While in New York couple of weeks ago (This sounds like I am a frequent visitor, but it was my first visit), I watched The Phantom of the Opera. Though I missed few words in couple of songs from this musical, I liked the whole experience. This Sunday, I went to see another Broadway play The King and I at San Diego civic theatre.
What impressed me most in both these plays was the excellent use of technology and the vocal range of the actors. I was vaguely aware of terms like Bass, Baritone and Soprano; but not exactly sure about them. Found this article on Wikipedia which explains them in detail.
Marathi theatre started with musical plays sometimes around 1800. These plays and the songs in them were hugely popular. Apart from the entertainment, many plays like 'ekach pyala' and 'keechak-wadh' successfully sent out strong messages of social reforms to the masses and helped the independence movement. But I think, circa 1940 modern techniques like Brechtian plays and na-natya (could not find the English equivalent for this - when translated it literally means no play) became first more accepted in the intellectual circles and then more popular. I have read many articles by authors who in their childhood and youth, experienced the golden age of Bal-gandharva repenting the fact that not enough was done to strengthen Sangeet Nataks (musicals) while embracing new things. Broadway musicals and Kabuki survived and prospered, but not many local theatres (Yakshagan being an exception, thanks largely to Dr. Shivaram Karanth and to some extent Tiatr in Goa).
While watching these plays and listening to the songs, I dearly missed the good old Natya-sangeet. Though one could still listen to the old songs, it is almost impossible to regain the lost glory and experience.
Thankfully Broadway, San Diego has a number of good plays coming up within next few months like Wicked, Mamma mia and The Lion King. I was in two minds whether to purchase a season ticket which would be good for five upcoming plays except The Lion King having already spent a fortune on these two plays, but then decided to go for it after hesitating for half a minute.
While writing about the theatre and plays, I must tell about the Blue Man group. (I wonder, why it is blue man in stead of blue men). Again, I watched it sitting in the very first row in New York. Initially, I found it little bit weird but then liked it later on. These guys are absolutely terrific. The show itself is a combination of music (from rock to PVC pipes), some animated tricks and involving audience. First few rows are equipped with plastic hoods. At the end of the show, my hood was covered with blue paint and pulped bananas. Here is a link if you wish to watch some of their videos.