Favorite Musical?

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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Dec 25, 2016 6:04 pm

Watched Sky Arts doing Disney Broadway Hits at the Royal Albert Hall. Hosted by John Barrowman with Scarlett Strallen, Ashley Brown, Alton Fitzgerald White, Merle Danridge and Josh Strickland singing. It assumes everyone has followed the broadway versions, they will tell you "this is from this musical" and nothing else like a simple song title which is frustrating when all you have seen are the film versions. Or when they do something (Newsies and Aida) that has never been a film.

It started badly as they had a lot of 7/10 singers who didn't mesh well as duets or in groups, White had a lot of patter songs which didn't suit him. There were some good moments in those early songs coming from Strickland with his energetic "My Strongest Suit" and "Strangers Like Me" (unfortunately too loud for Danridge). Second half though did come alive as the Mary Poppins section saw Brown and Strallen return to areas they knew, they were transformed. Both became a different Mary Poppins, having a good duel, providing energy and really enjoyed "Tuppence." The Little Mermaid (Brown's Part of your World and little dance when next music came in) and Newsies (Strickland's Santa Fe in particular) segment was also very good. Finished superbly thanks to a guest singer
Trevor Dion Nicholas giving Robbie Williams genie a run for his money
really lifting the crowd, lifting everything with energy and style.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:35 pm

Watched hour long science musical The Entire Universe. Premise: For Rutland Weekend Television, Eric Idle invites Professor Brian Cox to give a lecture on the universe but plans change and it becomes a musical. Without Idle being able to tell Professor Cox in time....

Three things one expects from this: 1) Science. This is clearly a program that attempts to educate through song and humour as well as Professor Cox's intresting lecture, learnt quite a bit about our universe, 2) Comedy. This is where it starts badly, way too many cameo's and relying on Professor Cox to provide a fair bit of comedy which he struggles to do. It is only when Noel Fielding turns up that the comedy begins to zing, that laughter abounds and so on. One can tell the difference between the three different comedian qualities, A) the Professor Cox's who at best are alright but generally struggle, B) those like Warwick Davis and Hannah Waddingham who do pretty good comedy which adds a string to their bow, C) natural comics like Fielding and the underused Idle who really makes one laugh. 3) Music. The songs are gently amusing, adapting familiar tunes and having a good mix of science and comedy. It also knows which songs to give to those who can sing well enough like Davis and Fielding and which ones to save for Waddingham's strong voice.

Overall, a nice-ish time after slow start.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Tue Feb 28, 2017 5:04 pm

Rewatched the Producers. The start is still painful and really picks up, bar one early on, once they begin gathering for the production. Songs fun but forgettable, enjoyable sense of humour but Nathan Lane does a lot of the heavy lifting with the humour, if he or Gary Beach+ Roger De Bris aren't around, the musical dips a little. Still a lot of fun
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Aug 07, 2017 4:43 pm

Tried Rent which we had heard about but never heard a song from. After the initial "wait, we're really supposed to be getting behind people who refuse to pay rent one the principle that it's rent", we got into the basic idea of it. Fair play to the musical for having HIV as a major theme (only other thing I have ever watched that really has HIV at its heart is Angels of America), willingness to acknowledge character failings/hypocrisy, we liked the way it handled HIV (mostly) and enjoyed some intresting dynamics like between Roger (Adam Pascal) and Mimi (Rosario Dawson) or Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Joanne (Tracie Thoms). We lasted for quite some time based on this but eventually left.

The musical has a lot of songs as one would expect though this one leans heavily towards "why use dialogue when a song can do" when it might have been wiser to go for spoken word. It has good singers like Idina Menzel and Jesse L. Martin among cast but we discovered why we had never heard a song from this one. After an hour, the only song we liked was "Today 4 U" which was very much due to Wilson Jermaine Heredia's energy and verve. The rest? The frustrating thing is songs like One Song Glory or Out Tonight or Light My Candle has something that really could work but the overall song is poor, too much of each song doesn't work and the little gems within the songs end up underpowered due to all the blerg which swamps it. Films do rely on their dialogue and musicals on their lyrics and way songs are constructed but this one fails badly at that vital part.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Mon Aug 28, 2017 6:16 pm

Watched musical comedy Opening Night. Premise: It is opening night of a musical about one hit wonders lead by former N'sync singer JC Chasez. Former Broadway singer Nick (Topher Grace) is production manager and of course, things are about to go wrong for him professionally and personally on this opening night...

As a musical? Not very good, snatches of one hit wonder songs, and even when doing full songs, the volume seems to dip and while singers are decent the musical part underwhelms. There is a fair bit of "this isn't quite good enough" about the show, romance is quite good as longing friends but lacks a spark when going full romance, there just isn't quite enough over the 90 minutes to stop it flagging at times in second half.

The film did well to juggle its large cast, said cast did a good job and what provided it's enjoyable heart was good comedy with nearly all characters providing amusement. The highlights of the comedy were the energetic Rob Riggle as the show's owner and Anne Heche as leading lady Brooke, she seemed to add something a little extra to her scenes.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:34 pm

ITV did a contest called All Star Musicals which they clearly hope to make an annual Christmas thing. Hosted by Freddie Flintoff at Palladium Theatre, seven figures trained under the eye of Michael Crawford for three weeks then do a musical number with the best paying members of live audience choosing who won. No singers but a few actors running: Sir Tony Robinson, Denise Lewis OBE, Nicky Campbell, Sally Phillips, Lucy Fallon, Michael Parr and Rebecca Front

Flintoff was good at seguing into next scenes but his jokes (and the songs they built round him) were poor, Crawford wasn't good before audience but he was an excellent choice, when contestants listened to his suggestions for what song to go for then it worked well, he seemed to have an eye for what people were suited for and what they struggled with (exhaustion as a problem for two of them even though Lewis is an athlete). Good backdrops, did feel sound system wasn't particularly helpful and the chorus dancers only helped Phillips song and failed to mesh with the others (though in Campbell's case, that may have been pace of song issue).

In terms of the contestants, none were trained singers and that does tend to mean worse overall quality then, say, a show where singers are trying musicals for first time. There may also have been an underestimation of how difficult "patter" songs are, only one of them pulled it off as one doesn't just need to be able to sing and act, one also needs to be a comedian. It was also intresting hearing the issues that came up (Crawford was excellent on this), exhaustion twice, most of the actors/actress were nervous even during the song whereas those outside of that profession seemed more at ease.

In the order ITV site had them (rather then when they appeared or how they did): Sir Tony Robinson was the one patter song figure who landed the patter with "Sit Down Your Rocking the Boat", he did everything well without a bit of sparkle which may have been trying to ensure he didn't run out of steam. Olympian Denise Lewis seemed the most excited, her past dance training paid off and she did a solid "everything goes" but was let down by sound system and it just lacked a bit of excitement. Nicky Campbell's razzle dazzle was beyond him, perhaps a little stiff through nerves, not a good singer, lacked the strong presence and charisma needed for this one while it did feel like they slowed pace of song down to try to help. Sally Phillips was advised "wouldn't it be lovely" and to not do a comic version, she was bar far the best in terms of interacting with those around her, she had a fairly good signing voice, she acted well and gave real emotional punch to her ending. I wondered if might have been better without the accent and if she would have been allowed to start with comedy to contrast with the emotion at the end, it would have been even better.

Lucy Fallon really excited Crawford who insisted she got the difficult task of "Don't cry for me Argentina" due to the potential he saw in her, not just of voice and acting but how she reacted to events and I wouldn't be surprised if he using his contacts for her now. Seems to have some presence, she went for an angry version which worked surprisingly well, she has a good voice that feels like it could be even better with training, acted very well. Michael Parr is I think a baddie on the soap he is and perhaps that is why he had Master of the House, not a good one for a first timer, he did well to keep up the pace, got his lyrics right and a decent voice but he lacked the ability to bring the comedy to the song (not helped by his chorus). Rebecca Front got "Tell Me on Sunday" which I have been told is quite difficult, on one hand her acting skills gave this emotional punch but her voice struggled, it was erratic and times felt like she wasn't quite sure what kind of singing voice to use.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:50 pm

Watched Darren Lynn Bousman (director) and Terrance Zdunich (writer) 55 minutes horror musical the Devil's Carnival which is meant to be start of a series of films. Premise: The devil (Terrance Zdunich) has a carnival of hell to put his latest subjects into. Using Aesop's Fables and their lives, he gives the three new figures different punishments: The father John (Sean Patrick Flanery) mourning his son, the thief Ms. Merrywood (horror actress Briana Evigan) and young Tamara (singer Jessica Lowndes).

It is a cheap movie so this isn't the most spectacular or imaginative set or costumes but it works well enough for a devil's carnival. The cast biggest names are probably Paul Sorvino in small role as puppet maker and Deadwood's Dayton Callie as the Ticket Keeper/Satan's right-hand, plenty of singers in there as well as actors but they do a good job, one figure I haven't mentioned is Alexa PenaVega as the lead Woe-Maiden Wick who made a small role stand out. The format is the build up as the three figures enter the Carnival, the devil's workers prepare and then it tells a tale of each one, devil starting the Fable, watching the event unfold using Fable as the base then the "chapter" ends with a big song by one minion before the rest based on the event/fable.

It's opening is alright but not enough to draw one in and if it had been a full movie, we may well have left it. It gives very brief but confusing glimpse of the three alive then waking up in hell. It establishes a sense of the carnival, the devil's staff and how the devil can impose himself on them but it hampers itself with the songs. The music conflicts with the songs, audibility is a real issue due to said awful music and the song 666 is extremely repetitive. Then it goes into the strands

1) Ms. Merrywood is the opening tale and the best.

A simple tale of human greed with a good actress, nice touches. It is able to do this tale quickly, not exactly subtle (thieves tend not to be so brazen) but what really make it stand out is the trap. It plays perfectly to the character's weakness, it avoids making the character an idiot for falling for it but simply humanity's nature to give in to an impulse.

The trap song is the best main song (section two will have a better one but will explain later) which isn't a high bar as most of the songs are, when not messed up by sounds, fine but nothing more. However Evigan and musician Nivek Ogre (as the Twin) sing it well, it fits the situation perfectly, taps into her nature and events unfolding. The end song by singer Ivan L. Moody as Hobo Clown is fine but gets repetitive while my sister and I both had elements (different ones) we disliked of her punishment
My sister objected to it being sexualised, I objected to the whipping. It wasn't done in a brutal way but enough times that I was discomforted


2) Tamara has possibly the most famous fable and it is decent enough.

There isn't much wrong with it, nice chemistry with Marc Senter's character Scorpion, good performances, nice touches with the costumes, unfolds simply and well done. Ending song starts well with good props and singer Emilie Autumn as the Painted Doll has a good voice, good actions with it but it goes on a bit too long and lacks some sizzle. I do feel this strand suffers from two things, 1) as a 55 minute film doing three strands there isn't time to go into things and have character moments between Tamara and Scorpion that could have added a lot more punch and depth, 2) It's hard to work out why Tamara is in hell and deserves it. She has flaws but she feels like victim who needs help.

This has the best song but not within the strand with "In All My Dreams I Drown" but as I understand it, they felt the song didn't quite fit but realizing they had a really good song, they put it in the credits including the video of the performance, worth waiting to see that rather ending at credits. Lowndes sings well, the song has good lyrics, chorus line and a (sad) theme

3) John who is meant to be the big tale.

To try and avoid the Tamara issue, John pops up every now and again in other tales and there is unfulfilled potential. They touch on a few good ideas but don't commit to any and then it sacrifices the strand's ending for a wider sequel setting that undermines what had been an alright strand for a mishmash ending with poor songs and questionable logic.

Both: 6.0
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:27 am

Watched Alleluia! The Devil's Carnival, sequel to Devil's Carnival (I won't link to my review, it is literally the last review before this one). This one is focused on heaven led by Paul Sorvino, one fable telling the story of two trainee angels/applicants June (Emilie Autumn) and Cora (Lyndon Smith), is a full film this time at 137 minutes while adding likes of David Hasselhoff (as a designer) joining the cast

I prefer hell. Not just in the past movie but in this one despite only getting small flashes, bar a slightly botched scene, it is more intresting though one or two nods don't work (particularly around Ms. Merrywood). The God they have is uninteresting though I can see the appeal of their idea, heaven has seven groupings (8 if they include it's leader) but doesn't explore any in sufficient detail as they go in for a brief scene and a song. There are flashes from the two trainee's and the top agent (Adam Pascal) but not enough to carry it, one or two solid enough songs (Hitting on All Sevens and the ending song) but a lot of songs don't hit the mark, attempts at comedy don't quite work though the security guards (Jimmy Urine and Chantal Claret) song "Good Little Dictation Machines" has it's moments. It lacks cohesion as a whole, the sizzle and intresting tales that the first film brought at it's best moments

Me: 5.0
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Dong Zhou » Sun Apr 01, 2018 12:41 pm

Watched old favourite Chicago which gave us all a nice time. Visually doesn't pop anymore but that doesn't hinder the film. Still got a well constructed story, a strong cast with the energetic Cathrine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger (who expertly played one song like an amateur) as the leads. The songs (I find some of the less well known songs are my personal favourites) have energy, excellent choreography, sizzle and sex, humour which also translates to the non-singing parts. Yet there is also a cynicism and tragedy that underlines all that, never too far away from view beneath the flash.
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Re: Favorite Musical?

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Sun Apr 01, 2018 3:58 pm

I admittedly have only seen one musical in my life: Oklahoma. (Which I loved, btw.)

I feel uncultured!

That’s about to change though. I have tickets to see Kinky Boots in a couple weeks. I’ll make sure to write my impressions. :)
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