The episode begins with a quick flurry of theatrical references at a Friday Night Dinner, suitable for one with the dramatic title, “Presenting Lorelai Gilmore” (as if Rory is the star of the show). We can tell straight away that this episode will be all about presentation, staging, and image – the face shown to the public, and how that contradicts the private, backstage life.
The Sound of Music
The new maid introduces herself as Liesl, which is the name of one of the von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. Lorelai tells the maid that she is Brigitta, and Rory is Gretl, two of the other children (the others are Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, and Marta).
The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein., book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse. Based on the 1949 memoir by Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, it is set in Austria just before it was annexed by the Nazis in 1938. Many of the details of the von Trapps’ real life were altered to make the the story more dramatic, and the names of all the children were changed.
The original Broadway production opened in 1959 with Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel in the lead roles. It won five Tony Awards, including best musical, and the first London production opened in 1961. A film version was made in 1965, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Lorelai compares her arguing parents with George and Martha, from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, previously discussed. In the play, George and Martha invite a young couple to their home, and then use their dramatically cruel arguments as a display for them. Lorelai is suggesting that she and Rory are in the role of the other couple.
The Lion King
After suggesting that her parents are providing them with “dinner theatre”, and wishing she had popcorn to enjoy with the show, Lorelai then likens Richard and Emily’s fight to “The Lion King without the puppet heads”. The climax of The Lion King contains a dramatic fight to the death between two lions.
The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 animated Disney film of the same name, with music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, and book by Rogers Allers and Irene Mecchi. The musical features actors in animal costumes, as well as giant hollow puppets.
The Lion King made its debut in 1997, first opening in Minneapolis before moving to Broadway. It is still running after more than 9000 performances, is the third longest running musical in history, and has grossed more than $1 billion, making it the highest-grossing Broadway production of all time. The show opened in the West End in 1999, and is still running after more than 7500 performances. The musical has made than $8.1 billion overall.
The Lion King musical and the film are the top-earning titles in box-office for both stage and screen.
After cheekily giving her mother a “Brava! Encore!”, Lorelai says, “Does Terrence McNally know about you two?”.
Terrence McNally (1938-2020) was a multi award-winning American playwright, librettist, and screenwriter. Known as “the bard of American theatre”, McNally won five Tony Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. Inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1996, he won Lifetime Achievement awards from the Dramatists Guild and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers. In 2018 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest recognition of artistic merit in the US. His career spanned six decades, and he was vice-president of the Council of the Dramatists Guild.
At one time, he was the partner of Edward Albee, who wrote Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.