In With the Old, Out Comes the New

As we’ve discussed before, creativity comes with a great deal of getting inspired, borrowing, and sometimes straight out stealing.

But who is to say that a derivative work cannot be equally as satisfying as the original? As long as the pieces are different enough, is it fair to say a certain one is better?

Take for instance the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera  The Mikado. The composers set the opera in Japan, far away from Britain, allowing them to satirize British politics more freely by disguising them as foreign notions.

Opera Australia’s 2011 production of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.

In 1939, the classic was adapted into a new piece entitled The Hot Mikado and performed with an all African-American cast. Primed with a lot more sass and a lot more swing, The Hot Mikado became a hit that is still performed to this day.

Now it’s been over 70 years since the original piece was given a facelift. Thus, theatres are still looking for ways to update the show and help it feel as novel and sexy as it was when The Hot Mikado first took the stage.

This recent production does just this by updating the 1940s American setting to a modern one that tips its hat to the original Mikado, complete with the “three little maids” in anime-style schoolgirl outfits. Up to you to decide which version you prefer – but I’d say there’s definitely room for both in the world of live performance.


Watermill Theatre’s production of The Hot Mikado in 2009

This is Halloween

Happy Ghouls Day! How are you celebrating this odd and wonderful holiday?

Even if you don’t get the chance to don a costume today, why let that stop you from getting into the Halloween spirit? I’ve collected a few tunes that tend to send chills up my spine.  Let them help you wriggle into the mood as well.

Stars- Dead Hearts: Haunting lyrics and a simple tune that will not leave you alone. Sure to plant itself in your mind for an hour or two.

Marilyn Manson- This is Halloween: His take on the Tim Burton film’s classic tune grates on you in the best possible way. Disturbing, effective.

Nina Simone – I Put a Spell on You: Her sultry voice on this wicked song makes for a truly addicting treat.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Heads Will Roll: A perfect pump-up Halloween style song. Angry anthem with some serious bite.

Talking Heads – Psycho Killer: I love the slightly butchered (appropriate) French that peppers this song. Fafafafafafa fafafa far better than a number of other songs playing on the radio.

That’s five to get you started. What other songs get you freaked out / do you freak out to this time of year?

Bite-sized Wisdom: Gershwin

Don’t let sour notes ruin the song. Use them to make something better:

“Life is a lot like jazz… it’s best when you improvise. ”
– George Gershwin

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