If you reached this page by clicking on the word “square,” please know that I do not personally identify as a “square.” However, given what Wikipedia has to say about it, I can certainly understand why others may have gotten that impression:
Square is a slang term referring to a person who is conventional and old-fashioned.
Conventional? Not in the least. Old-fashioned? Absolutely — especially when it comes to musical theatre. I happen to think that most of the musicals that have followed A Chorus Line have been just as regrettable as that. It’s the first show I can recall that aimed its appeal at closed-circuit audiences only. The average American could care less what a bunch of gushing musical theatre people “did for love.” And there were more to follow, as the spirit of musical theatre that made every song in South Pacific a popular “top-40” hit — except one — began to be consumed in esoteric fluff that seemed to exclude any audience other than die-hard musical theatre buffs.
The decadence that has devoured the Arts for over half a Century has not left musical theatre unscathed. Stephen Sondheim’s work is brilliant but just as sardonic. Where is the message of hope that is needed? Where is the inspiration found in Carousel, The Sound of Music, and Man of La Mancha? Les Miserables is probably the best musical to have emerged in the last several decades, and it wasn’t even written in America.
Yet there is a sense in which musical theatre, at its core, is a distinctly American genre, combining influences from British light opera and jazz strains that floated over the Atlantic from Africa. But there really haven’t been any decent musicals that honor that uniquely American blend since sometime back in the 70’s. Godspell is about the last one I can think of, and even Pippin by the same excellent composer-lyricist is full of modern mockery.
So yes, I am old-fashioned! As to “conventional,” however, how can I possibly be called conventional when I’ve just told you, in no uncertain terms, exactly what I think of all the modern conventions? As I have emphasized three times on this site — and now a fourth — Eden in Babylon is a traditional musical with a progressive score and topical themes. I am a person who is concerned with social justice. But I am even more concerned with zeroing in on where the root of our national problem truly lies – and paving the way for a solution.
This sense of the word “square” originated with the American jazz community in the 1940s, in reference to people out of touch with musical trends.
I’m a jazz cat from way back. I may not be hip to some of the musical trends these days — especially when they defy any reasonable definition of the word “music” — but you can’t call me “square” if I’ve spent half my nights in smoke-filled jazz clubs, can you? (Think about it.)
Now that all that is out of my system, feel free to check out some of my other work, unrelated to the musical I am currently promoting. I’ve done my best to hide it down deep in the depths of cyberspace, so the focus can rightly be placed on my current passion. But I have leaked it below — quite subtly, I believe — in case you happen to be interested in anything else that I’m about.
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