'The Showtune Mosh Pit' for November 21st, 2012
THE LATEST IN UNAUTHORIZED GOSSIP AND BUZZ
FROM THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S SHOWTUNE VIDEO BARS,
AND MUSICAL THEATER NEWS FROM CHICAGO TO BROADWAY
by Paul W. Thompson
Overheard last weekend under the showtune
video screens at Sidetrack and The Call:
It’s a little more than a month away. Can you stand it? We’ve been eagerly awaiting this for a year now, if not for 27 years, and it’s almost here! I’m talking of course about the release of the film version of “Les Miserables,” arguably the most popular musical ever written and staged. And on Christmas Day, director Tom Hooper’s vision of Claude-Michel Schoenberg’s and Alain Boublil’s legendary version of Victor Hugo’s novel will finally hit big screens everywhere. For two more weeks, a well-received touring version of this show (not the original staging, but apparently a great one) is ensconced at our Cadillac Palace Theatre, and of course a theater-going and a movie-going experience are different. I say, enjoy both!
The chief buzz about this film is director Hooper’s decision to have all the actors sing live during every take of filming, singing to a piano accompaniment that was later replaced with an orchestra track. The results are raw, not pure, and visually connected to the sound in a way not usually experienced in a Hollywood musical. People seem thrilled by the trailers. And the cast itself is the second biggest buzz--Australian Tony winner Hugh Jackman and Australian Oscar winner Russell Crowe (vocal coached by Chicago’s Roberta Duchak, you remember) headline as Valjean and Javert, with the film world’s Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried as mother and daughter, film oddities Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the despicable Thenardiers, and the theater world’s Eddie Redmayne and Aaron Tveit as the young revolutionary heroes. London stage star Samantha Barks is Eponine the waif. Can you hear the people sing? Yes, you can. Or will, on December 25th.
Chicago’s legendary Music Box Theatre is offering a different kind of Hollywood movie musical experience this weekend, when the popular “Sing-a-long Sound Of Music” takes place on November 23, 24 and 25. “The Sound Of Music” is the most popular film musical ever made (so far!), starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and whole host of kids who became superstars to folks of my age (it came out the year I turned four). So go, and sing along! And there’s a costume contest, and who knows what else. “The Lonely Goatherd,” anyone? (Rhymes with “throat heard,” by the way.) Sounds like a blast!
Speaking of musicals with children, “Annie” has been revived on Broadway this fall, you know, with Tony winner Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan and Australian stage star Anthony Warlow finally debuting on Broadway as Daddy Warbucks. So? Well, our very own Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora is debuting its own production of the perennial pleaser tonight! I guess they had the rights secured before the Broadway production firmed itself up (like the Drury Lane Theatre did when they had “Ragtime” at the same time New York did). Ours will run through December 30, directed by Rachel Rockwell and starring young Caroline Heffernan in the title role. Christine Sherrill is Miss Hannigan, with Gene Weygandt as Daddy Warbucks and Maggie Portman as Lily St. Regis (like the Hotel!).