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Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 5:00 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
In the stream we were discussing (for the first time in awhile) Joe Raposo's unusually dark musical version of Raggedy Ann & Andy, which he attempted to stage as a Broadway musical years after the animated film (directed mostly by Richard Williams, of Thief and the Cobbler fame). It centers around a little girl in her hospital bed and her fears that she'll die, and generally terrifies the young audience with sinister tracks like “Diagnosis”, “He Comes Riding” and “You Never Get Away”. Even “Rag Dolly” is reused here with a much darker tone, as Ann feels alone and useless. The songs are interesting and I get the feeling I might have enjoyed an animated film of this more than what they made. But the dark subject matter combined with Raggedy Ann & Andy makes you wonder what they were thinking. “Diagnosis” is strangely similar to the Family Guy song “You Have AIDS” ....

I played the demo versions of the songs, which are perfectly listenable and give the sense of an attempted tearjerker ...

The plot, in a nutshell, is Marcella is very sick while her parents are going through a divorce, and she has a fever dream where her toys come to life (like her father always told her they did.) Raggedy Ann tells her that if they take her to the Doll Doctor, he'll make her better. General Doom appears and tries to stop Marcella and Raggedy Ann from reaching L.A., where the Doll Doctor is located.

In the final Broadway script, “Diagnosis” is the start of Marcella's fever dream, which is why the music is so cheery and happy while the lyrics are vaguely disturbing. (“Carry On” was sung before “Diagnosis,” in real life.)

I really like this “Rag Dolly.” It fits the tone of this version better. It's hard to tell on that scratchy Broadway audio, but I think they went back to the original lyrics, which don't work as well.

Like the movie, it's episodic, with the toys helping Marcella to build a flying machine which leads to the “Flying through the heavens” sequence, where Marcella imagines her parents getting married again (you can hear her ask her dream-parents if they still love each other on the demo.)

“You Never Get Away” was replaced with “You'll Love It” for the Broadway version, but both are not great songs written for a very misguided sequence (it's sung by a sexy female bat, and apparently the choreography was way too sexualized.)

“Gone” is sung by Marcella's mother, after a failed suicide attempt(!) - talk about dark for a kid's show. Marcella's mother joins them, I think, to go to the Doll Doctor. “He Comes Riding” is replaced by “I Come Riding” - I don't know who would've sang it about General Doom, but he sings it himself in the Broadway version, and he sings it right before they reach the Doll Doctor (after “Welcome to LA/Diagnosis.”)

At the end of the show, the Doll Doctor (who is played by the same actor who plays Marcella's father) says he can't do anything for humans...unless Raggedy Ann will sacrifice her heart. She does, and Marcella wakes up with the fever gone. Then you can hear on the demo, there's some dialogue about Raggedy Ann's heart being gone. I'm pretty sure that the show ends with Marcella's parents reconciling wordlessly as she looks on.

I definitely agree with you (as do most people, I think) that, as written, it's too dark for children and not interesting enough for adults. Like I said, on the Broadway audio, you can hear children getting restless from the very first scene. They don't seem to enjoy or get it at all, and I imagine parents bringing them to the theatre weren't very pleased with that.

It would certainly be interesting to see these songs in a rewritten, cut-down script. Get rid of some of the more childish plot elements and songs, put it in one act that's maybe 100 minutes long, and it could be interesting adult entertainment, along the lines of Into The Woods, I agree. As it is, it's just a very strange musical that's a fascinating curiosity.

Anyway, I've uploaded that stuff here :

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:16 pm
by ctlw83
This sounds like a nightmare of a musical, especially if it was designed to be geared towards a young audience.

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:55 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Yeah, it's shockingly dark, on a very child-unfriendly level.

I get the feeling it would have made a better movie though, actually. Being this dark does mean it's about something and has some emotional heft.

Perhaps on a "Return to Oz" level .... remember that one? Where Dorothy gets shock treatment? Waaaaay too dark, and remembered today as a footnote, despite the quality visuals.

SS has asked me, Is there interest in an HD/Blu-Ray version of Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure? My feeling was that he should try to get the rights (which seem to be pretty murky, especially the music rights) and do a legal, legitimate release, if it's at all possible. However ...

The film is not on DVD and has not been officially released in widescreen, and in 2007, SS, KA and myself, using donations from Patrick McCart and other members of the Orange Cow forums, transferred KA's 35mm print of the film to video, where you can now see it on Youtube and elsewhere in widescreen as intended. At the same time we transferred KA's 35mm reels of The Little Island, Richard Williams' first animated film, which none of us in this group had previously been able to see in any format, and most importantly 49 minutes of early workprint reels from The Thief and the Cobbler which KA had saved from the trash at Warner Bros.

Recently, thanks to $1400 worth of donations from Thief fans at the Orange Cow forum and elsewhere, SS retransferred KA's Thief 35mm reels, and I am now painting out dirt and splices and restoring them to big-screen quality. SS and KA now both have 35mm prints of Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (SS got his for cheap. UCLA also holds a copy).

Is there enough interest in the Raggedy Ann film to support an HD release? Do we think a license to legally release the film on Blu-Ray could be obtained? Or would we be soliciting donations again?

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:23 am
by ctlw83
I actually liked Return to Oz, although, I agree, it was very creepy. I have not read the book so I do not have anything to compare it to. I will read the whole OZ series eventually.

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:41 pm
by Shamanic Shaymin
I thought Return to Oz was awesome. I don't know if the shock treatment stuff was in the two books (The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, which are public domain and can easily be read in their entirety online) it was based on or not, so I'll have to check. But creepy as it was, it definitely had better storytelling and character development than the Raggedy Ann musical, that's for certain.

Would anyone be interested in posting lyrics to the songs from the musical, or a transcript? I did Googling, but all I found was a lot of unrelated Raggedy Ann stuff and a songlist. Anyway, I posted the lyrics to the demo version of "Rag Dolly" on my journal for the curious:


PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:49 pm
by Shamanic Shaymin
Thanks to the magic of spare time, I created a couple fanvids involving Raggedy Ann. The first one involves two of the Fleisher cartoons ("The Enchanted Square" and "Suddenly It's Spring") inspired by Johnny Gruelle's grief for his lost daughter, Marcella. The second is a "trailer" of "Black Swan" using "Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure" footage. I thought it was kind of creepy how well the two films meshed together. ("I Can Tell Time By the Moon") (Michael Crawford - "Please Wake Up") ("Black Swan" trailer)

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 11:12 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
First came a light in my silent room
Making things bright that were only gloom
Learning to laugh, love, I recall
Now I'm not sure of where I am at all

I'm just a ragdolly
Happy and smilin' all day
A little ragdolly
Keepin' it simple that way
I stop and say, "Golly!
How could it happen to you?"
Could one poor ragdolly
Plain as can be
Really make someone's wishes come true?

I'm just a ragdolly
Brightening a little girl's day
A little ragdolly
Wishin' her worries away
To me, it's real folly
Could I ever make everything right?
When I'm a ragdolly
Lost as can be
Wonderin' how I can get through the night

We're wandering way too far from where we should be
And how we'll ever get there is a mystery
As you see

I'm just a ragdolly
Wanting for times to be glad
A little ragdolly
Startin' to smile, even sad
Wish I could be jolly
Everywhere, wherever I roam
But I'm a ragdolly
Way down inside
And my heart says I wanna go home

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 6:39 am
by ablazeko
Is there any way to download the soundtrack LP?

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 11:56 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
That's been discussed; I think Vinnie Rattolle did some sort of download but I don't think it was even from the LP. I know DavidAScottJr has a copy. I don't think it differs from the film. We'd be better off getting the sound from the 35mm reels ...

Re: Raggedy Ann & Andy Thread

PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 6:21 am
by Shamanic Shaymin
I found these Raggedy Ann & Andy comics by John Stanley and figured they'd be interesting enough to share.

Rather than taking the sugary, cheery and moralistic route commonly associated with the dolls, Stanley's stories were... dark. And damn, I can whole-heartedly say they're actually pretty good.

Stanley puts these mild-mannered dolls through hellish scenarios in these 1949 stories. One might assume he disliked doing this series, and took it out on the cuddly-wuddly characters. Whatever the case, Stanley's Raggedy stories are the creepiest, most compelling comic book versions of this ever-popular licensed property.

Issue #32, 1949 - Did you know that eldritch abominations existed in the RA&A universe long before the Greedy in the 1977 movie? Meet the One-Eyed Wobblies! You know what's a stupid thing to do when you meet an eldritch abomination? Kick dirt at their eyes. Raggedy Andy, you are Darwin's Next Tentacle Rape victim.

Issue #34, 1949 - I play drinking games with Raggedy Ann books, which includes instructions such as "Take a sip if Raggedy Ann & Andy stop to eat sweets with friends and woodland creatures, especially a mix of soda water/cream puffs/lady fingers." This comic deconstructs this device with a steamroller. Raggedy Ann & Andy get sick of eating candy, and fast. Also, the panel with Andy carving a slice out of a talking marzipan pig is one of the most disturbing things I've seen in a while.

Issue #35, 1949 - OM NOM NOM RAGDOLLS ARE DELICIOUS. Good ol' traditional fairy-tale danger in this one! For once Andy's got brain cells and fights to save himself and Ann, so major kudos to that. Intelligent!Andy is something I'd like to see more often, please.

Issue #36, 1949 - Raggedy Ann & Andy DIE and become ghosts. Nope, I'm not kidding about this. Raggedy Andy is a brainless moron again and he shares pink phallic poisonous mushrooms with his hungry sister. They try to fly their way up to Heaven, and it turns out Heaven has its fair share of assholes, namely two cherubs that pluck all the feathers off the dolls' wings just for shits and giggles.

Issue #38, 1949 - The two living dolls ramble into a quiet existential hell--a highly symbolic castle not easily exited. It's a scenario worthy of mini-comix legend Steve Willis. The loose, spontaneous and quite pleasing artwork strongly shows Stanley's hand--in the layouts, if not in the finishes. At least it wasn't the castle from Shadowgate. I'm kind of amazed Raggedy Andy and the 100-year-old man didn't die of dehydration. Pfft at Andy being pissy about his hat getting smushed.

In short, creative stuff! Short and worth looking at if you've got a spare couple seconds.