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The Windy Shitty

In the Slaughterhouse with Andrew Lloyd Weber

By Erica L. Werner

There is only one thing more horrific than an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, and that is and Andrew Lloyd Weber musical with Donny Osmond in the staring role.

I was subjected to this disturbing spectacle last weekend in Chicago, where I went to visit my grandparents, whom I have now written out of my will. The musical in question was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," and it was the most awful think I have witnessed in my 22 years on this earth.

As if it weren't bad enough that Donny Osmond (who I must admit retains his youthful good looks, for what that's worth) played Joseph, there was an Elvis impersonator in the role of the pharoah. Elvis, i.e. the king, i.e. pharoah get it? As ifthatweren't bad enough, dozens of little girls dressed in rainbow colors lined the stage and carolled in high-pitched tones at every opportunity, causing many females in the audience to squeal with delight, and causing me to feel deeply ashamed of my gender, not to mention my species.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" had more precious little details than you could shake a stick at--unless, of course, you were the conducter! The preceding is a perfect example of the level of humor in currency among the musical-going crowd. Here's another: as a slave in Egypt--would that he really were--Donny Osmond wears a toga-esque outfit, which Pharoah Elvis refers to as "Fruit of the Tomb."

Other exciting moments:

The scene where Joseph's conniving brothers put on shades and start drawling and gesticulating as if they're in a blacksploitation flick.

The time when the backdrop sphinx turns into a slot machine and dispenses oversized corn-on-the-cobs to Joseph's hungry brothers.

The random appearance of the John Hancock Building, to the untrammeled mirth of the Chicagoland crowd.

Just when I though the hilarity would never cease, it didn't. The musical comes with three built-in encore numbers, designed to manipulate the audience into giving a standing ovation. However, I seemed to be the only one who minded.

The sad truth is that a significant sector of the population laps up this dreck. When I was dragged to see "Phantom of the Opera" a while back in L.A., I met someone who had seen it more that 100 times. Lest I imagine that she was some lone freak, she informed me that she logged on nightly to an Internet bulletin board to share her impressions of that evening's performance with hundreds of fellow enthusiasts.

The thing that makes these musicals so horrendous is that, despite their circus-like choreography, childishly spectacular special effects, ostentatious costumes and sets, scores worthy of John Williams and embarrassingly inane lyrics, people shell out upwards of 50 bucks a ticket and get all gussied up to go see them. For some reason that I fail to comprehend, these events get away with masquerading as high culture. In this video age, does anything that appears in a theater automatically deserve that appellation? Even someone dressed up as a cat named Rum Tum Tiger.

I asked my brother, an Andrew Lloyd Weber aficionado.

"I don't know about high culture, I just like it," he said.

"What do you like about it?" I asked.

"The music's totally awesome," he said.

"The music's stupid," I said.

"You're stupid," he said.

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