Baltimore, film, the chorus

In a wrestling match, nobody bites like Gaston

It has been raining here for the last two days. Not constantly, but violently and intermittently. I have my Poland gear with me all the time now – raincoat, umbrella.

Today, I learned more about a Hopkins program where graduate students tutor undergrads who are having trouble adjusting to college academic work. I saw a posting for it and wanted to check it out. Speaking of checkouts, then I checked my first book out of the library, with my now-working new ID card. It was the DVD of the Disney BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which I have really wanted to watch for awhile now – and I wasn’t sure why.

Well, I watched it, plus the special features, and I learned the following things which I did not know when I was nine years old:

– Walt Disney tried to develop the story in the 30s and also in the 50s, but never got past the drawing board. (Hey, this is the context in which “the drawing board” is being used properly!)
– Jerry Orbach from LAW AND ORDER played (and sang) Lumiere, the talking candlestick. There was a great all-round voice cast, but that one really blew me away.
– The enchanted objects were thought of as, variously (and I am quoting people here): “having the audience’s experience.” “the interlocutor.” “A Greek chorus.”
– The art director pitched the design concept as “Bambi with interiors.”
– The composers, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, structured the songs and the music in the film “like a Broadway musical,” with turning points in the plot happening during songs.
– The lighting was consciously designed to be “theatrical.”

I have always felt a little self-conscious about the influence that LITTLE MERMAID and BATB have on my chorus stuff. I’ve been very aware of the animation in “Kiss The Girl” in particular. But now, with the knowledge that Menken/Ashman were thinking in those terms – and with more context for the way theater permeated those productions – it seems entirely appropriate. Henceforth, I will cite this movie as an influence without confusion or embarassment.

And then I wrote a poem from the point of view of the guy who runs the asylum where they’re going to lock up Belle’s father, just because he has the best line in the whole movie:

“I don’t usually leave the asylum at night, but he said you would make it worth my while.”

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