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…
John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Patrick Wilson & Katie Holmes in "All My Sons". Photo by Joan Marcus.
Where do you go when you’ve just divorced your mega-star husband in a very public surprise split? Disneyland?
If you’re Katie Holmes, you’re going to Broadway. This fall, she’ll star in Dead Accounts, a new comedy from former Smash head-writer Theresa Rebeck, billed as the story of “corporate greed, small town values and whether or not your family will always welcome you back…with no questions asked.” Perhaps these themes resonated with Ms. Holmes?
The news got me thinking (which we know is a dangerous thing) about the stage careers of all the ex-Mrs. Cruise. And it turns out, they are no strangers to treading the boards, even on Broadway. Let’s take a closer look at the stats — and some amusing video…
Perhaps best known for her supporting performances in classic films such as All About Eve (alone worthy of immortality) and Gentlemen’s Agreement, she had a long and distinguished career on Broadway with more than twenty credits to her name — from William Saroyan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Time of Your Life in 1939 to I Hate Hamlet in 1991. She even stepped in as a replacement for heavy hitting divas Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I and Angela Lansbury in Mame.
Given that she often played a classy, witty woman of the world, it’s almost inconceivable to imagine that her breakthrough role was as the love-starved, countrified Ado Annie in the landmark original production of Oklahoma. But just listen to the original cast recording and you realize how indelible her performance was.
Here she is, from a film festival interview a few years ago, singing a bit of her signature song “I Cain’t Say No” at a film festival, still sassy and still playful with a lyric…
Liza Minnelli Live a the Winter Garden. Image via Google.
Drugs. Bad hips. Worse husbands. You just can’t keep Liza Minnelli down. Even her long lost albums have a way of making comebacks.
After almost 40 years out of circulation, Liza Minnelli Live at the Winter Garden will be available next week on April 3 (and via pre-order now, exclusively through Masterworks Broadway) for the first time on CD and digital download. The remastered recordings capture her January 1974 Broadway concerts and include classic songs like “I Can See Clearly Now” and “A Quiet Thing”. According to the press release, the album “was quickly released by Columbia Records in April , but had to be withdrawn from the market due to contractual conflicts over her performance of songs from the Cabaret film score, which were available on the then-current soundtrack album.”
Whatever else may be said about Liza, she’s a born entertainer, a talent that blazes through in her live recordings. Until you can get the album, want to see Liza in all her triple threat glory? Sit back and enjoy “Bye Bye Blackbird” from Liza with a Z. How many movie stars today could handle the complexity of this Bob Fosse choreography and do it with such joyful flair?
The Oscar-winning indie romance, about a Dublin busker and a Czech immigrant making sweet music together, strums its way onto Broadway in a musical adaptation from edgy theater artists Enda Walsh (Penelope), John Tiffany (Black Watch) and Steven Hoggett (Peter and the Starcatcher).
“…feels as vital and surprising as the early spring that has crept up on Manhattan.” New York Times
“The show wins its standing ovations the old-fashioned way: with a love story, great songs, compelling characters and inventive stagecraft.” New York Post
“Once is a small-scale but warmly affecting show, crafted with profound respect for the power of music.” Hollywood Reporter
“The only major problem with the show…is that it overstretches its material.” Los Angeles Times
“In many ways, in fact, this Once is better than the original Once.” Associated Press
Supporting the March 20 release of his new album Get Out, my imaginary boyfriend and double Tony-nominee Gavin Creel will perform two sold out concerts at Joe’s Pub March 19. For those of us who don’t have tickets (or who are barred from attending because of restraining orders), the wonders of modern technology will allow us to watch it all via livestream on the web, Monday night at 9:30.
Remember the Ricky Martin video where everyone is dancing around in a sexy deluge? Well, it was like that (except not so sexy, I assume) on the stage of Martin’s revival of Evitawhen a fire safety mechanism misfired and drenched the stage after the first preview Monday night. The Tuesday night and Wednesday matinee performances were canceled for clean-up and a rehearsal.
The New York Times reports that the rumored stage version of Once, the indie film hit about a busker making music and finding love on the streets of Dublin, will make its debut in November. However, instead of aiming for Broadway, producers have decided to open it in a small scale production at New York Theatre Workshop. I was nervous about this property being turned into a musical given that the film is a favorite; it contains one of the most effective and swoon-worthy depictions of making music ever filmed when the lead couple performs an impromptu duet on the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly”. So how would they possibly translate this quiet, wonderfully unassuming movie to the stage? Well, let us count the ways that the details of this announcement give me hope:
1. Just choosing to go with a small scale production says they’ve actually watched the movie. Once is about as intimate and “tiny” a story as one could imagine. A helicopter escape from Dublin or a chandelier dropping on the music shop are not necessary.
2. The irreplaceable composers (and stars) of the film, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, are writing the score. They’re real life relationship may not have worked out, but their musical collaboration is singularly successful (listen to songs from their second album performing as The Swell Season).
3. The rest of the team is an indie all-star list: book by Enda Walsh (Penelope), direction by John Tiffany (the riveting Black Watch) and choreography by Steven Hoggett (Peter and the Starcatcher). I love big Broadway shows, but this is one time I don’t want to see the creators of Hairspray on the poster.
4. The set is described as being “a lot of empty space” and “reflects our aesthetic of prizing simplicity and theatricality.” See #1. It sounds like they’re heading for Brief Encounter territory (last year’s simply lovely Tony nominated romance) and that sounds just about right.
After the jump, watch some scenes from the film version as you listen to the achingly perfect “Falling Slowly”.
What do you do after you’ve been nominate for your first Oscar and the world is at your feet? Head to Off-Broadway. Or at least that’s what Jessie Eisenberg (The Social Network) is doing this fall. He will star in his self-penned play Asuncion, produced by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater starting October 12.
We’re spanning the globe for some quick links and tidbits from the week in theater news:
Let’s start it out like a song with the announcement of New York City Center’s Encores! upcoming season, which includes the life-in-reverse Sondheim/Furth musical Merrily We Roll Along. It should be a must-see given that the show’s score is as tuneful and heartbreaking as anything Sondheim has ever produced.
Mark Rylance. Photo by Simon Annand.
You’ve got another chance to see the Holy Land…at least the theatrical kind. Producers announced that they are extending the run for Jerusalem, the invigoratingly epic new British play featuring an astonishing central turn by Mark Rylance. Tickets are now on sale through August 21.
Speaking of great performances, do you regret missing out on the divine Cate Blanchett in A Streetcar Named Desire? Learn your lesson and grab tickets for the Sydney Theater Company’s Uncle Vanya, starring the Oscar winner and making its only currently announced U.S. stop at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in August. Tickets go on sale June 1 for members and June 10 for the rest of us.
The Drama Desk Awards were handed out and the Book of Mormon, War Horse and Anything Goes juggernauts rolled on. Three surprises worth noting: Norbert Leo Butz took Outstanding Actor in a Musical for Catch Me If You Can, Bobby Cannavale (The Motherf—-er with the Hat) beat out the blockbuster competition for Outstanding Actor in a Play and a limited-run Off-Broadway show, See Rock City, shockingly took the prize for Outstanding Book of a Musical from those seemingly unstoppable Mormon boys.