Saturday, March 21, 2015

Friday Dance Party: Strike A (Final) Pose

Two pop culture phenoms intersected this week to inspire this week's Dance Party.
Nobody in their right mind would suggest these two women resemble each other.  Except those dreamers over at Glee.
Well, okay, here is one instance when Madonna
does resemble Lynch. She recently took a topple
during a live performance in Britain; Lynch is a
bit of a klutz herself.
Madonna's "Vogue" turned 25 years old on Friday, the same day Glee ended its 6 season run. I must first point out that I am not, nor ever have been, a slavish devotee to Madonna, though I have admired her work ethic, and her business sense, over the years.  For decades she's been known as the woman who can, quite cagily, reinvent herself with new images.  That rare ability has kept her on the A list of recording celebrities while other performers' careers wane and fizzle.
It was during Madonna's fling with Warren Beatty that she appeared in his film Dick Tracy and began her Marilyn Monroe period. While portraying mob moll Breathless Mahoney, she was prompted by Beatty to examine her character's inner thoughts/desires.  A list of celebrities was already percolating in her mind when Madonna became aware of the newest dance craze in hip gay nightclubs.  She married the two concepts, and "Vogue" was born.  It hit #1 around the world.
Glee was unable to repeatedly reinvent itself like Madonna, so after an opening season which dominated pop culture for a time, the show slid into irrelevance pretty quickly. 
I claim to have ignored Glee since its first season, but the
Dance Party in these pages begs to differ: the show has
provided 3 previous entrees.  When juvenile male lead Corey
Monteith OD'd, I wrote a little obit here.

I watched the show during that first season, but must confess that I abandoned it thereafter;  I was too frustrated by the wildly fluctuating quality of the show, where one episode would be clever and heartbending and true, and the next would sink like a boot in quicksand.  But there were enough "Gleeks" out there to sustain a run of 6 seasons.
After its first season, Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison were invited back to their Broadway roots to perform at the Tony Awards.  Michele was an alum of Spring Awakening, and Morrison had a slew of White Way Credits.  I included his Tony performance here.
Glee had its share of compelling characters, most of them teenagers who were treated as outcasts by  their peers, but the single Emmy winner among the regular cast was Jane Lynch. 
Turns out Jane Lynch CAN sing, and
CAN resemble Madonna. After this
breakout episode, Jane sang quite a
few times on Glee. She also headlined
the Annie revival on Broadway, and now
that the show is done, she is constructing
a cabaret act. I toasted Lynch on her
birthday a while back, here.
As she was playing the in-house antagonist, it seemed inappropriate that her character break into song, so for the majority of the first season, Jane's Coach Sylvester remained musically mute.  Then an episode came around which featured the music of Madonna, and Glee took a chance that Jane Lynch could carry a tune.
Glee's finale spent a lot of time in Flashback Mode, but as far as I could tell, all the material was new except for this poignant moment. They included the first, and best, sequence which defined the show. In this pivotal scene from the pilot, the original Glee club perform "Don't Stop Believin' " in an empty theatre;  it is the first time we see these kids triumph.  The recording of this song became a substantial hit during season one, and it has special significance as it showcases the late Corey Monteith.
As I mentioned, the series finale of Glee was broadcast on Friday;  I succumbed to the temptation to tune in.  I was lost only a bit of the time, as the creators wisely chose to focus the finale on the original members of the glee club, those same characters which had drawn the audience to the show in the first place. They shamelessly pulled at the heartstrings, showing us "before and after" portraits of these folks;  it was a fitting end to the series.
I suspect that most of Glee's large cast will sink into obscurity soon enough, but a few of them are already making waves on their own. Lea Michele is rumored to be returning to the stage in the first major revival of Funny Girl, and Amber Riley is touring with BeyoncĂ© (just as her character announced in the "flash forward" segment of the finale). Chris Colfer has already written and produced a well-received indie film, and Matthew Morrison is in previews on Broadway playing J.M.Barry in the musical version of Finding Neverland.  And Jane Lynch is hitting the road with her new cabaret act.
But back to this week's Dance Party, which features Jane Lynch performing the Madonna smash "Vogue."  I do not know if this is a true, frame-by-frame recreation of Madonna's video, but who cares?  It's great fun.  Like Rita Hayworth, she gives good face.