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.
Entries in Cast This! (31)
Abstew in the gallery to talk artworld films.
This past week saw the release of not one but two true life films set in the art world. Rather than traditional artist biopics, both films focus instead on the life of a particular painting's subject matter or the history of the painting itself. Woman in Gold (which opened in the top ten despite its limited theater count) stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, a Holocaust survivor. She fought for over a decade in court with the Austrian government to become the rightful owner of Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The painting was of her aunt and it was stolen from her family by the Nazis during WWII. The long-delayed Effie Gray revolves around the unhappy wife (Dakota Fanning) of art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) in Victorian England. Apparently their marriage was never consummated and Effie became involved with the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) and was the subject of some of his paintings.
Biopics about artists (Frida, Pollock, Mr. Turner, Lust for Life, the original Moulin Rouge, and many more over the decades) have found favor with the Academy. It will be interesting to see if these new films begin a trend for movies about the backstories of famous paintings, rather than the artist who painted them.
Since Hollywood is always in need of more interesting and diverse source material, here are 5 works of art that would make movies as pretty as a picture...
Margaret here. Earlier this week, NBC announced that this December they will be following the surprise ratings smash that was The Sound of Music Live and the more modestly-rated Peter Pan Live with a third simulcast musical: The Wiz! Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (fresh off their third and likely final Oscar ceremony) are returning, with Harvey Fierstein on board to augment William F. Brown's original book. The team is also partnering with Cirque du Soleil for the production, with plans to later move it to Broadway.
The 1975 "Super Soul Musical" is, for many reasons, an excellent choice. Because it's a pop musical, the network heads' desire to stunt cast with big stars will actually serve the material. And it's become a staple in high school productions because of its generosity with its musical parts- it requires a deep cast, with 9 characters who have their own show-stoppable numbers.
Like with most pop music, the score to The Wiz is only as strong as the people performing it, and the right actor can take even the least crucial number and make it into a sensation. That makes casting especially crucial. We owe it to the good people of NBC to make their jobs easy!
Here's my dream cast:
Manuel here bringing you news of the latest Broadway musical to make the leap to the big screen. Yes, we’re still waiting on more Wicked news, I’d love an update on that McG version of Spring Awakening I keep willing to disappear, and I can’t be the only one excited to see what Bill Condon is going to do with animated gem and Broadway smash Beauty and the Beast but the news come courtesy of Sony Pictures who will be adapting Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
As the helpfully blunt title tells us, the musical is a jukebox biopic of the famed songrwriter. I’m sure they’re hoping for a Mamma Mia! type hit and less of a Jersey Boys type miss, but that will likely come down to execution, marketing, buzz and many other elements we can ignore at this early step of the game.
Jessie Mueller won the Tony award for Best Actress at last year’s Tonys and while she’s clearly very talented (she was my Cinderella at the Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Into the Woods a few years back), I’m guessing they might go with a bigger name for this star-vehicle. Unless they hope King is enough of a name to get people into seats?
Anyone care to play casting director?
Does Beautiful have a friend in you as it hopes to charm your mom into going to the movies to hum along to King’s tunes?
Manuel here bringing some exciting news for us musical junkies.
We've got magic to do... Just for you
It seems we have another big screen Broadway adaptation coming our way courtesy of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a pair of producers who have almost single-handedly kept the screen musical alive. NBC’s Sound of Music Live? Zadan & Meron! Oscar-winning Chicago, SAG-nominated Hairspray and Emmy-nominee Smash? Yep, you guessed it: Zadan & Meron! They are even responsible for some of the less celebrated attempts at live action adaptations of Broadway musicals, from the swiftly forgotten 2003 adaptation of The Music Man featuring Matthew Broderick and the Kathy Bates-led 1999 Annie to the Bette Midler TV adaptation of Gypsy back in 1993.
Needless to say, they’re invested in this genre in ways not many other producers are. We can argue about their batting average. For every attempt at ‘modernizing’ a piece to its very detriment -- see 2011’s Footloose, there’s an ill-fated attempt at old-fashioned family entertainment like this year’s Peter Pan Live! Which brings us back to Pippin, the 1972 Stephen Schwartz penned musical loosely based on Pippin and his father Charlemagne, whose circus-inspired Broadway revival is set to close this weekend and which Zadan and Meron are bringing to the big screen soon.
Delighted musicals did strong b.o. this season because our next feature musical is Stephen Schwartz's PIPPIN which we produce for Weinstein.— Craig Zadan (@craigzadan) December 29, 2014
I’m curious as to who they nab for directing (though maybe more importantly for screenwriting duties). This is a clearly stage-bound piece: the conceit is that what we see on stage is a number of players acting out the story of Pippin as, in true 1970s fashion, he tries to “find himself.” The original production was directed by Bob Fosse, so these are definitely big shoes to fill. More for our amusement though, this offers up the chance to play casting directors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, I’ve broken down the main characters below from the casting call the American Repertory Theatre used to cast the revival.
PIPPIN- male, 18-26. The son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin has returned from university to discover that he does not know what to do with his life. He searches for something in his life to be fulfilling, while the Leading Player and the troupe of players guide and manipulate him. Tenor.
LEADING PLAYER- (Can be male or female)- Dangerous, charismatic, extremely charming and seductive, the Leading Player is the leader of the troupe and the mastermind behind Pippin's journey. The Leading Player must be an incredibly strong performer with the willingness to take risks and dig deep and dark; a powerful presence. Male: Tenor, Female: Alto/Mezzo with a strong belt.
CHARLEMAGNE-male, late 40s-early 60s, Pippin’s father and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. He rules the empire with an iron fist, and his focus on the battlefield inspires Pippin to try becoming a soldier. Legit Baritone.
FASTRADA female, early 40s-early 50s, Pippin’s stepmother, Charlemagne’s wife, and Lewis’s mother. A manipulative woman with sexual appeal and a strong desire for power, Fastrada aims to get her son Lewis to be first in line to the throne. Dancer.
LEWIS-male, early 20s-early 30s, The son of Charlemagne and Fastrada, Pippin’s half brother. He is a soldier in Charlemagne's army and he prides himself on his athleticism and physical prowess.
BERTHE-female, early 60s-80s. Pippin’s grandmother, and Charlemagne’s mother. An incredibly spunky older woman with excellent comedic timing, Berthe leaves the kingdom to enjoy the "simple joys" of life. Alto.
CATHERINE-female, late 20s-early 30s. Pippin’s love interest, a tragically widowed farmer’s wife with a young son. She rebels against the Leading Player's scheme by actually falling in love with Pippin. She is kind, generous, romantic, and strong-willed. Mezzo with a strong mix.
Who would you cast for each? I'm hoping they don't offer Berthe to Meryl, if only because I want Andrea Martin to reprise her Tony winning role on screen. Does news of Pippin the big screen treatment fill you with, as Nat mentioned in his Into the Woods review, a hesitation “between devastating disappointment and ecstatic pleasure”?
The story: three armed robbers are killed during a planned heist, leaving behind three widows. Under pressure from the police and rivals to their late husbands' crime business, they team up to carry out the robbery themselves, enlisting another widow in the process. CEO of New Regency Brad Wilson, who financed 12 Years and will be producing again on this project, said it will be McQueen's "own version of a gangster film..[it] gives him the commercial jumping-off point, but then allows him to twist it into a Steve McQueen film."
Now, doesn't that just make you say "Oooooh"?
The film will take place in a modern-day American city instead of in the U.K., and will likely end up with a different title, but promises to be a showcase for four actressing talents. The plan is to be in pre-production by year's end.
Naturally, our question here at TFE is who should play the widows? Detailed character information is frustratingly scarce, but the parts are Dolly (the woman they turn to leadership), Shirley, Linda, and the addition to their group is Bella. The property has been dramatized three times with two British series (one in the 80s and one in the 90s) and an American mini in 2002 with Mercedes Reuhl & Rosie Perez. Did any of you see the latter?
My picks would be Michelle Pfeiffer for Dolly (Married to the Mob, you guys!), with Rosario Dawson, Jenny Slate, and Lupita Nyong'o filling out the rest of the team.
Make a case for your dream cast in the comments!