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Entries in musicals (242)

Thursday
Feb122015

"The Last Five Years" Is Here

My two favorite Off Broadway musicals of all time have both now made the trek to movie screens. Hedwig and the Angry Inch which I saw thrice in 1999 right after moving to NYC became an instant cult classic in film form thanks to its brilliant creator / star / writer John Cameron Mitchell. He just returned to the role on Broadway (though he's out for a bit after an injury so Michael C Hall is back to fill in for him). The second The Last Five Years took much longer. I saw it during the last week of its original run (whew!) in 2002 and 13 years later it's on screens with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan as the troubled couple Cathy and Jamie who can't quite connect (illustrated narratively by his story moving forward while hers moves backwards through the relationship. It's not the unqualified success that Hedwig was but if you love the movie musical genre you really need to see it because it's a really unique beast.

Radius TWC is distributing which means there aren't many theaters playing it yet beyond Los Angeles, New York and Toronto but it's also available On Demand. On Oscar weekend it expands to several more cities. I'd love to hear from any TFE readers who see it. It's a very unusual musical to adapt since the concept is very theatrical and it's intimate whereas most movie musicals are big glitzy things. Wisely they cast two actors who can sing the hell out of its tremendously satisfying song score.

Two key blog posts in case you missed them...

Anna Kendrick Interview

Nathaniel: "Summer in Ohio"... I LOVE this version.
Anna Kendrick: I'm so glad. It was a ton of work. In the show she's writing a letter but I thought when I'm away from my boyfriend we Skype. And Cathy in that number is not just recounting her day, she's performing for Jamie because even at the beginning of their marriage she’s like “I have to keep him interested. I have to keep him in love with me”... [Read the Rest]

Toronto Film Festival Review

The first thing you see in The Last Five Years is a white brownstone. It looks almost like a ghost in the middle of a New York City block. As the notes begin to play, the camera drifts upwards to peer into windows and search for its movie star within them. No, that's not her.  Not her either. Ah, there she is. Anna Kendrick sings the entirety of "Still Hurting", moping around a dark apartment, crying. The camera moves around her (in strange patterns) and her voice is just beautiful. And then I realize I've forgotten to breathe and am gripping my armrest. [Read the Rest]

 

Thursday
Feb052015

Meryl is a Rock Star

First image of Meryl Streep as a rock star in Jonathan Demme's Ricki & The Flash via People magazine. Very Melissa Etheridge. (Is it just me or is Meryl getting younger?) So excited for this movie. Demme is always at his best when he focuses on actresses (Married to the Mob, Rachel Getting Married, Silence of the Lambs) and who doesn't love to hear La Streep sing?

Uh oh... I feel a list coming on

10 greatest silver screen uses of Meryl's astounding pipes...
01. "You Don't Know Me" - as Suzanne Vale in Postcards from the Edge (1990)
02. "He's Me Pal" - as Helen Archer in Ironweed (1987)
03. "Stay With Me" - as The Witch in Into the Woods (2014)
04. "I See Me" - as Madeleine Ashton in Death Becomes Her (1992)
05. "Amazing Grace" - as Karen Silkwood in Silkwood (1983)
06. "My Minnesota Home" - as Yolanda Johnson in Prairie Home Companion (2006)
07. "I'm Checkin' Out" - as Suzanne Vale in Postcards from the Edge (1990)
08. "The Winner Takes It All" - as Donna in Mamma Mia (2008)
09. "The Last Midnight" - as The Witch in Into the Woods (2014)
10. "Goodbye to My Mama" - as Yolanda Johnson in Prairie Home Companion (2006) 

Meryl was singing before she ever hit the movies... here she is on stage in her Drama Desk nominated Broadway role in 1976's "Secret Service" the year before her first movie came out (Julia).

Heartily agree with Louis Virtel that she should have released an album by now. I mean, come on. I'd be fine with "Meryl's Greatest Hits" so I didn't have to build my own playlist. How reinforced are her shelves at home do you think what with the 3 Oscars, 8 Golden Globes, 8 People's Choice Awards, 2 Emmys, 2 SAGs, 2 BAFTAs, 2 Critics Choice, 1 Cesar, 1 Theater World, and multiple festival and critics prizes (though those are often less statues than scrolls or certificates or whatnot)? Despite being an awards & nominations magnet she hasn't had much luck with theater or music trophies so she hasn't made any progress on her EGOT since her Oscar win for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) which followed her Emmy win for Holocaust (1978). She's received four Grammy nominations (all for Children's records) and 1 Tony nomination (and multiple Drama Desk nominations) but no wins from those.

 

Saturday
Jan242015

Anne Hathaway's Producing Debut "Song One" Is a Labor of Love

She's an actress, a singer, an Academy Award winner, and now Anne Hathaway can add producer to her growing list of credits. Her producing debut (a family affair as husband Adam Schulman is a co-producer) Song One is a heartfelt, indie drama about family, relationships, and just how much music affects our lives. 

And if producing for the first time wasn't enough of a challenge, she also chose a writer/director making her feature film debut. Hathaway previously met Katie Barker-Froyland when she worked as an assistant director on Hathaway's hit film The Devil Wears Prada (2006). But it was another director Jonathan Demme, who brought them together. During the Q & A that followed the screening at The Museum of the Moving Image, Hathaway revealed that her role as Kym in Demme's Rachel Getting Married ranks as her favorite. Knowing that Hathaway was looking for something to produce, he sent her Barker-Froyland's script and the actress felt such a connection to the main character that she ended up playing the role as well. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan212015

Far from Skid Row. I dream we'll go... 

Sunday
Jan042015

Box Office: "Into the Woods" Worth More Than Five Beans

Whenever I hear myself complaining loudly about the December glut I know I will have a comeuppance when I see the box office chart and notice once again that everything makes a ton of money during the Christmas and New Years. 

Everything that opens wide that is. It's still an awfully tough time to open an indie on a few screens or a foreign film (though distributors always try) as evidence by A Most Violent YearTwo Days One Night and Leviathan which need far more publicity than they can reasonably manage when everyone is talking about the behemoths like all-star musical and Angelina Jolie's epic and so on. Those films are at $300,000, $109,000 and $79,000 respectively.

TOP SIXTEEN
01 HOBBIT 3 $21.9 NEW (cum. $220.7) Five Beautiful Armies
02 INTO THE WOODS $19 (cum. $91.2)  InterviewReview
03 UNBROKEN $18.3 (cum. $87.8)  Interview
04 WOMAN IN BLACK 2 NEW $15.1  
05 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3  $14.4 (cum. $89.7)
06 ANNIE  $11.4 (cum. $72.6)
07 IMITATION GAME $8.1 (cum. $30.8)  Reviewsecond take
08 HUNGER GAMES 3 $7.7 (cum. $323.8) Review
09 THE GAMBLER $6.3 (cum. $27.5) Review
10 BIG HERO 6 $4.8 (cum. $211.2)  Review / second take

11 WILD $4.5 (cum. $25.8) Reviewinterviewpodcast
12 EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS $3.7 (cum. $61.2) Review
13 PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR $2.8 (cum. $78) Review
14 BIG EYES $2.6 (cum. $9.9)  Brief note
15 INTERSTELLAR $2.4 (cum. $182.7) ReviewPodcast
16 TOP FIVE $2.1 (cum. $23.7) Thoughts
17 THEORY OF EVERYTHING  $1.1 (cum. $24.7) Reviewpodcast
18 THE INTERVIEW $1.1 (cum. $4.9)
19 HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 $0.9 (cum. $53)
20 FOXCATCHER $.09 (cum. $7.9)  Reviewsecond Takepodcast


It's worth noting that Into the Woods is already the 7th most successful musical of the 21st century and seems likely to vault over most of its competitors. Whether it can surplant Chicago (also by Rob Marshall) as #1 is the question.

Of the top 20 the Imitation Game had the most crowded theaters followed by Into the Woods. Meanwhile in platform release the big story is still two mainstream movies which go wide very soon. Selma and American Sniper are both already at $2 million and go wide next week and the week after respectively. Expect huge numbers for American Sniper which continues to pack houses whether or not it wins Oscar nominations the day before its release. Incidentally Still Alice opens the day after the nominations, finally showing its face to regular citizens.

 

Meanwhile everyone still thinks Cake doesn't exist. What did you see this weekend?

 

Tuesday
Dec302014

CAST THIS: Pippin coming to the big screen!

Manuel here bringing some exciting news for us musical junkies.

We've got magic to do... Just for you

It seems we have another big screen Broadway adaptation coming our way courtesy of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a pair of producers who have almost single-handedly kept the screen musical alive. NBC’s Sound of Music Live? Zadan & Meron! Oscar-winning Chicago, SAG-nominated Hairspray and Emmy-nominee Smash? Yep, you guessed it: Zadan & Meron! They are even responsible for some of the less celebrated attempts at live action adaptations of Broadway musicals, from the swiftly forgotten 2003 adaptation of The Music Man featuring Matthew Broderick and the Kathy Bates-led 1999 Annie to the Bette Midler TV adaptation of Gypsy back in 1993.

Needless to say, they’re invested in this genre in ways not many other producers are. We can argue about their batting average. For every attempt at ‘modernizing’ a piece to its very detriment -- see 2011’s Footloose, there’s an ill-fated attempt at old-fashioned family entertainment like this year’s Peter Pan Live! Which brings us back to Pippin, the 1972 Stephen Schwartz penned musical loosely based on Pippin and his father Charlemagne, whose circus-inspired Broadway revival is set to close this weekend and which Zadan and Meron are bringing to the big screen soon.

 

I’m curious as to who they nab for directing (though maybe more importantly for screenwriting duties). This is a clearly stage-bound piece: the conceit is that what we see on stage is a number of players acting out the story of Pippin as, in true 1970s fashion, he tries to “find himself.” The original production was directed by Bob Fosse, so these are definitely big shoes to fill. More for our amusement though, this offers up the chance to play casting directors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, I’ve broken down the main characters below from the casting call the American Repertory Theatre used to cast the revival.


PIPPIN
- male, 18-26. The son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin has returned from university to discover that he does not know what to do with his life. He searches for something in his life to be fulfilling, while the Leading Player and the troupe of players guide and manipulate him. Tenor.

LEADING PLAYER
- (Can be male or female)- Dangerous, charismatic, extremely charming and seductive, the Leading Player is the leader of the troupe and the mastermind behind Pippin's journey. The Leading Player must be an incredibly strong performer with the willingness to take risks and dig deep and dark; a powerful presence. Male: Tenor, Female: Alto/Mezzo with a strong belt.

CHARLEMAGNE
-male, late 40s-early 60s, Pippin’s father and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. He rules the empire with an iron fist, and his focus on the battlefield inspires Pippin to try becoming a soldier. Legit Baritone.

FASTRADA female, early 40s-early 50s, Pippin’s stepmother, Charlemagne’s wife, and Lewis’s mother. A manipulative woman with sexual appeal and a strong desire for power, Fastrada aims to get her son Lewis to be first in line to the throne. Dancer.

LEWIS
-male, early 20s-early 30s, The son of Charlemagne and Fastrada, Pippin’s half brother. He is a soldier in Charlemagne's army and he prides himself on his athleticism and physical prowess.

BERTHE
-female, early 60s-80s. Pippin’s grandmother, and Charlemagne’s mother. An incredibly spunky older woman with excellent comedic timing, Berthe leaves the kingdom to enjoy the "simple joys" of life. Alto.

CATHERINE
-female, late 20s-early 30s. Pippin’s love interest, a tragically widowed farmer’s wife with a young son. She rebels against the Leading Player's scheme by actually falling in love with Pippin. She is kind, generous, romantic, and strong-willed. Mezzo with a strong mix.

Who would you cast for each? I'm hoping they don't offer Berthe to Meryl, if only because I want Andrea Martin to reprise her Tony winning role on screen. Does news of Pippin the big screen treatment fill you with, as Nat mentioned in his Into the Woods review, a hesitation “between devastating disappointment and ecstatic pleasure”?

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