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Entries in Audra McDonald (6)

Saturday
Dec072013

American Horror Story: Sound of Music

This thing on my DVR was the 4th season pilot, right?  

I kid I kid. But horrified I was. If you miss live "events" it's difficult (one might say pointless) to write about them later so I promise to be quick about this. What I enjoyed far more than the show, which I caught a day later, was catching up on the articles and tweets about the show wherein people either hilariously skewered it or contorted themselves memorably to find nice things to say or excuse its Carrie Underwoodedness. Her acting was far far worse than I'd been told, recalling Julianne Moore's dead on approximation of porn star acting in Boogie Nights only dumber and with less of a nose drip to help with the dead eyes. I initially was surprised that Carrie wasn't oversinging it but the surprise soon faded because after the hills came alive with the sound of music she decided to shout-sing the rest. Not a wise choice when the poor girl couldnt even make it up and down the Von Trapp family staircase without breathing heavily. It was absolutely mean to pair her with musical performers as gifted as Laura Benanti and Audra McDonald, two of Broadway's richest voices... neither of whom ever need this silly oxygen thing to get through a long-ass musical phrase. Vampire Bill was a better match for Carrie (albeit not chemistry-wise) with his shaky voice bringing him down to her shaky-acting level (somewhat). 

I should say that I was less surprised than most people seemed to be that the stage musical is so different from the film. I've seen it performed live before and though critics are generally unkind to the film version it's one of those rare adaptations that improves on virtually everything from its source material structurally in terms of song order and character arcs and even in pacing though it's longer. Plus it's got Julie Andrews who you know, owns all when it comes to twirling around on mountaintops or believably portraying both sexual longing and religious piety in equally wholesome and relatable ways as Maria. I know it's uncool among cinephile's to consider it great cinema or whatever. But I do. Full stop. The Sound of Music became its best self in the translation to the big screen. 

we must've done something good to deserve the 1965 classic

The gargantuan ratings suggest that more "live" musical events are on the way. It has to be family friendly so why not Oliver! which could use the legacy resuscitation? Since giving the stuff away never seems to hurt actual sales of entertainment (weird, that) they could even do something that's about to be a movie like Annie or Into the Woods. Or why not something more contemporary that not everyone can afford to see on Broadway. Why not The Lion King or Wicked even since that movie is clearly never going to happen. I'm thinking about Wicked constantly these days because of its doppelganger Frozen and "Defying Gravity"'s doppelganger "Let it Go" , and because of these drawings by Oscar nominated animator Minkyu Lee, and the rumored Idina & Taye breakup (sniffle. is that true? they were so adorbs together) and the possibility that Idina might perform on Oscar night. I'd rather think about Wicked right now, okay?!  My beloved Sound of Music is in a hospital in Austria somewhere recuperating. It's a survivor. I have confidence it will live to spin on mountain tops once more.

Wednesday
Jan162013

Stage Door: "Picnic" Packs a Lot of Starpower

Occasionally on Mondays, Broadway's "dark" night, or uh... It's Wednesday (oops!)... we'll talk theater.

As I sat waiting for the revival of William Inge's "Picnic"  to begin in its new Broadway run, I noticed that I couldn't keep my mitts off of Sebastian Stan. Playbills can get so smudgy if you keep pawing at them but it couldn't be helped with his face so blown up big on the program. The collection of actors onstage was about to experience the same handsy problem with Sebastian Stan as "Hal" the hunky drifter in this classic drama about the power of beauty and the complications of sexual attraction. Only it wasn't his face they wanted to rub themselves all over.

No sooner had the play begun than Ellen Burstyn was talking him out of his clothing (please to note: Sebastian Stan has been working out. A lot. God bless, presumably, Captain America: The Winter Soldier in which he'll square off with Chris Evans as his former friend 'Bucky' now resurrected/brainwashed as an arch enemy.) He spends the better part of the three act play sweaty and shirtless or half sweaty-shirted if you will.

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun112012

Tony Awards 2012

Neil Patrick Harris sang and danced and wisecracked and otherwise hung out (har dee har har... see Spider-Man gag to the left) at the Tony Awards last night.

Did you watch?

 If so what delighted you most? I'll admit right up front that this may be the season from which I'd seen the least amount of nominated shows in the past decade. I only saw three: Bonnie & Clyde (terrible), Porgy & Bess (strong) and Follies (genius/wondrous I saw it twice despite barely going to Broadway shows this year.) Porgy & Bess and Once (based on the great movie about the budding romance between two musicians) stole many of the trophies Follies might have won if the Tonys loved Stephen Sondheim shows as much as his legion of obsessive fans do. 

Since I am very very tired today, herewight ten highlight tweets via me (and photos and winners) from last night as sort of retroactive fake live blogging...

Awww. it's Mrs Hugh Jackman. (According to Hugh, she's terrible at keeping secrets)

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May012012

Stage Door: Tony Award Nominations

They're here. The 2012 Tony Award nominations. For your perusal and discussion the nominee list. Unfortunately this year I saw relatively few shows: Follies (genius), Porgy & Bess (strong), Bonnie & Clyde (errrr). The stage adaptation of the film musical Once (2007) led the nominations with 11. I still haven't seen it (sniffle) but I love the film. Porgy & Bess is close behind with 10 nominations including a possible record-tying fifth win from the one and only Audra McDonald.

Audra McDonald & Norm Lewis (sensational) in Porgy & Bess

Best Play

  • Clybourne Park
  • Other Desert Cities
  • Peter and the Starcatcher
  • Venus in Fur

 Best Musical

  • Leap of Faith
  • Newsies
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Once

Yes, three movie adaptations out of four. 75% which is about right given what gets produced these days.

Best Revival of a Play

  • Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman
  • Gore Vidal’s The Best Man
  • Master Class
  • Wit

Best Revival of a Musical

  •  Evita
  • Follies
  • The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess
  • Jesus Christ Superstar

 Bernadette Peters Loses Her Mind -- she's the only lead Follies player without a nomination

Three of the four have had movie adaptations made of them.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov042011

Stage Door: Audra's Toes, "Sweeney Peron", Busch's Hepburn and "Big Fish" 

Audra McDonald rehearsing for "Porgy & Bess"Theater geeks who read The Film Experience (there be crossover!) might have been wondering what happened to the stage door column. The truth is we just haven't been seeing much. This is never a question of "nothing to see" but always a matter of finances and for one quarter of each year the the not-so-small matter of Oscar Mania keeping us busy with pre-recorded actors instead of live ones. But when I'm not seeing it I enjoy it vicariously through avid theatergoing friends and through blogs. My favorite is The Broadway Blog so if you're into theater, check it out. Here's four quick film / theater crossover tidbits I wanted to share. 

AUDRA in Rampart
I practically shrieked with surprised delight when Broadway baby Audra McDonald showed up in Oren Moverman's Rampart. She just kills her one scene role as Woody Harrelson's latest conquest. Woody's bad cop gets good love from multiple ladies and as Woody was sucking on her toes (no, really) I kept thinking, 'Audra is a star on any platform: small screen, big screen, stage, boudoir... (ahem. in this movie).' I'd love to see her in the current revival of Porgy & Bess and am hoping the opportunity presents itself.

CHARLES BUSCH does Katharine Hepburn. 
Late this month, legendary drag artist Charles Busch is doing a one night only reading of Matthew Lombardo'snplay about Katharine Hepburn, Tea at Five. The tickets are too steep for me but Busch is always wonderful when he's channelling the classic divas... and Lombardo has an actressexual's taste for them too having written the Kathleen Turner vehicle "High" and the Tallulah Bankhead play Looped. I'm curious how Charles Busch will be as Kate the Great (pictured left) given that my favorite Busch channeling is Greer Garson -- that voice! Old Hollywood and Theater History aficionados might also enjoy Mr. Busch's name droppings in this New York Times article about his apartment renovation.

BIG FISH
Were you aware that Tim Burton's 2003 movie is becoming a stage musical? The story, or to put it more accurately stories, does seem like a natural fit for musicalization. It's already heightened and fantastical which musical theater can really feed on. The score will be by Andrew Lippa but the best part of the news is that Michael C. Hall, though not officially announced, is intended for the lead role in 2013. He's got a wonderful singing voice and he's needed to do something other than Dexter for a few years now. Not that he hasn't found a surprising amount of ways to keep that particular performance lively despite the death-dealing but enough's enough -- love the show but I really think they'd be wise to wrap up; time for a little song and dance break!

EVITA Again
One more thing... Papermag amusingly wonders what Ricky Martin is thinking in this promotional still for the upcoming spring revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Evita


I don't know what he's thinking but what I'm thinking every time I see Michael Cerveris (the bald one, playing Juan Peron) is that time in early 2008 when I listened to my Broadway revival cast recording of Sweeney Todd  (in which he starred) after having recently seen Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd and just tearing up. The amount of nuance and drama and acting notes and beauty a singer/actor can put in to a musical performance as opposed to an actor who learns to sing a few bars.... I tell you the difference is astronomical. Hollywood is tone deaf.

Oh, and uh, Elena Rogers plays Eva Peron... will Madonna send her hydranges?

EXIT MUSIC

Audra McDonald singing Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and The Moon"... love this song. 

 

I met a man without a dollar to his name 
Who had no traits of any value but his smile 
I met a man who had no yearn or claim to fame 
Who was content to let life pass him for a while 
And I was sure that all I ever wanted 
Was a life like the movie stars led 
And he kissed me right here, and he said,
`I`ll give you stars and the moon and a soul to guide you 
And a promise I`ll never go 
I`ll give you hope to bring out all the life inside you 
And the strength that will help you grow.
I`ll give you truth and a future that`s twenty times better 
Than any Hollywood plot.`
And I thought, `You know, I`d rather have a yacht.`