Archikulture Digest

Television’s Greatest Hits in Living Color

Television’s Greatest Hits in Living Color

Directed by Wade Hair

Breakthrough Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>

I swear; you could get at least three more people on that stage. Breakthrough Theatre is a small space with a reputation for big casts, they are famous for packing their stage with more actors than there are seats for the punters. Tonight’s program revisits the great “TV Theme Songs” of the past 50 years. That genera is fading; most video today assumes a more savvy audience and a “play it when you want it” delivery channel. But the theme song fulfilled several important roles in its heyday: It branded a show; it gave the audience some back story on how things came to be; and it let you know the show is starting so hurry up with that snack or that smoke.

We began with the Bugs Bunny Show; it’s the theme to the collected Saturday morning re-runs and not the more notable operatic parodies. We follow with “The Muppets Show” song complete with small “Statler and Waldorf “dolls. They are my favorite Muppets; they provided the original shows self-parody and broke an already crumbing fourth wall. This production’s early years songs were the best even if some were attacked with more enthusiasm than rehearsal. “Gilligan’s Island” and “Meet the Flintstones” take honors as did a belting “Movin’ on Up” from “The Jeffersons.” Less successful was the wandering “Mr. Ed” or a lost in the woods “Those Were the Days” from “All in the Family.”

In recent years theme songs focus more on instrumental introductions, and in the back end of the show not only was there less material to work with but there were precious few shows I had actually seen. Color me iconoclastic but “Malcomb in the Middle” and “The Nanny” came on when I had more hedonistic pursuits. Successes here include a breathless “The Big Bang Theory” and Mr. Hair’s excellent flying effect for “The Greatest American Hero.” Lastly I’ll give points to “The Gilmores Girls” use of Carol King’s “Where You Lead.” This was the best number of the evening, and the only fully fledge pop hit.

Will TV shows continue to have themes? Probably, but like the Golden Age of Comic books and the Golden Age of Musical Theater this is an art form whose peak has passed. Hair approaches this project with tongue firmly in cheek, but adds his veneer of respectability to what was considered advertising or throw away entertainment. Remember “Nirvana” is now an oldies band and no one remembers how to dial the operator any more or why you would want to. The times, and the channels, they are a-changing.

For more information, please visit http://www.breakthroughtheatre.com or look them up on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Breakthrough-Theatre-of-Winter-Park/


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