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Entries in musicals (386)

Monday
Jan112016

Baz's The Get Down Gets A Trailer

Manuel here. Can it be possible that it’s taken us this long to talk at length about the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series The Get Down? I guess we’ve been busy, what with writing up our year end review, following all the precursors (including last night’s Golden Globes), counting down the shortlisted docs, and of course, obsessing over who’ll be nominated this Thursday. Well, let’s remedy that because nothing will cleanse your palate from the always fun/frustrating gamble of Oscar predictions than some flashy Baz.

All I really needed to know about The Get Down was that it comes from, as the trailer below states, the Australian “visionary director.” Even when his films don’t quite hit the mark (see Australia, The Great Gatsby) they are never nothing short of fascinating and as his Fitzgerald and Shakespeare adaptations show, few directors can match his cinematic vibrancy when it comes to using music to infuse his own storytelling.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan062016

Judy by the Numbers: "The Land of Let's Pretend"

Judy at 8. In just ten years time she'll have a mini "Juvenile" Oscar!Editor's Note: With Anne-Marie in grad school we're taking it easier on her for 2016. After her invaluable deep dives into Katharine Hepburn with "A Year With Kate" and female directors in "Women's Pictures" something much shorter but reliably tuneful for you each Wednesday morning in '16: Judy Garland numbers! 

Anne Marie returning to you. Welcome to a new series exploring Judy Garland through the music she made famous and the songs that made her a star. Before she was Judy Garland, Frances "Baby" Gumm was the youngest of a three sister Vaudeville act. The child of Vaudeville performers, a family story states that she made her stage debut at 30 months singing "Jingle Bells." She was so entranced by the footlights that her father had to remove her after she sang the song - 7 times.

The Movie: "Bubbles" (Vitaphone Short, 1929 or 1930)
The Songwriters: Harry Akst (Music) and Grant Clark (Lyrics)
The Players: The Gumm Sisters, directed by Roy Mack

The Story: "Bubbles" is close to Frances Gumm's film debut; she and her sisters made a series of Vitaphone shorts for Warner Brothers. Though she's just 8 years old, it's already clear that there's something about young Frances - the short one on the right who mugs to a spot right of camera during her brief closeup. At the moment, that "something" is a big smile and an equally big (if tinny) voice. But such small stuff is what stars are moulded from.

Thursday
Dec032015

THE WIZ LIVE! Live Blog with Anne Marie and Margaret

MARGARET: Good evening, Kansans and citizens of Oz! Margaret here with Anne Marie, ready and excited to ease on into NBC's The Wiz Live! 

ANNE MARIE: Last year Margaret and I re-capped that musical where Christopher Walken kinda sang a little bit, to the joy of few and the dismay of many. HOWEVER, this year The Wiz Live! looks like everything we ever wanted and more! The live-blog begins after the jump!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov232015

Remember Jesse L Martin's "I'll Cover You"

Ten years ago today the quickly forgotten film version of Rent (2005) premiered in movie theaters. At the time Rent had been a visceral sensation on stage for nearly a decade and was just a few years short of closing its nearly $300 million grossing Broadway run. Let's just say the movie didn't have a prayer of measuring up, even financially, grossing only $31 million worldwide in theaters. Rent (the movie!) was a dubiously near-perfect example of all the things that can go wrong with movie musicals and despite many other films teaching Hollywood the same exact not-all-that-complicated lessons, Hollywood is still having trouble learning.

You nearly always need these three things: visually stylish directors who also understand storytelling within the musical idiom (it's not an easy thing to move from the abstract friendly medium of the stage to the usually literal medium of the cinema); sly confident casting and gifted performers (transferring entire Broadway casts absolutely won't do. And neither will its opposite, replacing them all with "names" whether or not they can sing and dance. Why? Both strategies just reek of insecurity); and, finally, the right blend of zealous passion and merciless intelligence from the filmmaker since musicals are complicated and needy and fragile and they tend to come with a tricky but essential mix of artifice and sincerity. 

Of course Rent had it's own problems apart from failing to meet those three essentials. It is also a story wherein New York City is as much a leading character as Roger, Mark or Mimi. In the abstract friendly environments of the theater, a simple flourish like a fire escape can represent and entire teeming city with millions of stories in it with ease. If you try to fake New York City in the movies without a stylized visual approach, it just going to look cheap and weak.

But for all of its problems Rent (2005) did give us Jesse L Martin singing onscreen and for that we'll always be grateful. I mean, just listen to his superbly emotive instrument.

A couple of years ago Martin was supposed to headline a biopic about Marvin Gaye and though his casting was inspired financing fell through somewhere along the production phase so the movie seems like one of those phantom features now, caught somewhere between development hell and actual existence. Other roles for Martin just haven't satisfied his musical fans. The much missed Smash (RIP) did a lot of things wrong in its two seasons as a network musical but one of its true unforgiveable sins was actually giving Jesse L Martin a job IN A MUSICAL and then denying the audience that voice. (We keep waiting for The Flash to have a meta-human musical episode since a hefty percentage of its principle cast comes with gorgeous pipes and real musical theater cred.)

Did you ever see Rent on stage? If not do you have any strong memories of the movie?

Tuesday
Nov102015

The Honoraries: Debbie Reynolds in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (1964)

This week we're celebrating the three Honorary Oscar winners. Here's abstew on Debbie Reynolds' favorite role.

Molly Brown is my favorite of all the roles I've played. I love something about almost every part I've done, but I identified with Molly as soon as I met her. In the sometimes blurry line between art and and real life, Molly is the woman I've become as the years have passed. I'm right there with her when she declares, "I ain't down yet!"

-Debbie Reynolds Unsinkable: A Memoir

In her decades long show business career, amid the watchful eye of media scrutiny, Debbie Reynolds has endured trials and tribulations and come out the other side of it stronger. Caught in a Hollywood scandal, the original jilted girl-next-door (long before Jennifer Aniston was even born), Reynolds stood by while then husband Eddie Fisher left her and her two young children for screen siren Elizabeth Taylor. Her luck with men didn't improve later as second husband Harry Karl spent years gambling away her hard-earned money, leaving her with mounting debts to cover. Even her dream of finding a permanent home to house her legendary collection of movie memorabilia never came to pass and forced her to put them up for auction. So you can see how playing a character like the real life Molly Brown, who survived the sinking of the Titanic, earning her the moniker "Unsinkable", would find a kindred spirit in the guise of feisty spitfire Debbie Reynolds. The actress, like the legendary woman, simply doesn't know what it means to be defeated...

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Tuesday
Nov032015

The Honoraries: Dancin' Debbie Reynolds

For the next two weeks we'll be celebrating all three of the Honorary Oscar Recipients at TFE. Here's Dancin' Dan to kick things off... with musical numbers. - Editor

Debbie Reynolds may not have started out as a dancer, but she sure made a great one on film. I can be (and honestly have been known on occasion to be) somewhat churlish and point out the exact moment from the legendary "Good Morning" number in Singin' in the Rain where the 19 year-old ingenue starts cheating her steps... but it's my favorite movie, and we're here to honor the unsinkable Ms. Reynolds, so why would I want to?

And besides, she's already proven herself the cat's meow in her first number in the film, the perfectly pretty in pink "All I Do is Dream of You". (more...)

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct192015

Our Small Screen MVPs of the Week

Who or what was your MVP of this past week on your small screens at home?

We polled Team Experience to share theirs. In this new world of infinite screens and schedules, whether you're bingeing, right up-to-date, or on demand surfing, we're all probably on different time tables so please do share yours as well.

If you watch these shows do you have the same MVPs?

MVPs of the Week

Homeland's Showrunner
Alex Gansa, showrunner of Homeland, has managed to take a great-show-turned-shitshow and make it thrilling again. I said it. I said thrilling. About late season Homeland!? Am I crazy? Maybe. The thing I fear is that it will all fall apart, that three (out of three!) excellent episodes this season will turn, by season’s end, into a fluke. But here’s what we’ve got: Characters behaving in ways that don’t immediately strike you as utterly stupid. Unpredictability. Twists. Bigger twists. Signature Homeland footchases involving losing people in crowds (we all love that, right?). A connection of the CIA to geopolitics that is complex. And I have no idea what Saul Berenson is up to.  I mean, I could have given the MVP to Mandy Patinkin just for drumming his fingers, but there’s so much going on visually, and in the writing, that Alex Gansa is my guy. (I’m recapping weekly here if you’re so inclined.) - Deborah Lipp

The Flash - Whoever Thought This Callback Up
In a strange reversal of current billion dollar movieverses, Marvel goes dark for television (see Daredevil and the upcoming Jessica Jones) and DC (The Flash/Supergirl) lightens up. The Flash's first season was a shock to the system, in that it was genuinely good: well plotted, bravely silly (Gorilla Grodd anyone?), filled with fizzy action sequences, jokey quips, and an unashamedly sentimental soul (has a lead male in a TV series ever cried as much as Grant Gustin on The Flash?) in other words: just like a comic book. Season 2 hasn't been as fun but the addition of drama from Earth Two (don't ask) in the form of another Flash Jay Garrick (played by TFE favorite Teddy Sears from Dollhouse/Masters of Sex) is promising. And this joyful bit ripped directly from comic book pages when a victim calls out for Flash and both heroes come running was pure throwback bliss. It was like I was a little kid hungrily flipping comic book pages again. - Nathaniel R

Bob's Burgers's Kristen Schaal
Confession: I love Kristen Schaal. In many circles that is a somewhat controversial stance since her comedy is at times almost intentionally grating (see 30 Rock which half the time didn’t know what to do with her Hazel Wassername). When it’s harnessed correctly (see The Daily Show, Flight of the Conchords) it is magical to behold. Seeing as her comedy so depends on her distinctive voice (a loony rubber band of a squeal) it’s no surprise she’s found success doing voiceover work (in the Toy Story franchise, in the great Gravity Falls, even in the amazing Archer). But it is her work as Louise Belcher in Bob’s Burgers which may be her crowning achievement. A conniving, no-nonsense, entrepreneurial nine year old whose adult schemes are hilariously at odds with her signature pink rabbit-ears hat, Louise prides herself on being the smartest person in the room. The latest episode, "Hauntening", where her parents attempt to give her a worthy scare with the world’s lamest haunted house was a brilliant showcase for Schaal, as her Louise goes from blasé indifference to outright fright by the end of the episode. - Manuel Betancourt

Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Chelsea Peretti 
When Captain Holt was transferred out of the 99 at the end of season two, and Gina Linetti loyally followed him out the door, devotees of TV's most reliable sitcom feared the worst. But of course the show wasn't going to let its two most valuable characters (give or take Rosa Diaz) go that easily, and if nothing else, the third season's initial episodes have made their contrived inclusions of the pair's new office a chance for Gina to exercise her superiority over everyone in the vicinity. "Gina Linetti," she introduces herself at one meeting, "the human form of the 100 emoji." Stand-up comedienne Chelsea Peretti has been acing this part from the very beginning, giving Gina a confidence that never seems arrogant despite almost complete narcissism. Whenever she speaks, her self-love seems completely genuine, because it is completely valid, but Peretti also roots it in an unspoken sense of the subservience Gina knows most women in her position would likely feel, and makes that rebellion even more empowering. Brooklyn Nine-Nine's most surprising strength is its variety of strong female characters in a workplace not typically kind to females, and Gina Linetti, despite her stereotypical role, is the crown emoji. - David Upton

 

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend's Musical Numbers 
The pilot of the CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend does not get off to the strongest possible start. But then, about ten minutes or so in, protagonist Rebecca Bunch (the supremely GIF-able Rachel Bloom) bursts into song, singing the praises of "West Covina, California" - the sun-dappled home of her former summer camp boyfriend Josh, who she not-entirely-accidentally runs into on the streets of NYC. Of course, she decides (much like Felicity before her) to ditch her soul-killing Junior Partnership at a high-powered law firm to follow him. In true movie musical fashion, she moves from the grey-blue streets of NYC to the golden-hued roads of CA over the course of the number, and in so doing kicks the show into high gear. The number just gets funnier and funnier as it goes, until it ends with Rebecca ascending to the heavens on a giant pretzel. It's musical comedy heaven. And that's just the first number. After what happened to Smash and Glee, it's tempting to think that musical series will only disappoint, but right now it looks like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is on the glitter-strewn path to greatness. - Dancin Dan