Sunday, September 29, 2013

Quote of the Week: Right

To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.

Miss Melody Muffin

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I didn't think I was going to do a Dream Cast for Aida, because I couldn't fill some roles at first.  But on Tuesday, the actors all just came, pow, pow, pow.  So, *drumroll* I present to you, my Dream Cast for a movie of Aida.

This is a Dream Cast for a movie adaptation of Aida.

(Clicking on each person's name will take you to a bio page about them.)

The Trio:
Aida: Lea Salonga
Yes, I know she isn't African.  But, she has the voice, power, pathos, passion and is just perfect for the role.  Besides, makeup does wonders these days (they can give her skin a darker tone).  :D

Rhadames: Ramin Karimloo
I've thought he would be perfect for the role ever since I was introduced to Aida through him, you might say.  And he himself has said he likes the musical.  Perfect, yes?  He'd do a superb Rhadames.

Amneris: Idina Menzel
Most well known for having originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked, she also played Amneris on Broadway for a while.  I've seen some bootlegs of her in Aida, mostly of horrible quality but they still give an idea of how good she was in the role.  Her Amneris in the Finale is chillingly beautiful.  Quite simply, she OWNS the Finale.

The Minor Characters:
Mereb:  Andile Gumbi
Most well known for having played the part of Simba in the West End production of The Lion King.  His voice is good and I think he would portray Mereb's quirks and sarcasm well.

Nehebka: Alexia Khadime
I think she'd be good in this role.  I wasn't impressed with her Elphaba and her Eponine was ok, but she was quite good in the role of Nala in The Lion King.

Amonasro: Norm Lewis
His Javert in the 25th Anniversary production of Les Miserables was good (though by no means my favorite Javert).  I think he has what it takes to make a good King of Nubia.

Pharaoh: Patrick Stewart
The Pharaoh doesn't have any singing parts, and I think Patrick Stewart would make a fantastic Pharaoh.  He could pull off the slightly comedic element to the Pharaoh as well as the serious, regal element.

If, the Pharaoh were given some singing parts in the movie version, I'd pick Simon Bowman to play him, instead (because I don't know if Patrick Stewart can sing).

Zoser: Tam Mutu
I know he isn't old enough to actually play Ramin's father (I think he might actually be younger than Ramin), but I've seen some bootlegs of him as Javert in Les Mis and he is my pick to play the scheming, selfish, manipulating Zoser.  He has the voice, the ability and makeup can take care of aging him.

And, just because =D, I'd give Sierra Boggess a cameo role as a handmaiden of Amneris.  (How could I not?  Aida is one of my favorite musicals, Sierra is one of my favorite actresses, and both Ramin and her fiance Tam are in this DC already.  She has to have a cameo!!)

Director: Tom Hooper
Well, really, who else would I choose to direct a movie version of a musical?  This man is brilliant.  He practically invented the method of actors singing live in movie musicals, which I personally feel adds so much to the performance.

I'd cut out the more inappropriate moments from the script.  I'd also like to see some new dialogue giving the characters more development.

Costumes: ME!  =D
I'd absolutely LOVE to be able to design the costumes for a movie of Aida.  But, since that is a pretty far-reaching ambition :), I'll have to say I'd choose Jenny Beavan.

Elton John and Tim Rice.  They wrote the original music and I can't think of anyone who could improve on it.

Come on, Universal Pictures or someone just as good, let's get this made!!!!!!!!

Who would you Dream Cast in Aida?

Miss Melody Muffin

The In-Between Musical: Dream Cast

This is a musical that has never been performed, but which I really wish they would stage either in the West End or Broadway.  Several months ago, I did a post on my favorite songs from it HERE.  Now, here is who I would like to see cast in the musical- both in a stage version and a movie version.

A link to the site about the musical:

A link to the YouTube page with the concept music and some live performances:

Flick Wimple: Samantha Barks
Samantha is one of my favorite actresses.  I love her portrayal of Eponine and would like to see her take on several other roles, including this one.

Guide Calicus:  Aaron Tveit
He's a TERRIFIC actor.  His Enjolras in Les Mis is... well, it left me speechless.  He'd do a great Guide Calicus.

Alice Wimple: Rachel Tucker
Ally introduced me to this actress in the role of Elphaba.  She and Samantha were on the same talent show that launched Samantha five or six years ago.  I'd love to see them play sisters.

Movie Director: Tom Hooper
Yes, of course you knew I would choose him.  =)

Miss Melody Muffin

Friday, September 27, 2013

AIDA Around the World

I love languages.  They have fascinated me for years.  And I find it delightful to hear my favorite songs in other languages.  It gives them a completely different feel.

In addition to being performed on Broadway for four and half years, Aida has had various foreign productions.  Today, I present to you, videos from some of those foreign productions.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for the last several months know that I've become a huge fan of Korean dramas, music and musicals.  So, of course, first on the list of foreign productions of Aida is Korean!  Readers, I present my favorite foreign version of Aida!!!!

Written in the Stars:  (and The Gods Love Nubia)

First of all, I think the stage in this one is terrific.  (And in case you're wondering, this is a special performance- not a regular staging of the musical.)  And the costumes are great.  (I want Aida's dress from this video!!)  She portrays Aida with a gentle royalty, and an inner peace and serenity.  I like that, but I like his performance a bit better than hers, because there is more fire in it.  (Aren't the star visuals in the background cool?)

Here is a different version, which is my TOP FAVORITE version of Written in the Stars.  (Well, tying for first with Ramin's version):

This version has so much passionate fire in it, which I love.  This actress (Cha Jiyeon) puts more passion into her performance than Ok Joo-Hyun did.  In this performance, Aida knows she's done the right thing, but she is still clearly battling inside – she wants to be with Rhadames and knows she can't.  Not for herself, her people, her mistress or her father.  This version is just so full of raw emotion.  Their body language and chemistry is superb.  All in all, I think it is MAGNIFICENT.  

A Step Too Far:

(The costumes- especially Rhadames'- and the makeup in this one are interesting, but I love how the song sounds in Italian.)   

Enchantment Passing Through: (I'd change his costume to something different, but other than that).  The Aida in this one is fun, and I just love this song.

I think this version of Aida and Rhadames is great.  Especially the body language in this song.  She is so small compared to him but her spirited sarcasm is fantastic.   

My Strongest Suit Reprise:  (This one is wonderful!!)

Written in the Stars:  This one is... interesting.  I guess I'm not really fond of this version, for some reason.

Not Me:  

And I'm pretty sure this is Hungarian:    
Written in the Stars:  

Portuguese:  (These are from the Brazilian production.)  (For some bizarre reason, I can't get these videos to embed.  I guess YouTube decided it had been cooperative long enough.  ): )
I Know the Truth:

Enchantment Passing Through:

I really, really like this Rhadames (Matheus Herriez).  He captures Rhadames' quieter, almost moody side as well as his fire.  

Written in the Stars:

Which of these is your favorite foreign language version of Aida?  
Miss Melody Muffin

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why I Love Aida

Once, I was trying to describe to someone what Aida was about and I said, "It is the story of star crossed lovers in a love triangle."  I thought for a moment and said, "Nevermind that, Aida is way more than that."

When I decided to spotlight Aida, I asked myself, "Why do I love this musical so much?  What is it that grabs me and won't let me go?  It doesn't have the same quality of storytelling that Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera or even the Sound of Music has.  So why do I adore it?"

It's true that part of Aida revolves around star crossed lovers in a love triangle.  But that is an extremely lame way of putting it.  Because Aida is so much more than just a story of star crossed lovers or a love triangle.  It is a story of lust for power, of many passions, of various kinds of love, of politics, of patriotism and cultural differences.  Of masters and slaves.  Of conquerors and the conquered.  Of how in the end, love triumphs over all and changes lives forever.

And more than anything else, it is the characters that made me love this musical.  Their interactions, their thoughts, the things said and those left unsaid.  They are what make this story.

I'm going to try to give you my favorite quotes from everyone. Some of these you would have read in the two posts on the plot, but they are so good, I think they bear repeating.  :D  (These are solely dialogue quotes, not any quotes from the songs.  If I included song quotes, this post would never end.)

"Well, I took this soldier from your ranks.  So by your own logic, he belongs to me."

"What that man sees and understands may be etched on a grain of sand."

"To dry my weeping eyes.  Forced to marry a Princess?  Oh, what hardships."

"I deserve this.  And our people deserve a leader who thinks of them.  Not of her own selfish pleasures."

"Excuse me Captain, but I have linen to wash."

"Nubia will never die.  Whether we are enslaved or whether we are far from our native soil, Nubia lives in our hearts." 

"I would never make you.  But, I'm asking you, as my friend."

"No wonder you understood me so well."

"I was wronged.  It should be my decision."

One of my favorite Amneris moments is before the song Like Father, Like Son.  Zoser is explaining to Amneris why the Egyptian armies have conquered and invaded other lands, and Amneris says, "Our Egyptian armies just stormed in and seized power? How oppressive of us."  Zoser mockingly replies, "Perhaps, Princess. But where do you think that beautiful necklace came from?"  Amneris looks thoughtfully at her necklace and removes it, saying quietly, "Suddenly it's not so beautiful."

"They're all women.  They wouldn't last a day underground."

"It was arranged by my father.  It will be un-arranged by me."

"I will do what you ask of me.  But, you must also do something for me.  Go home.  Leave Egypt forever."

"If I have to search for a hundred lifetimes, I will find you again, Aida."

"Yes, oh Chief Minister Zoser, beloved by the gods, the people and himself."

"The day his ship sinks and the royal builders refuse to make him another."

"Okay, so I told one person.  Maybe two.  Princess, your people need to know."

"The Princess.  Your betrothed."

"Me?  Actually, I'm better at providing encouragement from the sidelines."

ZOSER:  (Zoser being the villain, these favorite quotes all illustrate his villainy.  So, I guess they are technically favorite bad quotes?)

"Rhadames, I've spent years working toward this day.  And you are not going to ruin it – for yourself or me!"

"I can't have you neglecting the girl.  Not after all the trouble I've gone to."

"No... that can't happen.  Egypt needs me!!"

Have I bored you all with Aida yet?  What are your favorite quotes from this musical?

Miss Melody Muffin

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

AIDA: My Favorite Songs (and Performers)

I simply could not spotlight Aida without doing a post on my favorite songs from the musical.  These are the songs I fell in love with before I even knew all of the plot, the songs I go around singing at the top of my lungs (just ask my family, who has learned to ignore me when I burst out with, "Is it written in the stars, are we paying for some crime...."  :D)

But, first... my favorite version.  I mentioned before that the only version I've seen all the way through was done by a Youth Musical Theatre Association (hereafter abbreviated as YMTA).  I have seen partial bootlegs of two of the Broadway casts.  And, I've seen bootleg clips of some of the foreign language versions from around the world.  Overall, my favorite version so far, remains the YMTA.  They aren't Broadway quality, but they are still quite good.  (And a tiny bit of the objectionable content is missing.  More points for it.)
This is the link to go to the playlist of the YMTA performance.  I recommend it, but as I said before, be warned, there are several objectionable moments (I think I covered all of them in my review posts).

My personal favorite performers in each role: (based on the versions I've seen so far)
Aida: the YMTA Aida - Genevieve Penn.  I really like her version of Aida- yes, better than both Broadway Aidas I've seen.  I think she brings an innocence and a youth to the role that I think Aida would have had, and that neither of the Broadway actresses nailed.

And for me, the Korean Aida - Ok Joo-Hyun- ties for first place with Genevieve.  (You'll see some of her performance later this week.)

Rhadames: the YMTA Rhadames - Blake Ewing.  His voice is kind of nasal at times, and at first I didn't like him very well, but he really grew on me.  I still don't think much of his voice, but his acting!!!!  And the chemistry he has with the actress playing Aida is excellent.

EDIT/UPDATE: I take back everything I've said about not liking Blake Ewing's voice or performance.  He definitely now ranks as my favorite Rhadames.  (Well, if Ramin were to act the role, he'd probably be my top favorite, but that's beside the point.)

Although Ramin Karimloo didn't actually play the part of Rhadames, he did sing two of Rhadames' songs on one of his albums, and he beats everyone else all hollow.  So, my favorite voice for Rhadames is Ramin (and yes, he is in my dream cast for Aida- more on that in a later post).

Amneris: the YMTA Amneris (Rachael Schunk) was good, but my favorite Amneris is Idina Menzel.  She was in one of the Broadway casts.  (There is actually a bootleg of the entire Aida production with Idina in it on YouTube, but the quality is horrible.)

Mereb: again, the YMTA's Daniel Cathers wins for me.  His acting is very good, and his facial expressions hilarious!

Nehebkha: the only one I've seen is the YMTA's, so I can't really pick a favorite.  She is pretty good, though.

Pharaoh: the YMTA is the only one I've seen.  He is good, and yet, he always makes me want to laugh, because in most of his scenes, Pharaoh just sits there, making high sounding speeches or looking like a statue.

Zoser:  I think I saw one of the Broadway Zosers but I can't remember his name.  The YMTA Zoser is played by Stephen Cathers and he does a very good, evil job.  His chemistry with Rhadames is great, and hilarious to see, especially in Like Father, Like Son (again, I don't recommend all of this song).

Amonasro: um, again, the YMTA is the only Amonasro I've seen.

Ok, now, my favorite songs, complete with videos:

The Past is Another Land:
This song is so poignant and beautiful.  'You know nothing about me, and care even less, how can you understand our emptiness?... the past is now another world.... the present is an empty space, between the good and bad....       the future is a barren world, from which I can't return... Shining like an evil sun, as my childhood treasures burn.  (That is my favorite line- it is so expressive and picturesque.)

This is the YMTA's version:

How I Know You:
I absolutely LOVE Mereb in this song.  Trying to convince Aida to let him tell the other slaves who she is, and her so resolutely saying, "No!"


Enchantment Passing Through:
I love, love, LOVE this song!!!!!!  "To sail away to half discovered places.  To see the secrets so few eyes have seen....  If I could leave this place then I'd go sailing, to corners of my land where there would be, sweet southern winds of liberty prevailing, the beauty so majestic and so free... There'd be no ties of time and space to bind me.... But why did I tell her this?  A stranger I've just met,  A woman who I hardly know at all and should forget....  (I especially love their chemistry in this song!)  (This is a 'dream song role' of mine.  I want to act this someday.  Just the song, not necessarily the whole role.  Especially when she leaves him at the end.)


Not Me:
This song is superb because it shows how far the characters have already come and how each is changing. Mereb is fantastic here.

YMTA's version:

And a very bad quality bootleg of Idina Menzel in Not Me.  Quite foggy as to sound, but you can get an idea of how good she is:

Elaborate Lives:
The melody to this song isn't my favorite, but the lyrics are wonderful, "We all lead such elaborate lives, wild ambitions in our sights.... I'm so tired of all were going through, I don't want to live like that.... I just want to be with you, now and forever, peaceful, true...."


A Step Too Far:
I can't find a version of this with Idina Menzel, so here is the YMTA:

A live verison with the Original Broadway Cast:  I don't mind this one too much.  (Normally, the OBC just kind of annoys me.)  Somehow I like it better live, than the cast recording.

Rhadames Letter:
Done by the incomparable Ramin Karimloo!  (I can't get the video to embed.  ):  Sorry!)

And here is a live version in which Ramin mentions how much he likes Aida.  Also, some other amusing things, and you get more Ramin wonderfulness, like Music of the Night and Do You Hear the People Sing?  (In French, no less!)  :D

How I Know You Reprise:
This is so sad, because Mereb is beginning to lose faith in his beloved princess, thinking maybe she doesn't care enough for Nubia after all.

It is tragic, stunningly gorgeous, and heartbreaking.  "Is it written in the stars?  Are we paying for some crime?  Is that all that we are good for, just a stretch of mortal time?  For some god's experiment, in which we have no say, in which we're given paradise, but only for a day."

This is my favorite version - again with the SUPERB voice of Ramin.

My second favorite version of Written in the Stars is a Korean version, but I'm saving that for another post.  Here is the YMTA's version:  (not nearly as good as Ramin, but not bad.)

I Know the Truth:
My favorite of Amneris' songs, sung by none other than the one and only Idina Menzel.  (It was really hard to find a video of Idina singing this with even halfway decent sound.)


Elaborate Lives Reprise:
So sad, but mainly because it is sung as they wait for death.

Every Story is a Love Story Reprise:
My second favorite Amneris moment.  It is wonderful to know that something good came out of all the tragedy and heartbreak - it guided the next Pharaoh to be a better ruler.


Miss Melody Muffin

AIDA: The Story – Part Two

Ok, now I shall try to give you even a little taste of the magnificence of Act Two.  Yes, I said yesterday that Act One was awesomeness.  Well, Act Two is definitely magnificence.  And grief.  And full of wonderful, beautiful character moments and songs.

Seriously, did I mention how much I ADORE this musical?  =D

Again, this post is practically oozing spoilers.  :)

AIDA: ACT TWO:  (Again, song titles are in italics.)
Aida, Amneris and Rhadames realize they are each caught in a tangled web.  Amneris - daughter of the Pharaoh, betrothed to Egypt's most lauded captain, worried for her father and her future, in love with a man who pays little attention to her, covering her problems and thoughts with the mask of a fashion-loving, vain, spoiled princess.  "There are times when I imagine, I'm not always on his mind.  He's not thinking what I'm thinking.  Always half a step behind, always half a step behind."  Rhadames - betrothed to Amneris, groomed to take the Pharoah's throne upon his death, but in love with a slave girl, and willing to throw everything away for her.  He no longer has the same ambitions for glory that he had. "I'm in every kind of trouble, can't you tell, just look at me.  Half ecstatic, half dejected, all in all I'm all at sea."  Aida - a slave in love with her captor, the enemy of her people, and the fiance of her mistress.  Needing to be a strong leader for her people but worried for her father who is imprisoned by the Egyptians, wanting to return to Nubia and yet be with Rhadames at the same time.  "I am certain that I love him, but a love can be misplaced.  Have I compromised my people, in my passion and my haste?" – A Step Too Far.

The cunning Mereb is able to bribe his way past a prison guard with Aida to sneak into the prison cell where Amonasro is being held.  There, all three plot how to escape.  Mereb can bribe the guard on duty, and thus break Amonasro out.  Aida displays Rhadames' medal, saying they can use it to help them get past the guards at the docks. Mereb is surprised, "Captain Rhadames gave that to you?!"  He knows what that medal means, and what it must mean if Rhadames gave it to Aida.  Amonasro is livid that his daughter can have forgotten herself so far as to fall in love with the enemy.  "Do not shame yourself and me with such witless sentiment.... You will cut this man from your heart.... I would not have thought it possible that these Egyptians could give me one more reason to hate them."

Aida aches, knowing she must give up Rhadames for her father's escape to work, "All I have to do is to pretend I never knew him, on those very rare occasions when he steals into my heart.... All I ever wanted and I'm throwing it away." – Easy as Life.

Rhadames' scheming father, Zoser, has discovered his son's secret and tries to make him renounce Aida, basically saying,  "You'd give up your entire future, for her?"  But, Rhadames has never wanted the future his father planned out for him, "I don't care about the throne, father. Because I'm not like you. And I never will be.... You can forget about your plans, father. There will be no wedding!" – Like Father, Like Son.   (CONTENT WARNING: this song has some language issues, especially the second half of it.) Seeing that Rhadames will not give up Aida, or the love he's found with her, Zoser orders his soldiers to find Aida and kill her.

Meanwhile, Aida has received a letter from Rhadames, apologizing for earlier, when the news came of Amonasro's capture.  "I'm sorry for everything I've said.  And for anything I forgot to say too.... Oh I wish I could tell you this face to face.... This letter will have to do.  I love you." – Rhadames' Letter.

When Zoser's soldiers arrive at the Nubian camp and demand Aida, the faithful Nehebkha comes forward and declares herself as Aida, while the other Nubian slaves hide Aida and prevent her from stopping Nehebka or revealing herself.   The soldiers drag Nehebkha to her death; she has sacrificed herself for the princess she loves, believes in and trusts – Dance of the Robe, Reprise.  (And my heart is ripped into a dozen pieces.)

Aida determines she cannot just leave Rhadames without a word of explanation and that she must bid him goodbye in person.  Mereb tries to dissuade her, "No! No! You cannot give yourself to him..... You are our Princess, our inspiration, our promise of a new day."  Aida goes anyway, leaving Mereb disillusioned, "I thought I knew you, princess.  But I never understood.  I don't know you." – I Know You, Reprise.

When she meets Rhadames, he is overjoyed she is alive, having thought his father's soldiers had killed her.  "They came for me.  But they took another.  I blame myself."  "No. I put you in danger. But I swear, it will never happen again."  He has decided to call off the wedding so he can be with Aida.  Knowing this will endanger her father's escape, Aida tells him, "No.  I love you, Radames.  But you must marry the princess tomorrow...  I am here to tell you, we can never meet again." – Written in the Stars.  (My favorite song in the entire musical.  Tragic, beautiful, full of power.)  Torn, hurting at her rejection of him, but knowing she is right, Rhadames agrees.  He will marry Amneris, but in return Aida must escape on a boat he will provide and return to Nubia.  He will at least have that measure of happiness, in knowing that while he lives the life planned for him, she will be free.

After they part, Amneris steps out of the shadows, having heard their encounter and stunned at the realization her love and marriage will be one-sided.  Rhadames does not love her.  He is in love with her slave.  "This should have been my time.  It's over, it never began.... I know the truth and it haunts me... I learned it a little too late." – I Know the Truth.  Covering her pain with a wooden mask, she proceeds to the wedding.  Stony faced, Rhadames meets her, they stand before the Pharoah and he marries them.  Soldiers rush in, with the news that the King of Nubia has escaped.  Rhadames orders his soldiers to search the city.  Zoser tells them to go to the docks, that is the most likely route of escape.  Remembering Aida's planned escape, Rhadames countermands the order.  "No!  Seal off the docks!  No one must reach the pier before I arrive there."

At the docks, Amonasro, Aida and Mereb are climbing into the waiting boat, when Rhadames arrives.  Over her father's protests, Aida goes back for one last moment with her beloved.  Rhadames is shocked and horrified to see her with Amonasro, and suddenly the light dawns, "Of course.  You're the Nubian Princess.  You had me marry Amneris so your king could escape.... It was all a lie.  Every word, every kiss."  Aida vehemently refutes that, "No.  But I have made too many mistakes and too many people have suffered.  I could not act selfishly now.... I did not lie when I said I loved you."  Zoser arrives, and is livid upon discovering Aida is still alive.  He starts toward her, intending to kill her himself, but Mereb throws himself between the Minister and his princess.  Rhadames and Amonasro urge Aida to get into the boat, but she refuses to leave without Mereb.  Mereb dispatches one of Zoser's soldiers and then duels Zoser himself, who mortally wounds him.  Aida rushes to cradle the dying Mereb.  Rhadames leaps to the dock edge and over his father's shouts of protest, whips out his sword and cuts the rope binding the boat to the docks, ensuring Amonasro's escape.  White with fury, Zoser demands to know what Rhadames is doing.  "It's all over, Father.  When they come for me, they'll come for you."  Zoser seems to find this hard to believe, "Egypt needs me!"  (At this moment, I always think, "Yeah right, you egotistical idiot.  Egypt will be much better off without you!!")  Rhadames just shakes his head, "I never wanted this... you were the one who tied our fates together, remember?  Like father, like son?"  Zoser runs off.

Rhadames kneels next to Aida as Mereb gasps, "I failed you, Princess."  Aida shakes her head in denial, "No Mereb, you inspired me."  As he dies he simply says, "I wanted to go back to Nubia, take me home, Aida."  (And my heart is torn into a hundred pieces.)  Gently, Rhadames and Aida lay down the faithful servant.  They share one last embrace, as the soldiers enter to put them both in chains.  Amneris approaches, begging Rhadames to deny everything, "If you deny everything, my father might spare your life...."  He refuses to take the easy way out, "Every act of my life has been wrong, except for this."  Amneris is holding back tears, "But, they want to bury you alive!"  He is calmly accepting, "Yes.  It's what we do to traitors."  Heartbroken, she asks him, "Did you ever love me?"  "Amneris, I've always loved you."  The soldiers drag him away.  Amneris turns to Aida, and incensed at the soldiers dragging her, screams at them, "Take your hands off her... After all she is a princess...  No wonder you understood me so well."  She comes nearer to Aida, who apologizes for everything, and pleads with her to spare Rhadames and put all the blame on her.  Amneris, as much as she wants to, knows she cannot.  There is nothing she can do for the man she loves.  Or the woman she has also come to love and look on as a friend.  (And my heart shatters into a thousand pieces.)

In the judgement hall, the Pharaoh pronounces their sentences.  The traitors are to be buried alive.  In a superb, GLORIOUS scene, Amneris demands she be allowed to decide their sentence, "I was wronged. It should be my decision....  For their crimes, the traitors will be buried beneath the sands of Egypt, in one tomb...together.  The Daughter of Isis has spoken."  The best she can do, for the two people she loves, is to let them die together.

As they wait for death, Aida tells Rhadames, "I'm so tired of all we're going through.  I don't want to love like that.  I just want to be with you.  Now and forever peaceful, true." – Elaborate Lives, Reprise.  Once in the tomb, dying, Rhadames promises, "There is another world waiting for us, Aida....  If I have to search for a hundred life times, I will find you again, Aida." – Enchantment Passing Through, Reprise.

Amneris is now alone, the ruler of Egypt, but a better and wiser ruler thanks to what she has learned from Rhadames and Aida, "From deep within the tomb, a gentle light still shone, showing me my path as I ascended to the throne....  The lovers' deaths gave birth to a reign of peace....  And the lesson they provide.  Draw their strength and inspiration, from a love that never dies." – Every Story is a Love Story, Reprise.  We return to the scene in the modern museum exhibit, and Amneris returns to her display case, watching over the man and woman drawn to each other in front of the empty tomb.  They are the reincarnations of Aida and Rhadames.  They have found each other again.  (Is this theologically sound– no.  Is it kind of cool anyway?  I think so.)

And, having slashed my heart into a million pieces, and then stomped on the pieces... as the musical ends I look around me, and realize the rest of the world is carrying on as normal.  I must return to the real world, and withdraw from the fascinating world of....


Miss Melody Muffin

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AIDA The Story - Part One

Ok, I've written and rewritten this post several times and it still didn't come out quite the way I wanted it to.  (My sister says it's because I'm a perfectionist).

You see, I started out to write just a simple synopsis/summary of the musical.  And it grew into a five page telling of the story.   Well, that was just way too long.  So, I chopped it down.  But it still refused to be a summary, synopsis, or anything short.

So my exuberant enthusiasm for this musical is to blame for the rambling extended review.   :D

CAUTION:  This post is CHOCK-FULL of spoilers.  Proceed at your own risk.  :D

WARNING:  Although my review will be in family friendly terms, this is a mature musical.  I do not recommend it to anyone under 16.

NOTE: This is the musical Aida, by Elton John and Tim Rice.  It differs somewhat from the opera of the same name by Verdi.

Ok, you're probably saying, "Can we just get down to business now?"  :D

AIDA: ACT ONE      (Song titles are in italics.)
The story begins in an exhibit about Ancient Egypt in a museum.  Visitors flow around the display cases.  A young man and woman are strangely drawn to each other and stand before the empty tomb in the middle of the exhibit.  The statue of the female Pharaoh on the right (dressed in a magnificent red gown that I would love to have!!!) comes alive, informing us "Every story... All are tales of human failing, all are tales of love at heart.  This is the story of love that flourished in time of hate.  Of lovers no tyranny could separate.  Love set into motion on the Nile's shore, destiny ignited by an act of war."– Every Story is a Love Story.

The scene rolls back to Ancient Egypt and the returning Egyptian army, led by Captain Rhadames.  They are flushed with the success of their expedition - having penetrated into previously unexplored lands, conquered part of Nubia, their neighbor to the south, and brought back more slaves - from Nubia.  Captain Rhadames is especially elated, "We seize the day... we touch the stars....  Nothing is an accident, we are free to have it all, we are what we want to be, it is in ourselves to rise or fall." – Fortune Favors the Brave.  As the newly captured slave women are being led off, one of them breaks free, snatches a sword from a drunken soldier and takes him hostage, the blade at his throat.  (And I cheer! :D)  Rhadames orders her to release him, but she defies him: "You took us from Nubia...and now you say we belong to you, yes?"  Rhadames: "Yes."  The slave (revealed to be Aida) replies: "Well, I took this soldier from your ranks.  So, by your own logic he belongs to me."  (One of my favorite scenes!)  It does her no good, except to make Rhadames realize she is a feisty, unusual slave.  As a special punishment for her defiance, he orders her to wash his back.  Reluctantly, she complies, (rather roughly, heehee!).  But, when he makes a disparaging comment about Nubians, she stops and refuses to continue: "You know nothing about me, and care even less.  How could you understand our emptiness.... The future is a barren world, from which I can't return... Shining like an evil sun, as my childhood treasures burn!" – The Past is Another Land.

Rhadames father, Chief Minister Zoser as we are informed by Mereb, "Loved by the gods, the people and himself," arrives to greet his son, ordering the slaves taken to the copper mines.  Rhadames, realizing the women would not survive very long in the mines, countermands the order, and has them sent to the palace groundskeeper instead, reserving Aida as a gift for the Pharaoh's only child, the Princess Amneris.  He instructs Mereb, his Nubian servant, to take Aida to the Princess.  Mereb is startled upon hearing Aida's name.  Excitedly, Rhadames details the success of his expedition to his father, and that as soon as his crew is rested, he is leaving again.  Zoser informs him he can't. Egypt needs him.  The Pharaoh is dying, and Rhadames must marry Amneris and prepare to take the Pharaoh's throne.  "Our most regal invalid is not that much longer for us... Put 5,000 saves on standby... Build another pyramid!" – Another Pyramid.  Annoyed and worried about the pharaoh, Rhadames leaves, to pay his respects to Pharaoh.  Zoser, grinning evilly, reveals in conversation with his goons that he is poisoning the Pharaoh slowly.  (This guy is terrifically evil and conniving.)

While taking Aida to the Princess, Mereb tells her he is still Nubian at heart, though he seems to be at home in Egypt.  Furthermore, he tells her Rhadames is not a bad master and even a decent man underneath, proven by the fact he noticed Aida is special.  She retorts, "What that man sees and understands may be etched on a grain of sand."  (I LOVE her retorts!!)  And then we discover why he was startled at hearing her name earlier.  "I grew up in your hometown, which surely explains, how I know you.  My father was... advisor to the King (of Nubia)... for as you're his daughter...." – How I Know You.  Stunned, Aida refuses to allow Mereb to tell the other Nubian slaves she is the princess, fearing reprisals from the Egyptians.  Just take her to the Princess Amneris and allow her to begin her new life as a slave.  Mereb tells her, "Just so you know, Amneris is more than that (just a Princess) to Rhadames.  She is his betrothed."  Aida seems a bit surprised and asks when the wedding is to be.  Mereb laughs, "The day his ship sinks and the royal builders refuse to make him another!"  (Mereb is just fantastic!  He has the best smart mouth retorts in the musical.)

Taken to Amneris, "First in beauty, wisdom and accesories," as Mereb tells us, Aida quickly endears herself to the Princess, finding her a fashion obsessed, vain woman – My Strongest Suit.  (CONTENT WARNING: This song has low/short costumes, and some odd dancing.)  That evening, Rhadames attempts to find out more about Aida, who has intrigued him, from Mereb, who is very close-mouthed.  At the banquet celebrating his return, Rhadames is crushed to learn that he is to be married to Amneris in seven days and will never leave Egypt again.  (CONTENT WARNING: there are some dancing girls in skimpy costumes who dance at the banquet.)  While serving at the banquet, Aida is shocked and angered to discover from some of her fellow slaves that Mereb has indeed told them she is the Nubian princess.  Alone in the banquet hall, Rhadames, deeply upset his exploring days are over, bursts out, repeating bitterly his words from earlier, "Nothing is an accident, We are free to have it all, we are what we want to be, it's in ourselves to rise or fall.  This is easy to believe, when distant places call to me, it's harder from the palace yard." – Fortune Favors the Brave (Reprise).  Surprisingly, he wins a response from Aida, who is still in the hall.  "If I could leave this place then I'd go sailing... There'd be no ties of time and space to bind me... But why should I tell you this?  A stranger I've just met.  A woman who I hardly know at all and should forget!" – Enchantment Passing Through.

Back in Amneris' chamber, as Aida brushes her hair, Amneris worries about her father, finding in Aida a kindred spirit, one who understands the real Amneris, underneath her fashion-obsessed mask – My Strongest Suit (Reprise).  Rhadames, angry and bewildered at the way Aida left him in the hall, bursts into Amneris' room to confront Aida.  (CONTENT WARNING: this is one of the scenes I recommend skipping because of the suggestive language and the Amneris/Rhadames interaction.)

Mereb tries to persuade Aida to visit the Nubian camp.  Aida strenuously refuses, declaring it is because of her own folly that she and the other women with her were captured.  Over Aida's objections, Mereb takes her to the camp, where the slaves hail her as their leader and savior – Dance of the Robe.

Rhadames reveales he is increasingly attracted to Aida, and he believes her to be attracted to him as well.  When he asks her how he can make her life easier, she tells him, "Help my people...  I am my people."  She cannot tell him if she feels anything for him.  He goes so far as to kiss her, trying to win a response from her.   They are interrupted by Mereb, sent to fetch Aida by Amneris: (I love how he is very 'older brother' in this scene) "Aida, Amneris requests your presence.  The Princess.  (And then sternly to Rhadames) Your betrothed."  :D  To Aida's shock, Rhadames really does help the Nubians, giving them all his possessions.  Not only does it surprise Aida, it surprises Mereb and even Rhadames himself.  "Who'd have guessed I'd throw my world away, to be with someone I'm afraid will say, not me, not me." – Not Me  When Aida thanks him for what he has done, he confesses he is in love with her.  Aida cannot believe what he is saying- he is engaged to the princess, her mistress!!!  Rhadames shrugs, "It was arranged by my father, it will be un-arranged by me."  He makes an impassioned plea of love to Aida, rousing her to admit she does feel something for him –Elaborate Lives.  (CONTENT WARNING: In some versions of this scene, she removes his jacket.)

Mereb interrupts them (again :D) to tell them the Egyptian armies have catured the Nubian King.  Aida is grief-stricken at the news and they part, Rhadames going to deal with the King's capture, and Aida returning to her duties, torn between love for Rhadames and love for her father and her people, as well as her duty to her people and her mistress.

The slaves are cast into despair by the capture of their king, but Aida puts spirit back into them, "Nubia will never die!  Nubia lives in our hearts.... The gods love Nubia, we have to keep believing. That scattered and divided, we are still it's heart." – The Gods Love Nubia.

She has become the leader her people so desperately need.

And all this rambling still has not managed to convey the sheer awesomeness of this musical.  :D

Part Two coming tomorrow!!!

Miss Melody Muffin

Monday, September 23, 2013



Today marks the beginning of the Celebrate Musicals Week, hosted by my friend Amy Dashwood over at her blog Yet Another Period Drama Blog.

The very first musical I ever saw, was the Sound of Music.  After that, I don't think I'd seen any other musical until I watched Les Miserables last year.  Since then, I've become a HUGE fan of not just Les Mis, but the Phantom of the Opera also, and I greatly enjoy several other musicals.

The musical I will be spotlighting this week is.....

Wait for it....

I'm being mean....  :D


It is a musical by Elton John and Tim Rice based on the opera of the same name by Giuseppe Verdi.  I look forward to introducing you to this musical and why I love it.

I had known of Verdi's opera for a few years, and one of my favorite pieces of classical music is from it- The Grand March.  I've not actually seen the opera.  (Someday....)

Some months ago, I was listening to a playlist of Ramin Karimloo songs while I was writing.  One of the songs was one I had never heard of before, but which caught my attention immediately.  It sounded tragically beautiful and was called Written in the Stars.  In the description of the video, it said the song was from Aida.  I immediately thought of the opera, and wondered if the song was an English translation of a song from the opera.  I looked it up online and discovered the song was from a musical based on the opera!!!!!!  Was I excited!!  I went looking for the soundtrack on YouTube and spent days and weeks listening to it.  Some of the songs were a bit too modern feeling for me, but I loved others and they quickly became favorites of mine.

And now, here is the tag Amy has made to kick off the week with.

1.  What musical did you pick to "spotlight" this week and why?
Aida, by Elton John and Tim Rice.  For a while, I couldn't decide between Aida and The King and I, but fewer people have heard of Aida, so I decided to go with the lesser known one.

2.  How did you discover the musical you picked (hereinafter referred to as "your musical")?
A playlist of Ramin Karimloo songs.  See above.

3.  If you had to pick three favorite songs from your musical, which ones would they be?
Only three???  Hmmm:
Written in the Stars
Enchantment Passing Through
Not Me

4.  What's your least favorite song from your musical?
Like Father, Like Son.  Zoser's part of the lyrics is just... ick.

5.  Who are your favorite characters (choose up to three)?
Aida, Amneris and Rhadames.  They also happen to be the three main characters.

6.  Which versions of your musical have you seen/listened to, and which is your favorite?
The Original Broadway Cast recording is usually the one I listen to.  I've seen the Youth Musical Theatre Association's version, and enjoyed it.  I've also seen bootlegs of various performers from all over the globe.  My default favorite is the Youth Musical Theatre Association's performance- simply because it is the only one I've seen all the way through.  :)

7.   Is this your favorite musical of all time?  If not, what is?
It is not, though it does rank within my top ten, and probably my top five.  Les Miserables and the Phantom of the Opera tie for my favorite musical.

8.   Which cast album/musical soundtrack in your collection do you listen to the most?

Well, the only one I currently have is the Original Broadway Cast recording of Les Mis, and I listen to it a lot.  Online, I listen most to Aida, Phantom, Les Mis, Mozart! and I'm starting to really like The King and I.

9.   What is your favorite costume from your musical?
Aida's purple/red (depending on what version you see) dress.  HERE  (Not the best picture, but all I could find.)

10.  If you could change anything about your musical, what would you change?
I'd cut out some of the inapropriate scenes with Amneris, and at least one scene with Rhadames and Aida.  And change some of the costumes definitely.  I'd like them to have a much more Ancient Egyptian feel to them.  And there are some modesty issues.

11.  Which role(s) would you most like to play in any musical, if you had the opportunity to do so on stage?
Eponine from Les Miserables, hands down.  If it didn't involve so much kissing and a few other things, I'd also like to play Aida, Elphaba in Wicked and Anne of Green Gables (though I doubt I could pull off the red hair).  Mother Abbess in the Sound of Music would be interesting, as would Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  And I think the role of Flick Wimple in the The In-Between (a musical that has never been performed, but which I love the concept music from) would be intriguing.  (Goodness, that is a long list!)

12.  If you could choose one performer to play any part in your musical, who would you choose and which part would you have them play?
Ramin Karimloo in the role of Rhadames.  (Are you reading this, Tom Hooper/Universal Pictures?!!)

13.  Do you consider yourself a musical theatre fan in general or do you just like a few musicals?
A musical theatre fan.  :D

14.  Are you tired of the word "musical" yet?


15.  Turn your music playing device on shuffle (or utilize Pandora if you don't have one) and tell us the names of the first three show tunes that come up-- no cheating!  How do these rank on your favorites/most-listened-to list?

1. One Day More- (movie cast)
2. Suddenly- Hugh Jackman
3. A Whole New World

In order of preference:
1. One Day More
2. A Whole New World
3. Suddenly- Hugh Jackman

Tomorrow, you shall hear much more about Aida!

Miss Melody Muffin

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Check This Out!!!!!

Hi everyone!

I'm just popping on quick to tell you all about a fantastic event that will be happening next week.  It is called the Celebrate Musicals Week and it will be hosted by Amy Dashwood at her BLOG.


It begins on Monday next week and runs through Saturday.  Basically, to take part, just choose your favorite musical and write at least three posts about it.  And post one of the delightful buttons she has made.  At the end of the week, link up on her blog.

For buttons, the exact rules, and more information, go to THIS POST.

I am eagerly looking forward to this event and I hope to see you there!  Let's celebrate musicals together!!!

Miss Melody Muffin

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Christmas With the Tittletons – Tag

Kathryn of Hidden Orchards has published her first book!!!!!  It is a historical mystery titled Christmas With the Tittletons and you can buy it HERE.

To celebrate, Kathryn created this tag for other bloggers to fill out.  Thank you, Kendra, for tagging me!!!

The rules:
1.  Please post ALL the rules.
2. Please answer ALL the questions.
3. Comment on this post when you have completed the tag and include a link to your tag post.
4. Tag five other people.
5. Let the people know that you tagged them.
6. Include a link back to this post.

The tag questions:
1.  What is your favorite Historical Mystery book?
I haven't read nearly as many historical mysteries as I would like to, so I think it would have to be The Hound of the Baskervilles.

2.  Would you rather read a Classic or a Mystery?
Umm?  Probably a classic, although I do love a good mystery.

3.  How do you think Christmas at the Tittletons will compare to your favorite Mystery?
I think it will be intriguing reading, and hopefully become a new favorite.

4.  How do you think Christmas at the Tittletons will compare to your favorite Classic?
I think it will be a fun, enjoyable read, but probably not have the 'old' feel of a classic.  I'm definitely looking forward to reading it, especially since I have liked what I've read of Kathryn's writing on her blog.

5.  Do you think you would like to write a Historical Mystery sometime?
Yes, I do.  I actually have a few plot ideas in my idea folder, but it will be many months before I'm ready to write them.

I tag:
1. Katherine Sophia  (if she has time)
2. Lizzy  (if she is interested)
3. Eowyn
4. V. Kathie Ardnek
5. Rachel Heffington

Thanks for the fun tag, Kathryn!

Miss Melody Muffin

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ankulen Tag

As part of Kendra's party celebrating the release of her book The Ankulen, she made a tag for us to fill out.  I'm a little behind in posting mine....

1. Did you have any imaginary friends as a child? If so, tell me about them!
Oh, my land, yes.  Tons of imaginary friends.  For the longest time there were two girls named Amy and Kelly (my favorite names when I made them up).  Their younger siblings were also friends with my younger siblings.  We would do almost everything together- lots of picnics, horseback rides, exploring in the woods, building and living in treehouses, hunting wild game, pretending to be queens or pirates....

There were several others but I think Amy and Kelly were around the longest.  My younger sisters and I made elaborate story games with complete families (whose parents typically weren't around much for obscure reasons :D) so we had lots of friends to do things with.  There was one that was centered in a ranching/rodeoing town and another one where our parents were missionaries (yeah, we came up with some odd reasons for us being on our own) and we children lived in a farming community.

Many of these story games and families have made their way into my writing now.

2. An Ankulen is a piece of jewelry that brings imagination to life. If they actually existed, what would yours look like?

Mine is a little emerald-colored pendant in the vague shape of a butterfly.  You can see a picture of it HERE in Kendra's Hall of Ankulens.

3. Based on what you've heard about the Ankulen, what part of it are you most looking forward to? If you have already read it, what was your favorite part?

I think my favorite part is near the end, when Derek... well, I can't tell you what happens because that would spoil the book for those of you who haven't read it.  :D  But it is a very important scene with Derek.

4. What was your favorite book as a child?

When I was very little, it was The Animals of Buttercup Farm.  From the time I was eight until I was around 14, it was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley.

5. How do you think this book will compare to my previous three books?

It definitely has a different feel to it from the Bookania series.  I think the writing is better than the Bookania books I've read so far, and it is certainly every bit as enjoyable as your other books.

That was fun, Kendra!

Miss Melody Muffin 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Interview With Jen

My friend Kendra E. Ardnek just published her fourth book yesterday.  It is called The Ankulen and it is a fantastic story.  You can buy the print version HERE and the Kindle version HERE.

In honor of the book's release, Kendra granted me an interview with the book's real author: Jenifer Marie Brown.

Hi Jen!!  Welcome to my blog and thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.

Do the mermen guards in your imaginary world have names?
Yes, they do!  Now.  I mentioned five of them in The Ankulen: Tryix, Porix, Herman, Denton, and Merlin.

What do mermaids and mermen do for fun?
You know the bubble ball game that the mermaids like to play in Peter Pan? Mine like that game too. They also like exploring caves and mountains and such. Mermaids love to dress up, and Mermen like to practice with their weaponry.

Are there dolphins in the seas of your imagination?
Not at the moment, but I think I'll add some. Thanks for the suggestion!

What colors are the dragons in your imagination?
Any color I felt like making them. They were usually red, but there were some white, black and purple ones in the mix. Now if you want to talk about fancy dragons, my sister, Megan, is the gal to talk to. She's the expert.

What is your least favorite color?
Puke Green. Bleh!

Do you like rain?
When we need it. But if there's too much of it for too long ... it can get ... stifling.

What is your favorite novel?
The Light Princess by George MacDonald. One of the few books that can be funny all the way until nearly the end and the POW! A tear-jerking finale that goes back to being funny. Very well done, very powerful ... if you can get past the songs. It's worst than Tolkien when it comes to unnecessary poetry!

Will you write anymore stories about the adventures that happen in your imagination?
Oh yes, for certain! I'm already working on a short story about one of my childhood adventures (Chris's first contest against Sir Erran), and I have a LARGE supply of more of those. I plan to write a story about Princess Mynna of the Mermaids for NaNo, completely from scratch. This shall be interesting!

I look forward to that story very much, Jen.  Thank you again for stopping by!

Miss Melody Muffin

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Memorable Worlds: the Matter of Britain and the Matter of France

Today I present two more worlds that have had an ENORMOUS influence on me and my writing.  The worlds of Arthurian Legend, also known as the Matter of Britain, and the Song of Roland, which is part of the larger body of literature known as the Matter of France.

My introduction to it:
When I was little, we had a set of childrens' encyclopedias that I loved looking at and reading.  I don't remember how old I was when I first read an entry on King Arthur, but Mom and I think I would have been about 7.  Whenever it was, the tales of chivalry and adventure from the Court of Arthur fired my imagination.  That fire has only grown hotter through the years.

I think it was when I was about 9 or 10, that in those same encyclopedias the story of Charlemagne's Paladin Roland and his betrayal at the pass of Roncesvalles caught my attention.  I've spent years wanting an Olifant horn.  (And I've wondered if it was perhaps an inspiration to Tolkien for Boromir's horn and to C. S. Lewis for Susan's horn?)

My favorite things about each world:
The world of Arthurian legend is amazingly diverse.  The sheer volume of legends and tales is fairly staggering.  It is a rich legacy of writing from the Middle and Dark Ages and it ranges from comedy to tragedy and everything in-between.

Lancelot, Galahad, Tristan and Percival are my favorite knights, and I've spent hours and hours analyzing the Lancelot/Guenivere/Arthur and Tristan/Isolde/Mark triangles.  

The swords!!!!!!!  I love the swords in Arthurian Legend.  Nearly every character has their own sword, with its own unique properties that help or hinder them, depending on what they are doing.

The Song of Roland is another historical tale in the 'chivalrous heroes' style.  Though it ends tragically, I was thrilled to discover, a few years ago, that other stories had been written about the paladins (Orlando Furioso, Orlando Innamorato).

Roland and Oliver are my favorite characters (no surprise there :D), closely followed by female knight, Bradamante.  Again, the swords in this are fascinating, as well as the horses and Roland's horn Olifant.  And I was always very glad at the poetic justice Ganelon received.  :)

How they have influenced my writing:
Both have been a fascinating study in the art of medieval storytelling.

Arthurian legend taught me that dozens of people can take the same basic story and do something completely different with it.  Also that, no matter how many people had done it before, there was still room and material for another story about it.  I love how, although in most cases the basic legend of Arthur's parentage, raising, and how he ascended the throne is the same; beyond that, there is practically unlimited scope for imagination.

The Matter of France has some beautiful character relationships and loyalty.

And, if you want to know more about how these two worlds have made their way into my writing, go HERE to read more about my Three Kyngdoms story.

Miss Melody Muffin