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Entries in musicals (333)

Wednesday
Feb172016

Judy by the Numbers: "In Between"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...


At age 16, Judy Garland already had six pictures and three years as a studio contract player under her belt. Judy's seventh picture would reteam her with Mickey Rooney for her first in many guest appearances in the wildly popular Andy Hardy series. Judy was worked hard - rumors of how hard include studio "medication" and rigid diets - and over the course of her MGM career she would average 3 pictures per year. The result was studio stardom at the expense of self. But incredibly, she never showed it when she sang.

The Movie: Love Finds Andy Hardy (MGM 1938)
The Songwriter: Roger Edens
The Players: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Lewis Stone, Fay Holden directed by George B. Seitz

The Story: Young Judy was on a roll, but her biggest smashes were still to come. After the success of Thoroughbreds Don't Cry, it became clear to the studio that Judy and Mickey had something together--at least onscreen. Their lifelong friendship translated to innocent romance on celluloid, though offscreen Rooney was busy chasing the newly-minted "Sweater Girl" Lana Turner, who was only a year older than Judy. Turner plays a naive proto-vamp in Love Finds Andy Hardy too. It's telling that even though there's only a small difference between their ages, Turner was an overnight sex symbol while Judy was dressed in frills and sang about being "too young for boys." It was a false formula, but it worked. Judy would continue to play young and naive for the next 8 years.

Thursday
Feb112016

Coming Soon: "Frozen" vs "Wicked" On Broadway

As you may have heard Frozen will be coming to Broadway in the Spring of 2018. The original composers will write additional new songs which is smart since the second half of Frozen the movie is weirdly not a musical at all. The songs abruptly end after "Let It Go"  

It will be curious to have two versions of Wicked on stage simultaneously, though.

Shade. (I couldn't resist.)

No matter how much one loves Frozen, it's hard to deny that it shamelessly rips off of Wicked. When Wicked's producers rather dimly dragged their feet on a film version of their 3 billion dollar smash (they should have started immediately since it takes years to get a picture made properly and now a picture will feel "old" when it arrives) Disney swooped in with their own version of Wicked called Frozen -- even using the same leading lady with the huge pipes (Idina Menzel) and had their own billion-dollar smash (with endless revenue yet to come in merchandising).

Consider: 

  • Sisters / Besties. One is good and likeable. The other is secretive and perceived as "Wicked"
  • The "Wicked" girl is strong with magic and this scares people and she hides herself away from the fearful citizens of Arendel/Oz
  • During her escape/rise into her power she sings an athem of self-actualization "Let It Go"/"Defying Gravity" 
  • And then the villagers come after her and the good girl has to intervene. (From their the stories diverge... as they do with the supporting cast, too) 

Wicked will obviously still be selling out in 2018 when Frozen arrives. 12 years and a few months into its run it's still always near the top of the box office charts. It will be so strange to see them side by side. Do you have a preference? 

 

Wednesday
Feb102016

Judy by the Numbers: "Why? Because!"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

With Judy Garland's growing success, MGM decided it was time to have her star in her own feature. The studio dusted off some musical numbers (arranged by Roger Edens) as well as a handful of contract players and Ziegfeld stars. Judy played a young aspiring actress stuck in a conservative school. Supported by her zany Russian maid (Fanny Brice), the young girl decides to join a musical. The result was another hit for Judy, and a delight for future Vaudeville nerds and historians.  

The Movie: Everybody Sing (MGM 1938)
The Songwriters: Harry Ruby & Bert Kalmar
The Players: Judy Garland, Fanny Brice, Allan Jones, Reginald Owen, Billie Burke, directed by Edwin L. Marin

The Story: In Everybody Sing, Judy was joined by not one but two famous Ziegfeld women: Billie Burke (aka Mrs. Florenz Ziegfeld, who we'll see again later), and Fanny Brice, a Jewish comedienne whose life would eventually inspire the musical that would launch Barbara Streisand's career. At the time of Everybody Sing, Brice had successfully transitioned from Vaudeville to radio, and this musical number was based on one of her characters, Baby Snooks. I'll admit that this week's clip isn't so much Judy by the Numbers as Fanny by the Numbers, but there are so few films of Brice. Watching Fanny Brice in action, you see the blueprint being laid out for future funny girls like Barbra Streisand, Lily Tomlin, and Gilda Radner.

Tuesday
Feb092016

Hail, Caesar! is a secret musical. 

If you didn't catch the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar! this weekend it might surprise you to hear that it could actually be categorized as a musical. No, not a full blown musical with a good portion of their narrative emerging from the songs but musically inclined. It's more like "a film with music" as Yentl once said to the ticketbuying public. There are three distinct musical numbers in the film, which is three more than 95% of films get. More...

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Wednesday
Feb032016

Judy by the Numbers: "Got a New Pair of Shoes"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Though nobody guessed it when she was cast, Judy Garland’s fifth movie would be the first in a series starring the most famous child actor team in Hollywood history. Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry, a Freddie Bartholomew vehicle sadly missing its intended star, saw the first team up of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Though both played supporting parts, their onscreen chemistry is clear. These kids were a hit!

The Movie: Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry (MGM 1937)
The Songwriter: Arthur Freed (music and lyrics)
The Players: Ronald Sinclair, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, directed by Alfred E. Green

The Story: This bizarre little musical number perfectly encapsulates what would become the Mickey and Judy dynamic. Mickey is busy working at a project – in this case, trying to take Ronald Sinclair’s pants off (just in case you needed your daily dose of unintended homoerotic subtext). Meanwhile, Judy flits and flirts in and out of the scene, trying to get Mickey’s attention through accolades, through annoyance, through anything so long as it makes him notice her. She dances around him, he gives her a swat – it’s schoolyard flirting with song and dance. This formula would define the two child actors together until long after they had put away childish things. But for the moment, it’s dimples, music, and fun.

Tuesday
Feb022016

FOX's "Grease! Live" = The Best Live TV Musical Yet

My name is Dancin' Dan and I LOVED Grease! Live.

When Fox announced they were getting into the live musical game, with "America's Favorite Musical", Grease, there was reason to be skeptical. True, the home of American Idol seemed like a more natural fit for a live musical than NBC, but Grease is perhaps an even more iconic show than The Sound of Music, and we all know how that one turned out for NBC.

But then casting announcements kept rolling in, and they felt shockingly on point: Broadway heartthrob Aaron Tveit as bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold Danny Zuko. Dancing With the Stars alum Julianne Hough as eternal good girl Sandy Young. High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens as bad girl Rizzo, pop star and Broadway Cinderella Carly Rae Jepsen as air-headed beauty school dropout Frenchie, former child star Keke Palmer as sex-obsessed Marty.... could this actually work?

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