This Week’s Review: Musicals

The curmudgeon found himself grounded for the weekend of November 16; a tummy ache was a good argument for not heading for the nearest megaplex. Had he made it to a theater, he would have contemplated “Midway,” “JoJo Rabbit,” “Harriet,” “Motherless Brooklyn,” or “The Perfect Thief.”

Thanks to some serious mistiming, the curmudgeon found himself with no papers to grade; therefore, he had to console himself with something from his archives. Something reminded him that he had not watched any musicals in a long time. He started with “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”; with music by Sondheim and a plot lifted from the Roman playwright Plautus, what could go wrong? Zero Mostel and Phil Silvers stills steal the show.

After a jaunt through Rome, the curmudgeon chose “My Fair Lady.” George Bernard Shaw’s retelling of the Pygmalion and Galatea myth combined with the efforts of Lerner and Loewe holds up very nicely. Many critics thought it was an error to substitute Audrey Hepburn for Julie Andrews, but Hepburn’s acting holds up better than I expected even if someone else did the singing. The curmudgeon was particularly impressed by Hepburn’s silent suffering during the “We Did It” sequence.

The curmudgeon tends to prefer opera to musicals, but even he has to admit that some musicals are worth serious attention.