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Ze Colors, Ze Colors!

6.29.2008

Leonid Afremov









Prof of Profs

6.25.2008

by Geoffrey Brock
Read it here.

Love this line:
"poetry we memorize sings inside us always." Melt.

Silent Prophet

by Carl Dennis

Read it here.

Daniel Dociu





donato giancola











Part 3 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References

6.24.2008

Season: 4

Episode: 28

Episode Title: Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story/Stewie B. Goode

Time: Unsure

Reference: Stewie skips down the street dressed as Maria von Trapp singing "I Have Confidence."


Part 5 in a 100-Part Series of "Broadway Shows Maryann Will Never Forgive Herself for Not Seeing"


It's always a gift when you find out that two beloved actors that you know from separate productions have worked together in the past--and there's a soundtrack. I know Sherie Rene Scott from Aida (and P.S. I Love You, strangely enough) and Norbert Leo Butz--fabulous name, no?--from Wicked and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (and Dan in Real Life, strangely enough). Both gave memorable and powerful performances. So you can imagine I was pretty excited when I discovered the off-Broadway one act musical, The Last Five Years.


After careful study of the wikipedia page, here's what I've gathered about the play. It's a one act musical written by Jason Robert Brown that follows the relationship of couple Jamie and Cathy. The first song, "Still Hurting" is sung by Cathy alone after Jamie, her husband, has left her. This was the first song I bought off the soundtrack. My favorite lyrics are from the end of the song:
Jamie is over and where can I turn?
Covered with scars I did nothing to earn
Maybe there's somewhere a lesson to learn
But that wouldn't change the fact
That wouldn't speed the time
Once the foundation's cracked and I'm still hurting

Then the show jumps in time to five years earlier, on the couple's first date. We find out that Jamie is Jewish and Cathy isn't but he still is smitten ("Shiksa Goddess"). The scene then changes to the couple sitting on a dock in Ohio. Jamie is visiting Cathy while she does Summer Stock theater ("See I'm Smiling"). It's been hard on their marriage while she's gone. He has to return to New York though as he's a writer and needs to work on his book. They argue and Cathy accuses Jamie of only thinking of himself.

The next scene shows Jamie telling a friend he's moving in with Cathy. At this point his book is about to be published and he's very happy ("Moving Too Fast"). Unfortunately Cathy's career is leaves much to be desired after we hear her side of a conversation with her agent. We move to Jamie's book signing party where Cathy sits alone and sings about her life with him. She expresses that even though he often seems more into his work than her, she's still in love with him ("A Part of That"). But she realizes she now just follows his lead, no longer acting independently.

Jamie and Cathy celebrate their first Christmas together. He tells her a story he wrote about an old tailor named whose encounter with a magical clock gives him an endless amount of time to create the dress of his dreams. Jamie explains the parallel between the tailor and Cathy: she needs to take the time to "unlock" her dreams. He then gives Cathy present: a watch ("The Schmuel Song").

Later Cathy sits in Ohio writing a letter to Jamie, talking about how frustrated she is to be in away from him and with her crazy fellow cast members ("A Summer in Ohio"). Flashback to when Jamie proposed to Cathy in a rowboat in Central Park. For the song "The Next Ten Minutes" the couple sings their song together in the production. I love, love, love this song. My favorite part isn't my favorite lyric, but it's this skin-tingling moment where Sherie Rene Scott could have totally belted, but she didn't, she sings it like it's the most amazing revelation of her life (and it just might be), especially the first two lines:
I want to be your wife
I want to bear your child
I want to die
Knowing I
Had a long full life In your arms

But I think my favorite lyric of the song is:
Will you share your life with me
For the next ten lifetimes?
For a million summers
Till the world explodes
Till there's no one left
Who has ever known us apart
Maybe this isn't the space for this discussion, but those last two lines hit a good/bad chord with me. It sounds simultaneously terrible and wonderful. Does that make sense? Moving on.

Jamie is having trouble as a newlywed, feeling tempted by every woman he sees now that he is no longer available ("A Miracle Would Happen"). Cathy is struggling with her series of auditions ("When You Come Home to Me") that continue to make her feel inadequate ("Climbing Uphill"). On the phone the couple continue to work on their marriage. Jamie tried to convince a doubtful Cathy that is not cheating on her with his editor Elise. He's excited about a review of his book and wants to celebrate, but Cathy is tired of tagging along behind the "genius's heels."


Jamie is reading an excerpt of his book, clearly about his relationship with Cathy. We then see them fighting, and things seem to be as hard as ever in their marriage. He accuses her of being unsupportive of his work because her career is failing. But he promises that he loves and believes in her ("If I Didn't Believe in You").

Now we move back to when the couple were seriously dating and were driving to the suburbs to visit Cathy's parents. She talks about how she doesn't want to end up like her childhood friend whose married with children in a small town ("I Can Do Better Than That"). At the climax of the song she asks Jamie to move in with her. "I Can Do Better Than That" is a little self-righteous, but honest. Here are my favorite lyrics from it:

I want you and you and nothing but you
Mile and piles of you
Finally I'll have something worthwhile
To think about each morning
You and you and nothing but you
No substitution will do
Nothing but fresh, undiluted and pure
Top of the line and totally mine!
I don't need any lifetime commitments
I don't need to get hitched tonight
I don't want to throw up your walls and defenses
I don't mean to put on any pressure
But I know when a thing is right

Towards the end of their marriage, we see Jamie wake up beside a woman who could be Elise, his publisher ("Nobody Needs to Know"). He justifies his infidelity by blaming Cathy's need to have a "perfectly balanced" relationship. Just like he did in "Shiksa Goddess" to Cathy, he tells this other woman that "I could be in love with someone like you."

The finale takes place at two different times: Cathy at the end of their first date, and Jamie five years later in their apartment as he writes her a farewell note. She sings how she's waited her whole life for someone like him and sings goodbye to him ("Goodbye Until Tomorrow"). At the same time Jamie sings his own farewell ("I Could Never Rescue You"). As she waves goodbye until tomorrow, Jamie simply wished her "goodbye." Intrigued? You should be. And fortunately for us, the rarest of the rare opportunities is available. Google video has the entire play on video with the original cast. Part 1, Part 2. So technically, I CAN forgive myself for not seeing this show (for now). Adorably, Sherie and Norbert were able to work together again in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels with John Lithgow:

Bitch

6.23.2008

by Carolyn Kizer

Read it here.

Part 2 in a 6,837 Part Series of Family Guy Musical References

Season: 2

Episode #: 11

Episode Title: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bucks

Time: Unsure

Reference: Peter sings about Meg to the tune and theme of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" with different lyrics. The song is from the musical Gypsy, originally starring Ethel Merman.

Live from New York




It's almost 4am, and I can't put down my book.  It's called Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, written (or compiled, rather) by Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller.  I'm currently reading about the seasons in the late eighties, and it's so strange that there are these whole years of the show that I don't think I've seen any sketches from in re-runs or specials.  Why??? (I've read that Lorne is the one in charge of syndication, so that might be a hint...)

Right now I'm obsessed with the original Not Ready for Primetime Players, especially the first three seasons of the show.  And wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles, ALL the episodes from those seasons are on amazon.com for download.  My video iPod (will someday) runneth over.


(From left: Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain, Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris, John Belushi, and Dan Akryod)

And here they are again, different line-up:


And because I take any and every opportunity to mention a musical, I thought I'd show something pretty amazing I came across on the internets.  It's a 1972-1973 Toronto production of Godspell, and the cast (for the most part) is pretty legendary:

At the top of the 'pile' you have Victor Garber of Alias, Titanic, and Godspell the movie fame.  This guy:

In the bottom row on the left you have Gilda Radner:

To her right is Eugene Levy of (ugh) American Pie fame, but also (thank goodness) Christopher Guest (also on SNL) mockumentary fame.  He's on the left:


And then you see the woman to the right of Eugene?  Look above her at a fresh-faced Martin Short (also a cast member of SNL).  Here's my favorite photo I've found online of him:


I should have made the Godspell Toronto Cast from 1972 a part of my series in Musicals I Will Never Forgive Myself for Not Seeing.  Damn my being born in 1985!

What does it say about me that I know all the words to "All By Myself", "Another Saturday Night (And I Ain't Got Nobody)", and "On My Own"?

6.20.2008

(I kid, I kid. I don't know all the words to "Another Saturday Night.")


All the Words.

BY NICOLE CLIFFE

- - - -

Songs My Boyfriend
Knows All the Words To
That Cause Me to Question His Attitude
Toward Commitment

"Free Bird"

"Desperado"

"Gimme Three Steps"

"Take the Money and Run"

"Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"

"We've Got Tonight"

"On the Road Again"

"Born to Run"

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"

"Free Bird" in Spanish


Songs I Know
All the Words To
That Suggest This Could Be
a Problem for Me

"Stay (I Missed You)"

"Come Back From San Francisco"

"Let's Stay Together"

"9 to 5"

"Baby, I Need Your Loving"

"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

"And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"


- McSweeney's, where else?

Madeleine, Madeleine

6.19.2008

I found this passage from the blog Jezebel via Moomin Light. It's the beginning of a review for A Wrinkle in Time.

It was a dark and stormy night.

If I had my way, none of us would have to read this review at all. Instead, we'd join hands, hear a great dark thunderclap, and be whisked off to a rambling house in the country, where we'd view odd things bubbling in a lab with a stone floor, then eat limburger-and-cream-cheese sandwiches while swinging our legs at the kitchen table. We'd sidestep for a moment onto a planet inhabited by gentle gray creatures with dents for eyes, then be inserted into some mitochondria. We battle for the soul of Madoc /Maddox, and eat small crayfish with our lesbian kind-of aunt who insisted on calling us our full name (Polyhymnia). We'd hop on a freighter and solve a mystery, then go to boarding school in Switzerland. We would make a brief detour on the Upper West Side by way of Portugal, and be concerned with cell regeneration in starfish. We'd be smacked on the ass by a dolphin. Most important, whatever happened, we'd know we could get through it—because we are creatures that can love.

Oh Madeleine, we miss you.

Part 2 in a 284 Part Series of What Could Have Been...

This one's a real heartache!

The 1957 film Les Girls was originally going to star Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Carol Haney, and Jean Simmons. Are you freaking kidding me??? Stab me in the heart, why don't you!

Leslie Caron!

(Seen here with co-star and choreographer, Gene Kelly).

Star of An American in Paris (1951), Lili (1953), Gigi (1958), Daddy Long Legs (1955), and more! Lovely is the only word to describe Leslie's partnership with Gene Kelly.

Cyd Charisse!

(Seen here with co-star and choreographer, Gene Kelly).

Star of Singin' in the Rain (1952), The Band Wagon (1953), Brigadoon (1954), Silk Stockings (1957), and more! Cyd was a dynamic partner for Gene Kelly.

Carol Haney!


(Seen here (and there and there) dancing with choreographer and boss, Gene Kelly).

Featured dancer in Kiss Me Kate (1953), On the Town (1949), Summer Stock (1950), and star of The Pajama Game (1957)! Uber talented Carol Haney for many years worked as a choreography assistant to Gene Kelly.

Jean Simmons!

(Seen here with Marlond Brando as Sky Masterson. A role--you wish I was kidding--that was ORIGINALLY INTENDED FOR GENE KELLY.)

Who, granted, never worked with Gene, but she proved her acting/singing/dancing chops in Guys and Dolls (1955)! And she starred in wonderful movies like The Big Country (1958) and what we can definitely assume is the amazing Until They Sail (1957).

So what's the (practically) common thread between these four actresses besides the fact that they are the Cream of the Crop, the Best There Is, the Quartet to Usher in Musicals Nirvana?

A certain person they all (or almost) worked with. The leading man in Les Girls is--you guessed it--played by Gene. Effing. Kelly. A film where he could choreograph three of his greatest muses. Together. For his last film at MGM.

So, if you were anything like me (and at this point let's be honest--you're sincerely glad and/or hoping you're not), you would wonder, perhaps aloud, what stopped this film from being one of the greatest musicals ever set to film? A revelation and icon of dance and music? A film to be revered for the ages? A tour de force addition to Gene's, Leslie's, Carol's, Cyd's, and Jean's canon of classic films?

The answer: none of these incredibly talented women made it into the film. Not a one. Are you crying yet? Because I sure the hell am.

They cut the roles down from four to three. And who replaced these irreplaceable, once in a lifetime women?

Kay Kendall.


Who? you say. Who indeed. Star of: nothing I've ever heard of.

Taina Elg.


zzzz.....

zzzz.....

*SNORK* Wha? Wha? Oh I'm sorry, I must have FALLEN ASLEEP ON MY KEYBOARD! She went on to be in The 39 Steps (1959) and Barbra cast her as a 'female professor' (aka, you are not important enough to be assigned a name) in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996). Gripping.

Mitzi Gaynor.


I'm only familiar with Mitzi from the color-tasphrophe that is South Pacific (1958) (I'm pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say that it was a great idea to give Mary Martin's broadway role in The Sound of Music over to the very, very capable Ms. Julie Andrews. Her originating role in South Pacific being given to Mitzi Gaynor? A complete tragedy? You decide.).

Apparently she's also in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954) and Anything Goes (1956). I've seen neither, but at least she co-starred with some greats: Donald O'Connor, Bing Crosby, and Ethel Merman. I'm convinced I would have enjoyed any of three of those people in Les Girls more than her.

The final dis-cast-er:



Now don't get me wrong. This musical is likeable enough. I can't say that I don't enjoy watching "Why Am I So Gone About That Gal", "You're Just Too Too", or even "Ça c'est l'amour". The reason for this is probably due to the fact that Kelly is at least breathing, if not dancing, singing, or talking on screen. And the women aren't terrible. I'm sure they are (or were) all very nice people with some considerable talent.

But when watching the film I will now have to mentally constrain myself from imagining Gene being serenaded in a boat floating down a river by Leslie, or ripping up the dance floor with Cyd, or breaking choreography barriers with Carol, or making love (old movie style, people. You know, they hold each other fully clothed and nuzzle into one another's necks) to Jean. Or...dare I type it? A ballet with Gene, Leslie, Cyd, and Carol. It's too much. It's just too FREAKING MUCH!

The movie could have been 10 times what it was. It was directed by the wonderful George Cukor, but was largely ignored by the public and did not usher in the hoped for renaissance of MGM musicals. I wonder why...

Now we must all be tortured by What Could Have Been...

Good grief, I need a drink.

"One of the biggest white elephants of all time."


"Forget it, Louis. No Civil War picture ever made a nickel."

- Irving Thalberg to Louis B. Mayer, May 1936


"Have gone over and carefully thought about Gone With the Wind...its background is very strongly against it...most sorry to have to say no in face of your enthusiasm for this story."

- David O. Selznick to literary agent Katherine Brown, May 1936


"I don't want the part for money, chalk, or marbles."

- Clark Gable to David O. Selznick, 1938


"This woman is a terrible bitch!"

- Vivien Leigh on Scarlett O'Hara, 1939


"I haven't the slightest intention of playing another weak, watery character such as Ashley Wilkes. I've played enough ineffectual characters already."

- Leslie Howard to David O. Selznick, 1938


"Oh, you don't want to be in Gone With the Wind; it's going to be the biggest bust of all time."

- Jack L. Warner to Olivia de Havilland, 1938


"Don't be a damn fool, David. This picture is going to be one of the biggest white elephants of all time."

- Victor Fleming to David O. Selznick, 1939


Gone with the Wind (1939) was directed by Victor Fleming, produced by David O. Selznick, and starred Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes) and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton).

It domestically grossed $76,700,000 and later drew the largest television audience (130 million) by a television film. In 1977 it was dubbed by the voting members of the American Film Institute, "The Greatest Film Ever Made."

- The Best of MGM: The Golden Years (1928-59) by James Robert Parish.

Quite a gamble, eh?

Part 1 in a 284 Part Series of What Could Have Been....


The Nerd Alert Rating for this post is: High. And orange.

Thanks to my co-worker Jackie, I've discovered one of our library's greatest books: The Best of MGM: The Golden Years (1928-59) by James Robert Parish and Gregory W. Mank.

I'm currently reading about Easter Parade (1948). Now I've known for quite some time that Gene Kelly was originally supposed to be in it but broke his ankle playing beach volleyball/touch football (I've heard both) right before shooting. But here I come to find out in this book that initially announced line-up was Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, and Red Skelton! It would have been another Kelly- Sinatra picture, and with Kathryn Grayson!

Sigh. I love Fred Astaire and Ann Miller, I even love Peter Lawford. But ah, what could have been....

Part 1 in a 6,837-Part series of Family Guy Musical References

6.18.2008

Season: 3

Episode #: 6

Episode Title: Believe It Or Not Joe's Walking On Air

Time: 00:14:08

Musical reference: With Cleveland on piano, Joe, Quagmire and Peter (and later Stewie) sing and dance "Good Morning" from Singin' in the Rain (1952).

Cyd Charisse, 1921-2008

6.17.2008

Today we lost one more treasured icon of the golden age. Cyd Charisse passed away at 87 years old. She was one of MGM's best and most successful stock-dancers-turned-movie-stars, playing the female lead in many of Gene Kelly's and Fred Astaire's films.

I will now go on to celebrate my favorite roles of hers. She wasn't much of a singer and she was only a decent actress, but man, could she dance.

She co-starred with Judy Garland in The Harvey Girls (1946), performing (but not with her real voice) "It's A Great Big World" and "Wait and See."

(Cyd's on the right)

She performed a bsllet sequence in The Ziegfeld Follies (1946)


As well as Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) in a number with Angela Lansbury called 'How'd Ya Like to Spoon With Me.' Not kidding:


And The Kissing Bandit (1948) in the 'Dance of Fury' with Ann Miller:


She's probably best known for her dances as the vixen/angel (often the only two roles women are allowed) of Gene Kelly's desire in the 'Dancing Cavalier.' You know, from Singin' in the Rain (1952)? She dances with him during the 'Broadway Melody Ballet' (so hot!) and in the 'Veil Dance' that apparently took days to get just right with the wind power. Originally Carol Haney, Gene's longtime choreography assistant, was going to have this part, but I believe Louis B. Mayer said that she didn't look right for cameras. So they brought in Cyd and Carol had to teach her all the choreography. Carol would later go on to be in The Pajama Game (1957), as she and Bob Fosse became better friends and colleagues (he choreographed The Pajama Game). Her best dance sequence in that was 'Steam Heat' and it's classic Fosse. Here's Cyd in Singin' in the Rain, choreographed of course by Gene himself:




She finally got her first role as the female lead with Fred Astaire in Vincente Minnelli's The Band Wagon (1953). The film was choreographed by Michael Kidd and her best dance scenes are the 'Girl Hunt Ballet', 'Dancing in the Dark' (as kids we used to try to count how many times her 'underwear' showed). This is a fantastic scene because it's about these two dancers--one a hoofer (tap/broadway style dance) and the other a Ballerina, and they're trying to learn how to adapt to each other's styles so they can dance together seamlessly. And they do! She's also in 'I See A New Sun.'



And then she co-starred with Gene Kelly in the always-preposterous, slightly scary, if-only-it-had-been-shot-on-location Brigadoon (1954) with a rather horrendous Scottish accent. Ye git ova' it tho', dinna ya know. Her best scenes (choreographed by Gene) are 'The Heather On the Hill' and 'Waitin' for My Dearie.'




And then she made Kelly like himself in It's Always Fair Weather (1955). Not one of my favorites, but that's OK. Her best scenes (Gene again, I think...Michael Kidd also starred in this movie) are 'Baby You Knock Me Out', and 'Love is Nothing But a Racket.'




But then she went back to Fred for Silk Stockings (1957) which was choreographed by Fred's favorite, Hermes Pan. Her best scenes are her negligee dance (I'm not sure of the title), 'All of You' and 'The Red Blues.' And just for kicks, 'Paris is For Lovers.'


She went on to star in more films and television shows over the years, but never another major musical. She may not have been the most dynamic actress, but who knows if the dance sequences she performed on film would have been half as good without her.