In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!
If you like West Side Story, then you might like The Boys in the Photograph.
The Boys in the Photograph is the reworked version of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton’s, The Beautiful Game, Like West Side Story, it deals with two groups in conflict with one another and both shows use dance significantly. (West Side Story uses dance more successfully, of course, but the aspirations are there in The Boys in the Photograph – but the show has never had a visionary director-choreographer like Jerome Robbins to help it along in any of its incarnations.)
The Boys in the Photograph deals with the Catholic-Protestant divide in Northern Ireland, the IRA, a romance that is doomed from the start because of those things (although the new version unsuccessfully tags on a happy ending in the final scene) and – of course – soccer and the way it draws the community we see on stage together. Highlights include “God’s Own Country” and “Let Us Love in Peace”, “Clean the Kit” and “All the Love I Have”. When the show was still The Beautiful Game, there was also “Our Kind of Love”, a song written the first time that Lloyd Webber announced a Phantom of the Opera sequel. When that idea was was abandoned, the song became the centrepiece of The Beautiful Game. When Love Never Dies was eventually written, it was shifted – with new lyrics – back into the realm of the Phantom.
The Boys in the Photograph is the weakest musical we’ve showcased this month. The show was met with mixed reactions in its original version. Reviews for the new version were more positive, though not a set of raves by any means. So this makes it one of those shows that has been revised after its original run, but one which has not managed to surpass the traps of bad lyrics and book problems so as to achieve the total effect of its potential. Even so, its well worth a listen, particularly if you are interested in the craft and discipline of lyric-writing. Sometimes it is easier to learn about something when the mistakes are obvious. In what Elton has written, they most certainly are. (For an in depth, track by track look at the cast album, see here.)
So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on The Boys in the Photograph. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…