Tori Amos’s New Musical: The Next "Wicked"?

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 27 2011 2:25 PM

Tori Amos’s New Musical: The Next "Wicked"?

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Be still my beating middle-school heart: Tori Amos is writinga musical.

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The show based on George MacDonald's 1864 fairy tale "TheLight Princess" will premiere in April 2012 at the National Theatre in London. Singer-songwriterAmos will be writing music and lyrics, with additional lyrics by playwright Samuel Adamson . (Hot-shot director MarianneElliott will be helming the production.)

In MacDonald's story, a wicked aunt curses her princessniece with weightlessness. Her lack of gravity is literal as well asmetaphorical: She laughs "immoderately," MacDonald writes ,and "never could be brought to see the serious side of anything." She can,however, swim, which keeps her from floating off into the air. Eventually aprince comes along and falls in love with her, as princes are wont to do, but theirhappily-ever-after is imperiled when the princess's beloved lake driesup thanks to the aforementioned evil aunt and the prince decides to sacrificehimself to revive it.

Amos being Amos, we can expect a work that combines thedreamy and the dark. "There's nothing wrong with Disney," she toldthe Independent in 2008 , "but mybenchmarks are more West Side Story meets Jesus Christ Superstar . I'mtrying to write a musical that will be relevant to a 16-year-old today, a riteof passage for a young girl into womanhood." Amos hinted to the U.K. paper thather musical will modernize MacDonald's story, drawing out the environmentalthemes and using the princess's "lightness" as a way to explore modernafflictions like anorexia.

The show also promises a healthier take oncross-generational gender issues:

The thing about the original storyI wasn't crazy about is that the princess's disability gets blamed on an oldhag ...We're not going to deal in spells cast by old ladies; we're dealing withproblems caused by power and greed, many of which start with men.

Could Amos's musical with its themes of flight and girlhoodand its revisionist M.O. become the scrappy little sister to Broadwayjuggernaut Wicked ? We'll see next spring.

Meanwhile, you can hear a song from the show, " Winter'sCarol ," on Amos's 2009 "seasonal"album Midwinter Graces . Although thenumber I'm dying to hear is "Delectable Guy Pain," which was inspired, somewhatimprobably, by Shirley Bassey's "Big Spender."

Amos fans can tide themselves over with wrestling legend Mick Foley's unlikelylove letter to the chanteuse , published in Slate last fall. 

 

Photograph of ToriAmos by Frederick M. Brown/Stringer/Getty Images.

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