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Geppetto

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Matthew Yates - May 10, 2000 12:23

"Geppetto" is one of Mr. Schwartz' most skillful scores. I didn't really go for the movie that much (7 out of 10), but the score was a standout. Mr. Schwartz' score is not only great fun to listen to; it also helps cover some of the egregious flaws in the plot.

All of the songs in "Geppetto" are familiar types, standards of musical theater, but scrupulously avoid falling into cliche. For example, everyone knows a good musical should have a "charm duet." "Cats" has "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer"; "Oklahoma!" has "All or Nothin'"; "My Fair Lady" has "The Rain in Spain." Well, "Geppetto" has "Just Because It's Magic." This is a delightful little number sung by Geppetto and the Blue Fairy, wherein Geppetto tries to get the Blue Fairy to take back her wish because it's just not working out. For this song, Mr. Schwartz was given two stars who are not singers (Drew Carey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and worked w/ the limited range they had. (Don't let Drew fool you; he has a nice upper register.) The result is a real charmer, more memorable than some of the "big" songs.

Another requirement is a big "showstopper." In the Pinocchio story, the obvious place is "Pleasure Island." Mr. Schwartz again takes the obvious and makes it fun by finding several creative rhymes for the word "island." Even though the sequence doesn't fit the new message of the movie, this sequence is delivered well by ex-rapper Usher Raymond. No musical would be complete w/o an "11:00 number." Not enough can be said about "Since I Gave My Heart Away." The simplicity and soulfulness of this song guarantee you will be humming it the rest of the night. As w/ "Pleasure Island," this tear-jerker helps obscure the deus ex machina ending. I think the best advice I can give for those who are fans of Mr. Schwartz and/or Disney is: See it for the music.

comments by Carol de Giere:

The Geppetto CD is heart-melting. Not only is each song fresh and full in itself, but the collection works extremely well as a whole. I bought it before seeing the movie and found myself smoothly transported into that magic world of a delightful story well told. I marvel at how Stephen Schwartz can write lyrics about an old subject, like a parent's love for their child, and express this love poignantly so that we can be touched by such emotions in a new way.

Both "And Son" and "Since I Gave My Heart Away" stir me beyond the "I've heard this before" experience. This CD is worth purchasing for the two versions of "Since I Gave My Heart Away" alone. The song is charming both in and out of context of the show, the first version with its full and rich choral finale and the second (single version) with its simple but soulful charm. The song offers a reminder of how a human heart, as opposed to a "wooden," unfeeling heart, can experience love that far transcends attachment to physical possessions. Rather than coming off as trite or overdone, lyrics and music combine to sweep away cynicism and transport the listener to a sweeter state of being. Some reviewers have been commenting on the stretch it was for Drew Carey to play a singing Geppetto. Carey pulls off the assignment with grace and gusto. I love his voice with these songs. The emotional power Carey offers the songs really carry them into our hearts. My congratulations to all performers, to Stephen Schwartz and his musical team, and to all other contributors.