I don’t have much to say about this, but the video is far too wonderful to let it pass unnoted.
The BBC Proms are a legendary British tradition. They began in 1895 as a festival of outdoor summer concerts that featured classical music – some light, but mostly serious. They’re now largely done at the Royal Albert Hall and a few non-classical nights slip in some for the family (Wallace & Grommit had an evening this past year), and some might be with popular music or Broadway. Though they do tend to be “orchestral based.” The season winds up with Proms in the Park.
This video comes for the Promos of this past summer, 2012. It’s an actor performing “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man. No big deal, of course, the song has been done hundreds of times.
Robert Preston, of course, originated the role of ‘Harold Hill’ on Broadway and won a Tony Award for it, before recreating his legendary performance for the movie. The great Dick Van Dyke toured the country with the show and then took it to the City Center in New York. When the musical had a full-fledged revival 2000, Craig Bierko got a Tony nomination for his performance. Matthew Broderick recreated the classic role in the TV movie remake. And countless of other singing-and-dancing stars have performed “Ya Got Trouble” as part of their professional stage acts and in countless local productions.
But this is performed by – Seth MacFarlane! The voice of ‘Stewie’ and ‘Ted’ and so many more. And the thing is…he’s wonderful!
He’s clearly a little nervous, a touch out of his comfort zone. But he knows the song inside-out and where every joke should properly be hit. And this is no easy number to perform. As he walks out, you sit there wondering, geez, is he going to be able to pull this off?? And after about two bars, you smile and think, “He’s got it.” Obviously, he knows musicals and loves the show.
I also watch this and think, “Wait, writers aren’t supposed to be able to do this. Writers are supposed to be the ones who write this and make other people look good doing this.” But there he is, doing this. Yes, I know he performs as a voice artist, but still – I’m a member of the Writers Guild of America. To me, Seth MacFarlane is a writer. First and foremost.
The truth is that he’s trained in music. He’s even put out an album, Music is Better Than Words. And it was even nominated for a Grammy. He's performed with a big band. Singing is clearly a love of his, even if it's not a first career. Or second. But still...a 96-piece orchestra and choir backing you is a far cry from sitting alone in a room typing scripts, Or doing funny voices into a microphone. Or directing others, telling them what to do. This is you, with nowhere to run, doing it yourself. Without any trouble.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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