So I'm watching this new TV show Mad Men on AMC, and it's really brilliant. It's set in a Madison Avenue ad agency in 1960 (right between Grease and Hair, I immediately thought), and it may be the most brutally honest look at America I've ever seen. Everyone chain smokes and has at least one cocktail per scene (they've got consultants who were ad men back then, so apparently this stuff is crazy accurate). The social and work atmospheres are both unmistakably sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic. And the men who Have It All feel empty and lonely. And that's what makes the show work, this brutal honesty. There's this emotional emptiness in these characters that's so fascinating and so sad, even though much of the show is very funny...
And it reminds me of our show (of course) and the people who ask me periodically Why I feel the need to put sex and drugs and four-letter words on our stage all the time. I think Mad Men has given me my answer -- brutal honesty. It's a hell of a lot more interesting than sugar coating.
You can like our shows or hate 'em, you can find them overly artsy or boring or just plain weird. You can hate our shows just because you hate musicals. But you gotta give us one thing -- we really do tell the truth about being human.
As Mr. Sondheim says, art makes order out of the chaos of the world. And it's one really fucking chaotic world these days, Uncle Steve!
Long Live the Musical!