But I was wondering, what if the antagonists got to describe the central themes of their musicals? What would Baldwin Blandish say is the point or central theme of Cry-Baby? How would Audrey II describe what Little Shop is about? We view the story from the protagonist's point of view, but there's never only one side to a good story, right?
So light up a fat one and follow me into my fevered imagination, as I ponder what "the other side" would think about our favorite musicals...
Baldwin Blandish on the central theme of Cry-Baby – Just when America is on the brink of destruction, decent Americans unite to take our country back from the radicals and commies.
Audrey II on Little Shop – Nobodies can't stand in the way of progress, no matter how hard they try.
Mayor Shinn on The Music Man – A foreigner comes to town to cheat the good folk of River City out of their hard-earned money by exploiting their children.
Billy Flynn on Chicago – Win or lose, the only real winner is the guy who gets paid.
Inspector Javert on Les Miz – Lawlessness run rampant inevitably leads to tragedy.
Frank N. Furter on The Rocky Horror Shows – Two intruders try to ruin the best party ever.
Riff Raff on The Rocky Horror Show – The worst part of having a kids' party is cleaning up afterward.
Patty Simcox on Grease – The terrifying story of a teenage girl's descent into madness, as her whole life is destroyed by sex, rock and roll, and drive-ins.
Sgt. Krupke on West Side Story – Bad kids always get what they deserve.
Charles Guiteau on Assassins – A patriotic pageant about the indomitable American spirit and the power of one man to change history.
The Kralahome on The King and I – A disturbing morality tale of cultural arrogance and imperialism, and its dark effects on the court of Siam.
Willie Conklin on Ragtime – Real Americans want to take our country back. To the 50s. The 1850s.
Dr. Parker on Bat Boy – Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Lt. Brannigan on Guys and Dolls – The only protection from a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Baroness Schraeder on The Sound of Music – A fable for older women: learn to play the guitar.
Lucy Van Pelt on You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown – You have to be nice to losers, because they can't help it.
Benny on Rent – A cautionary fable about the sad fate of slackers who contribute nothing but expect much in return.
King Herod on JC Superstar – A political drama about the limitations and inevitable decline of populist movements.
Jud Fry on Oklahoma! – Nice guys finish last.
Parthy Ann Hawks on Show Boat – The wages of sin is death.
Vera Simpson on Pal Joey – Boys will be boys.
Miss Hannigan on Annie – When children run wild, everything goes to hell.
Gaston on Beauty and the Beast – Uppity bitches always end up with the ugly guys.
Kate on Kiss Me, Kate – Men are the best argument for being a lesbian.
Fastrada on Pippin – Never pass up an opportunity.
Bud Frump on How To Succeed – The ends always justify the means.
Dr. Sanson Carrasco on Man of La Mancha -- Madness can be catching.
Chip Tolentino on Spelling Bee – Life is pandemonium.
J.D. Dean on Heathers – Nietzsche was right.
Bloody Mary on South Pacific – White people are crazy and dangerous.
This was a fun exercise, and it was more illuminating than I expected, trying to imagine the opposite point of view of all these stories I know so well. Some of them were easy; some I really had to ponder.
What a good exercise this would be for actors – to articulate a show's central theme as their character would see it. Everybody's point of view is a little different, after all.
If nothing else, I hope you found this entertaining, and maybe if I'm lucky, a little illuminating too.
Long Live the Musical!