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Entries in musicals (375)

Wednesday
Nov092016

Judy by the Numbers: "Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again"

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

Sometimes, magic happens. When the production team of The Judy Garland Show invited a budding Broadway star to film Episode 9, nobody could foresee the titanic future of the 21-year-old singer. With just one album under her belt - admittedly Billboard Top 10 album - she was perhaps slightly less famous than her co-guest stars, The Smothers Brothers. But when Barbra Streisand sat down to sing a duet with Judy Garland, it was impossible to ignore that something titanic was happening.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 9
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, The Smothers Brothers, directed by Norman Jewison

The Story: Barbra Streisand was invited on the show just as her star was rising. Already a well-loved New York cabaret singer, Streisand had stopped the show playing a put-upon secretary in her Broadway debut, I Can Get It For You Wholesale. That second-banana-star-turn brought her a Tony nomination and a lot of attention. Jule Styne started working on a musical for her, she recorded an album that charted, and her television dance card filled up as she made the rounds on a rotation of variety shows.

None was quite like The Judy Garland Show, though. Streisand has noted that Judy seemed nervous to perform, but onscreen that nervousness translated as excitement over the chance to share the stage with Streisand - a feeling that Streisand clearly shared. However, once they began singing together, the nervousness melted away. In its place was the musical meeting of giants - two of the greatest belters of the 20th century, singing signature standards together in harmony.

Look, there's a lot I wish I could write about this, but everything I say is going to fall short. Certain moments in music defy description. Aren't we lucky to have witnessed this one?

Wednesday
Nov022016

Judy by the Numbers: "Country Medley"

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

Despite the upheaval caused by firing most of the crew only a few weeks before, change was slow to come to The Judy Garland Show. Producer Norman Jewison made incremental changes, first giving writers free reign to make jokes about Judy, then bumping up the presence of guests and side acts, before eventually dialing them back. This show was one of the last to feature Jerry Van Dyke, Dick Van Dyke's younger brother who had acted as comic relief for the first few episodes but was critically panned for poking fun at Garland. Already a third of the way through its eventual 26 episodes, The Judy Garland Show was still very much a work in progress.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 8
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Jerry Van Dyke, George Maharis, The Dillards, directed by Bill Hobin 

The Story: All of this experimentation meant strange and wonderful things appeared on the show. For instance, who would look at Judy Garland's career and think, "needs more bluegrass?" Yet, the eighth episode guest stars were bluegrass group The Dillards, best known for their recurring role as The Darlings on The Andy Griffith Show. While this episode heavily featured The Dillards playing on their own, Judy and the rest of the cast joined them for a large production number near the end of the show which blended - sometimes well, sometimes uneasily - bluegrass, big band, jazz, and folk music. No matter how many changes were pushed through, The Judy Garland Show was never dull.

previously on Judy by the Numbers

Sunday
Oct302016

Oscar Horrors: Johnny Depp Is Empty in “Sweeney Todd”

Boo! It's "Oscar Horrors". Each evening we look back on a horror-connected nomination until Halloween. Here's our new contributor Jorge Molina...

(Before I dig in, I want to make a disclaimer that this is an article discussing “Sweeney Todd” and its lead performance as a stand-alone piece, and not in comparison to the original Broadway musical. Sorry, purists. Yes, I KNOW the sing-talking is off-putting…) 

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is, in many ways, the perfect marriage between the talent behind it and its source material. Of the gothic tale of murder and revenge, and Tim Burton’s signature visual style. Of Sondheim’s characters, and the quirks which both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter built a career around. Of Sweeney Todd’s cold-blooded quest, and Depp’s cold-blooded performance, which earned him a Best Actor nomination.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Oct292016

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2

by Dancin' Dan

Everyone's favorite TV musical comedy is back! Our new team member Jorge Molina recently surveyed 10 key musical numbers from the first season and since several members of The Film Experience are BIG fans, we'll be writing about it each week, sharing the duty pleasure. 

Since we're one week behind, I'll use Nathaniel's patented "Ranking The Crazy" system for the first two episodes. Let's dive right in, shall we?

S2.E1: "Where is Josh's Friend?"
After the events of last season's finale, Josh and Rebecca shack up, but the more Rebecca gets into it, the more wary Josh becomes. Meanwhile, no one has seen Greg in a month, and Paula makes a big decision.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct282016

A "Moana" Sneak Peek with Lin Manuel-Miranda

We're just 25 days from Moana hitting theaters and more fresh looks have been coming. This past week I had the opportunity to see a few scenes and hear Lin-Manuel Miranda speak about the film afterwards. Curiously the scenes they showed us weren't "song scenes" despite the pairing of those two things.

We mostly saw scenes involving Moana herself, voiced by the joyful Auli'i Cravalho, the teenage discovery Disney chose to voice their latest princess. Baby Moana, before Auli'i Cravalho takes over, is just about the cutest thing ever and there's a long scene of her discovering the ocean that is not unlike the adorability of Pixar's wonderful short from earlier this season, Piper, albeit with less fear because Moana is immediately in love with the ocean. 

They also showed us a complicated ocean action sequence that the exuberant Venezuelan animator who hosted the event revealed was inspired by Mad Max Fury Road. Later when Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke we learned that he got the job before Hamilton (!) and when he was composing for Maui the demi-god he used The Rock's wrestling videos, of all things, to get a sense of his vocal range.

I was reminded of that when this new clip emerged very recently featuring The Rock singing in character as the demi-god who accompanies Moana on her journey. (In one of the clips I saw last week we also got a sense of how fun his magical tatoos are, including "Mini-Maui"  who you can meet here for yourself.)

Are you counting down the days? Or are you still a Zootopia or Red Turtle fan for the Oscar?

Wednesday
Oct262016

42 Days Until...

Are you excited for the latest live TV musical offering or are you already exhausted by this trend? I'm personally excited about this one since the casting is so good. I saw Harvey Fierstein do this onstage during original previews and it's still one of my all time favorite Broadway memories. Plus the score is great fun.

Wednesday
Oct262016

Judy by the Numbers: "Vaudeville Medley"

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

On September 29th, 1963, The Judy Garland Show finally premiered. With a backlog of several episodes already in the can, CBS chose to start the show with the seventh filmed episode, which guest-starred Donald O'Connor. Reviews of Judy were favorable, though reviewers were less enamored of Jerry Van Dyke and the variety show format. But unfortunately the network's fears about Bonanza were realized: The Judy Garland Show garnered a miserable (for the time) 18 rating, compared to Bonanza's juggernaut 35 rating. As always, the network and the production team was left scrambling to make new changes.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 7
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Jerry Van Dyke, Donald O'Connor, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Despite some dismal Nielson ratings, the Donald O'Connor episode would prove to be a sweet walk down memory lane for Judy Garland. Though they had never starred in a movie together, O'Connor and Garland knew each other from their days on Vaudeville, when O'Connor was a child dancer and Garland was still one of the Gumm Sisters. Garland and O'Connor reminisce, sing, and dance together, inadvertantly proving something Norman Jewison hadn't quite figured out yet: Judy Garland's power on television came from her long history on stage and screen. While Jewison would continue to make segments poking fun at Garland's legend, fans were tuning in precisely for that legend, and they were very protective of how their star was shown. As Saturday Evening Post reviewer Richard Sherman Lewis lamented,

"The absurd notion of debasing Judy's reputation as a legendary figure and molding her show into an imitation of other prosaic variety shows has been a disaster where it hurts most, in the audience polls."

Despite these protestations, Judy Garland - and by extension her show - would garner a devoted television fanbase that tuned in every Sunday night at 6pm.


previously on Judy by the Numbers

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