Thursday, February 14, 2008

Welcome to Mondo Musicals!

Hello, and welcome to the blog! I’m so excited to finally get this off the ground. It’s Valentine’s Day 2008 and I hope you have love and romance in your life. But whether you do or not, let’s have a glass of wine and listen to some old cast albums, shall we?

About 10 years ago the phrase “Mondo Musicals” popped into my head as a way to describe the kind of shows and movies that have a special place in my heart. I’ve always loved musical theater (I include operas and musical movies in the term), but being a rather strange boy, it’s the weirdo, off-beat efforts that have a special place in my heart. Musicals that tackle unlikely subject matter, or juxtapose the subject with an unexpected musical treatment, or that push the conventions of the genre so far they seem to take place in their own surrealistic universe.

And so, we find ourselves in the strange realm of Rocky Horror, Sweeney Todd, Little Shop of Horrors, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jesus Christ Superstar, Chess, Avenue Q, Moulin Rouge!, and even The Wizard of Oz and the 1930s Busby Berkely films. And let’s not forget notorious flops like Carrie: The Musical and Dance of the Vampires. Musicals that push the boundaries. Musicals that redefine what a show can be and do. Musicals that make you wonder “what the hell were they thinking?” In a word, Mondo Musicals.

So why “mondo”? It’s a reference to the old cult film Mondo Cane (loosely translated as A Dog’s World, 1962), an Italian travelogue showcasing shocking and bizarre practices from around the world. The success of this film inspired a vogue for “Mondo movies;” exploitation films, often gussied up as documentaries or exposés on the far reaches of human behavior. Shocking Asia and the Faces of Death series are a notorious offshoot of this fad, and Mondo Cane itself had a series of sequels. The word “Mondo” (“Earth” or “world” in Italian) came to represent anything freaky and wild, and got appended to all kinds of things, like Russ Meyers’ Mondo Topless (1966) and John Waters’ Mondo Trasho (1969). Bette Midler even had a TV special in 1982 called "Mondo Beyondo."

Here you will find my occasionally-updated musings on various shows and films that inspire, delight and befuddle me, as well as cast album reviews, MP3s, photo galleries, articles by guests columnists, and more. A few more “conventional” musicals that I enjoy will get shout-outs as well. A big aim of this website will be agitating for a “director’s cut” DVD of Little Shop of Horrors, featuring the tragic original ending that was replaced with a phony happy ending when it was released in 1986. An online petition will appear shortly.

So – welcome aboard, I hope you enjoy, and if there’s a show you’d love to talk about, let me know and we’ll get you on here. Curtain up!


filkertom said...

Sounds fun. Will you be doing any of the British musicals, such as the wonderful Moby Dick, the revolutionary Metropolis, or the just plain weird Flowers For Algernon?

Seeing_I said...

I will if I can get any information on them. I recall the "Metropolis" musical with Brian Blessed - I was thinking that I might do an omnibus post on that, War of the Worlds and Time all in one shot. I don't know much about any of them.

Anonymous said...

Would you please post about Repo! The Genetic Opera when it comes out? It's due in April
Thank you!