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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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.

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Episode 9: Phantom of the Paradise

Phantom of the Paradise

I want this Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next musical.

 

Listeners! Take a listen as Mike gets his mind blown by PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE!

Brian DePalma’s 1974 rock opera is gloriously garish with literary references galore, Paul Williams’ soundtrack is a smorgasbord of musical styles settling in on glam-prog-rock, and William Finley eats allll the scenery as the titular phantom, Winslow Leach.

DePalma’s second movie, two years before CARRIE, is confident, stylish, and wildly entertaining. Take a listen, and let it bring you to “Life at Last”!

 

Phantom of the Paradise

Legalese that clearly says what it means.

Melissa in a Colander (Butt-Numb-a-Thon 2015 application)

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Episode 8: On the Town

On the Town

More wholesome than three sailors on shore leave really should be.

This week is our first episode featuring Gene Kelly as he sails through Manhattan in ON THE TOWN! Neither Vinnie nor Mike had ever seen it, and this is a classic for a reason.

Based on a ballet created by Jerome Robbins (THE KING & I), and made by the Freed Unit (known for kicking ass in all things musical), it features a delightful cast, TWO ballet segments by Mr. Kelly, and plenty of comedy.

This is a key movie in your six degrees of separation strategy, with Frank Sinatra, Ann Miller, and Vera-Ellen. Also featuring a performance by Carol Haney in the “A Day in New York” ballet, who was assistant and muse to THREE of modern American dance’s greatest choreographers.

Join us as we go On The Town!

Gene Kelly

Dat ass.

Your quiz:
1. Name one other movie Vera-Ellen appeared in.
2. Leonard Bernstein & Jerome Robbins collaborated on a very famous musical. Name it.
3. Name one other movie that Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen collaborated on.

Gene Kelly

Dat ass (exemplar)

Mentioned in this episode: Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, Frank Sinatra, Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Carol Haney, Stanley Donen, Arthur Freed, Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein, George Abbott, Alice Pierce, Adolph Green, Betty Comden

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Episode 7: Sweeney Todd (stage)

Sweeney Todd

Bakers gonna bake.

If the only version of SWEENEY TODD you’ve ever seen is the Tim Burton one, then Windy has some strong opinions on what you should be watching first chance you get. (Which is literally how this episode happened to Mike and Vinnie.)

Arguably Sondheim’s masterpiece, the 1979 Broadway sensation was recorded on tour in Los Angeles in 1982 with Angela Lansbury recreating her iconic performance as Mrs. Lovett and George Hearn ably stepping into Len Cariou’s shoes as Sweeney. The show was the pinnacle of the Stephen Sondheim (lyricist/composer)-Hal Prince (director/producer) partnership that would be shattered by the failure of their next show (MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG). Dark,  disturbing, and deliciously wicked, it’s Sondheim’s ode to the Victorian penny dreadfuls.

Attend our tale as Windy rants about why musicals should cast trained singers, Mike gushes over Angela Lansbury, and Vinnie retroactively hates the Burton movie even more. We want you, bleeders!

Angela & Len at Stephen’s 75th Birthday Concert

 

Mrs Lovett

Bright ideas just pop into my head.

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Episode 6: Main Hoon Na

Main Hoon Na

SRK in MHN, as the locals would say.

It’s our first Bollywood!  I mean, not our first – all three of your hosts have seen at least one Bollywood movie. But it’s our first Bollywood episode and it is the delightful MAIN HOON NA (“Trust Me, I’m Here”)! Windy was super-duper excited to show this one to Mike and Vinnie.

Farah Khan’s 2004 directorial debut is an homage to action tropes with awkward fish-out-of-water comedy plus family melodrama. Shah Rukh Khan, one of Bollywood’s brightest stars, gets to show off wire work, stunts, dancing, crying (he cries so beautifully), dimples, and some laugh out loud comedy.

Featuring four ludicrously entertaining dance numbers (plus a couple heartfelt ballads), this is an excellent “starter” movie if you’ve never watched Bollywood before. If you are an experienced fan of Bollywood, but have never seen it, you are missing out on some of Farah Khan’s best choreography and staging!

Not sure about committing to 3 hours of entertainment? Trust us, we’re here – to show you the way.

Shah Rukh Khan

SRK YASSS *note: not from this movie (but who cares?)

Main Hoon Na trailer

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Episode 5: Enchanted

Enchanted

Not pictured: The rats and cockroaches who did all the real work. The gig economy sucks.

This week, your hosts sing along with Amy Adams (and some cockroaches) in ENCHANTED!

Meta, satire, spoof, homage – ENCHANTED is all of the above. Filled with deep Disney nerd references (literally every name in this movie means something), sweet homages (the old men in the park were chimney sweeps in MARY POPPINS), and delightfully singable tunes, this movie was Amy Adams’ first starring role and she embodies what a cartoon would act like in real life while bringing an earnest sincerity to every moment.

The central love story is pretty by-the-numbers, but that doesn’t matter. Keep your eyes on the three-way-tie in scenery-chewing that is James Marsden’s prince, Timothy Spall’s hapless henchman, and Susan Sarandon’s literal dragonlady.

Laugh out loud funny, with a satisfyingly modern climactic rescue, ENCHANTED is, well…enchanting.

Enchanted Idina Menzel

I’m not going to sing. Just LET IT GO.

 

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Episode 4: Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Star-spangled Cagney

This week, Windy introduces Vinnie & Mike to the wonders of a tap-dancing Cagney in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.

A straight-up, no frills, no unnecessary “plot” or “conflict” biopic of George M. Cohan, legendary songwriter and showman – and ego. Every patriotic song you were taught in 3rd grade was written by George M.

Directed by Michael Curtiz (CASABLANCA, WHITE CHRISTMAS, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD), the movie is gorgeous and the costumes are stunning. More importantly, it’s perhaps the only record of the particular style of dancing and showmanship that was a Cohan show. Cohan lived to see the movie premiere and approved of Cagney’s performance (Cagney worked with the choreographer who was Cohan’s assistant to master the quirkiness of Cohan’s dancing style).

We enjoyed Giving Our Regards to the Broadway of old while watching Cagney wave that Grand Old Flag – we hope you will too.

Also – we loved the hats.

Yankee Doodle Dandy's hats

Guaranteeing you really have a “good side”

James Cagney & Bob Hope in THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS

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Episode 3: The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman

Charming and Charismatic AF

This week, your hosts Come Alive as they watch THE GREATEST SHOWMAN!

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN is a contradiction: a huge hit that was a flop; a catchy and engaging story about a man universally reviled; a dream project for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars helmed by an absolute nobody. After a disappointing opening weekend just before Christmas 2017, it’s a film that only just exited theaters (over six months later), with sing-along showings still packing them in only weeks ago.

Hugh Jackman, clearly delighted to return to his musical theater roots, heads a killer cast who (mostly) do their own performing. But it’s a film released at exactly the wrong moment in America, when those most in love with the arts had no patience for a feel-good story about P.T. Barnum.

Insanely catchy numbers paired with kinetic and exciting choreography, not to mention attractive people in delicious costumes, has us hoping that eventually this movie will “Rewrite the Stars” and win over those who never gave it a chance.

The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Sideeye

Show Notes:

Hugh workshopping “From Now On” and he just can’t not sing

Keala absolutely destroying “This is Me”

Zendaya on Jimmy Fallon discussing her trapeze adventures

Mentioned in this Episode:

Michael Gracey
Hugh Jackman
Michelle Williams
Zac Efron
Zendaya
Keala Settle
Ellen Mirojnick
Shannon Holtzapffel
Bill Condon
James Mangold
John Debney
Joseph Trapanese

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Episode 2: The King & I

Listeners: We apologize for the sound quality on this episode. The quality does improve as the episode goes on.

Episode 2 has us rewinding back to the classic THE KING AND I, starring Yul Brynner (and his chest) (and his

King and I

Bringing the smolder

calves) and Deborah Kerr (and her gowns!). Neither Vinnie nor Mike had ever seen the movie version, with its lavish sets and even more lavish costumes. More stunning than either of those is the chemistry between our two stars. Bonus gorgeous: Rita Moreno!

This movie demonstrates the emotional depths that a musical can achieve, with the psychological crisis of Yul’s King being the central conflict. Yul Brynner owned this role so completely, he would play it for the rest of his life, even while dying of cancer. Add in Jerome Robbins’ choreography – particularly  the iconic “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” –  and it’s easy to understand the enduring love for this movie.

Let’s continue “Getting to Know You,” listeners, by hopping (one-footed) on into THE KING AND I.

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