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Entries in musicals (352)

Wednesday
Oct122016

Judy by the Numbers: "Lena Horne Medley"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

If you watch the full Judy Garland Show from start to finish in the order in which it was filmed rather than the order in which it was broadcast - which is what we're doing in miniature - a few patterns emerge early on. First, there is the legendary talent that crowds the first episodes: besides Judy herself, we've seen Garland reunited with Mickey Rooney, swinging with Count Basie, introducing her daughter Liza, and now she's belting Lena Horne numbers to Lena Horne herself. For any midcentury music geek, this show is the gift that keeps on giving. However, if you push past the fabulous talent to watch the format itself, you'll notice something else: for a variety programme, The Judy Garland Show doesn't have much variety.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 4
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Terry-Thomas, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Only four episodes in, The Judy Garland Show had already fallen into something of a rut. The basic format never wavered - Judy sang first and introduced the guest(s), the guest(s) performed, star and guest(s) chatted, star and guest(s) performed, then Judy wrapped everything up with "Born in a Trunk." CBS execs had noticed - as had Judy Garland. By episode 4 her bad behavior had resurfaced, causing Lena Horne to reportedly lose her cool after Judy missed every rehearsal day.

Despite that conflict - or maybe because of it - Lena performs sparklingly on the show. In variety and expression, she even outperforms Judy. (Lena's references to Louis Armstrong during "Meet Me In St Louis" especially charm.) Nonetheless, missed rehearsals or no Judy Garland can carry a number, and the overall musical montage works well, even when a beat or two is missed. Unfortunately, the next week's show would not be so kind.

previously on Judy by the Numbers

Wednesday
Oct052016

George Sidney Centennial: "Kiss Me Kate"

by Tim Brayton

Our centennial tribute to MGM mainstay George Sidney continues with the director's 1953 musical Kiss Me Kate, and such a curious beast it is. Adapted with a slightly free hand from Cole Porter's hit 1948 musical, it's a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew that's also a backstage comedy about the staging of a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, in which the actors playing Kate and Petruchio are recently feuding exes.

Don't let the plot worry you, though. Since this is a 1950s MGM musical the focus is obviously one one thing first and foremost, and that's big, heaving SPECTACLE.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct052016

Judy by the Numbers: "Together Wherever We Go"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

Episode 3 of The Judy Garland Show (which would eventually air in its eighth week) was an episode of personal importance for Judy. Her oldest daughter, Liza Minnelli, was joining her for a family-themed show. Liza was only 16 at the time, but she'd already begun building an entertainment resume. While in high school (or rather, while skipping high school) Liza appeared on a Gene Kelly TV special, The Jack Paar Program, Talent Scouts, her mother's London Palladium concert, and was in rehearsals for her Off-Broadway debut in Best Foot Forward. However, young Liza somehow found time in her every-busier schedule to put on a family act.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 3
The Songwriters: Jule Styne (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics)
The Cast: Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Two observations stand out watching this clip: 1) These are two talented women who love to perform and 2) These are two talented women who love to perform together. There's something delightfully meta-textual about their decision to sing a song from Broadway's most dysfunctionally overbearing stage mom. As Judy watches Liza, Garland exudes nothing but pride and excitement to share the stage with her daughter. Likewise, teenage Liza - not yet fully confident in her own overwhelming talent - takes her cue from her mother.

Though they're both polished and skilled performers, this song does not come off as a professional production number. Every improvised forehead touch, handhold, or giggle renders a public performance into a personal mother/daughter moment, exposing that vein of reckless vulnerability that made both women incomparable performers. Anyone who grew up in a musical household will recognize this kind of musical intimacy. This is a mother and a daughter goofing off around the piano at home, or belting showtunes in the car on the way to school. Liza and Judy sing together with real affection and private joy. It just happens a TV camera caught it on tape.

Monday
Oct032016

Still Blissing Out Over "La La Land"

Over the weekend I wrote up an Oscar preview for Towleroad - which you can consider a companion to our current Best Picture Chart and updated Oscar predictions. Here's what I wrote about La La Land, which I realize I didn't capsule review for you at TIFF: 

This musical from the young writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) won the coveted "Audience Award" at Toronto. That prize nearly always aligns with a Best Picture nomination in January. But the nomination will be the least of it - it has "winner" written all over it. La La Land is a total bliss-out, a colorful two hour romance with song and dance numbers about an aspiring actress and her jazz musician boyfriend. This is the third movie to co-star Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and their onscreen chemistry is even better this go around and it was tremendous to begin with in Crazy Stupid Love five years back.

Here's a shocking statistic for trivia buffs: If La La Land is nominated for Best Picture it will be the first original live-action musical to do so since All That Jazz (1979). The musical nominees inbetween them were either animated  (Beauty & The Beast), adaptations of pre-existing shows (Chicago) or used pre-existing music for their songs (Moulin Rouge!). If La La Land wins it will be the first original movie musical to win the Oscar since Gigi (1958).

In addition to these general notes here are a few slighter more specific ones...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep272016

Linkscaping

Comics Alliance Joss Whedon on which Avenger would make the best US President
Vulture Tom Ford celebrates Jake Gyllenhaal's lack of manscaping
THR Viola Davis to star in Steve McQueen's Widows, a female heist picture 
Acidemic offers tips for hunting for buried genre treasures (in this case vampire films) on Amazon Prime
Bloody Disgusting the "Godfather of Gore" Gordon Lewis has passed away at 87. He's the cult filmmaker Juno and her new pal Jason Bateman obsessed over together
Huffington Post Danielle Brooks and Gabby Sidibe love their plus size bodies for Lane Bryant. Cute commercial

Watch This an interview with John Butler who made Handsome Devil which will hopefully get a release soon. Fair warning: the type is ridiculously small. What is this, Tumblr?
Coming Soon Dr Strange gets wobbly cosmic blurs motion posters
US Weekly continuing the garbage fire theme of 2016 in which both people and Love keep dying, Naomi Watts & Liev Schrieber are breaking up 
EW Tom Holland in Spidey suit with mask off, a image from filming a scene or just goofing off?
CASFFA 2016 our own Glenn Dunks was on the jury and Best Film went to Eva Nova which is Slovakia's entry in Foreign Film
TFE... those foreign film charts if you missed them. Sooo many exciting prospects to seek out 
Playbill Tony Awards announce their eligibility dates for next summer. The awards show will be June 11th 
Playbill The Broadway adaptation of Disney's Frozen just had a creative team shakeup
Kenneth in the (212) King Cobra opens next month. I forgot all about James Franco's latest gay baiting 

Off Cinema
Time Out lists the 25 best Broadway cast recordings of the new century. I definitely don't love the whole list (the high placement for The Full Monty is rather baffling) but there are many gems here. The two albums I've listened to the most from this list are Wild Party (love this write up) and The Light in the Piazza (utterly sublime -it would've been my #1)
Slate the cast of Wil & Grace reunites for a special episode about the 2016 Election
John Oliver breaks down the Trump scandals vs the Clinton scandals. The punchline is a work of prop department genius 

Tweet of the Day
Post-presidential debate movie jokes for the win 

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