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Entries in Donna Murphy (4)

Wednesday
Oct032012

"Into the Woods" Seeks Investors & Very Famous Witch

This happened Monday. (Thanks to Julia for alerting.) How crazy is that?

A live reading of Stephen Sondheim's wondrous "Into the Woods" shortly after its Shakespeare in the Park summer (with only Donna Murphy as The Witch transferring from Central Park) to raise interest/funding for Rob Marshall's film version. He's surely hoping to redeem himself post-Nine which angered critics and lost a ton of money at the box office and return to his Chicago heyday. But I swear to god if he makes up some stupid framing device where it's all a dream/fantasy...

I don't know about you but the idea of Patrick Wilson & Cheyenne Jackson as the eternally unsatisfied but self-satisfied Princes is to die for. The other names that most excite me here are Nina Arianda, Victoria Clark, Christine Baranski,  Anna Kendrick, Megan Hilty,... oh wait, I'd just type up every name! 

How do you read "Into the Woods" -- Did they talk/sing through their table read, stand beside the piano for Hollywood moneybags or was it very very short? Broadway.com confirms that this reading did happen as planned though the film version would obviously *sniffle* get an entirely new cast. (We once had a very robust discussion of who should play whom right here at The Film Experience.) Many of those names listed above are famous and accomplished and have golden statues of some sort and are amazing vocalists but you know they'll be thrown over in a second for bigger names with weaker chops.

Streep will probably get the role made famous by Bernadette Peters, and later played by Vanessa Williams and Donna Murphy

Meryl Streep is already reportedly in talks about the most coveted role in any production: The Witch (who raises Rapunzel as her daughter and sings "The Last Midnight" and the show's thematic anthem "Children Will Listen"). That sucks for the great great Broadway diva Donna Murphy who, to date, has only ever had one movie role worthy of her (The Witch... who coincidentally raises Rapunzel!... in Tangled) though she gets frequent tiny roles. But that's how it works for stage-to-film transfers. And Meryl does have a wondrous vocal instrument; I can and have listened to her tracks from Postcards from the Edge, Prairie Home Companion and Death Becomes Her on loop (Mamma Mia not so much). If rumors that Marshall originally wanted Toni Collette for Roxy in Chicago are true -- and why wouldn't they be cuz damn if she isn't great in musicals -- can't we throw her in this movie somewhere?

Monday
Feb202012

A "Yes, No, Maybe So" Quadruple Feature!

Hollywood is insisting that we move on to the current calendar year (What is this thing called "2012"?) before we're wrapped with the 2011 Oscar Contenders. Boo! Don't they know we prefer things all regimented like? So we've fallen behind. We've no choice but to abbreviate our Yes, No, Maybe So feature to get caught back up. So let's talk about four new trailers that have...

What's that?!? They're not new anymore? Stop rushing me.

None of the movies have opened yet so they're fair game. Care for a nerve-wracking conversation with Sigourney Weaver? Some senior mugging with Diane & Kevin? Think Jeremy Renner can fill Matt Damon's big shoes?

"Help. I'm lost in the thick woods of movie trailers."

Which of these movies are you eager to see, which will you avoid, and which of these first tastes leave you undecided? Four new(ish) trailers after the jump. Discuss! You've been too quiet and are freaking me out.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug162011

Two Beauties

Yesterday morning, before that evening's NYC premiere of Vera Farmiga's Higher Ground (pictured below) I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with these two knockouts, Dagmara Dominczyk and Vera Farmiga. I somehow ended up seated between them so my head was ping-ponging back and forth and dizzy from beauty. Beauty to the left. Beauty to the right. 

You all know Vera, only one of the screen's very best working actresses. If you're unfamiliar with Dagmara, her main claim to fame was back in 2002 (The Count of Monte Cristo, female lead opposite Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce) but she essentially took a really long break from career-ing to have Patrick Wilson's babies. (Wouldn't you?) She's terrific as Vera's best friend in the film. They're adorably chummy in real life, too.

That interview is coming soon. Here's another premiere photo of the cast. Yes, Donna Murphy is in the movie; Vera has good taste.

Tony nominee Nina Arianda, Two time Tony winner Donna Murphy, Oscar Nominee Vera Farmiga and Mrs Patrick Wilson Dagmara Dominczyk.

Sunday
Jan092011

Supporting Actress Blog-a-Thon: Donna Murphy in "Tangled"

Tangled begins as so many Disney fairy tales do, with literal storytelling. But rather than opening a book --are they too antiquated for the kiddies *sniffle* ? -- it's simple narration as Flynn Rider begins to tell us the tale of Rapunzel. The first character he introduces us to is Mother Gothel, obsessing over the healing power of a golden flower. 

Oh, you see that old woman over there? You might want to remember her. She's kind of important.

No joke. That's true of character and actress. Gothel's voice belongs to Donna Murphy, one of Broadway's most formidable stars. She seizes the richest opportunity of her sparse screen career as forcefully as Mother Gothel grabs at her chance at immortality.

"blah blah blah blah blah"

In the first seconds of this introduction when we see the hunched crone-like woman with darting eyes, the animators are doing the heavy lifting. But soon enough Donna Murphy's spectacular voice creeps into the picture and we have one of the all-time best villains in Disney's already estimable rogues gallery.

"Flower gleam and glow, let your power shine," she sings with ancient cracked weariness. As her magic flower does its healing work, Murphy's more familiar superstar pipes emerge, newly coated in honey "Make the clock reverse, bring back what once was mine, what once was mine." No wonder she can't let go of this power once it's in the human form or Rapunzel. Who'd want that voice to whither, never mind the beauty. 

Murphy's enormous gift for musical comedy is a huge assett in crafting Disney's most disturbing parent/child relationship without alienating its intended audience. Tangled isn't a horror film after all. We have to understand that Mother Gothel is dangerous for her adopted daughter, but we also have to enjoy the emotional games which are played at Rapunzel's expense. Little "Flower", as Gothel calls Rapunzel, doesn't even understand the rules.

Murphy's quickfire comic delivery is filled with florid theatricality (perfect for both the stage and the animated film) but the actress can ground it just as quickly with softer tones. So when she teases Rapunzel in the mirror. "I see a confident beautiful young woman. [beat] Oh look you're here too!" and then laughs at her own mean joke, you're both giggling and apalled. Then you want to forgive her when she hugs her daughter because she's funny and vibrant and she sounds like she means it whenever she drops the teasing. She cushions those blows with kisses and endearments "I love you most" and though not all of them sound 100% genuine, moments of emotional authenticity pop up to catch you unawares. What kind of woman is this? Murphy flips Gothel's switch constantly: loving mother, flamboyant diva, charming confidante, dangerous villain, exhausted single parent, selfish bitch; who can keep up? Certainly not Rapunzel!  

a dramatic pose in "Mother Knows Best"

Even better, whether she's working the book scenes or singing, you can hear in Murphy's delivery both the anticipatory manipulations (when she doesn't want to deal with her daughter's neediness) and the lags in response time (when Rapunzel surprises her). 

Though it's not the least bit surprising if you've ever seen her on stage, Murphy absolutely nails Mother Gothel's big number "Mother Knows Best" which is a character song, an illustration of emotional backstory (you know she's sung this song before and you can imagine how it's shaped her "daughter"), a comic interlude and dramatic showstopper. At least it is with Murphy playing it. The most hilariously self-aware moment is in the climax. She sings 

Skip the drama
Stay with Mama
Moooooooooother Knows Best. 

"Skip the drama," sings the drama queen with total flamboyance. That's rich. Mother Gothel is laughing at her own killing joke even while sliding into the next witty lyric.

Murphy records Gothel's voiceLater while bargaining with her daughter about a trip, she drops the comedy for more earthbound familiar parent/child friction but Murphy's still working it like it's her big showstopping song and the spotlight is on. "Enough with the lights," she yells with scary force at her persistent daughter (Dangerous Villain) having reached her breaking point.  "Great now I'm the bad guy" she sighs, collapsing with self-deluding comedy (Selfish Bitch). Rapunzel switches gears herself in response and wants a different gift. "And what is that?" Murphy says with genuine inquisitiveness peaking through her annoyance (Exhaustive Single Parent). Murphy doesn't oversell this last line at all, though she might have. The actress is softening with the character so your attention can flow back to Rapunzel, who is trying her hand at the manipulation game from her mother who knows it best.

Murphy's spoken dialogue is as musically fluid and emotionally incisive as her singing is dramatically and comedically assured.  This is why you cast already great musical stars in musicals, Hollywood! They sing beautifully even when they're just acting and they act dramatically even when their voices are carrying a melody.

Murphy Done Best.   

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For more supporting actress write-ups see StinkyLulu's 5th annual Supporting Actress blog-a-thon