Sunday, October 13, 2019

Zero Patience

"Tell the story. Clear my name.
Why do they need someone to blame?"
~ Zero Patience

GaƩtan Dugas, a French-Canadian flight attendant, was falsely accused of spreading the AIDS virus across America. He was dubbed "Patient Zero." Evidence was found to clear his name but the myth persisted for years after. John Grayson's musical sends Zero's ghost on a journey to prove his innocence, debunking other myths about the virus along the way. The film is angry, funny, sexy and bittersweet. It's strange to watch now as it came at a time when people were still in crisis and much about the virus was still unknown. The film is hard to track down but clips are floating around. You can read a spoiler filled recap here.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Head Over Heels

Take one 16th century play. Add one 1980's pop group. Sprinkle some genderqueer aesthetic. And voila! Head Over Heels was considered too slight for Broadway but it's the ideal fit for a black box theater during Pride season. One caveat: if you're not a fan of the Gogo's going in, the repetitive song arrangements won't change your mind here. The clowns belt and the sexy chorus dances but the plot stops dead every time there's a song.

The Chicago premiere runs July 1-August 25. Details are here.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Ghost Quartet

So... eight months. How's everybody doing? I'm not back back but I've a few more ideas for comics.

The success of Dave Malloy's The Great Comet has renewed attention to the earlier Ghost Quartet. My synopsis doesn't do it justice. Four artists take the stage to tell four intertwining ghost stories. The sisters at the center, Pearl and Rose, provoke a cycle of revenge that burns for seven centuries. Malloy says he was playing a board game with his friends and said "The four of us should make a show." The result is something that will confuse, impress and lodge itself in your mind.

The Chicago premiere runs July 12 - August 17. Details are here. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

110 in the Shade

"The rainmaker doesn't change the weather: he changes people, turning them into what they really are." ~ Ethan Mordden. Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960's 

110 in the Shade has been compared to The Music Man. Both involve a con man who charms the town and a spinster who stands against him. While Marian domesticates Harold, Starbuck awakens a drive in Lizzie. Lizzie's been held down by her well meaning family. She needs to break out of her comfort zone and find some independence before she can settle down with a spouse. The show is more respected than beloved but Lizzie is a fantastic role for a singing actress. The role won great praise for both Inga Swenson in 1963 and Audra McDonald in 2007.

I'll be taking a break from this comic to work on some other projects. Have a safe winter and a happy new year!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

A Star Is Born

The 1954 remake of A Star is Born features one fantastic song: Gershwin and Arlen's "The Man That Got Away." I assumed it would be the grand finale but it turns out to be Judy Garland's first number. She sings it in a bar when James Mason stumbles in. It's the moment that draws him to her and establishes their unhealthy dynamic.

That song is the only thing I really enjoy about the film. The other music is forgettable and the story is dour. Streisand and Gaga's remakes somehow feel even bleaker. The story is interested in the leading man's fall but the audience wants to see the leading lady shine. She does, in moments, and those moments are what people take away from each remake. I don't need to watch the 2018 film again but I'm sure I'll see the scene where Gaga performs "Shallow" many times to come.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Teen Beach Movie

Disney's Beach Party movies were a hit in the 1960's. Disney's High School Musical was a hit in 2006. Would these two great tastes go together in 2013? Critical reviews were mixed but ratings were high enough to merit a sequel. Afterwards co-stars Garrett Clayton and Ross Lynch would graduate to racier projects, which would renew interest in their musical theater beginnings.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

High School Musical

How did a low budget TV movie launch a franchise and a film career? Today's high school themed musicals are loaded with snark and angst. High School Musical has a mean girl and with a coded-gay brother but the overarching tone is earnest.

Quick. What's the hit song from High School Musical? I'm not sure either... but it has four compelling lead players who Disney was able to contractually secure for two sequels.

Oh and my favorite song? I like "Bet On It", Efron's campy nervous breakdown in part 2.