If We Were Having Coffee… (#10)

Work-day coffee once again, why not?

Thanks for joining me for a brief respite from a somewhat crazy day.  Computer problems, in an office where we depend heavily on access to email and data-bases in order to serve our students, makes for chaos.    Having the only functioning computer in the office due to a glitch that has me on a different system at the moment makes for busy chaos.

It’s been a good week, and a good weekend.  I spent the week trying to get settled into a new routine, thanks to relocating myself all to one location (no more splitting my life between two sides of town, but it does mean I am cramming my life into a small room until an apartment opens up… ah, wait-lists…. But at least the studio’s I’m looking at will seem luxuriously gigantic in comparison :)

I spent yesterday going to the coast with a friend.   It’s always fun to have friends in town that aren’t from the area, it means I get the chance to explore area’s that I have overlooked.  Yesterday took us to Astoria, too late to get to the museum that we planned to go to, but we were able to wander the water-front, and I got some water-side writing time, which I always love.

I’d tell you that I’m feeling a little chaotic at home too.  My internet hasn’t been working very well, and so I’ve really NOT had access from home.  Setting up blog updates has been a headache, and keeping up with other people’s blogs or social media has been limited largely to what I can do on my phone while commuting.  I’m working on the issue, and REALLY hope that it will be resolved by next week.  Otherwise I will have to figure something out because the Masquerade Ball happens next week!  I’m so excited about this!  I have an “opening” post that I’ll be putting up Friday night (the 24th).  If you participate please link back to that post from within your post  — that way I can find them, and will be re-blogging (as well as creating a pinterest board, and doing some link-posts).  It’s going to be some craziness (especially if I am internet-less), but it will be such fun!

How are things for you?  I’m afraid I’m having a hard time shaking the frantic-crazy of the morning (especially knowing that I will be plunging back into it shortly)…. but tell me a bit about how you’ve been doing first :)

 

 

 

201004061250000.intothewoods

Stage To Screen: Into The Woods and General Reflections

This is a part of The Stage to Screen Blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema  and Rachel’s Theater Reviews .  For more great reviews of theater production adaptations for the screen, be sure to visit their pages!

Into The Woods

Into_the_Woods_poster

Composed by Stephen Sondheim

Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Playwright: James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim

Movie Directed by Rob Marshall

Screenplay by James Lapine

“You’re so nice.  You’re not good, your not bad, you’re just nice.”

I have never seen Into The Woods on stage.  Yet, thanks to the Public Broadcasts video production, I know it really well.  Actually, thanks to my cousins, and PBS… because it was my cousins who introduced me to it in the first place.

 I have fond memories of watching the video with them over, and over, and over again.  Because I have only ever known the Broadway cast, Tom Aldredge, Kim Crosby, Chip Zien, Ben Wright, Joanna Gleason, Barbara Bryne, Danielle Ferland, Robert Westenberg, Chuck Wagner, and Bernadette Peters.  For me, those actors ARE their roles, and while I can see them in other roles just fine (love Westenberg in The Secret Garden, and Bernadette Peters is just a favorite all around), I know it will be hard to see their roles in Into The Woods played by others.  So, I am more than a little worried about the upcoming Disney production of Into The Woods.

 And the concerns that I have about this production really boil down to what I’ve seen as the largest stumbling blocks for a screen-adaptation of a stage-based-musical.

There are two big fears that I hear from family and friends who are fans, and they are my two biggest fears as well.  First is the fear that there will be cast members who cannot sing the roles as they should be sung.  For instance, I am not expecting Meryl Streep to sing the witch like Bernadette Peters, I want her to make it her own — but will she be able to do the role justice?  Are we going to end up with actors in roles that just can’t do it justice? (Like in Phantom, or Les Miserable)?   It’s a real concern for those of us raised on the powerful performances of the PBS production.

The other concern is rearrangement.  Though based in fairy tales, Into The Woods is a much darker story, one that digs deeper into human nature.  It deals with adultery, death, discrimination, right and wrong, good and bad, fear and loss….  I’ll dig more into the story itself in November for a Fairy-Tale Blogathon, but for now just the fact that it is Disney, doing this production, I worry about how “cleaned up” it might be.  There have been rumors of songs cut, plots shifted, and I know that I am not the only one anxious to see if my favorite songs and moments will remain in tact.

There are certainly some benefits to putting on productions like this on the screen.  Like in RENT, Evita and even Phantom, the location can take a more prominent role.  The woods are a character, alive and threatening, and the movie can really play this up in ways that the stage production couldn’t.

At this point all I know is that I like the trailer, I think the staging of the show is going to be excellent.  It’s just a matter of waiting, waiting to see if the voices can live up to what I want them to be, if the songs and story are left in tact enough (or the changes made are ones that I can stand).  Also, as I’ve realized with the other musicals I’ve looked at this week, it’s a question of if, after the initial adjustment period, this movie will be one I will want to watch again.  I still go back to the PBS version, will the Disney production be worthy of that?  Or, like the movie version of Phantom, will it be one that I don’t really pay all that much attention to as the years go by?

Time will tell.

phantom

Stage To Screen: Phantom of the Opera

This is a part of The Stage to Screen Blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema  and Rachel’s Theater Reviews .  For more great reviews of theater production adaptations for the screen, be sure to visit their pages!

The Phantom of the Opera

phantom

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe

Movie Directed by Joel Schumacher

 

 “And do I dream again, for now I find…”

The Phantom of the Opera was the first CD I ever bought (back when those were a new thing…).  I listened to it on my Walkman over, and over, and over, and over again.  I sang (probably loudly, and most certainly poorly) along with the entire thing and, yes, had it memorized.  Sarah Brightman, Michael Crawford, those were the voices I knew.

It may have been one of the first shows I saw on stage — at least, one of the first professionally done ones.  Because I had simply imagined the staging (much like I had done with… well… every single other show I have listened to the music to), I was drawn in by the production.  The chandelier… oh, that chandelier!  From the slow rising after the opening scene to the dramatic crash onto the stage… wow.

The movie… it may have been one of the first times I approached a movie truly frightened about what I would see.  Could they do it right?  Would they capture the magic?

I don’t remember what I though the first time I saw it.  Likely, I took issue with much of it.  But watching it this time, with time having passed for it to become not so fresh and new, I know I was seeing it differently.  I also have now seen Phantom on the stage in two different theaters (I’m pretty sure… should I get worried that I have started to have trouble remembering how many times I’ve seen different shows, or where I saw them? hmm…), so have an idea of some of the different ways that it’s been staged, and adjusted to different voices behind the roles.

So… the movie.

One of the things that I liked about the movie, right away, was how they handled the opening sequence.  Obviously the chandelier rising into the air wouldn’t have the same dramatic impact on-screen as it does going up over the audience — so instead they went from black-and-white to color.  I appreciated the dramatic flair of this, a nice way to give a feel of the stage production.

One of the fun things about The Phantom of the Opera is that, when performed on stage, some of the scenes can drop that fourth-wall. It is a show about the theater, with scenes-within-scenes, so it is fun to sometimes feel you are a part of the production, like when Christine is singing “Think Of Me.”  This sense of being a part of the production is somewhat lost in the movie.

However, the movie does much to capture the drama and opulence of the show.  One of the things I love about the movie that is somewhat more limited in the stage production is the ability to explore more of the magician role that the phantom plays, and exploring more of the Phantom’s lair under the opera house, going back to the book for some original source material, like the mirror maze that Raul falls into.

There are some issues with the movie.  I have never quite settled with having Gerard Butler in the role of the Phantom.  He does not have the singing chops for the part.  It’s one of the challenges I have with a number of musicals, casting someone because they are a name rather than for their singing ability.  I can understand using a voice double — like in the role of Carlotta, which requires some real operatic ability — and I though Minnie Driver did a great job with the comedic role.  But the Phantom…

I am a pretty forgiving viewer, and for the most part I was impressed with how well Gerard Butler did with the role.  But “Music of the Night…”  Just…  not okay.  That’s the first real showcase for the Phantom, such a haunting song, and it just didn’t work.  It felt like he was cutting corners in many parts.

I also got irritated with the insistence of them speaking “Little Lotte.”  I can’t explain why this irritated me more than any of the other lines that were chosen to be spoken in the movie, but it certainly bothered me.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie.  It isn’t one of my favorites, not one that I will watch repeatedly, but for the rare occasion it is fun to watch.  For Phantom, though, I would probably prefer listening to the Original Soundtrack and letting my mind wander (unless I have the opportunity to see it on stage, of course!).

eva

Stage to Screen: Evita

This is a part of The Stage to Screen Blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema  and Rachel’s Theater Reviews .  For more great reviews of theater production adaptations for the screen, be sure to visit their pages!

 Evita

Evita (film)
Evita (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics by Tim Rice

Movie: Directed by Alan Parker

 

I was introduced to Evita by my parents.  We listened to the Original Broadway Cast Recording over, and over, and over again.  Cassette tapes in the car, records on the record player in the house.  Before we realized that the lyrics were already printed in the album, my brother and I took it upon ourselves to type up the lyrics (this is part of why I have a fast typing speed).

Evita, as sung by Patti LuPone, and Mandy Patinkin’s interpretation of Che, were the only ones I knew.  Having discovered the lyrics-book that accompanied the record, I had read it and memorized it, envisioning just how the staging should look.  When a touring cast came through our city my parents took me and my brother to see it – I remember the shock I felt at different voices in these roles, and some changes that had been made to the songs, and (of course) that the staging was not what I had imagined.

So when the movie came out… I had my hesitations and my hopes.  Talking to my mom (who told me Evita was the only show she went to see twice on the stage), she had similar concerns.  Madonna could sing, but would she be able to play the part well?  And what about Antonio Banderas, could he fill this role?

I enjoyed the film, and found it to be well done (Mom was pleasantly surprised as well).   There were, of course, some pieces that I missed, missing lines that I still expect to hear.  However, over time many of the changes have become less challenging for me – in my most recent viewing of the movie I went in knowing that there were lyric changes that had originally chaffed, but now I had to really focus to find them.  As the movie-version of the songs have become more normal, had time to sit with me, and as I have learned to hear Banderas and Madonna in the roles (as well as LuPone and Patinkin) there is far less about the movie that jars me.

There were some very nicely done elements as well.  The juxtaposition of the funeral of Eva’s father in the opening scenes, for instance, gives a nice glimpse into her life, a touch to her roots and life, as well as the will and determination that is a core of her personality.  And (as with Rent) there is the opportunity for some more subtle story-telling elements to play, facial expressions and quiet exchanges that build a depth to the characters and the story.

There are even a few elements of the movie that I think are spot-on.  That, when I saw a recent touring performance this fall, actually surprised me to be relocated back to their original location.  In particular I am thinking of “Another Suitcase in Another Hall.”  Traditionally this song belongs to Peron’s mistress, but the movie gave her just a reprise of it, the full song going to Evita after she arrives in Buenos Ares.  I think it fits her at that moment of life, allows the character to show some vulnerability, and bleeds very well into “Goodnight and Thank You.”

If I have to select one soundtrack to listen to for Evita, it’s always going to be the Original Broadway Cast (because… Mandy Patinkin), but I enjoy watching the movie just as much.

A bit of this, a bit of that, the meandering thoughts of a dreamer.

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