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Entries in Broadway and Stage (156)

Friday
Jul242015

This Week in WTF: "King of Comedy", the Musical

Dancin' Dan popping in for a weekend dose of WTF.

There's no sense in burying the lede: Composer Stephen Trask (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and writer Chris D'Arienzo (Rock of Agesare on board to make a musical out of Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy.

My head is spinning. This has to be the weirdest screen-to-stage transfer ever. Even American Psycho made slightly more sense, since music was so important to that film. While it's true that King of Comedy has only proven more and more timely as the years have gone on, it still doesn't scream "MAKE ME A MUSICAL!!!" the way some films do. And the team of Trask and D'Arienzo could not be more mismatched on paper: The man behind the music of Hedwig, one of the most unique musicals ever written, and the man behind the words of one of the weaker jukebox musicals in recent memory (at least book-wise) working on one of the darkest satires of modern culture? Weird. Weirder. Weirdest.

Knowing not what to make of this news, we drift to a future pressing question: WHO WOULD THEY EVEN CAST? I can personally see the great Alan Cumming in either the DeNiro or Lewis roles, but there isn't a single person I can think of who I'd want to see in the Sandra Bernhard role. What other triple threat (you know she's gonna have at least one big dance number) has that acidic, caustic sense of humor? Who would even want to step into those shoes? 

Are you amply confused by this announcement, too? Who would you cast as the leads? 

Wednesday
Jul222015

Taye Diggs, Triple Threat.

Have you read this good profile of Taye Diggs in the New York Times?  It was written while he was in early rehearsals for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I personally cannot wait to see his take on it. I've been as eager as he has to see him combine all his talents for one role.

As he states:

The role of Hedwig is ‘‘everything I’ve ever wished for,’’ he said. Then he turned, in what seems unusual for him, ferocious: ‘‘This is me telling myself, ‘O.K., bitch, put your money where your mouth is. You’ve been telling agents and your best friends — I told Idina — ‘I want a chance to show everybody everything. I can dance and I can sing, and everybody knows I can act'... They’re going to end up saying something good. ’Cause I’m not gonna mess up all three.’

Taye Diggs is basically 1 of approximately 100 stars (at least) that would have been bigger stars if Hollywood still:

a) ...knew how to make musicals
b) ...made them regularly
c) ...cast them with actual triple threat talents.

A, B, and C don't actually seem like high hurdles to this here movie musical lover -- not given the extraordinarily deep acting talent pool out there and the treasure trove of instructional film school materials at home. By which I mean of course the complete filmographies of Busby Berkeley, Vincente Minnelli, Bob Fosse, Stanley Donen, and so on. One senses sometimes that today's young directors either never went to film school or didn't study the classics to learn some basic tools of the trade... at least not when it comes to the "dead" genres.  

Tuesday
Jul142015

Misc: Suffragette Colors, Cruise Stunts, Karl Shows, Jake Trains

Look, Suffragette finally got a poster. [src]

Unfortunately it's fugly (not Carey. She pretty). Incidentally purple and green are my favorite colors but I never like them in combo unless I'm looking at The Joker. 

Film/TV
Pajiba marvels that 'Tom Cruise does his own stunts' is way more than just lip service
Southpaw a Featurette as Jake Gyllenhaal trains for the movie
Towleroad Rob Lowe dubsmashing The Sound of Music
AV Club Oscar Isaac headlines Show Me a Hero for HBO, which now has a trailer 
AV Club hating on Teen Wolf's current season - I'm finding the show more and more incomprehensible every year. Considering quitting
The Guardian in "current weirdest movie news" Mel Gibson is now a "Creative Adviser" on a Chinese WW II epic The Bombing

Off Arts
I'm really struggling to be more well rounded as a person - i only think of the arts! - so every once in awhile i must share current and extremely random items of fascination
New Yorker "The Really Big One" -- this article on the fault lines in the Pacific Northwest is more terrifying than any disaster movie 
Slate investigates the tails of seahorses -- they're actually square unlike the traditional round 

Showtune to Go
I saw On the Twentieth Century a couple of weeks ago starring Kristin Chenoweth (one-of-a-kind amazing as usual) and you only have a few more days to see it (it closes on the 19th). The show was a little too manically staged for me but Chenoweth as a movie star and Andy Karl as her coattails riding actor boyfriend were both delicious and sensational and more than the sum of their parts. Unfortunately there's precious little quality video of Andy Karl online so here's a promo for his turn in "Rocky The Musical" in 2014 which seemed to prophesy the revival of that franchise - Creed coming at you soon

For whatever reason Karl barely ever does TV or film (unlike a lot of other stage stars) so his profile is weirdly low with the general public considering he's funny, sexy, good-looking, traditionally masculine, talented and all  of that. I was enraged all over again watching his extremely funny work in "On the Twentieth Century" as a narcissistic actor that Christian Borle won a generous second Tony for "Something Rotten" when his category was filled with so many better and truly inspired performances from Tony-less men (one of them even in his own show). The Emmys tendency to love the same people over and over again is much documented and groused about online, but the Tony habit of the same is even more mystifying since they're dealing with different shows and characters altogether each time. With the exception of a few people as default nominees, I'm deeply grateful that Oscar voters have somehow not inherited this usually* awful and stingy gene!

* there are people who have deserved multiple Tonys of course (Cheno, McDonald, Foster, Bernadette, etcetera). But... generally spread the wealth is a wiser and more justified impulse.

Saturday
Jul112015

Roger Rees (1944-2015)

He spent the last three months of his career treading the boards with Chita Rivera. There are a helluva lot worse swan songs. "The Visit" closed on Broadway in June and Tony winner Roger Rees, who was leading man to Chita River in that strange but beautiful musical, died yesterday less than a month after closing night, though he had had to leave the musical early due to illness. He is survived by his husband.

I first became aware of him when I was a kid when PBS showed The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982) miniseries in which he played the lead role and was Emmy nominated. I didn't know at the time that it was his signature role and he'd already won the Olivier and Tony for it. 

I had the privilege of seeing him on stage twice. When I had just moved to NYC in 1999, I went to an Off Broadway play to see Uma Thurman (he was her leading man) and I caught The Visit early in previews. He was having a rough time with the score that night... and I wondered about his health. I kept shooing the thought away -- it was just the grim melodrama of the musical, I told myself, in which Chita keeps essentially presenting him with his own coffin.

Though Rees easily hopped around in all three actors mediums, and appeared in films like Star 80Robin Hood Men in Tights, the Pfeiffer version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Prestige, and Frida, his most popular roles (aside from Nickleby) tended to be guest spots on television: West Wing and Cheers in particular. My favorite? My So Called Life (1994) in which he has a title role episode "The Substitute" wherein he played a rebel teacher who wakes Angela Chase up with his unorthodox instruction. 

Do you have a favorite memory of his work? 

Friday
Jul032015

Little Links of Horror

EW Marisa Tomei joins the cast of Empire as a lesbian billionaire - whoa. Please let her throw down with Taraji
Nicks Flick Picks is also on the halfway mark, year in review beat with a lot of movies I haven't seen (sigh)
Jane Fonda on her summer screenings and returning to work on Grace and Frankie - she got an acting coach!
EW Pride & Prejudice & Zombies photos. Yikes. What's with the lingerie ad costumes? 
Awards Daily thinks Scorsese's Silence might be ready just in time for Oscar. I personally hope he takes his time and we get it next year. I like having breaks from the Oscar regulars or Oscar just becomes too much like the Emmys! 

Slate thinks Rolan Emmerich's Stonewall looks too much like a cheap musical
Playbill reminds us that Magic Mike (2012) is being made into a stage musical. What isn't... but still I'd totally forgotten
Business Insider here's an area you never see covered: the weapons department on a studio picture. Terminator Genisys in this case
Comics Alliance new pics from Batman vs. Superman. One of them seems to have Superman surrounded by a bunch of zombies so....
Twitter cracked me up when looking at that picture 

Yes No Maybe So
Queen of the Desert trailer has arrived, asking the question "Who the hell is Gertrud Bell" - I can't give it its own post because there are too many trailers these past couple of days. But you should YNMS in the comments if you're in the mood. So jealous of Robert Pattinson when he's holding those lion cubs. Awww. 

Show Tune To Go
Showtunes to Cherish For All Time

These couple of weeks have all been about City Center productions for me. Every summer they do these amazing staged readings. Last week I saw Jonathan Groff and Ana Gasteyer do William Finn's "A New Brain" which is a terrific underperformed musical. (Gasteyer as it turns out was born for the musical stage, SNL aside). Next up is Sutton Foster doing "The Wild Party" so naturally I'm quite excited.  

In between those two shows, as you may have heard, Ellen Greene reprised her "Audrey" role in Little Shop of Horrors this week at a staged reading at City Center.  Jason went. I went. Joe Reid was wayyyyy up front (I was green with envy and confused since I bought my tickets the second they went on sale!). The New York Times Ben Brantley raved. Everyone was there. Or everyone will pretend to have been there years from now when people are still talking about this. 

Ellen, who is now in her sixties, was in fine form and wearing her original costumes no less. She was a shameless ham, milking her every line, pose, and big notes for maximum audience pleasure. Whenever a singer with a gargantuan voice has a signature tune that they've sung for decades the tunes always get a little more affected every time, possibly to keep them entertained. (Have you heard Jennifer Holliday do "And I'm Telling You" lately? It's just a series of abstract vowels and growls now, it's so weird.) Ellen nearly took "Suddenly Seymour" there but still brought the house down. "Somewhere That's Green" on the other hand was just so tender and yearning and funny... my god the goosebumps. That voice can still send shivers all over you of aural pleasure, innate empathy, belly laughs. She's a treasure.

FWIW Jake Gyllenhaal played Seymour and he was very funny when ad-libbing (it's a staged reading with limited rehearsal time so some flubbed lines allow actors to embellish or get the audience on their side) and his voice ain't half bad either. 

Ellen Greene's standing ovation was so epic and rumbling I feared the balcony would collapse and kill us all. Which would, come to think of it, be a fitting end for this grim comedy. The movie (be very grateful that her performance was preserved for all time) granted Audrey and Seymour a happy ending but they die in the musical. And then they sing their warning tale.

Whatever they offer you, don't feed the plant!

Picking a favorite song from this musical is impossible, I've listend to it so often over the years, but "Skid Row" is the one that doesn't get any attention that I cherish so here that is. 

Monday
Jun292015

CAST THIS: Clueless, The Musical

Manuel here still recovering for a wonderful Pride weekend which I'm greedily extending for two more days with Bette Midler tonight and Fun Home tomorrow. Needless to say, movies and musicals, and movie musicals are on my mind. Thankfully, Amy Heckerling is here to tide me over, stoking Clueless fandom by letting us know she's finished writing the book for a stage musical adaptation of her 1995 film (though dampening the excitement a bit by confessing it's a jukebox musical to be directed by ??, of Rock of Ages fame). And so, since she acknowledged casting would be a big hurdle before we see "As if!" being uttered on stage, I thought we could help her out brainstorming names for the central three performances.

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