You know the monologue in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA where Miranda explains to Andy that her “lumpy blue sweater” was in fact selected for her by the people in the room? If you don’t (and shame on you if you don’t) here’s the entire monologue….
‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”
I know it’s just a movie but wouldn’t it be powerful if the Broadway community had that sort of confidence? That kind of cultural sway. That all-knowing, all-seeing sense of VISION. I’d like to imagine that there is a room of established professionals working to ensure the future of musical theatre as an art form; a commercial art form. But is there? In an industry that is becoming increasingly unoriginal and bordering on irrelevance is there anyone fighting for ART and its future?
Who is the objective voice advocating for the betterment of American musical theatre? The voice of dissent demanding more of the industry. Not more quantity. More quality. Who is looking creatives square in the eye and saying “REALLY? This is your best?” (I have a long list of people I’d like to say that to and rest assured that those scathing blogs will be forthcoming) I’m not an idealist by any stretch of the imagination. I believe in business. I believe in the bottom line. But I also believe in art. I believe in art’s power to inform and transform. What is the balance between artistic brilliance and commercial viability? And where is the intersection where art and business meet to create a phenomenon?
Yeah, it’s a lot of questions and I’m not going to pretend to have a goddamn answer to any of them. I think maybe just asking them might be enough for now. The things I will say with certainty are as follows: I believe in collaboration, exchanging ideas, asking questions, challenging the status quo, walking on the other side of the street to see if the view is better from over there, and refusing to do things as they’ve always been done.
Right now, from this little corner of the internet, I’m strapping on my sassiest LaDucas (a 3” Rachelle to be precise), stepping onto my soapbox, standing in the most perfect bevel, asking all the questions, and demanding the most of The Great White Way.