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The Seven Deadly Sins - Musical Comedy Edition

Opera started it: the grand passions, the ambition, the desire, the betrayals, the vengeance. Huge orchestras and vividly powerful voices bring sin alive as never before. Bass/baritone Samuel Ramey has made such a career of playing Satan in a variety of operas that he has given a solo recital called A Date with the Devil.

Musical comedy is usually seen as lighter, more romantic and frivolous. But the dark passions lurk there, too, just beyond the footlights. Here's a panoply of sin from the repertoire of stage and screen.

1. Lust
Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me - Rocky Horror Picture Show

The whole show is about lust, really, in a perversely wholesome way, with anthems declaring "Give yourself over to absolute pleasure" and "Don't dream it, be it." But this number, sung by the virginal ingenue Janet, is a paean to the awakening of the physical desires that lurk deep within all of us. "Touch-a, touch-a, touch Me, I want to feel dirty!"


2. Gluttony
God, That's Good! - Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd is a story about many appetites: Sweeney's oath of vengeance, Mrs. Lovett's yearning for middle-class stability, the Judge's lust for Lucy and then Joanna. But the desire that keeps things humming along is the public's insatiable hunger for Mrs. Lovett's perfectly seasoned meat pies, innocent of their not-so-savory origins. "All to do with herbs," she claims, as the unsuspecting cannibals clamor, "More hot pies!" From the 2005 Broadway revival with Michael Cerveris and Patti LuPone.

3. Greed
Money - Cabaret

Joel Grey's white-faced smirk made explicit every double-entendre in this leering show. And though Sally dances through a shower of gold coins on stage, she's not taking much home with her. She has to pawn her coat when she needs a medical procedure. She knows all too well the value of "a mark a yen a buck or a pound." This song was not in the original Broadway show, but was composed for the film. It was included in the 1998 Broadway revival, which used elements from both scores.

4. Sloth
Too Darn Hot - Kiss Me Kate

This performance is not a cast recording, but Ella Fitzgerald from her Cole Porter Songbook. This version leaves in the full lyric, "According to the Kinsey report / Every average man you know / Much prefers his lovey-dovey to court / When the temperature is low." But during a heat wave, he just can't be bothered.

5. Wrath
I Hate Men - Kiss Me Kate

This is the only show that gets a two-fer, but I probably could have done a whole post of just Cole Porter. In this version from the film soundtrack, petite Kathryn Grayson portrays the virulent virago in Taming of the Shrew. This was filmed in 3-D in 1953. If you get a chance to see it in this original version, you'll be astonished how many pewter tankards this little lady flings directly at the camera while expounding lyrics like, "He may have hair upon his chest / But, Sister, so does Lassie."

6. Envy
Jack's Obsession - The Nightmare Before Christmas

"Something's up with Jack." He can't stop thinking about Christmas, and how much better he'd be at running it than that mysterious Sandy Claws character. "Why should they have all the fun? / It should belong to anyone / Not anyone, in fact, but me / Why, I can make a Christmas tree!" Jack's envy of the popularity of Christmas drives him to a life of kidnapping, theft, and even greater sins before the story's end.

7. Pride
Rainbow High - Evita

This song details the ultimate vanity, combined with swelling hubris. As the Perons' star rises, Eva demands the best of everything to create the image she feels is needed to keep her in the tabloids and make her a role model for the working classes. "I came from the people / They need to adore me / So Christian Dior me / From my head to my toes." This version features Patti LuPone and her infamous e-nun-ci-a-ation. Beats the pants off Madonna.

Download

The Seven Deadly Sins of Musical Comedy

Purchase:

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Amazon
Sweeney Todd: Amazon
Cabaret: Amazon
Ella Fitzgerald sings the Cole Porter Songbook: Amazon
Kiss Me Kate: Amazon
The Nightmare Before Christmas: Amazon
Evita: Amazon
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