Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mamma Mia! A Recipe for Disaster

Mamma Mia!, based on the book of the same name by Catherine Johnson, is directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Johnson and Lloyd both, oddly enough, appear to be women.

First, the positives: the lighting was nice and some of the costuming was fun. And... we’re done.

Next, a brief look from a casual viewer’s perspective: Like ABBA? You’ll like this. Don’t? You won’t.

Now let’s take a look from my personal feminist cuisine perspective:

How to make your own nauseating ABBA musical

Prepare Orpheum for the 24th of April.

Main ingredient:

  • Sophie, a silly girl who believes she doesn’t know who she is without a father to "give her away" on her upcoming wedding day. She goes through her mother’s diary to find and invite all three of her possible birth fathers to her wedding.

Secondary ingredients:

  • Sky, Sophie’s stupid, lustful fiancĂ©, whose most memorable line was, "You don't need your father, you have me."
  • The mother of the bride, Donna, who flip-flops between being a strong-independent-woman-who-don't-need-no-man and a heartbroken hopeless romantic still mooning over a guy who cheated on her 21 years ago.
  • A heavy character, for a fat joke throughout the musical.
  • Two inconsequential bridesmaids/best friends who are never approached for advice... her man can fix everything, right?

Combine ingredients. Then:
  1. Sprinkle in an obsession with money – oops! Accidentally spilled in the whole jar.
  2. Add as much cheese as you want. The more the better!
  3. Enforce with racial stereotypes.
  4. Throw in a pinch of creepy why-is-that-15-year-old-girl-marrying-a-25-year-old-guy? Oh wait, she's 20?  Funny, she looks and acts like a barely-pubescent teenager.
  5. Whip in Chloe Tucker’s nasal voice and Christian Whelan’s cracking, strained tones.  
  6. Bake with a partially drunk and glowing-headgear wearing audience for two hours.
  7. Slather with tasteless sexual innuendo and content.
  8. Frost this toxic wedding cake with ABBA earworms.
  9. Top with ranting. It's my favorite part.

Or, if you’re not fond of cooking, I have a rewrite in mind. Sophie could request a DNA test and prevent this misogynistic musical from ever happening.

I would recommend this only if you’re a die-hard ABBA fan who is somehow not offended by any of the above.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Disturbing. Heart-wrenching. Powerful. So many evocative words describe Never Fall Down. Written by Patricia McCormick, this novel is based on her many long interviews with Arn Chorn, a human rights activist dedicated to preserving traditional Cambodian music. Growing up during the siege of the Khmer Rouge, this story spans four years of Arn’s war-ravaged childhood (filled in by McCormick where his memories are lacking) as well as his older life in America. Written in the first person with broken English, I connected deeply to Arn and his story. While connection is a good thing, it was also painful in this case. The one negative comment I can make about this book is that the horrifying story is true. Yet at the end of the sadness, there is a truly inspiring conclusion.