Wednesday, July 27, 2011
My Little Sondheim!
Okay, I confess -- I have become a fan of the latest incarnation of the My Little Pony TV show, called My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. No, I haven't lost my mind. The show's popularity among adult men has taken the show's creators by complete surprise. We're called "bronies," and if you want more background on the topic, here's the famous Wired article about us. It's really very simple -- Lauren Faust, the force behind the show, trashed the saccharine sweetness of older My Little Pony shows and replaced it with sharper humor and the same girl-power sensibility she brought from her work with her husband Craig McCracken on his hit show, The Powerpuff Girls. (Faust also worked as an animator on two wonderful animated feature films, The Iron Giant (directed by Pixar veteran Brad Bird) and a forgotten treat, Cats Don't Dance (directed by Mark Dindal, who went on to direct Disney's hugely funny The Emperor's New Groove).) Faust has managed to make the new My Little Pony show innocent and fun without condescension or over-cuteness. It's more enjoyable than you might imagine, and yes, I cannot believe I am singing the praises of a TV show based on those silly toys from the 80s!
What does this have to do with the video above? Simply that I love semi-obscure references, in this case creating a parody (in the old-style sense) of a song by Stephen Sondheim for one of the episodes of MLP: FiM. The song was adapted by the show's composer, Daniel Ingram. I about fell out of my chair when I saw this! Not since I encountered the first semi-obscure Shakespeare reference in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 have I been so tickled. The song above is derived from "Putting it Together," from Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize winning musical, Sunday in the Park with George (one of my two favorite musicals, along with West Side Story). I love the tribute, and wonder what Mr. Sondheim thinks about all this.
Here's the original song (above) included in this scene from Sunday in the Park with George, featuring Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters. The comments section on YouTube already has quips from bronies who've just discovered this; and yes, that is Brent Spiner in a portion of the scene.
And if you're interested, here's the complete episode of MLP: FiM (above) that contains the parody song. Enjoy! As Rainbow Dash would say, inclusion of Sondheim references instantly makes this show 20% cooler!
P.S. Bonus video below! There are pony mashups, of course. This is the first thing I ever saw the ponies in, even before I caught up with the episodes of the show. It's a mashup of the trailer for The Dark Knight with images from MLP: FiM. And it ... is ... AWESOME!!!