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Entries in musicals (310)

Monday
Mar212016

Stage Door: Revive This! (a musical lover's list)

This week I caught the Off Broadway hit Red Speedo about a swimmer who thinks he needs performance enhancement drugs. It was a totally solid thought-provoking play and if that sounds like faint praise it's only that because the raves have been so breathless. I had front row seats (not intentional) which is a weird angle with which to see this show because the pool part of the stage looms large in front of you (you do get splashed). I don't mind getting wet so I wished they'd used the pool part of the well designed stage a little more. The actors were uniformly terrific so if you're interested in the topic, by all means go. 

But back to Broadway itself. After finally seeing The King and I, one of last year's Tony winners, and the news that Hello Dolly will finally return (with Bette Midler!) after decades of invisibility, thoughts turned to shows that rarely get revived. Some shows like Les Miz & Gypsy & Fiddler on the Roof and a handful of others seem to return to the big stage every 4 or 5 years.  It begs the question of why others are never revived. So herewith a list!

10 Longest Running Shows That Have Not Been Revived in Over 20 Years 
Not a qualitative list but factual based on how long the show ran.

01 Oh! Calcutta! - the nude musical revue closed in 1989 after two very successful multiple-year runs. Why no third?

02 Life With Father -Broadway's longest running straight play ever closed way back in 1947 the same year the film version came out. Among its 1939 opening night cast was future Oscar winner Teresa Wright. 

more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Mar162016

Judy by the Numbers: "If I Forget You"

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

Click to embiggenToday's clip is a plea for the importance of film preservation. The following 3 minute clip is all that is currently known to survive of a short called "If I Forget You" starring Judy Garland and Bette Davis. That's right, two of Classic Hollywood's biggest stars once shared the screen and we know virtually nothing about it.

The little we do know about this teeny number and the tiny short surrounding it comes from reviews and an ad (pictured left) that ran in a few trade papers circa April of 1940. The short was part of the third annual tribute to Will Rogers, who passed away in 1935. It featred Kay Kyser and his Kollege of Musical Knowledge, then Judy singing the title song, then Bette Davis stepped onscreen to ask audiences to donate to the Will Rogers Memorial Commission (which benefited the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital).

The Movie: If I Forget You (MGM short, 1940)
The Songwriters: Irving Caesar (music & lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Kay Kyser, Bette Davis, director unknown.

The Story: On the surface, a one reel ad for a charity seems underwhelming enough (and certainly Judy's performance, while sweet, is standard fare for the starlet), but when taken in context, If I Forget You shows how powerful one star's image can be even after death. The comedic cowboy had been gone 3 years, but the charity bearing his name could sway a week of exhibition ("Will Rogers National Theatres Week") and get two uncooperative giants (MGM & WB) to lend major talent for a brief cameo. This is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Will Rogers was a 20th Century Fox star. Will Rogers's image had the power to cross studio lines and exhibition rules. It probably didn't occur to Judy Garland as she sang Caesar's song that her image may one day become as powerful as Rogers's had been. Nonetheless this small (nearly forgotten) short reminds fans and academics that the aura of studio system stars can have tangible effects even after their deaths.

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938), "Over the Rainbow" (1939), "Good Morning" (1939)

Monday
Mar142016

Stage Door: The King and I

This soundtrack got a lot of play during my childhoodWith Tony season fast approaching, it's time to revive our stage column and try to hit the shows that might be competing this year. But we'll start with a throwback to last season, the revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I which most everyone knows from its 1956 big screen adaptation which won 5 Oscars (albeit in a weird Academy year) and hopefully not from that 1999 Jodie Foster movie Anna and the King.

For those who aren't well versed in Broadway mechanics there's generally a few weeks of performances called "previews" wherein shows are technically not "open" and yet they're playing every night as they approach opening night. It's the easiest time to get tickets to almost anything so if you miss the previews good luck! Other avid theatergoers might have a different take but I've found that as a general rule it's best to see stage shows late in previews through, oh, four months into the initial run. You're late enough that the actors have fine tuned their work and you're early enough that no one on stage is phoning it after having done it 8 times a week for months on end. Sometimes, though, a show is so popular and expensive that you give up trying to see it. This was the case with yours truly and The King and I, winner of 4 Tony Awards in 2015: Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Costume Design. 

Shall we dance... after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar122016

10 Linksfield Lane

Playbill Danny Boyle may direct the film version of the Broadway musical Miss Saigon
First Impressions a deep dive revisit of Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring "Sofia Coppola is a great filmmaker, in every way the equal of anyone of her generation"
Daily News
sad story about the disappearance of Richard Simmons. Fans think he's being controlled and held in his mansion against his will like the second half of the Love & Mercy plot

Film Doctor "the pleasure of withholding information" on 10 Cloverfield Lane
Awards Daily
have you watched the trailer for A Hologram for the King? How will it adapt the book?
AV Club thinks Zootopia is the inversion of Wreck It Ralph. Spoilers
EW Paramount has dumped The Little Prince animated movie just a week before its intended release. What is going on with that picture?
YouTube Anna Kendrick and Stephen Colbert are huge Stephen Sondheim fans
E! Adorable photo of the Malia and Sasha Obama w/ Ryan Reynolds
Vogue Lourdes Leon (aka Spawn of Madonna) makes her modelling debut for Stella McCartney

Showtune to go
It's Liza Minelli's birthday. Do your best Fosse in her honor... 

Wednesday
Mar022016

Judy by the Numbers: "Over the Rainbow"

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

How do you talk about this movie? How do you talk about this song? Sure, there are star-turns. There are underdog stories. But there is nothing in Hollywood legend so powerfully wedded as Judy Garland and The Wizard of Oz. It's the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle marriage of star and song that comes once every couple of generations. This was the number that would define Judy Garland as she defined it. It would be her biggest hit; one she recorded and re-recorded. It would follow her throughout her career, and outlive her when she died. Every moment before and after in the story of Judy Garland, MGM, and Studio System Hollywood lives in the shadow of "Over The Rainbow."

The Movie: The Wizard of Oz (MGM, 1939)

The Songwriter: Harold Arlen (Music & Lyrics)

The Players: Judy Garland, Margaret Hamilton, Billie Burke, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert LahJack Haley, directed by Victor Fleming

The Story: Louis B. Mayer did not take gambles. When he bought the rights to The Wizard of Oz, he wanted it to be the biggest, most expensive, most profitable musical in MGM’s history. Mayer started by assembling the best talent he had: producer Arthur Freed, director Victor Fleming, a cast of A-list comedians, and that no-fail, bonafide box office guarantee, Shirley Temple. By the time production was underway, 9,000 extras were dancing past cutting-edge special effects played on 65 sets built on all 29 MGM soundstages, totaling in a budget just under $2 million.

Of course, Fox wouldn’t release its tiny tapdancer, so Mayer had to resort to his second choice: Judy Garland. Since she was the new star of MGM’s biggest film, Judy’s studio education was put into high gear. Her teeth were capped, her hair was dyed, she was enrolled in dance and poise classes; all designed to polish down the rest of her rough edges. What this regimen couldn’t do was dull what made Judy unique.

Judy singing “Over The Rainbow” is the perfect distillation of star and studio power. She’d shown signs before of what would make her great - vocal power in “Americana,” joyful musicality in “Got a pair of New Shoes,”  deep longing in “Dear Mr. Gable,” - but with “Over The Rainbow,” the rest of the pieces fall into place. Judy loses her adolescent awkwardness, though she keeps her deep yearning. Accustomed to lip synching, she is able to act throughout the song - wistfulness, sadness, restlessness, hope. Judy Garland wasn’t even old enough to vote, but a combination of raw talent and rigorous training matured her into an exemplary performer.

previously: "The Land of Let's Pretend" (1930), "The Texas Tornado" (1936), "Americana" (1936), "Dear Mr Gable" (1937), "Got a New Pair of Shoes" (1937), "Why? Because!" (1938), "Inbetween" (1938), “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart” (1938)

Friday
Feb262016

Lin-Manuel Miranda Has a Jolly Holiday with Mary

The news of a Rob Marshall rehashing of Mary Poppins was met here with both patient fear and complete revulsion. Emily Blunt is our new Mary, which will please some of us at least. However, here's a bit of casting news worthy of outright cheers: Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda is joining the film.

Miranda will be filling the massive shoes of Dick Van Dyke in a new character that will still be reminiscent of Dyke's Bert. That is quite an undertaking that the multi-hyphenate star and his unflappable charisma are fully equipped to take on. Even if his Hamilton success is truly unprecedented, kudos to Disney for signing over a significant role to an actual Broadway star. He's gotten close to a musical adaptation before, with Universal getting thisclose to filming his first musical In the Heights with Miranda intact.

It's worth noting that here's another step Disney is taking to put diversity on the screen in a big project post-Star Wars. The new Poppins iteration draws from P.L. Travers novels and won't be stuck to the original's plot, so perhaps we'll see further exciting casting? The reboot overload is something we'll continue to bemoan, but this one gets increasingly more interesting.

If nothing else, Lin-Manuel Miranda's absense from Hamilton might mean we plebians can score a ticket.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Musical Moments

Time for more Film Bitch Categories. We're almost done*. Click away for the nominees in two more scene categories involving music.

Films featured in this round include (deep breath now): Chi-Raq, Ex-Machina, Girlhood, I'll See You In My Dreams, The Last Five Years, Magic Mike XXL, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Ricki & the Flash, Straight Outta Compton, and Victoria

*Only eight more categories to go... Best Scenes (not featured in these categories), Opening and Closing Scenes, Title Sequence, Sex Scenes, Best Kisses, and Best Actor and Best Actress in Limited or Cameo Roles... (which generally means no more than 2 scenes). We'll name our gold, silver, and bronze medalists on Friday/Saturday.

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