42 / CHRONICLESna tenacious grip on ebullience andnoptimism—became the single featurenthat detractors of the form found unacceptablenin recent years.nThe musical comedy became increasinglyndismissible and less viablenwhen the nation’s mood did an aboutfacenin the 60’s. Despair, angst, andncynicism had little use for hopefulnessnand even less tolerance for blatantnescapism, the birthright of the musical.nConfronted with such a dilemma,nthe form has been in turmoil evernsince. Seeking a contemporary messiah,na number of critics have turned tonStephen Sondheim for proof that thenform was not dead, but only in anperiod of transition. Only Sondheim,nwith 12 works to his credit (and thenlyrics to three earlier ones), has addressednthe concerns of a presumablynmore sophisticated audience with anynconsistency and relative frequency.nBut that “more sophisticated audience”nhas proven insufficient in numbernto support the cause.nIndeed, Sondheim has yet to write anshow whose run approaches Evita’s,nGrease’s, Hello Dolly’s, Fiddler on thenRoofs, or even Dreamgirls’, let alonenA Chorus Line’s. Of the more than 40nmusicals which had made the list ofnLong Runs, with over 1,000 performances,nmore than half premierednduring the past 20 years (contrary tonthe expectations of many prophets ofndoom); yet, Sondheim is not responsiblenfor a single one.nIf our era has forced America tonrelinquish its proprietary interest onnthe musical comedy and welcome annew British breed—not only the rockoperasnof Andrew Lloyd Webber butnalso a magical revision of the 30’s (Menand My Girl)—it now must makenroom for this French and English hybrid.nBefore, the French were notoriouslynuncongenial to musical comedy.nReportedly, the French today havenmore respect for the English Les Miserablesnthan they did for the originalntwo-hour version that Boublil andnSchonberg staged there in 1980. It willnall come full circle when the Mackintoshnrendering is translated back intonFrench and opens in Paris next year, asnpart of an international schedule thatnhas already booked over 20 productionsnin as many languages.nAll of us will have to await the nextnBoublil and Schonberg collaborationnwhich Mackintosh is committed tonproduce in the fall of 1988: Miss Saigon,nan update of the 1887 novel,nMadame Chrysantheme, by Loti, fromnwhich Puccini derived his opera MadamenButterfly. A key question entailsnhundreds of implications: Will it opennin London or New York?nDavid Kaufman is a theater critic innNew York City.nPOP CULTUREnThe Righteousnessnof Rock?nby Gary S. VasilashnThe Fox Theatre—a grand movie palacenof Detroit’s 1920’s, which is nownused primarily as a venue for acts thatnwon’t fill an arena—contained a chronologicallynmixed crowd in mid-nMarch. Paul Young was in concert.nYoung, a slightly chubby, baby-facednBritish singer (he appears, to borrow anline from Elvis Costello, “teddy-bearntender and tragically hip”), uses thenvocal style known as blue-eyed soul.nHis presence appeals to the young girlsnin search of someone to sigh about; hisnvocal talents bring him to the attentionnof older listeners who are mystified bynthe appreciation (and adulation) ofnbands like Poison, yet who haven’tncompletely succumbed to LionelnRichie, whose delivery has all the kicknof chocolate milk.nYoung, who had to have teenagengirls peeled off of him, wound up hisnshow with a bump-and-grind numbernabout which he remarked, “The governmentnwould put a health warningnon this.” He was referring to the Koopnof condoms, not cigarettes. The operativenword was “sex.” It was repeatedninnumerable times; it could have beennused in one of those count-the-wordncontests that were once popular onnTop 40 radio (e.g., “How many timesndo the Beatles say ‘yeah’ in ‘She LovesnYou’?”). Young’s dismal finale wasnaimed straight at the pubescent glands.nThe young women left the hall in anhormonal haze; the young men leftnwith a few ideas on a single subject; thenolder listeners began to have secondnnnthoughts about Lionel Richie.nA week later, the Beastie Boys werenat the Fox, supporting their thenchart-leadingnalbum. Licensed to III.nThe group performs rap music, originallyna form limited to black streetnmusicians. First, the street went. Thengroup Run DMC hit the studio, andnan audience who claims to find somethingntouching in jump rope lyrics setnto music that is created, in large part,nby rotating a record back and forth onna turntable, made Run DMC a success.nSecond, the race restriction fell.nEnter the Beastie Boys.nWhile Run DMC raps about subjectsnlike bipedalism (“Walk ThisnWay” and “My Adidas”), the BeastienBoys take a more metaphysical approach,nas in “You’ve Got to Fight fornYour Right to Party.”nThe marketing people at MTVn—the same, no doubt, who devisednthe Bon Jovi Hedonism Weekendn—created a contest in which the winnernwould be “kidnapped” by thenBeastie Boys. The lucky individualnwould be taken “bound and gagged” tonspring break at Daytona Beach. I wondernhow it would play in Lebanon.nMeanwhile, Spin magazine, the editor,ndesign director, and publisher ofnwhich is Bob Guccione Jr., son ofnPenthouse, was on the stands with itsnsecond anniversary issue. The covernshows singer Madonna appearing as ancross between a motorcycle moll and ansemi-innocent clutching a sweater.nThe headline for the article she illustratesnis “Sex as a Weapon.” Thenarticle is written by Tama Janowitz,nwho compares rock and movie stars tonthe mythical goddesses and gods. “Onnthe one hand, we worship and admirenthese people, they are the objects ofnour fantasies; and on the other hand,nwe are secretly angry at them and longnto be them.”nIf Janowitz is right. Madonna “isnnot merely selling sex—she is representingnpower.” Power for Madonna,nPaul Young, and others like them isnbased on commercial sensuality. Thenquasi-divine status of Run DMC, thenBeastie Boys, neo-punk bands, andnthat whole flock of leather-wearingnrockers (who are erroneously claimednto be the servants of Satan: let’s face it,nthe Prince of Darkness would havenbetter taste—he’s supposed to be angentleman) is derived from their will-n