film, the chorus

Fifty Frenchmen can’t be wrong

To elaborate more on the Menken/Ashman work in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, one of the things I can appreciate about it now is the way that the same musical themes are used by opposing characters to express different viewpoints – within the same song. It reminds me of the medleys in West Side Story, esp. TONIGHT.

Like this, from the opening medley, BELLE:

Sung by Belle:
There goes the baker with his tray, like always
The same old bread and rolls to sell
Ev’ry morning just the same
Since the morning that we came
To this poor provincial town

Sung by townspeople:
Look there she goes that girl is strange, no question
Dazed and distracted, can’t you tell?
Never part of any crowd
‘Cause her head’s up on some cloud
No denying she’s a funny girl that Belle

Same music. Different words. It’s a really simple effect but enormously effective. And the way in which it’s effective has to do with the element of the chorus I’m always interested in – the collective nature of imitation. The way ideas, words, themes, are shared between people in a chorus environment. The way that everything gets repeated and reflected back.

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