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‘A Little Night Music’ film soundtrack release

September 7th, 2013 Comments off

Contributor Lindsay B. Davis on the release of the soundtrack for the 1977 film ‘A Little Night Music,’ an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical.   

Stephen Sondheim, the legendary Broadway musical theater composer and lyricist, once said in a 2006 interview with Time Out London, “The movie adaptations of stage musicals that I’ve seen, without exception, in my opinion don’t work…It’s not just the realism but the fact that a close-up on screen can say all a song can: ‘What justifies a character singing one idea, no matter how cleverly, for three minutes on the screen? I get impatient and want the story to carry on. I don’t get impatient in the theatre.

A Little Night Music

This could explain why, for many years, the 1977 film adaptation of acclaimed Broadway musical A Little Night Music (1973) was one of only a few Sondheim musicals to migrate from stage to screen. Directed by Hal Prince (who directed the Broadway original as well) it stars Elizabeth Taylor as actress Desiree Armfeldt (in a role originated by Glynis Johns) and despite Taylor’s star power, the overall reception was decidedly negative. Said New York Times critic Vincent Camby, “Having elected to transform the Sondheim show into a film, Mr. Prince appears to have made every decision that could sabotage the music and the lyrics. He has cast the film with people who don’t sing very well and then staged almost every number in such a way that we can’t respond to the lyrics.”

That did not stop the Academy from awarding the film with its Best Adaptation Score Oscar, which speaks volumes about how a good soundtrack could often transcend a mediocre film, as is the case with A Little Night Music, being released by Masterworks BroadwayWhile the film soundtrack may not appeal to Broadway purists (due to 5 of the Broadway original’s songs being left out, others like “The Glamour Life” being seriously revised and the mid-level vocals of Ms. Taylor) it has appeal and even when listened to without the context of the film or having seen the musical, quite lovely. Consider it one to enjoy with a hot cup of coffee and croissant on a Sunday morning. Listen to  “A Weekend in the Country” and be swept away. A weekend in the country taking rambles, having leisurely chats…Feel the solemnity of the all instrumental “Poor Old Frederick.” Find yourself singing out along with Taylor in “Send in the Clowns” … Isn’t it bliss? Don’t you approve? … before perhaps Googling Judi Collins’ rendition.

Other highlights include “Now Soon Later” and “Every Day a Little Death,” which has the cinema’s clickety-clack sound of a carriage ride and horse’s nays in the background. Sung by Diana Rigg and Lesley-Anne Down, with Rigg’s triumphant and rich resonance, it is so moving. A song that aches. Love’s disgusting and insane. A humiliating business. Oh, how true. Ah, well.

The newly-remastered CD is transferred from the original stereo masters, and includes liner notes by Sondheim archivist Peter E. Jones. The CD will be available through Arkiv Music on September 10, plus downloads through digital service providers the same day.

Lindsay B. Davis is an arts/culture journalist and theater artist. She resides in New York City. 

We Love You Broaday, Part II

February 11th, 2013 Comments off

As part of this week’s series of our favorite Broadway love songs, I turned to Broadway producer extraordinaire, Eva Price. Her Broadway producing credits include “Annie,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony” among others.

Our little secret: Eva’s got a soft spot for some of the best Broadway ballads as well as a couple of quirkier picks — a sure sign that she’s got an eye for what will be the next big hit. Here are some of her favorites…

“As Long As Your Mine,” Wicked
“This is a gorgeous, sexy, passionate song. Out of context it’s gritty and somewhat sexual. And then you stop and think, two people of two different races (essentially) who aren’t necessarily supposed to be together are so fused by desire that they are tearing each other’s clothes off, AND singing to each other. Totally beautiful!”

“Little Fall of Rain,” Les Miserables
“A totally heartbreaking moment. Unrequited love always gets me and this is a raw, real, and tragic ending to a love that will never be. Whoever sings this song (Broadway, West End, movie… even amateur productions that I’ve seen) blows my mind and breaks my heart with those killers voices and emotional delivery.”

http://youtu.be/_ROpEc7nywA

Take the jump for more of Eva’s picks…
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Bringing the Curtain Down on Act One

December 28th, 2012 Comments off

Photo by Lance Bellers

Is there anything better than a perfectly written and performed Act One closing number — that thrilling high that sends you off to intermission in a euphoric state of satisfaction mixed with anticipation?

Well, I don’t know if I can provide that kind of tingle (at least without buying you dinner first), but welcome to The Broadway Blog’s Act One closer.  After two years of planning and viewing and writing and hair pulling and tears and truly spectacular theater, today is my last day as editor of this blog. The bad news: I won’t be sharing my love of theater with you every day. The good news: I’m taking a step back so I can devote myself more fully to my own theater writing.

But never fear, this isn’t one of those new fangled, intermissionless shows designed for the ADD-generation; The Broadway Blog will return in the New Year for Act Two! And leading the kick-lines will be the deliciously talented Matthew Wexler as your new editor-in-chief.  I’ll still be around, too, adding my two cents as an ongoing contributor. In fact, I like to think this is just the fulfillment of the mission statement I shared on the first day: to capture that sense of family in the theater world with celebratory, fizzy, fun coverage. Just think of this as an expansion of our family and pull up another chair.

Before I “go” I want to say a big thank you to Robert & Don at Passport Magazine for supporting this crazy endeavor and being my biggest cheerleaders. Most importantly, thank you to my regular readers; it has been a pleasure raising a post-show Manhattan (top shelf, up and extra cherry, please) with you. Here’s to more unforgettable nights at the theater.

Now, on to the Act One closing numbers; I couldn’t choose just one favorite…

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There Is Nothing Like a Dame Judi Dench

November 5th, 2012 Comments off

"Cabaret" London 1968. Image via Google.

If I say Liza and Judy, something tells me you don’t think Dench. (Sing it, “It’s Judi with an i not Judy with a y…”)

But Ms. Minnelli and Dame Dench share a very direct connection. Judi Dench starred in the original 1968 West End production of Cabaret as Sally Bowles, the role that won Liza an Oscar in the film version. And now you can take a listen to that London recording when Masterworks Broadway releases the cast album November 13.

Oscar-winning Dame Judi Dench, she of the serious theatrical bent and period piece corsets, singing music theater?  It almost seems impossible until you look into her career and see how freely she steps across genre boarders. Plus, we may at times take her too seriously, but one senses in her interviews and some of her performances that she never does.

Want some proof, here are some great moments from the Dame’s career belting it out in tuners, including the title song from the newly released Cabaret CD…

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