Dec 11 2018

Episode 19: Broadway Melody of 1940

Broadway Melody of 1940

Not Picture: George Murphy because DUH

It’s a super-sized episode this week, Jazz Hams! Vinnie and Mike just couldn’t stop talking about the amazing dance numbers in BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940!

Teaming up two of the best tappers of the era, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell, the dancing is fast and light, just like the banter. The plot is as fluffy as meringue, but you’re watching for the amazing dancing anyway. Eleanor Powell doesn’t get mentioned as often as her male counterparts of the era, or even Ann Miller, which is a shame because her tapping, ballet, and gymnastics are all top notch – not to mention a smile that lights up the screen.

All the dances are beautiful, but it’s the finale “Begin the Beguine” that has made this an enduring classic.  Fred and Eleanor tapped themselves into history, and they look like they’re having the best time doing it.

Take a listen and if you can’t find the movie, at least hit up Youtube for the dances. You won’t regret it!

Eleanor in “All Ashore” – adorable and amazing!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032284/

Dec 04 2018

Episode 18: Tangled

Tangled

Stockholm Syndrome: The Musical! (but charming!)

This week, Jazz Hams, we dive into our first Disney animated musical with the charming and tuneful TANGLED!  Mike was our virgin this week, and he absolutely fell in love with Donna Murphy’s performance as Mother Gothel, and – of course – the sassy sidekicks Maximus and Pascal.

With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater (GALAVANT), the songs are catchy and clever, but it’s the gorgeous animation that really shines, even if Rapunzel’s hair might be sentient??

Mother knows best and she says to take a listen!

As Mentioned: SCIENTIFIC ANALYSIS OF SONGS IN DISNEY MUSICALS

Little Mermaid                   5 (plus 1 reprise, and 2 forgettable chorus numbers)
Aladdin                                   5 (plus 2 reprises)
Beauty and the Beast     6 (plus 2 reprises)
Mulan                                      4
The Lion King                      5
Tangled                                   4 (plus 3 reprises!)

 

Tangled

Yep!

Tangled

Is your hair…prehensile??!

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398286/

Nov 27 2018

Episode 17: Kiss Me Kate

Kiss Me, Kate

How does Tommy Rall not get higher billing than Bobby Van??!

The Fossepocalypse begins!

KISS ME KATE boasts so many amazing things (Howard Keel in striped tights! Tommy Rall defying gravity! James Whitmore as the most adorable thug ever!) that you might forget that this is also the movie that put Bob Fosse on the map.

The movie version of Cole Porter’s masterpiece, boasting some of his most clever and saucy lyrics telling the story of Shakespeare’s biting The Taming of the Shrew, Mike and Vinnie have dubbed KISS ME KATE equally as horny as ON THE TOWN (our previous high-water-mark for libido).

Making the most of the backstage-musical show-within-a-show format, Kathryn Grayson divas it up bigtime as Lilli Vanessi, typecast as the titular shrew. But Howard Keel is not to be denied his own ham sandwich as his producer/director/star Fred Graham stuffs his ego into those magnificent tights. Rounding out the main quartet are two of this era’s best dancers: Ann Miller and Tommy Rall. Tommy’s first dance break in the movie literally made Mike and Vinnie sit up and take notice.

Kiss Me, Kate

“Did someone say ham sandwich?”

And – just incidentally – this is the movie that launched Bob Fosse’s choreographic career.  NBD.

Kiss Me, Kate

Why walk when you can slither?

Take a listen and find out for yourself just how “Wonderbar” it is!

(Video links as promised:)

Chita Rivera & the Jack Cole Dancers

From This Moment On

 

Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Kiss Me Kate poster Rating: 7.2/10 (4,926 votes)
Director: George Sidney
Writer: Dorothy Kingsley (screenplay), Sam Spewack (book), Bella Spewack (book)
Stars: Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Ann Miller, Keenan Wynn
Runtime: 109 min
Rated: APPROVED
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Released: 26 Nov 1953
Plot: An ex-husband and wife team star in a musical version of 'The Taming of the Shrew'; off-stage, the production is troublesome with ex-lovers' quarrels and a gangster looking for some money owed to them.

Nov 20 2018

Episode 16: Little Shop of Horrors

, with special guest:
Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis is so adorable, I just want to EAT HIM

This week, Jazz Hams, all three of your hosts have seen the movie, so we brought in our first “official guest” (Jennie is more a silent partner than a guest) – Kaitlin Piraro – to watch that cult favorite LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The intro sound quality (about 4 minutes) isn’t the best and we apologize. Things improve radically after the cut.

We decided to show Kaitlin the director’s cut of the movie: the ending so unpopular with test audiences that only 13% of them thought it was a good idea. That didn’t keep Kaitlin from loving it – the music, the staging, the sets, and costumes. Director Frank Oz kept the ties to the off-Broadway stage very visible, and uses all his puppetry experience to make Audrey II a fully menacing and believable villain.

Starring that adorable pokemon Rick Moranis and powerhouse singer Ellen Greene, plus a cavalcade of cameos, plus songs by Menken & Ashman, it’s delightfully dark entertainment.

Having yet another set of opinions makes this episode super-sized, so grab a snack (doesn’t have to be meat, doesn’t have to be fresh) and take a listen!

Little Shop of Horrors

Dressing up as Audrey II and Seymour – totally healthy relationship!

(Sidenote: listen for “Taye Diggity” – Windy’s pretty proud of that one)

Ellen Greene’s Broadway.com interview

Rick Moranis’ country album The Agoraphobic Cowboy

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Little Shop of Horrors poster Rating: 7.0/10 (56,969 votes)
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Howard Ashman (screenplay by), Howard Ashman (based on the musical play "Little Shop of Horrors"), Roger Corman (based on the film by), Charles B. Griffith (based on the 1960 screenplay by)
Stars: Levi Stubbs, Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia
Runtime: 94 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Musical, Romance, Sci-Fi
Released: 19 Dec 1986
Plot: A nerdy florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed.

Nov 13 2018

Episode 15: It’s Always Fair Weather

It's Always Fair Weather

Sure does LOOK like a winner!

This week is unusual in that none of your hosts have seen our movie – IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER!

Known today as the movie that “the Gene Kelly tapping on roller skates” dance is from, 1955’s IT’S ALWAYS FAIR WEATHER pretty much marks the end of the Golden Age of big movie musicals.  Coming from the famed Freed Unit, with Stanley Donen directing and Comden & Green writing, this movie was expected to be a huge hit, especially since it was conceptually a sequel to the fantastic ON THE TOWN.

Instead, it suffers from it’s own cinematic mid-life crisis, with the storyline focusing on three friends reuniting in middle age only to discover that none of them are particularly happy with where their lives have led them – and a film that doesn’t know how to turn that conceit into an entertainment.

This one’s a bit of a deep cut, and we’ll be honest that the film doesn’t really work.  But it’s still worth watching for the snappy writing given to the ladies (Cyd & Dolores), and the terrific dance sequences (staged by Michael Kidd, who also acted in this one – one of his few onscreen roles).

Take a peek and take a listen!

It's Always Fair Weather

Cyd with her magical legs in the magic skirt.

Tapping with trash can lids?! (“The Binge”)

Gene tapping on skates! (“I Like Myself”)

Dolores has her own flippy boys!

It's Always Fair Weather (1955)
It's Always Fair Weather poster Rating: 7.1/10 (2,324 votes)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Writer: Betty Comden (story), Adolph Green (story), Betty Comden (screenplay), Adolph Green (screenplay)
Stars: Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Dolores Gray
Runtime: 101 min
Rated: PASSED
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Released: 02 Sep 1955
Plot: Three soldiers meet ten years after their last meeting in New York, and find out that they have little in common now.

 

Nov 06 2018

Episode 14: Thoroughly Modern Millie

Thoroughly Modern Millie

So adorable you might even forgive the White Slavery plot.

For this week’s episode, Windy bends Mike and Vinnie’s brains with THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE.  An all-star cast made this movie a hit at the time, but it has since vanished into cinema obscurity – resurfacing as a hit Broadway musical in 2000!

Starring the inimitable Dame Julie Andrews, along with Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing, this movie has pedigree to spare (check out the director’s other credits, for a start). Julie gets a chance to truly strut her comedic inclinations, with everybody else in the cast joining in the silliness 1000%. There’s a lot of high energy zaniness, which is necessary to distract from the really problematic racial stereotypes and white slavery plot elements.  Yes.  You read that right.

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Seriously? Who thought THAT was a good idea?

Still, the comedic bones were strong enough to support a Tony-award-winning stage musical, which launched the career of Sutton Foster.

Sutton Foster in the opening number “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

It’s not banana oil to say there’s a lot of entertainment to be found in this forgotten gem. Take a listen to our episode, and then take a look for yourself!

Thoroughly Modern Millie

“Just load those uncomfortable racial stereotypes into the back of the truck.”

Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
Thoroughly Modern Millie poster Rating: 7.0/10 (5,160 votes)
Director: George Roy Hill
Writer: Richard Morris
Stars: Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing
Runtime: 138 min
Rated: G
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Released: 22 Mar 1967
Plot: Millie comes to town in the roaring twenties to encounter flappers, sexuality and white slavers.

Oct 30 2018

Episode 13: Xanadu

Xanadu

10-year-old Windy imprinted on this image HARD.

This week, Mike and Vinnie struggle to keep up as Windy lays out several decades of her obsession with XANADU. Mike had never seen it, Vinnie never on the big screen, and it was showing at the Alamo Drafthouse so this was an EVENT, capital “eeeeeeee!”

Famous for being a flop, for killing Michael Beck’s (THE WARRIORS) career, and for being Gene Kelly’s last screen role, this movie also gave us Kenny Ortega (choreographer and director of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) in his first film choreographing gig that resulted in a close friendship with Mr. Kelly himself!

Featuring an iconic soundtrack by ELO, a Don Bluth animated sequence, and so so so much roller skating, it’s the perfect encapsulation of the confusion of the 70s meeting the 80s.  Olivia is lovely, Gene is so damned terrific and charismatic, and Michael Beck…is fine. He’s fine.

Join us in a place that nobody dared to go – which they should, because it’s great!

It’s 1980 all over again.

Xanadu

Gene Kelly said yes to being in a movie with you, buddy. Step up.

In his eyes: cringing despair or “what the fuck YES”?

Xanadu (1980)
Xanadu poster Rating: 5.1/10 (10,450 votes)
Director: Robert Greenwald
Writer: Richard Christian Danus, Marc Reid Rubel
Stars: Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck, James Sloyan
Runtime: 96 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Fantasy, Musical, Romance
Released: 08 Aug 1980
Plot: A struggling artist living in Los Angeles meets a girl who may hold the key to his happiness.

Oct 23 2018

Episode 12: Disney’s Newsies the Broadway Musical

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

Raise your hand if you’re too young to remember the movie!

This week, Mike and Vinnie gush about DISNEY’S NEWSIES THE BROADWAY MUSICAL (and Windy sits back and preens with “I told you so”).

Thank god for Harvey Fierstein who restructured and improved the plot and characters, giving us a story with emotional weight, snappy banter, and satisfying interpersonal relationships! It doesn’t hurt that the cast is anchored by the terrific Jeremy Jordan and the sassy Kara Lindsay.

And the choreography.  Oh. My. SweetbabygiraffesWHAT!

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

That’s just astoundingly impressive looking, right?

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

I didn’t even know that was a thing a human could do.

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

I mean, just…I think I could actually walk under them.

You’ll hear us reference THE LAST FIVE YEARS as we talk about Jeremy Jordan – that’s one of our “lost episodes” (lost to the gods of shitty sound recording), but we plan to re-record that episode! (Unlike our lost SHOW BOAT episode, which we have no plans to recreate for y’all.  #sorrynotsorry)

There’s so very much to like about this production, you should watch right now and then listen to our episode and gush along with us!  Find out for yourself what a “flippy boy” is!

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical

#truth

Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical (2017)
Disney's Newsies the Broadway Musical poster Rating: 8.6/10 (1,300 votes)
Director: Jeff Calhoun, Brett Sullivan
Writer: Harvey Fierstein (book), Bob Tzudiker (based on the film written by), Noni White (based on the film written by)
Stars: Jeremy Jordan, Kara Lindsay, Ben Fankhauser, Andrew Keenan-Bolger
Runtime: 149 min
Rated: PG
Genre: Musical
Released: 16 Feb 2017
Plot: Filmed live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA, this not-to-be-missed high energy show stars Original Broadway cast members Jeremy Jordan as "Jack Kelly," Kara Lindsay as "...

Oct 16 2018

Episode 11: Newsies

Newsies

It sure looks exciting, doesn’t it?

This week, listeners, Windy steers Mike and Vinnie towards NEWSIES, the 1992 live-action Disney musical.

Starring a teen-aged Christian Bale (who was mortified to appear in a musical), a scenery-chewing and excessively gesturing Robert Duvall, and Bill Pullman singing and dancing, this is a film oddity worth watching at least once.

This also marks the directorial debut of Kenny Ortega, who also choreographed.  Kenny established himself as a choreographer with XANADU, and also choreographed for a greatest hits list of 80s teen classics (PRETTY IN PINK, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, DIRTY DANCING). Kenny would go on to direct the subject of our first episode – HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL.

Honestly, we watched this mostly as a gateway to next week’s episode on the filmed Broadway stage musical. But if you’ve never seen Christian Bale sing and dance (he even has a dance solo), then you need to give this one a look.

Newsies

You’ve got a dance solo – did anyone tell you that?

Newsies

Hats are cool.

Attentive listeners will also hear references to one of our “lost” episodes on SHOW BOAT. (We recorded it, but the audio wasn’t salvageable. Maybe someday we’ll try that one again.)

You may not be the King of New York, but we hope you’ll Seize the Day and take a listen!

 

 

Newsies

The face that ruined BATMAN BEGINS for Mike.

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Oct 09 2018

Episode 10: The Music Man

The Music Man

He’s a what? He’s a what?
He’s a flim-flam man!

This week, listeners, Mike discovers and Vinnie re-discovers the sweet, simple (yet sly) joys of THE MUSIC MAN.

Robert Preston stars as Professor Harold Hill (spoiler: not his real name) in the role that made him a Broadway star, and defined both the role and his career.  His charisma and energy is the unstoppable force that throws the entire town of River City, Iowa into an uproar. Standing resolutely firm and throwing some old-timey side-eye is Marion Paroo (Shirley Jones), old maid librarian and the town’s music teacher. Shirley Jones adds warmth and intelligence to a role that could seem trite and cliched. Joined by Buddy Hackett doing…whatever it is only Buddy Hackett can do, a barbershop quartet, and the biggest hats we’ve yet seen, this movie races by faster than Robert Preston’s patter.

It’s tuneful (with a capital T!), funny, and heartfelt – a classic for a reason. Don’t wait for the Wells Fargo Wagon – take a listen now!

The Beatles cover of “Til There Was You”

The Music Man

I must avert my eyes from The Hat.

The Music Man (1962)
The Music Man poster Rating: 7.7/10 (14,430 votes)
Director: Morton DaCosta
Writer: Meredith Willson (based on: "The Music Man"), Franklin Lacey (written in collaboration with), Marion Hargrove (screenplay)
Stars: Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Hermione Gingold
Runtime: 151 min
Rated: G
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Romance
Released: 19 Jun 1962
Plot: Harold Hill poses as a boys' band leader to con naive Iowa townsfolk.