Friday, December 29, 2017

Forgotten Musical: 'Give a Girl a Break'

Marge Champion, Helen Wood and
Debbie Reynolds in Give a Girl a Break (1953).
Under another name, Wood would star in porn films in the 1970s.
Hollywood produced dozens of movie musicals from the late 1940s into the mid-1950s. Many such as Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Easter Parade, Summer Stock, A Star Is Born, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, are regarded as classics by fans and scholars today. Yet there are many minor cinema tuners worthy of savoring. Give a Girl a Break (1953) is one of these. Largely forgotten, it's difficult to find. I had to pay $10 to order it in digital form on Amazon video. I watched it during the Christmas-Hanukkah-New Year's break. It's now obscure, but it has a simple charm and features a fascinating cast. I have a vague memory of watching it at my aunt's house in Philadelphia on the late Sunday afternoon TV movie when I was a kid.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Very Special Bewitched with Special Guest Star Donald Trump

In response to a Breitbart article stating feminist witches were casting hexes on Donald Trump:

The scene: The home of Darren and Samantha Stephens. Samantha is preparing dinner in the kitchen and feeding toddler Tabitha.

Tabitha: Mommy, why can't I have dinner with you and Daddy tonight?

Samantha and Endora prepare for Trump's visit
Samantha: Because darling, we have a very important visitor. The President of the United States. Daddy's being considered to head his new public relations unit and convince the American people he's not a jackass.

Tabitha: Is he a jackass, Mommy?

Samantha: Whether he is or isn't is not the point, sweetheart. Daddy's job is to make the people believe he's not.

(Lighting flashes, thunder roars, and Endora, Samatha's mother, suddenly appears)

Samantha: Mother, I've asked you not to make such a dramatic entrance.

Tabitha: Grandma!

Endora: Hello, darling! Samantha, is it true what I've heard on the witches' grapevine? You are actually allowing that vile reptile Donald Trump into your home? Have you gone mad? The fumigation bills alone will break poor Durwood.

Samantha: For the thousandth time, his name is Darren, not Durwood.

Monday, December 18, 2017

B'way Update: Logjam in Spring 2018; Early 2018-19 Announcements

Jim Parsons will star in a revival of The Boys in the Band,
which will be eligible for 2018-19 Tonys.
So many Broadway theaters are booked and so few shows are closing there is a logjam of venues this spring. Therefore many shows have announced their openings for the next fall. Usually a number of productions shutter right after the holiday season, but in addition to the perennials like Wicked, Lion King, and Chicago, a number of productions which received middling reviews but strong word of mouth are still going into 2018 including Anastasia, A Bronx Tale and School of Rock, as well as Tony winners Dear Evan Hansen, Come from Away, and Kinky Boots. Tracey Letts' The Minutes has an announced opening of March 8,
Glenda Jackson will return to Broadway
after a 30-year absence in Three Tall Women.
but no theater yet. They'd better hurry and grab one. The all-star revival of The Boys in the Band with Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells had originally been slated as an April opening in order to qualify for the Tonys, but it's just been announced as opening on May 31, meaning it will eligible for the 2019 awards. The shift may have been due to director Joe Mantello's heavy workload. He will also be staging the revival of Three Tall Women starring Glenda Jackson in her first Broadway role in 30 years (the Scottish play with Christopher Plummer in 1988 was her last) which opens just two months earlier on March 29. Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill are the other two women. 

Additional shows making early announcements for 2018-19 include To Kill a Mockingbird, Getting the Band Back Together, King Kong, The Prom, Pretty Woman, a Kiss Me, Kate revival from Roundabout starring Kelli O'Hara, and the Cher Show. Cher is not the only pop artist to have a musical based on her life and/or work in the planning stages. Others include Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (which has booked the Lunt-Fontanne for this April according to Michael Riedel of the NY Post), Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations, Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical, Jagged Little Pill (Alanis Morrisette), and a Pat Benatar musical. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ernest Lehman Bio In the Works

Ernest Lehman
My colleague Jon Krampner, author of "Female Brando: The Legend of Kim Stanley," is at work on a biography of screenwriter Ernest Lehman. His previous book of the legendary and complex actress Kim Stanley is worth a read. He also helped me out on my bio of George C. Scott, providing lots of information and even videos of a BBC interview from when Stanley and Scott starred together in an ill-fated London production of Chekhov's Three Sisters.

Jon sent me the following email on this fascinating new project:

I'm working on a biography of Lehman, whose film credits include "Sabrina," "The King and I," "The Sweet Smell of Success," "North by
Northwest," "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and "Hello, Dolly." A pretty diverse and illustrious bunch. Interestingly, before he becoming a screenwriter in the early 1950's, he spent a decade as a Broadway publicist, working for Irving Hoffman, who planted items with Walter Winchell and other columnists. (Hoffman was also a theater critic and had a column, "Tales of Hoffman," in The Hollywood Reporter. He was legendary for being one of the few publicists who could actually stand up to Winchell.)