In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 28, 2014 / 26 Adar II, 5774

That Was Entertainment

By Greg Crosby

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Question: Where are the musical comedy shows? Answer: There are no musical comedy shows. New musical shows are pretty much dead, at least the kind of musicals we think of as the mainstay of Broadway Theater and movies of the 20th Century. You know, the Rogers and Hart, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin stuff. The occasional revival pops up every now and again, and once in a blue moon someone attempts to put on a brand new musical show (albeit with today's politically correct sensibilities and attitude) but really for all intents and purposes, the musical as an ongoing genre is dead, and that goes for the movie musical too.

So if the genre is dead, where are all the musical comedy performers? There are no musical comedy performers anymore. Not to say that there are no singers or dancers, they exist, but they exist independently. There are singers and there are other people who are dancers. What we don't have are well-rounded performers who can so it all; sing, dance, and act in musical comedy. The real old-timers learned that stuff in vaudeville, later performers learned it while under contract at the studios.

There are no Bob Hopes, Fred Astaires, Mickey Rooneys, or Donald O'Connors anymore. There are no Ginger Rogers, Judy Garlands, Betty Grables, or Debbie Reynolds anymore. There's no reason for talented people to learn to carry a tune, do a time step, and learn comedy timing because there's no place to use it. You can't make a living being a musical comedy performer.

Why did the musical disappear? One possible reason might be that the musical just got bigger and bigger until it simply outgrew itself. It got so large and ponderous and took itself so seriously, that it stopped being fun. Once the musical became preachy and serious, people turned away from it. Rogers and Hammerstein did a lot of those huge big budget shows loaded with messages, shows like Carousel, South Pacific and The Sound of Music. Heavy stuff.

A review in The Wall Street Journal of the book "Roadshow!" by Matthew Kennedy told how the roadshow movie musicals were bigger than life spectaculars that almost destroyed Hollywood. Roadshow musical films were presented in reserved-seating, high-priced movie theaters in large cities. Competing studios caused budget costs to soar with ever more elaborate location shooting and production details.

Each succeeding picture had to get bigger and more expensive in order to outdo the last. Beginning in the 50's and throughout the 60's these blockbusters were turned out like clockwork: Oklahoma, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Camelot, Hello Dolly, Man of La Mancha and Paint Your Wagon, to name a few.

But those roadshow musicals were just the last nail in the coffin for the musical, the final blow. The real beginning of the end, I believe, came years before, when musicals on stage started to take themselves too damn seriously. Remember, musical comedy was, after all, spawned from the English music hall and American vaudeville stages. Lowbrow entertainment, yes, but great fun.

Some might claim that musical theater is an extension of classical opera, and in the cases of the more serious shows such as Carousel and South Pacific it is undoubtedly true. But for pure entertainment, I contend that the best American musicals were the fluffy musicals that were closer in spirit to vaudeville, the lighter, more upbeat, and yes, sillier shows such as No, No Nanette, Good News, On Your Toes, Babes in Arms, Anything Goes, Girl Crazy, Top Hat, and Annie Get Your Gun.

Want to feel good? Watch any of the old movie musicals, the ones without the messages. Watch The Gay Divorcee or The Road to Morocco and you suddenly feel happier. I defy you to be in a sour mood after seeing Singin' in the Rain, High Society, State Fair, or Calamity Jane. It can't be done. One Gold Diggers movie can do more for your well-being than all the Green Tea, Echinacea, and ginger root at the health food store.

In the 1930's people had to have an escape from the Depression. The best of the movie musicals of that time helped Americans forget their problems and escape into a carefree world where nice looking people sang, danced, were witty, and had a hell of a lot of fun. Sometimes we just have to get away from it all, go into another place, if only for a couple of hours. Musicals did that for people. It lifted them up and filled their hearts with song. We still need that escapism today. Maybe even more so in 2014 than back in the 1930's.

In 1974 MGM released "That's Entertainment," a compilation of production numbers from their movie musicals. The tagline in the ads read, "That's Entertainment. Boy, do we need it now!"

No kidding. We still need it. Now more than ever.

Greg Crosby Archives

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California.

© 2008, Greg Crosby