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MousePlanet Mailbag for April 9, 2003

We receive considerable feedback regarding our site. Although we cannot publish all of them, the following may be of interest to other readers.

Changes
MousePlanet is again saddened to report on the departure of another valued contributor. Ian Parkinson, provider of much excellent coverage of the Disneyland Paris resort, has decided it is time to move on. For the time being he hopes to focus more time on directing theatrical productions. I'm sure our readers join us at MousePlanet in thanking Ian for all the time and stories he has provided over the years.
Feedback for Shoshana Lewin
When Shoshona wrote a two–part article about Disney musicals (read part 1 about the Walt Years, and part 2 about the Eisner years), she received considerable feedback, a sample of which we printed in our March 27 MousePlanet Mailbag. In her response to reader Craig, Shoshana happened to write: “Sondheim is such a downer." This caused quite a bit of reaction, and the following are some samples.

Richard K. writes:

Stephen Sondheim is widely regarded as the greatest musical genius of the American theater in the last 40 years. Silly statements like “He's a downer” are juvenile and do great disservice to him and his legacy. They also lead people reading your writings to think you have no credentials to review or discuss musicals.

Hi Richard. I've grown up in the theater industry and my mother is a well–respected theatrical publicist. I've also done extensive research on Disney musicals as compared to non–Disney ones, and I don't think anyone could confuse Sondheim's approach with the Sherman Brothers'.

I don't mean to belittle Sondheim's contributions to American musicals. However, anyone who can write a musical about the “demon barber of fleet street” (Sweeney Todd), kills off fairy tale characters (Into the Woods) and composed an entire show about people who kill others (Assassins) has issues. These are not happy shows and while their production numbers are filled with beautiful music and lyrics, they are sad, dark and, often times, disturbing.

They call it a review because it is an opinion, not a statement of fact. I encourage people to draw their own conclusions.

Carli E. writes:

And if you think Sondheim is too much of a downer, please take some time to listen to the following songs:

  • “Being Alive” from Company
  • “Not While I'm Around” from Sweeney Todd
  • “Everything's Coming up Roses” from Gypsy
  • “Tonight” from West Side Story
  • All of Into the Woods

. . . some of the most beautiful words ever put to music.

Hi Carli. Thanks for taking the time to write.

Gypsy is one of my favorite shows, I love Into the Woods and I blast “Tonight” in my car. However, while Sondheim's lyrics and music are beautiful, his shows are not on the happiest subjects — especially when you compare a show like Beauty and the Beast to a show like Passion. For example, I love Ethel Merman's rendition of “Coming Up Roses,” but it is about a mother obsessed with the success of her children.

I had a theater professor who adored Sondheim (I prefer Jerry Herman, myself) and showed us Sweeney Todd with Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. After seeing it, I couldn't eat for several hours.

Sondheim is not for everybody, and just because I think he's a downer doesn't mean I don't think his works are great.


Contact Shoshana at shoshana@mouseplanet.com.
Feedback for More Mouse

In “Disney's New Adventure,” we previewed the soft opening of the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Disneyland's Critter Country. Scott M. contacted MousePlanet staff member Lani Teshima:

I am a long time reader of the MousePlanet Web site and an avid Disney enthusiast. This is, however, my first time responding to a article or sending in a e–mail to MousePlanet, but after reading the review of the Pooh ride, I felt I had to respond.

Last Tuesday, I took my nephew into the park and was delighted to find that the new Pooh ride had soft opened. We ended up riding it three times that day, but I am sorry to say that I am extremely disapointed with the ride.

The soundtrack was off (when you enter, you are supposed to hear the narrator talking about the blustery day... this was only heard once out of the three times). In the “Blustery Day” scene, there is a small fan turned on to give you the feeling of a “strong breeze.” I'm sorry but I've felt stronger breezes from the fans on Main Street.

I could go on and on about the faults I found, but I will sum it up instead.

This ride has been a hit in Florida for some time, but that is because it has all the latest technology and special effects in it (for example when Tigger bounces, so does the car), but except for the fan in the “Blustery Day” scene, that is all missing, and what we are left with is yet another dark ride using the same technology that was used on Alice in Wonderland.

I do realize that this was [former park president Paul] Pressler's last blow to the park, and that the new park manager has been having kittens over this ride. To quote a old 1970s TV show... “We have the technology.. we can rebuild it.” If we don't, I feel this ride is going to become a flop. Thank you for your time.

Hi Scott; I'm sorry to hear that you did not enjoy the new Pooh ride. Since I have yet to ride the new attraction myself, I can't really give an opinion one way or another. You might be interested to note, however, that you are not the only one with your sentiments; readers at our MousePad discussion board shares your feelings.

On the one hand, I'd like to give them some slack — you did see a soft opening preview, after all. Any noticeable negative comments are hopefully noted, and major problems fixed where possible.

On the other hand, it has been discussed for quite some time both here and at other Web sites and forums, the fact that the Disneyland version was not going to use all the new technology of its Disney World counterpart.

Probably the most disturbing comment I read was someone comparing this new ride to Superstar Limo in Disney's California Adventure park. Ouch!

I'm hoping it's not that bad. But I will withhold personal judgement until I check it out myself.

After my reply to Scott, he wrote back:

Thanks for reading my e-mail. I can assure you that the ride is not as bad as Superstar Limo was. To put a positive spin on it, I'm sure that little kids and Winnie the Pooh fans will love it.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Do you have specific questions about an upcoming trip to Disneyland, Walt Disney World or another park, or do you need help with your trip planning? While you can contact one of the columnists, we encourage you to join our special MousePlanet community on our MousePad discussion board. There, you will find like-minded Disney park fans who can try to help answer your questions.

VOICE YOUR OPINION

Did you read something interesting (good or bad) on MousePlanet, or here in the Mailbag? We'd love to hear from you! Send your comments to the Mailbag here.

We welcome your questions and comments, but keep in mind that all questions submitted to MousePlanet become property of this Web site. Letters of interest to the readership may be published, and may include your full name unless you specifically request that your last name not be published. They may be edited for length or style and in consideration of a family readership. Questions may also be quoted on other parts of the site as well.

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2002

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