Monday, July 22, 2019

Top Dozen Stage To Movie Musicals

Broadway now seems addicted to turning movies into musicals.
But what about the other way around? How successful has Hollywood been at turning musicals into movies? To be sure, some non-musical movies became Broadway musicals and then their musical versions later became movies again. 
In any event, for a musical, the transition from stage to film has never been easy. But when it works, the movie can become a blockbuster hit. In fact, some of these have not only become some of the biggest grossers of all time but have also garnered scads of Oscars.
In no particular order, here are a dozen of the best:

The longest-running American musical of all time became a dazzlingly memorable movie with the twist of major characters imagining some of their musical numbers. It worked!

Sweeney Todd
The movie was way, way better than its reviews and it should have garnered more traffic and a fair number of awards. But, the subject matter was difficult, to be sure.

The Sound of Music
A instant classic, it endures because the timing was right, the story remains inspiring and its big screen debut was nothing less than breathtaking.

West Side Story
Not a particular favorite of ours but the transition to the screen seemed seamless and the show never seems to lose its appeal. In fact, it's headed back to Broadway and a new screen version is in the works.

Dream Girls
In many ways the screen version was a bigger hit than the stage musical. The story just seemed right for the screen and the cast was splendid.

Another example where stage and screen versions seem to actually feed off one another. Without Grease, where would the 50s be?

Fiddler on the Roof
Yes, we missed Zero Mostel. But could the big screen really contain him? In any event, the story adapted beautifully and proved universal.

Les Miserables
This was a huge challenge. And there were many naysayers right from the start. But Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne exceeded all expectations.

My Fair Lady
Positively sumptuous! Sure, Audrey Hepburn wasn't really singing but Julie Andrews still got the Oscar so it all worked out in the end -- and so did he movie.

Under the able direction of the quirky, manic, difficult, demanding Bob Fosse, this became an updated classic. And Liza Minelli was nothing less than stratospheric. It's still compelling!

It literally pops off the screen with musical numbers that envelop the audience and a classic (though nonetheless complicated) story that touches the heart. Added plus: a powerful social message.

Little Shop of Horrors
What is it about this show? We don't know. Maybe it's just the allure of the nerd. A "small" story with a big impact. It's the exception to the rule, we suppose.

Now, go ahead -- add and subtract to and from the list at your leisure.
All ideas and suggestions welcomed!

Friday, June 28, 2019

How The Tonys Got This One All Wrong!

Broadway has changed.
And those changes were  much in evidence during the recent Tony Awards telecast.
But not all of the changes have been for the better. New, smaller, supposedly more intimate musicals eschew big sets, strong production numbers, glitzy show stoppers and anything even vaguely resembling choreography. And they've been joined by more jukebox musicals that chuck original compositions for a rehash of already popularized top-charting standards in tribute to some performer, group of performers or noted tunesmith.
The latest of these, Ain't Too Proud actually snagged the best choreography award simply for recreating the synchronized moves of The Temptations.
In opting for Ain't Too Proud, the Tonys committed an unforgivable sin. They snubbed the best-choreographed show to hit Broadway in a long time -- Kiss Me, Kate.
In fact, nothing tops Kiss Me Kate's irrepressibly high-stepping numbers including Tom, Dick or Harry; I Hate Men and, above all, Too Darn Hot. If you saw the Too Darn Hot number on the Tony telecast you know it was absolutely breathtaking.
Kiss Me, Kate closes at the end of June but as far as we're concerned it deserves to run forever because it's one of the best revivals to hit Broadway in years -- far better than the 1999 revival which we also saw.
This grand, witty Cole Porter musical has not only been lovingly recreated by the Roundabout Theater Company but it's also been updated just enough with superb direction by the masterful Scott Ellis, music direction by the legendary Paul Gemignani and choreography by Warren Carlyle.
This is a big, bawdy, roughhousing backstage musical that requires perfect timing for all its rapid-fire jokes, clever asides, physical antics and tongue-in-cheek sentimentality. It's tuneful, raucous, romantic and highly theatrical, sometimes all at once.
Kelli O'Hara is not only the perfect Lilli/Kate but she's matched moment-for-moment by Will Chase as Fred/Petruchio. They are this season's Broadway Dream Duo. O'Hara excels with So In Love and I Hate Men. And Chase soars with Were Thine That Special Face and Where Is The Life That Late I Led.
But let's not forget Corbin Bleu without whom the haunting Bianca and the rousing Too Darn Hot would not exist.
The program states that with this production, Kiss Me, Kate "comes back to masterful life with intensity, passion, delight -- and perspective."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
This is/was the season's best revival of a musical!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Are These Classic Broadway's 15 Most Lushly Romantic Moments?

Broadway can go romantic from shy and subtle to double-decibel level rapture.
And that makes it's hard to choose classic Broadway's most romantic musical moments. But we've wattles our list down to 15 with the sincere hope that you'll remind us what we're missing so we can grow to 20, 25, 30, maybe even 50.
Most of our choices are lovelorn duets and we've tried to be representative with selections from Rodgers and Hammerstein (the masters of the genre) Frank Loesser, Lerner and Loewe, Cole Porter, Bernstein, Sondheim, Kurt Weill, Irving Berlin Llyod Webber and Meredith Willson.
So, here there are in no particular order:

Here I’ll Stay 
From Kurt Weill's Love Life, it's rarely heard these days but the musical is soon to be revived by City Center's Encores.

All I Ask of You 
A sweet and tender moment from Phantom of the Opera, it literally soars into a full-throated lovefest.
If I Loved You 
If, if, if  . . . if only we could bottle the magic of Carousel. A dreamy love-at-first-sight moment from a musical centered around a tragic figure.
Passion is hardly our favorite musical but [So Much] Happiness expresses the joy of young love via a mesmerizing melody in such a way that it had to make the cut.

The Last Night of the World 
Love amidst the horror of war in Miss Saigon. It brings hope in the midst of despair and a dash of light into a dark world.
People Will Say We’re In Love 
Meant to be sung as it was in the original, this song conjures up the innocence of new love on the fresh, open plains of Oklahoma! The most American of love songs.

Some Enchanted Evening 
From South Pacific and written for the operatic talents on Enzio Pinza, it's simply one of the most beautiful love songs ever composed.  You may see a stranger . . . . 

From West Sure Story, and again depicting young lovers, it's the perfect combination of the words of Sondheim and the music of Bernstein. Genius squared. "I saw you and the world went away . . . ."

A Heart Full of Love 
Here  we go again, love and war from Les Miserables. The lead up to the lovers' revelation is near excruciating but it's all miraculously worth it.

Make Believe 
Our personal favorite, from Show Boat, it's the grandaddy of them all-- the one from which all the others emerged. It reminds us that a breathless leap of love requires the suspension of disbelief.

I’ve Never Been In Love Before 
Not a big, soaring song but the sweet melody turns a tough guy tender; and his dreams and surprising sense of romance are universal in Guys n Dolls.

They Say It’s Wonderful
From Annie Get Your Gun, Irving Berlin takes a page from Rodgers and Hammerstein. then turns it into a song that's all about being in love and wanting the whole world to know it. 

Too Many Mornings 
From Follies, Sondheim explains that the "lovers" here are really engaging in a sham as they try to convince themselves that everything would have been wonderful if they'd only wound up together in the first place. From this folly emerges a nonetheless beautiful love song.

So In Love 
We just heard it again in the glorious Broadway revival of *Kiss Me Kate and in context it's haunting, bittersweet and altogether unforgettable. But it works just as well on its own. 
*Kelli O'Hara and Will Chase pictured above from the new production.

Till There Was You 
From  The Music Man, it reminds us of the transformative power of love. Indeed, Love changes everything. But, wait -- wasn't that a love song from the  musical of the same name? 😉

A few more? Ten Minutes Ago from Cinderella, My Heart Is So Full of You from The Most Happy Fella, On the Street Where You Live from My Fair Lady, If Ever I Would Leave You from Camelot, Song on the Sand La Cage Aux Folles, Married from Cabaret.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Classic Broadway's 10 Totally Exuberant Moments!

It's something ebullient, buoyant and breezy.
An exuberant Broadway moment make your heart beat a bit faster and leaves you feeling renewed and ready to click up your heels.
Here, we dig into classic Broadway and relive ten exuberant moments from a wide range of composers and lyricists -- moments that pump things up and tempt you to believe anything is possible. This list is meant to be representative -- not definitive.
So, here goes:

Hello Dolly!
From the musical of the same name, can anything top Dolly's walk down  that staircase and into the Harmonia Gardens? Anything?

I'm Flying
From Peter Pan, a youthful, magical Broadway moment when spirits really do soar.

Shall We Dance?
From The King and I, it's more than lushly romantic; it's a blissful polka that eliminates the boundaries between worlds and cultures.  [Photo shows Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence in the original production.]

Beautiful Girls
From Follies, it builds to a crescendo that defies time and glamorizes nostalgia via a bittersweet pastiche that is quintessential Sondheim.

Seventy-Six Trombones
From The Music Man; how did the good "professor" ever pull this River City miracle off? Your guess is as good as ours!

Everything’s Coming Up Roses
Was Mama Rose really manic-depressive? Compulsive? Abusive? Oh, who cares? With one song in Gypsy she conjures up a vision that soars into the stratosphere.

I Can Do That
And that, and that, and that . . . in A Chorus Line. The number is full of childlike wonder and the sort of demonstrative self-confidence that makes you want to yell: Hire that guy!"

Razzle Dazzle ‘Em
From Chicago, this number captures the pretense of the popular culture with such rat-a-tat giddiness that it makes you believe in smoke 'n mirrors all over again.

Be Our Guest
Yeah, it's Disney and it was originally written for a movie but so what? This Beauty and the Beast show-stopper is Broadway magic through and through.

Anything Goes
In its own time, it's every bit as relevant as Razzle Dazzle 'Em and just as incisive. But it still leaves you with an adrenaline rush that makes you want to plunge into a veritable sea of modernity. 

Others we could mention: It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish from Seesaw, Walking Happy from the show of the same name, I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, We'll Take A Glass Together from Grand Hotel, She Loves Me from the musical of the same name, I'm A Brass Band from Sweet Charity, (I'm In Love With) A Wonderful Guy from South Pacific, Hey Look Me Over from Wildcat, It's Today from Mame, She Likes Basketball from Promises, Promises, As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard. But we urge you to suggest your own!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

First Song From New Back To The Future Musical!

OK, are you ready for this? Back to the Future: The Musical. You got that right.
The show will have its world premiere early next year in England. 
Now, the production has released a first look at one of the songs, written by Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Here is "Put Your Mind to It"

Monday, June 10, 2019

Tony Picks Correct In ALL Acting Categories!

We scored high last night as we correctly predicted the Tony award winners in EVERY acting category and also correctly picked Best Musical, Best Play and Best Musical Revival.
Among 26 categories overall, we got 20 right. That's a score of nearly 80%
Asterisks (*) indicates shows we've seen of have tickets to. Our correct picks are all highlighted in bold below:
Best Sound Design, Musical: Hadestown

Best Sound Design, Play: Network*
Best Lighting Design, Musical: Hadestown

Best Lighting Design, Play: Network*
Best Costume Design, Musical: The Cher Show

Best Costume Design, Play: Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus

Best Scenic Design, Musical: Beetlejuice*
Best Scenic Design, Play: The Ferryman

Best Choreography: Kiss Me, Kate*
Best Orchestration: Hadestown

Best Musical Book: Tootsie*

Best Musical Score: Hadestown

Best Director, Play: The Ferryman

Best Director, Musical: Hadestown

Best Featured Actor, Play: Bertie Carvel, Ink

Best Featured Actress, Play: Celia Keenan-Bolger, To Kill A Mockingbird

Best Featured Actor, Musical: Andre De Shieds, Hadestown

Best Featured Actress, Musical: Ali Strocker, Oklahoma!

Best Actor, Play: Bryan Cranston, Network*

Best Actress, Play: Elaine May, The Waverly Gallery

Best Actor, Musical: Santino Fontana, Tootsie*

Best Actress, Musical: Stephanie J. Block, The Cher Show

Best Play Revival: All My Sons
Best Musical Revival: Oklahoma!

Best Play: The Ferryman

Best Musical: Hadestown