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Holiday Must-See Movie: 'Into the Woods'

  Intothewoods-merylpoints
"Go to the wood!" is Streep's wish your command? 

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic INTO THE WOODS. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Itw_CinderellaWhen it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review.

No, of course what really matters is the blame
Somebody to blame.
Fine, if that's the thing you enjoy, Placing the blame,
If that's the aim, Give me the blame-

So back to Into the Woods . Does it survive the transfer? With so much baggage brought into the movie theater I’ll admit that a traditional review has been tough to write. So herewith a ranked list of the musical numbers (in their current form) as a sneaky way to coax out all those thorny blinding feelings.

Intowoods-redenters

The list, from worst to best, is AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Holiday Must-See Movie: 'Into the Woods'" »


Two New Clips From 'Into The Woods' Tell a Tale Of Witches And Beans: VIDEO

Into The Woods Meryl Streep

Into the Woods, the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1986 musical due out this holiday season, is starting to drop new clips and trailers left and right, and we've got two more to whet your appetite. First is a minute-long excerpt of the Meryl-Witch telling the poor barren couple (played by Emily Blunt and James Corden) what she needs to craft a potion to cure their curse. Then, you get to see the couple try and uncomfortably swindle poor young Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) out of his cow in exchange for a handful of "magic" beans.

You can't see the movie until Christmas Day, but you can watch the excerpts right now AFTER THE JUMP...

Blunt

The film stars Meryl Streep, (future gay icon?) Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, Billy Magnussen, Daniel Huttlestone, Tracy Ullman, and Johnny Depp

Continue reading "Two New Clips From 'Into The Woods' Tell a Tale Of Witches And Beans: VIDEO" »


The New 'Into the Woods' Trailer Will Enchant You: VIDEO

Depp

Disney today dropped a mega-trailer for its holiday blockbuster Sondheim-Lapine adaptation Into the Woods starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Christine Baranski, Billy Magnussen, Daniel Huttlestone, Tracy Ullman, and Johnny Depp.

And unlike the teaser, this one features singing.

The studio also dropped some character gifs like this one of Streep:

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The film is directed by Rob Marshall and adapted by Lapine and is scheduled for release on Christmas day.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Continue reading "The New 'Into the Woods' Trailer Will Enchant You: VIDEO" »


Theatre News: A New Hedwig, Pacino Back on Broadway, 'Once' Closing, Upcoming Sondheim Musical

Michael c hall

This month in theatre news, Broadway gets a new Hedwig, Once sets closing date, Pacino teams with Mamet and Sondheim at work on a new musical.

> Michael C. Hall began performances last week in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, stepping in after Girls star Andrew Rannells completed his 8-week run as the trans rocker. Hall, best known for Dexter and Six Feet Under, was just on Broadway last spring in Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses. No stranger to gender fluidity, he previously played several stints as the Emcee in Roundabout Theatre Company’s 1998 production of Cabaret. Hall will continue as Hedwig through January 4.

Once> Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical Once announced a closing date of January 4 at the Jacobs Theatre. Based on the acclaimed Oscar-winning film of the same name, the Dublin-set musical about a passionate and unlikely romance featuring an ensemble of actor-musicians, will have played 1,167 regular performances and 22 previews. The show’s U.S. national tour continues and a number of international productions are currently running or in development, including a West End production that will close in March of next year.

> Producers announced that Al Pacino will return to Broadway next fall in China Doll, a new play by David Mamet. In a statement, the playwright described it as “a play about a wealthy man, his young fiancé, and an airplane […] I wrote it for Al. It is better than oral sex.” The new play will be directed by Pam MacKinnon and produced by Jeffery Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler at a Shubert theatre to be determined.

Stephen-Sondheim-08> Lincoln Center Theatre announced two new additions to its 2015 docket: Shows for Days, a new comedy by Douglas Carter Beane (The Nance, The Little Dog Laughed) set in a 1970s community theatre, to be directed by Jerry Zaks Off Broadway at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, and Preludes, a new musical by Dave Malloy, directed by Rachel Chavkin (creators of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812) about Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff at LCT3’s Claire Tow Theatre.

> Stephen Sondheim is at work on a new musical with playwright David Ives (Venus in fur) based on two films by Spanish director Luis Buñuel, The Exterminating Angel and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, according to the New York Times. The Public Theatre and Scott Rudin are producing the new work. No timeline has been set; Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public, said in a statement, “We will do it whenever Steve tells us to.”

> Producer Kevin McCollum announced that Robert Askins' dark comedy Hand to God starring Steven Boyer will open on Broadway at the Booth Theatre on April 7, 2015 with previews beginning March 12. Featuring a critically-acclaimed performance by Boyer as a young man whose hand puppet takes on a demonic life of its own, the play was previously produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre and again at MCC Theater earlier this spring. Moritz von Stuelpnagel directs.

 


What To Watch This Week on TV: Salute to Sondheim, 'Horror Story' Gives 'Head,' 'Downton' On Bravo, - VIDEO

Downton_abbey

Check out our weekly guide to make sure you're catching the big premieres, crucial episodes and the stuff you won't admit you watch when no one's looking.

—  The cast of Downton Abbey lets down their hair with host Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live Tuesday at 11 p.m. Eastern on Bravo. So if you ever wanted to see what it'd be like for Thomas Barrow (Rob James Collier), Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) to throw back one too many flirtinis, this is your chance. Sadly, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) won't be there to lodge her disapproval.

More picks and clips, including a Horror Story mid-season finale to lose your head over and a celebration of Sondheim AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "What To Watch This Week on TV: Salute to Sondheim, 'Horror Story' Gives 'Head,' 'Downton' On Bravo, - VIDEO" »


Stephen Sondheim Revising the Musical 'Company' and Making Its Lead Character Gay

The New York Times reports that Stephen Sondheim is working with director John Tiffany on a new production of his 70's musical Company that would be centered around a gay man:

CompanyThe biggest change in this new “Company” would be the central character of Bobby. Whereas he has always been a straight man struggling with commitment issues and multiple girlfriends, he has been reconceived by Mr. Tiffany as a gay man with commitment issues and multiple boyfriends. And some characters have had gender reversals; the character of Joanne, who sings “The Ladies Who Lunch” and was originally played by Elaine Stritch on Broadway, is being played by the Tony winner Alan Cumming (“Cabaret”) in Mr. Tiffany’s reading of the work at Roundabout this week.

For years Mr. Sondheim and the musical’s book writer, George Furth, who died in 2008, batted back suggestions that Bobby was furtively intended to be a closeted gay man. But when Mr. Tiffany proposed actually making Bobby gay, Mr. Sondheim said in a telephone interview on Tuesday, the idea intrigued him.

The Roundabout is holding a performance for a private audience on Friday starring Daniel Evans as Bobby. Bobby Steggert and Michael Urie are in the cast. A decision on whether to move forward with the production will be made soon thereafter.


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