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Papa, can you hear me? It's the last episode of our Season of Babs, and we're going out strong! That's right: today we look at Barbra Streisand's magnum opus, the 1982 film Yentl – which she both directed and starred in. We talk about: Prayer & Texts: What it means to study sacred texts, and the critical differences between traditionally-Christian …
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Is it a musical? Is it a $6MM home movie? A contemporary Purim spiel? This is a weird movie, you guys. The evergreen story of A Star Is Born has attracted legendary performers like Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Lady Gaga. Today, Peter and Nathan focus on the 1976 film version with Barbra and Kris Kristofferson in the context of Gaga and Garla…
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It may not be a musical, but it sure is close... It's The Way We Were! It’s 1973. Watergate has happened. Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Arthur Laurents, and Sidney Pollack get together to re-create the weepy romcom in the non-musical—but musical-theatre-adjacent!—classic The Way We Were. We talk about: The Conflict: Streisand & Laurents versus …
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Peter and Nathan watched this movie so you don't have to! It's time for a deep cut... We’re talking about the 1970 film version of Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane’s very strange musical, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever – a show about a psychiatrist with terrible boundaries. We talk about: ESP: Is there a meaningful distinction between extrasenso…
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She's still glowin', she's still crowin,' she's still goin' strong... That's right: we're continuing our deep dive into the great Barbra Streisand with a look at the mid-60s Broadway classic, Jerry Herman’s Hello Dolly! We talk about: Discernment: Dolly is a woman on a journey out of grief – and is looking for her sign. What kind of a theology of d…
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Isn’t it "people who DON'T need people are the luckiest people in the world?" Today we look at the role that made Barbara Streisand's early career: the role of Fanny Brice in Jule Styne & Bob Merrill’s 1964 musical Funny Girl and the 1968 film directed by William Wyler. We talk about: The Greatest Star: The phenomenon of the original Fanny Brice, h…
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Everybody said don't, but we're doing it anyway... It's the Gospel According to Babs! It's the queerest thing we've ever done. This season, we're focusing on the musical (and musical-adjacent) films of one of the greats – Barbra Streisand: GOAT queer diva, filmmaker, actor, and singer, who just released her autobiography My Name is Barbra. We talk …
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Schmigadoon is back on Apple TV! The second season takes us in a slightly different direction, and today we explore the theology of the musicals being lovingly spoofed by "Schmicago" and wonder what it means that "every day can be a happy beginning." (By the way... if you missed our episode on Schmigadoon Season 1, you can listen here, or wherever …
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If you're just joining us... It's priestly, it's profane, it's the queerest thing we've ever done – it's the Gospel of Musical Theatre, the podcast that dives deep into the spirituality of musical theatre! When we can't find any spiritual themes to talk about, we talk about the clothes and the chorus boys. Previous seasons: Season 1: Rodgers & Hamm…
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Nathan and Peter welcome Ian Farthing, Vancouver-based actor & director and one of the original London ushers for the West End Production of Starlight Express (1984). We explore the theology & themes of Starlight Express – as well as Lloyd Webber’s more recent musical Sunset Boulevard (1993). We talk about: – Theatre as a vocation, and how vocation…
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We descend into the depths of the Paris Opera for the 1986 musical phenomenon The Phantom of the Opera – a troubling story about abuse, lust, and the power of music.. and one of the most successful & beloved musicals of all time. We talk about: – Is the Phantom (or "Erik" as he’s known in the original novel) a serpent or a savior? – What is the rel…
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Peterskins & Grumblethaniel (Peter & Nathan) ascend to the Heaviside Layer for a close theological reading of one of the strangest, silliest, and most sensational mega-musicals ever to tread the boards: the much-beloved and much-reviled 1981 spectacle that is CATS. We talk about: – The naming of cats and humans – the names that culture and society …
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It's Evita (1978)! The culmination of Lloyd Webber’s collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice, this show offers an epic look at politics, celebrity, and gender through the life of a contemporary saint, Argentina’s beloved First Lady Eva Peron (1919-1952). We wonder: – Whose politics are at work in Evita? What does the musical say about Argentinian poli…
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It's finally here... Today, we turn to the Gospel According to Andrew Lloyd Webber: the Biblical rock-opera phenomenon that is Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)! We talk about: – The context of the late 60s/early 70s that gave rise to a rock opera treatment of the Jesus story – The eroticism in Mary Magdalene’s (and maybe Judas’?) relationship with Jes…
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We're baaaackkkk! We're kicking off our fourth season, a deep dive into the musicals of the one & only Andrew Lloyd Weber: one of the most esteemed and prolific musical theatre composers of all time. In this episode, Nathan & Peter take a look at an early success he and lyricist Tim Rice had in 1968: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat! We…
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To celebrate Pride Month, Peter and Nathan are joined by the incredible Isaac Lamb and Stephanie Smith, director and musical director for a new and groundbreakingly queer production of Meredith Wilson’s 1957 classic musical The Music Man – which opens at Third Rail Repertory Theatre in Portland, OR, on June 17th. We talk about: – Theatre and church…
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We're welcoming a very special guest: Ed Bacon, legendary leader of progressive Christian causes and an inveterate Sondheim fan! With Ed’s help, we pull apart the spirituality, theology (and the trichology!) of what is probably Stephen Sondheim’s best-known—and arguably best-loved) musical, the 1987 masterpiece Into the Woods. We talk about: - The …
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It's time for Peter’s favorite Sondheim musical: Sunday in the Park with George! Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1985 musical masterpiece is a beautiful meditation on art and art-making. We love this show, and we hope you will too. We talk about: - Making art, preaching sermons, and the art of living – and suffering & failu…
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Peter & Nathan's keep rolling through the Sondheim oeuvre with his most notorious "flop," the 1981 Merrily We Roll Along! Is it really a bitter, nihilistic look at growing older? Or is there actually something—dare we say—holy at work in this experimental, bittersweet musical about growing up? We Talk About: - Is it true that, as Mary says, "God do…
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Sort of-guest Arwen Myers—soprano, Sweeney stan, and executive producer of this podcast—joins Peter and Nathan for a wide-reaching conversation about her favorite musical... which just happens to be about murder and meat pies (and Victor Garber). That's right: it's the 1979 Tony-Award winning Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street! We talk …
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We're talking about Sondheim's most commercially successful musical, A Little Night Music (1973) – a witty, clever sex comedy made up, in Hal Prince’s famous words, of "whipped cream with knives." We Talk About: – The show’s big themes – love, sex & time – and how they find expression in the music, especially the now-iconic "Send in the Clowns." – …
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Today we welcome two very special guests: Cantor Ida Rae and Rabbi Michael Cahana of Portland’s Congregation Beth Israel! We're chatting about Sondheim’s Jewish heritage – and the subversive power of ritual & theatre in Jewish contexts. We talk about: Jewishness in the music of Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim West Side Story as an immigrant sh…
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It's camp o'clock! Peter & Nathan turn to Sondheim’s 1971 iconic Follies, a show that takes a loving—but brutal—look at nostalgia, camp, the power of memory, and the danger of looking back. We talk about: Nostalgia. The role of nostalgia and the warning articulated in Follies: "never look back" Camp. The nature of camp, Susan Sontag’s essay "Notes …
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We're moving into the great Sondheim musicals of the 70s & 80s, starting with the groundbreaking Company (1970) – and its perennial questions about gender, sexuality, monogamy, and the changing nature of marriage & human relationships. We talk about: - "New morality” in the works of John A.T. Robinson, Harvey Cox, and how it is explored in the work…
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It's TWO musicals by Stephen Sondheim – a hit & a flop! We're chatting about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) and Anyone Can Whistle (1965)— which lead to an unexpected conversation about comedy, farce... and miracles. We Talk About: Sondheim’s love of obscure source material – how many musicals do you know that are based on th…
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We're starting 2022 right and continuing our discussion of the musicals of the great Stephen Sondheim! Today, we're talking about the iconic Gypsy (1959), Sondheim’s early collaboration with Jule Styne. *We apologize for the audio quality in today's episode - we had some technical difficulties with Nathan's mic! We talk about: The diva phenomenon, …
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That's right... We're not done with West Side Story! Today in this very special bonus episode, we're talking about the 2021 Steven Spielberg adaptation. We talk about: - Spielberg. Spielberg’s style and the political & sociological context that he and screenwriter Tony Kushner bring to the original material - Religion. Shifts in religious imagery f…
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It's time!! We're beginning our long-awaited exploration of the musicals of the great Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021), who died recently at the age of 91. We're starting with one of Sondheim’s early collaborations: the 1957 classic West Side Story, which saw Sondheim working as lyricist alongside composer Leonard Bernstein. We talk about: - Sondheim. …
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In this very special bonus episode, we turn to the contemporary masterpiece (ahem) Schmigadoon! - Apple TV's 2021 spoof/homage to the great musicals of yore. UPDATE: This episode has been endorsed by show creator Cinco Paul, because we're really very famous. We talk about: - Mormons: The show’s creators, Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, and their origins i…
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It's the last installment of our Lerner & Loewe deep dive, and it's kind of a downer. But an interesting one: Paint Your Wagon, the quintessential expression of loneliness and the challenge of connection. We talk about: Changes: The differences between the 1951 Broadway musical and the 1969 film – and how things had changed in the real world from 1…
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We're talking about two of Lerner & Loewe's most problematic and legendary (wait for it...) shows - the 1958 film Gigi and the 1960 Broadway musical Camelot! We talk about: - Pedophilia: Gigi’s origin in the short stories of the French writer Colette (1873-1953) and the film's lurking pedophilia - Feminism (and Lack Thereof): The nature of women’s …
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We know you've been waiting for it - this week, we take a critical (but loving) look at Lerner & Loewe's best-known musical, the 1956 classic My Fair Lady! And the faultless Julie Andrews! We talk about: - Myths & Legends: The show’s origin in the mythology of Ovid and the social agenda of English playwright George Bernard Shaw – and, perhaps, the …
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Welcome to Season 2: Lerner & Loewe! Today, we begin our series on the musicals of Alan Jay Lerner (1918-86) and Frederick Lowe (1901-88) – second only to Rodgers & Hammerstein as creators of midcentury musicals that continue to speak to 21st century audiences. And we're talking about Brigadoon. We talk about: - History: The origins of the partners…
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We're on summer break, but before we dive Lerner & Lowe in Season 2, we're so excited to share this conversation with the one & only Robin Kermode: renowned English actor, writer, and communications coach. We chat about about Broadway overtures, code switching, what acting has to teach us about spirituality, and finding your authentic voice. Find R…
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Okay, we'll say it... It's a flop. We're wrapping up our Rodgers & Hammerstein season with one of their lesser-known works: the 1947 musical Allegro, a show that was ahead of its time but that hasn't been produced much since its original run. We talk about: - The Dynamic Duo: Rodgers and Hammerstein as commercial Broadway producers and a creative t…
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It's a good one... We're finally talking about The Sound of Music! Join us for this chat about this Rodgers & Hammerstein masterpiece – both the 1959 stage version and the iconic 1965 film starring the one & only Julie Andrews. We talk about: - Contrasts: How the “marriage trope” intersects a political story about fascism and resistance - The "Prob…
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We're talking about Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King & I (1951), a complicated and beautiful show about cultural imperialism, gender emancipation and the dangers of the white savior complex. We talk about: - Divas: The rise of the “star vehicle” for a diva actor, and the interesting racial & cultural background of Anna Leonowens (and Gertrude Lawre…
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This week, we continue with our deep dive into Rodgers & Hammerstein with South Pacific (1949) – their first “big hit” and a pioneering (but problematic) look at the deeply-embedded racism of white Americans during World War II. We talk about: Mary Martin, Enzo Pinza, and how Rodgers and Hammerstein created a love story where two characters never h…
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We're taking a critical look at the 1945 masterpiece Carousel – maybe Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest score, but a show that definitely hasn't aged well. What can contemporary audiences do with Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow and their complicated and violent relationship? We talk about... Billy and Julie’s complicated relationship and the idea of th…
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This week, we launch our Season 1 tour through some of the major musicals of Richard Rodgers (1902-79) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1865-1965), who are often credited with pioneering the “integrated musical” that largely defined the great musicals of the mid-20th century. In Oklahoma! (1943), we talk about: Definitions of “the land” and who occupies i…
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It's Episode 1 of The Gospel of Musical Theatre, with your favorite cathedral deans and musical theatre queens, Nathan LeRud and Peter Elliott! Peter and Nathan are Anglican priests and cathedral deans in the Pacific Northwest with a deep and geeky love of musicals – and a love for pulling them apart and looking at them from a spiritual perspective…
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