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Entries in musicals (208)

Thursday
Jul312014

Thoughts I Had... while looking at new "Into the Woods" images

If there is one thing in life that's certain at TFE beyond daily postings, Actress mania, Oscar chart delays, and time-jumping movie coverage, it's this: if Meryl Streep is featured there are a bajillion comments. And yet the last two Streep attacks, a look back at 2009 and a subliminal Hours reunion proved the exception. Is this merely summer doldrums or a sign of the Streepocalypse? Or were people just waiting for Into the Woods news? If so, it has arrived.

UPDATE: And the Teaser too!

Yesterday a bunch of new images surfaced from the movie and you know how this goes. We look at the image and we list off thoughts as they come without self-censorship to keep the brain loose and the words flowing and to not be too mundane about what this actually is - free advertising for Disney and regurgitated photo sharing.

Meet Rapunzel
• I always forget her in Into the Woods because she's immobile and shares her scenes with the Witch (Meryl Streep) who invariably steals them.
• So annoying when movie studios release one image with different proportions than the others. Rapunzel gets a vertical rectangle. Is this to show off the hair? 
• I love Tangled.
• When I was a wee boy it was my dream to make a Rapunzel movie because it was the only fairy tale I loved that DIDN'T have a Disney movie and also because my big sister had long hair and Crystal Gayle was still famous and yes that makes me an ancient - shut up! #40somethingisthenew30something
• Mackenzie Mauzy is literally the only Into the Woods cast member I don't know from anything. I guess she was on soaps? Are you familiar?

10 more photos after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul282014

1973 Look Back: Biblical Musicals

Our celebration of 1973 continues with Andrew on Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar

In 1970 John-Michael Tebelak was completing work on his master’s thesis project about Jesus Christ at Carnegie Mellon University. Before long he would pair up with musician and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and in May of 1971 the musical Godspell would officially begin playing. Around the same time, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were finalising work on a rock album, a concept musical of sorts, on the last ten days of Jesus' life. The album would be released in the fall of 1970, and one year later Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical developed from the soundtrack, would open on Broadway. By some weird happenstance the fates of the two Jesus musicals would be tied*. Two years later, the two musicals (both moderate hits on stage by that time) saw screen adaptations released in 1973.

One religious stage-musical adapted to the big screen is a curiosity; two religious film musicals – both of them from recent stage hits -  in a single year is fascinating. Two religious film musicals in the same year from recent stage hits which both cover, generally, the same subject? Too intriguing to ignore.

Two Jesus musicals, two very different Jesuses. More...

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Friday
Jul182014

Pitch Perfect 2 is Almost Done Shooting!

Anna Kendrick posted this last night, with this note:

All these bitches wrap tomorrow and leave me behind...... I totally H💖TE them.

Pitch Perfect wasn't a perfect movie but it turns out to be highly HIGHLY rewatchable. A cable perfect pleasure. I could watch it back-to-back and nearly have. I love "Fat Amy" and every single whispered line delivery from Hana Mae Lee as Lilly. Plus every moment when Anna Kendrick sings.

So pleased that Anna is doing three musicals in one year (see earlier post). That's some commitment to the genre that we haven't seen from literally any other contemporary star.

Thursday
Jul172014

Elaine Stritch (1925-2014)

When Colleen Donaghy died on 30 Rock in the episode "My Whole Life is Thunder" I tried to think of it as tragicomic rehearsal. A chance to acknowledge that death was coming for the beloved theater great but to laugh at it or at least about its absurd finality.

Elaine Stritch herself wouldn't have approved of my wussiness. She might've said something like "it's me who's dying, not you!" (albeit in a much funnier manner) because she had a tart tongue and was quite a truth teller. In the documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (reviewed) released early this year she references her impending death more than a little as she prepares to move back home (Detroit) and retire finally, in her late eighties, for good.

But even this documentary didn't quite convince me that she was leaving us.

I saw Elaine Stritch’s famous one woman Broadway show “At Liberty” in early 2002 a couple of years after moving to New York. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was nothing short of spiritual ecstasy but then showbiz is my religion and actresses are my only gods. 

 I had mythologized her, you can see in that excerpt of that intro to my review of that documentary. How could Death conquer such a life force?

It wasn't until after the special screening here in NYC that Stritch (or as I like to call her "Stritchieeeeeeeee!" imitating her imitation of an angry director in At Liberty) was wheeled out to greet us that it finally sunk in. She looked undeniably more like a feeble old woman than the  giant of the theater in white shirt and black tights that I was accustomed to looking up at with awe.

The last time I'd seen Stritchieeee in the flesh before that she was also in a wheelchair. It was late 2010 when she took over for Angela Lansbury in the Broadway Revival of "A Little Night Music." She sings her big number "Liaisons" from a wheelchair. But that was just acting. More rehearsal.

When Elaine set out to do something she worked her ass off until she did it right. 

So here's to the girls on the go--
Everybody tries.
Look into their eyes,
And you'll see what they know:
Everybody dies.
A toast to that invincible bunch,
The dinosaurs surviving the crunch.
Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch--
Everybody rise!
Rise!
Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise! Rise!
Rise!

And this Tony and Emmy winning legend did it right. A final round of thunderous applause please because this time there's no more encores. 

Wednesday
Jun252014

Let's Stop Pretending We Don't Have The Talent Base For Great Movie Musicals

Over at IndieWire Max O'Connell writes an impassioned essay about the terrible direction that keeps sinking movie musicals. While I do not agree that Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys is the best-directed musical of the past 10 years (yikes!) the case is stronger than I was expecting that that is at least debatable.

Why does Hollywood have such a hard time making musicals?

Many of the essay's points are memorize / share worthy. I merely wish that Max didn't succumb to the tired notion that there simply aren't enough charismatic stars with musical theater chops for the genre to really be alive again. This notion is brought up nearly every time people talk about the state of the film musical (or when they're casting and have to defend strange choices) but it's just patently false. 

Here's that bit of the otherwise stellar article:

Maybe there aren't enough modern equivalents to Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers or Judy Garland has made it difficult to churn out great musicals on a regular basis.

That last bit might have a lot to do with it: Few movie stars have the song-and-dance skills required to knock a musical out of the park, and not all musical theater performers have the charisma required for the camera. That leaves a lot of directors to choose between Russell Crowe and Pierce Brosnan warbling their way through well-known songs or John Lloyd Young, the original star of "Jersey Boys," who reprised his role in Eastwood's film, showing up and singing beautifully -- but lacking the fire to keep Frankie Valli interesting when he's not singing. There is a third option of pulling a Marni Nixon and dubbing Michael Cerveris singing over Johnny Depp or Patti LuPone over Helena Bonham Carter, but then you've got a star's ego to deal with.

(Sigh)

Repeat after me: There is ALWAYS a better choice than Crowe vs. Brosnan vs. Someone People Have Never Heard Of Who Isn't Great on Camera. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jun212014

Review: "Jersey Boys"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

 

‘I’m looking for sky blue and you’re giving me brown,' a fey producer sighs when the Four Seasons are in the recording booth. They’re just going through the motions rather than livening up their material. He could just have easily been dissing Jersey Boys itself, Clint Eastwood’s needlessly dull adaptation of the Broadway smash. In truth the band’s performance in this scene isn’t appreciably worse than their performances elsewhere in the movie. If you can’t readily spot differences in inspiration and creative fire from one performance to the next, maybe there’s none to be found?

“Brown” isn’t quite the color of it, though. Clint Eastwood’s aesthetic favors underlit rooms, heavy blacks and washed out color. You’d think that aesthetic would change for a splashy musical but you’d be wrong. I mean, why shouldn’t a musical about a famous band with a gift for hooky pop gems look as depressing / dead-end as a drama about desperate boxers or a war film about an island massacre?

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