.

To each interpretation his (or her) own, as long as they can cop to their self-induced standard, I guess… though I tend to disagree whole-heartedly. It appears to work in these two cases, especially the former, as The Times’ Ben Brantley dished out the usual tropes and stereotypes for his take on emo in the musical realm:

Emo, for those of you who don’t download your songs, is a postpunk rock variant that wears its shattered heart on its tattered sleeve, throbbing with the narcissism, masochism and frustrated powerlessness that come with being a teenager. The closest Broadway has come to incorporating emo was in Duncan Sheik’s score for the late (and much missed) “Spring Awakening,” a show about the agony of young lust.

Funny side note is that Spring Awakening is based on Igor Stravinsky’s The Rites of Spring, which was the nomenclature inspiration (and intellectual to boot) for the first emo band, Rites of Spring.

And, though these interpretations of emo are currently-mainstream-streamlined and stereotyped at best, their definitions do conform to their forms; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson takes a look at the American President in the perspective of the man as a confused, hormone-induced and angsty teenager. And with a song number entitled “Populism Yea Yea,” it provides a nice little double-induced defition that boosts composer and lyricist Michael Friedman’s interpretation of emo to a state of understanding its natural meaning; his musical work is emo as interpreted in its most populist form. After all, more kids today can name drop Coheed & Cambria than Christie Front Drive.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is playing at the Public Theater in New York until May 24th… so only a few days left to catch what sounds like a pretty entertaining and endearing show. And it’s only $10, which (especially these days) is cheap, and that, if anything, is a model of “emo culture” from it’s emocore days (Fugazi’s famous $5 door charge) to today (the insanely cheap $30 or so for the dozens upon dozens of bands on Warped Tour).

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson opening night preview:

Emusical

Joey Price was attending San Francisco State University three and a half years ago when he was struck with an idea. ” I became interested in writing a musical,” says Price. “Any musical.” In the face of writers block, something struck him: emo. And it came in the form of the title of his future piece – Emo! The Musical.

Emo! The Musical poster (notice Rivers Cuomo near the top)

Emo! The Musical poster (notice Rivers Cuomo near the top)

“My first idea was that it would be really funny to see emo kids doing musical theatre,” Price explained in an email. “I felt like they were polar opposite ideas and would do well together, with the happiness of musical theatre juxtaposed with the sadness of emo.” Yet Price’s subject matter actually worked out for his benefit, as he digressed: “I realized that, yes they are opposite in this sense, but they also have a lot in common since they both involve this incredibly over-emotionality.” Price was approached by a friend who heard of his project and asked him to write up a 15 minute script for her directing class; in February 2006, the short version of Emo! The Musical was premiered at SFSU to what Price calls an “incredibly good reception.”

Emo! The Musical in action

Emo! The Musical in action

Flash forward to the present and Price has a full script, cast and crew ready to perform a fully-fledged version of Emo! The Musical. From the fingertips of writer/director Joey Price, here is a breakdown of the musical:

Written and directed by Joey Price and choreographed by Sheena McIntyre, Emo! The Musical is a new musical satire about angst-ridden teens facing adversity. Will Colin let his best friend Chaz be with his forbidden, cheerleading love? Can the emo kids break the chains of societal norms? Will they be able to save the world from impending asteroid doom?! Through song, dance and ridiculousness, Emo! The Musical answers those very important questions.

More Emo! The Musical

More Emo! The Musical

The musical, clearly created in the warmest of humors, presents an interesting case; how is emo received as a cultural movement to those not involved in the subculture? Further, how do people respond, especially artistically, to the presence of a culture/genre that proves to be such a compelling subject of pop consumption today. In many cases, the truths of how the mainstream objectively observes a subculture can easily be seen in the satire of said subcultures. And its clear from Price’s articulation, the play’s description, and the photos of the show, that Emo! The Musical is a great place to see how people have reacted to emo.

Emo! The Musical is presented by the Beards Beards Beards Theatre Company at the Boxcar Playhouse in San Francisco. It officially starts today (August 8th) and runs until August 30th.

And now for the musical moment that currently stands as the iconic presentation of emo as it’s perceived within the mainstream…

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade video: