Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Apple

Part Rocky Horror, part biblical allegory and part acid trip. The Apple gets weird fast. Legends say that the premiere audience was given free copies of the soundtrack. Shortly into the film the audience began to boo furiously and throw the records at the screen. Few walked away from this with careers intact. 

As TV Guide wrote: "Making a cult hit is harder than it looks."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shock Treatment

In 1981 the team behind the cult smash The Rocky Horror Show gathered as much of the original cast as they could for a sequel. Tim Curry was unwilling or unavailable to reprise Dr. Frank-N-Furter so a new set of villains were invented to torment Brad and Janet in Shock Treatment. A Screen Actors Guild Strike, limited distribution and mixed reviews plagued the film and it disappeared from memory.

In 2015 Richard O'Brien finally allowed a stage adaptation which premiered at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, London. This version kept the songs, cut some of the extraneous characters and added more nudity. Reviews were enthusiastic.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Death Takes a Holiday

In 1924 La Morte in Vacanza by Alberto Casella may have resonated with an audience recovering from a war. The film adaptation in 1934 was a hit. The musical had less success in 2011. Dreamy leading man Julian Ovenden had to withdraw due to throat illness and the audience was quick to guess the stories few surprises. Pop culture has been telling us for decades that chicks dig dead guys as long as they're super cute.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ride the Cyclone

Jacob Richmond: The inspiration for the project came from how we read every day in the newspaper that forty people died in a tragedy the idea of someone being a statistic in a mass tragedy—and how hard it is to wrap your head around what their individual lives meant. It’s about humanizing the idea of a mass tragedy, which in truth contains hundreds of stories that are interrupted. We wanted to have each individual be reflected in their own music. There’s a thematic reason for why there’s a tribute to David Bowie, why there’s kind of garage band in there, and French cabaret, hip hop, pop, New Orleans swing.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Happy birthday Angela Lansbury!

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is part Mary Poppins and part Sound of Music. The film is beloved by some, forgotten by others, and managed to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. When the film was re-released on DVD twenty minutes of cut footage and songs were restored. 

Click the tag for more of Lansbury's musical work.

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Musical Murder Mysteries

Thanks to everyone who made suggestions and put these shows on my radar.

Fun fact! The Marijuana orgy song in Murder at the Vanities inspired the Marijuana orgy song in Reefer Madness! 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Murder Mysteries: Curtains

New York Times 2007: The long road to Broadway for “Curtains” has been nearly as fraught as that of “Robbin’ Hood,” the show-within-the-show that keeps losing cast and crew members to untimely ends during an out-of-town tryout in Boston. Its original book writer, Peter Stone, died in 2003, and Mr. Ebb, the lyricist, died in 2004. Enter Rupert Holmes, the writer and composer of the Tony-winning “Mystery of Edwin Drood,” who is now credited with the script and (along with Mr. Kander) additional lyrics for “Curtains.”

New York Times 2011: “Curtains” is not A-list Kander and Ebb. These are the men who wrote “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” after all. Even with its affectionate parodies of musical theater and its endearing hero, who turns out to be as good a play doctor as a crime investigator, the show never completely catches fire. But (Curtains)… is a very pleasant evening of musical theater…. At its core, “Curtains” is not a detective story. It’s a declaration of love, passionate love, for the theater.

Here’s the optimistic number they sang on the Tony’s: Show People

And here’s the cynical number they probably should have sung: It’s a Business

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Goblin Market

New York Times: The new musical version of the poem, as adapted by Peggy Harmon and Polly Pen, runs a brief 70 minutes, but it is no small accomplishment. The two authors, each of whom is better known as an actress, have extracted the juices of the original, the bitter as well as the sweet.

New City Chicago: Sensuous excess comes to life in Christina Rossetti’s 1862 poem “Goblin Market,” with proliferation of rhymes, synonyms, luscious lists of fruits and “figs to fill your mouth.” ... Like any good Victorian lesson, indulgent Laura nearly perishes while Lizzie saves her with a heroic act of abstinence.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Murder Mysteries: Something's Afoot

"Something's afoot and the butler didn't do it!"

This burlesque of Agatha Christie mysteries is too small for Broadway but sparkles in a black box. The book and score are slight but the set design is a magical puzzle box of low tech death traps.

After a tour, a short Broadway run, and a longer run in London, the show has survived in amateur groups and the occasional regional production. Though no cast recording exists the show was taped for Showtime in 1982 starring Jean Stapleton and Andy Gibb.