Caveman Versus The High School Musical

We fear that pop-culture is the only culture we’re ever going to have.”
– KMFDM, “Dogma”

So there I was, crawling up the 405, looking suspiciously at my brother’s truck as it started sputtering somewhere around the 60MPH mark. I knew the beast would make it, the question was how slowly would I have to travel not to piss it off too much. And of course I was running late.  My sibling and I had been sharing vehicles because the legality of mine had recently come into question and seeing as how our schedules are all yin and yang, it was the easiest solution.  The details of that story are just about to expire in a couple of weeks, and it’s just a conversational topic likely to lead to some frustration I’ve been trying to work out of my system like an unhappy mushroom trip.

 

Calabasas, a land as black as mens hearts.

My destination was one of those places that men whisper about in dark, crowded taverns when too much cheap booze has loosened their tongues, Calabasas, land of sculptured mom’s, expensive European cars, and regulation Ugg boots.  Having well prepared myself mentally before I left the house, if you know what I mean, I felt I was more than prepared for horrors the likes of which I hadn’t witnessed in two decades:  The High School Musical.

 

My friend Jennifer had gone back to her alma-mater, Calabasas High, to choreograph a production of “Beauty and The Beast” and it was the last day of their run.  After some insistent arm-twisting on her part, I had run out of wiggle room, and I agreed to drag myself out of the cave and head deeper into the Valley for a viewing.  Jenn and I have been friends for a relatively short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but when we were in film school we produced each others thesis films and I was additionally the first assistant director on her film “Attack at Zombie High”.  What, you haven’t seen it? Here’s a trailer

 

So I have what I can only imagine amounts to the feeling that platoon-mates in wartime might feel.  You know, that kind of bond formed after watching a bullet wiz between your heads, and the realization it could have been the end of either of you.  Which of course brings us to how I let myself get talked into once again walking the halls of Calabasas High, something I had thought I put way behind me several long, cold shooting nights last summer.  But there I was.

Luckily time was on my side and I rolled into will call with two minutes to spare, grabbed my ticket and headed inside.  The auditorium was filled with so much emerging hormones and semi-reptilian stretched skin faces that it was difficult to catch my bearings.  I knew my chances for survival were increased because my age lies somewhere in that gray zone, where I’m too old to be cougar bait and obviously old enough not to be pestered by the local fauna and so I felt my chances of making it without incident were pretty high.  Jennifer had reserved a seat for me, which I’m sure she thought was incredibly amusing, up front and center, so finding my path even in my disoriented and paranoid state proved easy.  Yep, somehow i had landed prime seat in the house, which just fucking figures.

What I didn’t realize, although considering the circumstances I probably should have, was that it wasn’t just ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but an adaptation of Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast”, but we’ll get to that.  I’m about as far from a musical lover as you can possibly get  My idea of a good musical involves music by the likes of The Who, Richard O’Brian, or John Cameron Mitchell so I’ll lay off any real criticism of the performance.  And besides, it seemed pretty good to me.  The dance numbers were great to Jenn’s credit, and the makeup and Beast effects were excellently done by Caitlin Brisbin, the same effects artist we employed to do Zombie High.  And this was far beyond what I remember the high school musicals being like when I was forced to sit through them in my teen years.  There was wirework, explosions, and simulated snow adding some nice touches.  Of course it was still just painted scenery, and the singing while great for what they were trying to do still isn’t exactly my thing.  There’s something about that long sustained note the leads of these things hit, right where it starts to vibrate heavily and it just starts to pound my frontal lobe like a Fremen’s thumper.  I suspect this is just the result of faulty wiring in my head that prevents me from truly appreciating the talent on display.

This is probably more like what i thought of when I heard "Beauty and the Beast"


Of course this wouldn’t be an adventure of mine if I didn’t take umbrage with something and this one was easy.  I’m no expert on the tale, but a quick Wikipedia search reveals that the story of Beauty and the Beast originated somewhere around 1740.  But this was no normal rendition of the tale, as I said, this was an adaptation of the Disney version.  And it just struck me kind of weird that we’re getting to a point where the recognized version of a story that we’re teaching our kids is a version dreamed up in a modern age studio by animators and a large corporation.  How long until the old versions and imagery are completely lost and replaced by cartoons and the parodies thereof?  Of course this is Calabasas, home to many the Hollywood retiree, so this may just be a localized event, but I’m doubting it.  And it is food for thought.

But I’m not going to dwell.  I don’t know much about performance, but the production was great.  And it was good to see a friend stepping up and having a part in something bigger and as these things go, so well done.

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