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SOUND OFF: GLEE En Espanol (With Ricky Martin!)SOUND OFF: GLEE En Espanol (With Ricky Martin!)
by Pat Cerasaro - February 8, 2012

Completing the Lima Sound Machine in a truly terrific way, Ricky Martin made his highly-awaited GLEE debut last night and the word on the tips of tongues wagging across the country today is undoubtedly duende. Dwarf, you say? No, not dwarf - to paraphrase the idea of the term, a passion for performance. That being the definition, no show currently on TV packs more duende into each and every minute than GLEE. A dramatic and musical marriage to beat the band and infusing the show with some spine-tingling spark and verve, Ricky Martin made his musical moments really matter. Both Ricky's cover of LMFAO's international smash hit, remixed and sung alongside none other than Madonna on Sunday night's Super Bowl, "Sexy And I Know It" - in a new bilingual iteration - and Madonna's own "La Isla Bonita", in a moving and exceedingly pleasing pairing with Season 3 standout Naya Rivera, allowed for Ricky Martin to make his musical mark on the GLEE universe in much the same way Neil Patrick Harris, Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Gwyneth Paltrow and many other featured guest stars have done in leaving indelible impressions that still linger in the memory. The Ian Brennan-penned "The Spanish Teacher" occasionally may have lapsed into Season Two variety show territory, but acted as an enlivening - and, eventually, surprisingly poignant - episode to occur at this point in the show's history. Will David Ramirez return to McKinley High to guest lecture a glee club rehearsal or two? We will have to stayed tuned to see - and hear - but, until then, this episode went a long way in furthering Sue's development as well as giving Finn and Kurt a welcome bonding scene. Beyond all that, though, Matt Morrison played a hard-to-swallow storyline about a non-Spanish speaking Spanish teacher with finesse and ease, letting Martin shine - or, should I say, twinkle. Like teeth - or stars - that is. (more...)
SOUND OFF: Get SMASH-edSOUND OFF: Get SMASH-ed
by Pat Cerasaro - February 7, 2012

Get SMASH-ed. Last night, NBC unveiled the most sparkling, dazzling jewel of many a TV season with the hotly anticipated debut of the new musical dramedy series SMASH. Hatched from an idea by mega-mogul Steven Spielberg and given life by playwright Theresa Rebeck, director Michael Mayer and songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, SMASH follows the journey of the auditioning actors and creative team of a new Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe from inception to final presentation on opening night and follows the highs and lows of making a hit show on the Great White Way. While I have only viewed the first four episodes, I can tell you that this show certainly knows where it is heading and heads will unquestionably turn with each new surprise and dramatic twist along the way - and that's to say nothing of the simply stupendous presentation of original songs by Shaiman & Wittman for the musical-within-the-show and spirited, inventive covers of pop hits, new and old, ranging from Adele to Blondie to Bruno Mars and beyond. In just the first four episodes alone, SMASH manages to pack more sheer entertainment value into its running time than virtually any other show on network TV - besides GLEE, that is. Ah, yes: GLEE. Comparisons will be made - and most critics have already made them - but, the truth of the matter really is that there is more than enough room on network TV for two music-themed shows that tell their story through song from time to time. After all, on SMASH, there are a lot dramatically justified reasons to break out into a song - or four. Plus, there's certainly a big enough audience out there to justify AMERICAN IDOL, THE VOICE, THE X FACTOR and AMERICA'S GOT TALENT - to name just the network reality competition shows focusing on performance-based entertainment - so why can't GLEE and SMASH happily co-exist on TV together? As SMASH shows, if there can be two Marilyns in a Marilyn Monroe musical, then anything is possible. The possibilities are as vast and numerous as the possible subjects for a new Broadway musical - endless. Endless, too, is the enjoyment and entertainment value SMASH potentially can provide for many more seasons to come. All that is needed, wanted and so desperately desired is an audience - so, let SMASH be your star. (more...)
SOUND OFF: America Luvs MadonnaSOUND OFF: America Luvs Madonna
by Pat Cerasaro - February 6, 2012

Epic Egyptian pageantry. Gold galore. Soldiers by the score. An entrance befitting of - and evoking - Cleopatra, set to the instantly recognizable strains of "Vogue", and the love affair began again. Between Madonna and America, that is. It has been a tumultuous and trying relationship, at times, but, at heart, Madonna represents the ultimate American dream of making a superstar of one's self - Michigan to Milan; pop starlet to mega-mogul; cheerleader to icon. Madonna's career has been up and down and she has certainly seen it all in her half century on this planet, but, last night, she showed the world all she was worth. And more. Throwback and cutting edge, some avant garde choreography and even a few stumbles on that indescribable, but nevertheless impressive, field-spanning LCD set. Then, in a spectacular column of smoke, she vanished. A ghost. Yes, indeed, Madonna made magic out of her Super Bowl main-stage chance to strut - and lip-sync - for all she is worth, and, gosh darn it, you gotta give it up for the Material girl. In carrying off something that could have been chaotically cacophonous and gruesomely calculated - and, more than not, it usually is in this instance on the international stage; good intentions, hype and Nipple-gate notwithstanding - came off as a genuine bid to do the biggest, best and most theatrical presentation on the Super Bowl yet - and, in that regard, Madonna was MVP. MDNA is the title of her new album - her 12th - and the lead single, "Give Me All Your Luvin'" - the first of a purported eighteen tracks - was given a spirited airing with the helpful aid of Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. LMFAO and Cee-lo Green guested, as well, but Madonna made her moment count in a truly memorable and thrilling way. "Vogue" through "Music" to the grand, million candlelit finale featuring the stirring "Like A Prayer", Madonna towed the line, but never crossed it to the detriment of the overall presentation - so often what happens to boundary pushing pop artists such as herself; she calls the shots, as she always does, and it came off as 100% Madonna, for better and best. While she may have had her crass moments over the course of her incredible career, Madonna's Super Bowl performance was all a fan or a viewer could ask for as far as cutting-edge spectacle and stage effects go - plus, those tunes are some of the most classic pop songs of the last century. Madonna managed to move from ancient Egyptian to futuristic alien with aplomp and never break a sweat. A bit robotic, sure. Was she nervous? Obviously. But, she made it work - and work it she did. Best Super Bowl Half Time Show ever? Best Super Bowl Half Time Show Ever. Madonna shows us all how it's done - lip-synced or not. Music really does bring the people together - especially over Madonna. (more...)
SOUND OFF: OMJ/OMGLEE - The Michael EpisodeSOUND OFF: OMJ/OMGLEE - The Michael Episode
by Pat Cerasaro - February 1, 2012

"I don't want to see the spectacle that is Michael, I want to be the spectacle." And so goes the motto of GLEE giving Michael Jackson his musical due. Much like MJ brought together the worlds or pop and R&B and broke down racial barriers through his music and message, GLEE set the stage by placing our favorite gleeks in a battle with the Warblers - not unlike the Sharks vs. Jets of the recent WEST SIDE STORY tribute. And it was quite a sight to see - and hear. Like the memorable Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Fleetwood Mac tributes before it, last night's "Michael" episode of GLEE was the realization of a life-long dream for many gleeks in the audience and the epic convergence of two pop culture dynasties. Series creator and show musical sequence mastermind Ryan Murphy penned the episode himself and the razor sharp dialogue was as biting and bizarre as always - in a good way. A very good way. And, the musical numbers? Even better. Filled with fun facts relating to the man in the mirror being honored and with more musical numbers than one could envision even fitting into an hour of network TV with story, too - and what plot developments - once again, GLEE made us remember that this is our very own spot in the entertainment universe, right at corner of Hollywood and Broadway. The joy that standing on that corner can make us all feel through sheer osmosis is transcendentally exciting, and, even more than that, exquisitely exciting. My, oh my - how we have missed thee, GLEE! True, it's only been a few weeks, but Season Three has been so consistently strong as to make each and every episode unmissable thus far and each pause positively interminable. After all, in just the last episode alone we were left with three marriage proposals! No more scattershot scenarios ala Season Two or heavy focus on the adults like Season One, Season Three is all about the cast of characters that comprise New Directions - and, Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, thank goodness that is the main subject being taught at McKinley High this semester. "Bad" to "Ben" to "Black Or White"; "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and "Smooth Criminal", "Scream" and more, GLEE's MJ tribute was a true OMGLEE moment. (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE Gets GREASE-y (With Helen Mirren!)SOUND OFF: GLEE Gets GREASE-y (With Helen Mirren!)
by Pat Cerasaro - January 18, 2012

Showcasing six of the show's strongest supporting performers in a vast array of arresting ways in the first ten minutes was merely one of a myriad in the embarrassment of riches on view as GLEE roared its way back after a multi-week Winter hiatus last night. From GREASE done grandly and giving Amber Riley and Chord Overstreet a duet to linger in the memory - "Summer Nights" - to Helen Mirren's unexpected and unquestionably brilliant narration for Becky (Lauren Potter), and, the piece de resistance: Jayma Mays backed up by Jane Lynch and Dot Jones on the Laura Nyro-penned Fifth Dimension stoned-soul classic "Wedding Bell Blues" - ingeniously accredited to "Will!" in this iteration. While the opening sequence of the show packed a wallop and stood as clear evidence that at this stage in Season 3 GLEE is far from treading water and very well may be the most polished and smooth and consistent it has been since the first episodes of Season 1 (and even then). Matt Morrison and Kevin McHale - backed up by Harry Shum, Jr. and the boys of New Directions - strutted out the recent Maroon 5/Christina Aguilera hit "Moves Like Jagger" in a mash-up with the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash" with sleek stylishness to spare and some ferociously fierce moves. REAL HOUSEWIVES reality star Nene Leakes as the synchronized swimming coach certainly made a strong first impression in her over-the-top and hilarious characterization of a, well, over-the-top and hilariously-written character (Sue Sylvester better watch out for her). Speaking of strong writing, co-creator Brad Falchuk wrote the 'Yes/No' episode and it was directed by a helmer of many of the show's best in previous season - an actor in his own right - Eric Stolz. Three knockout musical numbers in the first fifteen minutes in addition to the two aforementioned cameos was only the start of an episode evidencing the most consistently entertaining show on TV in top form as we head into the meaty middle of GLEE Season 3. Three proposals in, and all signs point to 'Yes' for GLEE in Season 3 - let us hope Rachel follows suit in her response to Finn when the show returns in two weeks with the highly-touted Michael Jackson tribute episode. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Justin Sayre & THE MEETINGSOUND OFF Special Interview: Justin Sayre & THE MEETING
by Pat Cerasaro - January 17, 2012

Today we are talking to the cultural raconteur, inimitable political commentator and monologue artist Justin Sayre all about the 2012 edition of his solo show THE MEETING, a gathering of the I.O.S. (International Order Of Sodomites), which returns to The Duplex on Thursday, January 19 at 9:30 PM for a spotlight show dedicated to the one and only Dolly Parton. Much like a modern-day Quentin Crisp (who Sayre has saluted in past engagements), Sayre's erudite wit and idiosyncratic views on society have made him one of the hottest names in the downtown experimental theatre scene and in this all-encompassing conversation we discuss his many influences - ranging from Sandra Bernhard to fellow InDepth InterView participant Margaret Cho to Lenny Bruce, Jack Benny, George Carlin and beyond - as well as what we can expect from the upcoming shows in this, THE MEETING's third successful year onstage. Additionally, Sayre shares his views on many of the GLBT issues of today and generously defines camp as he sees it - and his "supernatural instinct" for it - as well as gives us a taste of the utterly unique performance style he employs in his shows that is unmistakably all his own. Plus, Justin's takes on the Kardashians, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF SPECIAL AWARDS SHOW SPOTLIGHT: GOLDEN GLOBES 2012SOUND OFF SPECIAL AWARDS SHOW SPOTLIGHT: GOLDEN GLOBES 2012
by Pat Cerasaro - January 16, 2012

Meryl Streep Got Bleeped. So goes the 2012 GOLDEN GLOBES broadcast and its destined subtitle for all time. A gallon of gaffes and a ton of risque fun made the night more memorable for its moments of awkwardness amidst technical tomfoolery, and, the many, many surprises in the winning categories, to make it an award show worth watching - but, at what cost? THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDENTS and Harvey Weinstein productions in general were the cause celebre of the entire affair, all things considered, with everything from MY WEEK WITH MARILYN's Michelle Williams and THE IRON LADY's Meryl Streep to Madonna's W.E. taking home gold. Showtime's HOMELAND took many of the top wins in the TV categories, though some truly sensational and exceedingly superb fan-favorites got their due, too - AMERICAN HORROR STORY's Jessica Lange and GAME OF THRONES's Peter Dinklage both received their rightful trophies for their exceptional work on two of the finest dramas on television (both nominated, but unfortunately losing out to Showtime's tense war drama HOMELAND). Laura Dern's effervescent showing on Showtime's ENLIGHTENED and Kelsey Grammer's brusque and brilliant BOSS also unexpectedly ruffled some probably prognosticator's feathers, as well, with their wins. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese were saluted for THE ADVENTURES OF TIN TIN and HUGO, respectively, showing clear evidence of not one but two long-standing titans of Hollywood remaining at the top of their field for decades with no foreseeable end in sight. While warm-heartedness was sporadic and spicier, spacier fare was more the special of the day, there was plenty of delectable dessert - a gold-flecked tart, let's say - to go around. (more...)
SOUND OFF 2011 Year-End Round-Up: Toasts To The MostsSOUND OFF 2011 Year-End Round-Up: Toasts To The Mosts
by Pat Cerasaro - December 31, 2011

Today we are taking a look at the very best theatre-related entities in a variety of different categories - books, music, television, film, and, of course, theatre - as we look back on 2011 and all of the many marvelous moments of excitement, passion, joy and exultation that only theatre and theatre-related projects can possibly hope to provide. From Stephen Sondheim's LOOK, I MADE A HAT on the bookshelves of every Broadway baby worth their weight in sequins to Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone in Sondheim's COMPANY on the big screen courtesy of Fathom to the stunning Broadway revival of FOLLIES starring Bernadette Peters and its tremendous new cast album, all the way to the thrills and chills of Andrew Lloyd Webber's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA LIVE AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL on the big screen and Blu-ray to the BOOK OF MORMON breaking Broadway records and even TV's best drama and comedy, both from mastermind Ryan Murphy - GLEE and AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Plus, we also have top film picks in the categories of Drama and Comedy, as well as the best of the best of them all, with Lars Von Trier's apocalyptic masterpiece MELANCHOLIA, George Clooney's play adaptation THE IDES OF MARCH and the 80s music video stylized thriller/drama DRIVE topping the list. All of that and a whole lot more awaits in this all-encompassing look back at the theatrical highlights in all entertainment realms in 2011, as well as a look ahead to what we cannot wait for in 2012! (more...)
Special SOUND OFF Interview: Sierra Boggess Talks REBECCA, PHANTOM & Christmas!Special SOUND OFF Interview: Sierra Boggess Talks REBECCA, PHANTOM & Christmas!
by Pat Cerasaro - December 25, 2011

Today, as a well-earned holiday surprise for all of the millions of Broadway babies who read Broadway World all year long, we have a sneak preview of next year's upcoming InDepth InterView with leading lady stage superstar Sierra Boggess, best known to Broadway and West End audiences for her creation of the title role in THE LITTLE MERMAID, as well as originating the role of Christine in both PHANTOM VEGAS - the Las Vegas iteration of the international sensation THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, directed by original helmer Hal Prince - and LOVE NEVER DIES, the recent Andrew Lloyd Webber-penned musical sequel to the original thriller/romance tuner, as well as her most recent essaying of the role in the absolutely phantastic 25th anniversary production THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, which will be released on Blu-ray and DVD in the US in 2012. Before we get to all about PHANTOM 25 - lest we forget, Ms. Boggess was also generous enough to tell us all about the show when it was still in rehearsals (you can read that chat here) - Boggess shares her affection for another recent InDepth InterView participant who shared the stage with her at the thrilling encore for PHANTOM 25 - the one and only Phantom of legend himself, Michael Crawford, as well as all about her participation in the yearly ASTEP charity concert CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK CITY and the cast recording of it featuring herself along with Raul Esparza, Andy Karl, Orfeh, Constantine Maroulis and many more! Plus, insight into her preparations for her next Broadway role, that of Rebecca in the lavish stage spectacular REBECCA and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Edition: 2011 Giving Gifts GuideSOUND OFF Special Edition: 2011 Giving Gifts Guide
by Pat Cerasaro - December 21, 2011

For all those silver and golden Broadway babies, young and green gleeks and plain old all-around entertainment enthusiasts of any age on your holiday shopping lists this year, today we have a SOUND OFF Special Edition 2011 Giving Gifts Guide sure to fulfill the wants, wishes, dreams and desires of your nearest and dearest theatre-loving family and friends with a white and red spotlight on the absolute essential must-haves for this holiday season! Among the festivities: we have GLEE taking on Joni Mitchell and Elvis; two charity albums benefiting arts-related causes and featuring Broadway's best; the most spectacular production of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA you are ever likely to see; candles coming in the six scents from THE SOUND OF MUSIC's beloved "My Favorite Things"; and, of course, Sondheim's massive new tome of the lyrics from the second act of his career - "with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes and Miscellany," no less - topping the list at #1! Plus, the most important gift of all! (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE's Blue, Starry ChristmasSOUND OFF: GLEE's Blue, Starry Christmas
by Pat Cerasaro - December 14, 2011

A television staple since the very beginnings of the format, the Christmas episode is a tried and true trope of TV this time of year and no show promises more hatfuls of holiday cheer and buckets of glee more than, well, GLEE does - and, last night, on the seasonally-themed "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" (titled after one of the two new original songs penned for the episode), GLEE was a cool, neon blue star in the oft-midnight black galaxy - one far, far away, evidently; especially given the Chewbacca cameo and STAR WARS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL nods - of network TV today (or ever, for that matter). Capturing the copious charm of the cast and commonalities of the holidays among us all, the Matthew Morrison-directed Christmas special was a jolly Santa, his decked-out sleigh and all the merry reindeer to go along with them. Positively overflowing with song selections from the simply spectacular GLEE: CHRISTMAS VOLUME 2 - available now - last night's GLEE was not only a holiday music lover's and gleek's dream, but it also came with a maraschino cherry on top for the Broadway babies among us - THE SOUND OF Music's "My Favorite Things"; sung in Summer in the famous Rodgers & Hammerstein show and Robert Wise film version, the song has nevertheless become widely associated with the season due in no small part to Barbra Streisand's unforgettable inclusion of it on her peerless 1967 classic, A CHRISTMAS ALBUM. "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" also gave Sue Sylvester some room to exact her ongoing revenge - and redemption - while the rest of the episode contained a multitude of New Directions-centric plot developments, surprises and, of course, seriously Santa-friendly musical numbers - all, fascinatingly enough, with an all-inclusive (and, even, religion-friendly; in Rory's nativity story scene) style. Not that Judy Garland's Christmas classic special wasn't paid as much homage as Santa and the baby Jesus were - as we should always expect from GLEE - because it was. More on that in a moment. So much to discuss! (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE's Sectionals Champs!SOUND OFF: GLEE's Sectionals Champs!
by Pat Cerasaro - December 7, 2011

The long-awaited return of Trouty Mouth himself - Chord Overstreet; singing Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup", no less - was only the beginning of the big moves and even bigger events of last night's epic GLEE "Sectionals" episode. Yes, this year's sectionals competition certainly spelled a vast departure from less successful years' past and seeing and hearing New Directions taking on the vaunted catalog of Michael Jackson was the convergence of two true blue pop culture institutions coming together and making musical magic at long, long last - from "ABC" to "Man In The Mirror". Michael's sister Janet got her hotly anticipated GLEE treatment, as well, in the form of a syncopated and spirited "Control", during the stylishly executed Jackson tribute sequence. For the Broadway babies amongst the gleeks, we also were treated to an EVITA homage from Ohio's rival glee group, the Unitards, led by GLEE PROJECT's Lindsay Pearce. In addition to Finn and Rachel's discovery of White Chocolate (aka Sam) making ends meet as a stripper - as well as their subsequent reclaiming of him back to McKinley High and to the ranks of New Directions - "Sectionals" proved to be a strong and satisfying end to the journey of Season Three: Part 1 and next week's Christmas episode seems poised to provide ample entertainment value over the rushed tying up of loose dramatic ends as the series prepares to go on a brief hiatus until February. "Sectionals" displayed the continued rise to prominence - musical, dramatic and otherwise - of some featured players to the top of the star ranks and afforded Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss in particular with some delectable dramatic and musical moments - providing a distinct parallel to off-stage/off-show realities; Criss having become the biggest GLEE breakout star of all in a very short span of time - with Harry Shum, Jr. and Jenna Ushkowitz given solo moments to shine, as well. So, too, did Dianna Agron get her dramatic due at long last and her bumpy and grumpy story arc for Season 3 seems to be finding its footing and justification in the overall themes of the consistently strong season - her particularly well-delivered and delicately measured scene with Idina Menzel's Shelby (the adoptive mother to Quinn and Puck's baby, Beth) being a dramatic highlight of the season so far. So, too, was Finn and Blaine's scene in the gym an understated and sensitive reading of this episode's particularly smart and sharp script. Lea Michele continues to get short shrift in the musical department, but her leading of Fun.'s "We Are Young" was a welcome reminder of her golden instrument. So, while there were definitely many dramatic moments to remember in "Sectionals", the music - as always and forever - was the central delight and the payoff of the pairing of GLEE and the music of Michael Jackson (and Janet) was generally well worth the wait. (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE Kissed A Girl & I Liked ItSOUND OFF: GLEE Kissed A Girl & I Liked It
by Pat Cerasaro - November 30, 2011

Having already broken down barriers in Season Three insofar as the depiction of gay teenage romance in concerned, last night on GLEE Ryan Murphy and company addressed lesbianism and its similarly taboo place in society - both in school and out. Brave and daring, GLEE's "I Kissed A Girl" episode surely opened up the doors to closets and more open conversations pertaining to human sexuality, yet it also painted a complex and all-too-real picture of the challenges facing teens of any and all sexual persuasions and how challenging it really is to be a teenager at the edge of seventeen in 2011. On the musical side, last night's show boasted an eclectic assortment of Sapphic-themed songs to go along with the dramatic content, such as Dolly Parton's "Jolene", Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One", KD Lang's "Constant Craving" and Katy Perry's recent hit "I Kissed A Girl". With Pink's "F-ing Perfect" given the duet treatment courtesy of Kurt and Blaine and a stripped-down, male-sung version of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" rounding out the seriously stupendous songstack, it was a night to remember for many more reasons than merely oh-so-fabulously spilled slushies and touching coming out stories - the music really, truly acted as an elemental ingredient; even more than usual. So, too, did Naya Rivera's seriously fine acting throughout make her turn as Santana this season a truly Golden Globe and Emmy-worthy performance - not unlike how Kurt's complex coming out story rightfully acted as award bait for Chris Colfer in seasons past. So, for all of that - and to recount the stunning "Constant Craving" and all of the rest of the superb musical sequences; as well as all about Rachel's surprising expulsion from McKinley High right when Sectionals are quickly approaching - read on. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Edition: A Ken Russell RetrospectiveSOUND OFF Special Edition: A Ken Russell Retrospective
by Pat Cerasaro - November 28, 2011

Champagne. Soap bubbles. Baked beans. Melted bon-bons. Four images - all part and parcel of perhaps the most famous scene he ever committed to celluloid (which, in this instance, is definitely saying something grand) - that seemingly conjure up so much of the universe of peerless British stage and film director Ken Russell. With or without Ann-Margret in a white leather cat-suit, Russell's TOMMY is one of the most unique and enduring movie musicals of the later half of the twentieth century and his other music-based films provide a plethora of information and insight (not all of it factual and much of it often quite admittedly wrongheaded) - so, for those alone, Russell is due much praise as far as theatre fans are concerned. Yet, with WOMEN IN LOVE, Russell mastered a quite different milieu - that of Victorian sexual politics - and brought the leading lady of that picture to both an Oscar nomination (which Ann-Margret also received for TOMMY) and a win; Glenda Jackson - a frequent Russell collaborator - taking top honors for her work. Look no further than Russell's adaptation of SALOME - or even Jackson's cameo in THE BOY FRIEND - for more of their palpable, playful, endlessly enjoyable onscreen rapport. So, too, did Russell give Kathleen Turner and Theresa Russell the roles of their careers with CRIMES OF PASSION and WHORE, respectively, and that's to say nothing of his long-standing and loving actor-director relationship with Oliver Reed, whose best work resides in Russell's still-banned Catholicism and exorcism consideration, THE DEVILS. Both an actor's director and a director's director, Russell was always passionately committed to his vision for the potential property and that was both a gift and a curse. The eccentricities and excesses may be overwhelming for some, but over the course of his fifty-year career, Ken Russell broke down barriers and created films that we may enjoy, analyze, debate and cherish for many decades to come. (more...)
SOUND OFF Interview: Sandi Patty & BROADWAY STORIESSOUND OFF Interview: Sandi Patty & BROADWAY STORIES
by Pat Cerasaro - November 24, 2011

Today we are talking to a five-time Grammy Award winning recording artist and concert star who is perhaps best known for her nearly forty albums - most in the gospel genre - but who soon will be taking on the titanic title role in a starry regional production of Jerry Herman's classic musical HELLO, DOLLY! - co-starring Tony-winner Gary Beach, no less - the cheery and incredibly talented Sandi Patty. In addition to discussing all aspects of her fantastic new musical theatre-influenced album BROADWAY STORIES - with tunes from THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE MUSIC MAN, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, LES MIZ, and the film version of HELLO, DOLLY!, among others - we also discuss her recent concert collaboration with Michael Feinstein and what we can expect from her upcoming dates throughout the rest of 2011. Also, we analyze the performances of some of the great Broadway vocalists - Barbra Streisand, Dame Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and more included! Plus, she even shares her experiences working for a decade on the Christmas spectacular YULETIDE! in Indianapolis, as well as some of the songs she would like to have a chance to perform in the future and special concert material - and much, much more. (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE's Mash-Up Mash-OffSOUND OFF: GLEE's Mash-Up Mash-Off
by Pat Cerasaro - November 16, 2011

The fine art of the mash-up has been a hallowed tradition that has been explored to a significant extent on GLEE since the very beginning, so a night filled with only such two-stack tracks would seem to be the ideal way to celebrate the show's 300th musical performance to date, which came in last night's "Mash-Off" episode. The mash-ups blasted off in a grand manner and the carefully-constructed couplings were often quite brilliant twists on the sounds of the original singles - the spectacular 300th performance showcase of Adele's "Rumor Has It' and "Someone Like You" acting as the musical apotheosis of the evening. Mixing disparate elements from the incredibly diverse musical catalogs of Adele, Lady Gaga, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Van Halen, Eddie Rabbit and Crystal Gayle, "Mash-Off" managed to shine a light on the couples singing the musical mergings, as well as provide the high entertainment value implicit in any episode so far on the resoundingly strong third season of GLEE. (more...)
SOUND OFF: WEST SIDE STORY On Blu-ray - Pow!SOUND OFF: WEST SIDE STORY On Blu-ray - Pow!
by Pat Cerasaro - November 13, 2011

WEST SIDE STORY is definitely back in a big way - in the last two weeks alone it has had its very own tribute episode on GLEE featuring four of the show's most famous songs, and, also, Fathom re-released the new HD remastering of the film in movie theaters nationwide for a one-night-only showing - so, given its 50th anniversary, the time has definitely come to pay tribute to one of the finest American movie musicals ever manufactured, which itself was based on one of the most innovative, controversial and progressive Broadway shows in history. From "A Boy Like That" to "Tonight" to "Somewhere" and beyond, this is a score that has enraptured two or three entire generations - with very, very good reason; these songs are simply musical and lyrical magic. Truly, this is as good as musical theatre gets, and, furthermore, the 1960 film version by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise is just as good. The combination of the two? Transcendent. No, never before has WEST SIDE STORY presented the power, potency, prescience and put forth the plosive overall "pow!" to the system - heart, mind and body - than it does, here, now, on the absolutely sensational new 3-disc 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition, which will be released on Tuesday. I was lucky enough to get a copy early and I was simply blown away in every single imaginable way. A red, hot and blue all-American movie masterpiece given its full, magnificent, ecstatic due on Blu-ray. Be prepared to be blown away. Bam! (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE Makes WEST SIDE STORYSOUND OFF: GLEE Makes WEST SIDE STORY
by Pat Cerasaro - November 9, 2011

The potential prospect of the entertainment behemoth known as GLEE taking on perhaps the finest American musical ever written - WEST SIDE STORY - is enough to make any Broadway baby near-exultant, yet when the songs of the classic Bernstein/Sondheim score then are allowed to act as all-too-apt musical commentary on risque dramatic content in the highly controversial episode itself - all-too-appropriately named "The First Time" - a cataclysmic consequence can almost be counted on to inevitably arise. And, it did. Again. And again. And again - all night long. While it may have very well been Kurt, Rachel and Blaine's first roll in the hay, it would be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack to find much - if any - fault whatsoever with GLEE's button-pushing and excellently played tribute to Tony and Maria. Given what resulted from the doomed coupling of those Shakespeareans - Tony and Maria being more modern-day answers to Romeo and Juliet, of course - the ire of all the up-in-arms conservative helicopter parents in the country - and Capulets and Montagues, too, for that matter - could not even dare to try and contain the joy, excitement and sheer pleasure of what is undoubtedly one of GLEE's finest hours to date. There was a message or two to be learned, too. Yes, indeed, GLEE taking on WEST SIDE STORY went all the way - and then some. So, whether you are a Jet or Shark, you must be compelled to give it up for GLEE and its ode to WEST SIDE STORY. (more...)
SOUND OFF Special Interview: Michael Patrick WalkerSOUND OFF Special Interview: Michael Patrick Walker
by Pat Cerasaro - November 5, 2011

Today we are talking to the songwriter responsible for the new collection of songs culled from his many musical theatre ventures, both new and old - oh-so-appropriately titled OUT OF CONTEXT - who perhaps is best known to Broadway babies as the composer/lyricist of the mid-00s Off-Broadway smash boy-band spoof musical ALTAR BOYZ - the versatile and fiercely committed Michael Patrick Walker. Talking all aspects of OUT OF CONTEXT - including working with the tremendous talent featured on the multi-faceted and highly entertaining album (many of whom are also InDepth InterView participants themselves), such as Cheyenne Jackson, Kelli O'Hara, Lisa Howard and many more - as well as describing the shows from whence these songs derived (such as THE DISTANT BELLS, which recently was work-shopped starring Chita Rivera and Ana Gasteyer, among others) Walker and I attempt to paint a picture of the career of a rising star composer such as himself and what we can look forward to from him in the future, near and far - and, of course, what is in the ether for the release party performance concert at Birdland on Monday night featuring Ann Harada, Lauren Kennedy, Peter Friedman, Kenita Miller, John Tartaglia, Julie Foldesi, Noah Galvin, Andy Karl, Tyler Maynard, Andy Mientus, Jim Stanek and Betsy Wolfe. Additionally, he shares his experiences working on screen-to-stage adaptations of KINKY BOOTS and SOAPDISH, as well as shares news of his upcoming musical with Rick Ellis of JERSEY BOYS fame and the Rockettes musical number that will be premiering this season at the annual Radio City Music Hall Christmas spectacular. Plus, we also discuss his compositional and lyrical inspirations, favorite scores and composers, thoughts on GLEE and much, much more! (more...)
SOUND OFF: GLEE Gets Two Of Its Own Pots O' GoldSOUND OFF: GLEE Gets Two Of Its Own Pots O' Gold
by Pat Cerasaro - November 2, 2011

Coming after a nearly month-long mini-hiatus following the superb "Asian F" in early October, the gleeks of McKinley High on GLEE swept back onto the main stage last night with the hotly anticipated "Pot O' Gold" episode, which introduced new recurring cast members and THE GLEE PROJECT co-winner, Damian McGinty in the tailor-made role of sassy and offensive Rory Flanagan. While McGinty proved to be a winning addition to the roundly respectable line-up of GLEE Season Three, once again the musical performance highlight of the night goes to new GLEE regular Darren Criss - alongside show standout Lea Michele and the rest of the glee club - and their electrifying take on Katy Perry's campy anthem "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)". Much like with Lea Michele's emotionally shattering "Firework", once again a Katy Perry anthem has been rendered even better than the huge hit original by the gleeks of GLEE. Also, "Pot O' Gold" - directed by HAIRSPRAY movie musical helmer Adam Shankman - continued the season-long character arc of Tony-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel, in the role of rival McKinley glee club director Shelby Corcoran, and further developed her complex relationship with Quinn and Puck, played by sensitive Dianna Agron and imposingly forceful Mark Salling - the latter of whom contributed an emotionally charged and displayed his rarely seen softer side with his sensitive rendering of the 80s Foreigner power ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You". McGinty's two selections - Teddy Thompson's "Take Care Of Yourself" and Kermit The Frog's "Bein' Green" - were relatively lucky and charmed introductions to the foreign exchange student character. Additionally, Mercedes, Santana and Brittany also got a Christina Aguilera/BURLESQUE-esque moment in the spotlight with their sweet and sexy "Candyman" (written by Linda Perry) as the newly formed girl-group The Troubletones. So, as for the rest of "Pot O' Gold" and how the songs stacked up in their dramatic context - as well as virtually everything else? Read on! The rainbow certainly ends with a shiny, gleaming pot o' gold - and maybe a leprechaun or two to love, too! Thank goodness it's Tuesday (or was) - and thank St. Patrick it's GLEE! After all, we've been waiting for a GLEE like this all October! (more...)
SOUND OFF: Halloween 2011: Theatre Of The DamnedSOUND OFF: Halloween 2011: Theatre Of The Damned
by Pat Cerasaro - October 31, 2011

Since the spookiest and scariest of seasons is aggressively upon us, now is the perfect time to take a look at some selected clips from the most theatrical and horrifying of Halloween treats available to view on YouTube and beyond - especially these six specially-chosen, seriously spooktacular entities! While SILENCE OF THE LAMBS has recently given birth to some new mutton in the form of the Off-Broadway camp spoof musical SILENCE! starring Brent Barrett, there are some surprisingly effective and engrossing horror-themed musicals on our list, as well - REEFER MADNESS: THE MOVIE MUSICAL and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW included - but, also, some theatrically-themed flights of fearsome fancy - such as Dario Argento's OPERA and Darren Aronofsky's BLACK SWAN. Also, we have a historic classic helmed by the director of two of the most beloved movie musicals of all time - WEST SIDE STORY and THE SOUND OF MUSIC - Robert Wise and his original black and white horror-fest, THE HAUNTING - and a look at a modern-day master from the other side of the planet, Japan's Takashi Miike and his banned-from-American-broadcast IMPRINT. Julie Harris to Kristen Bell, Tim Curry to Alan Cumming, Ana Gasteyer to Natalie Portman - this Halloween countdown is definitely one that is all treats and no tricks! Well, maybe just one… (more...)
SOUND OFF: New Blu-ray Round-up: Two From Tarantino & Three Halloween TreatsSOUND OFF: New Blu-ray Round-up: Two From Tarantino & Three Halloween Treats
by Pat Cerasaro - October 9, 2011

Today we have a super-special DVD and Blu-ray overview as we take a look at and listen to five brand new Blu-rays hitting the shelves in October, including two stunning Blu-ray debuts of two of Quentin Tarantino's seminal 90s films - PULP FICTION and JACKIE BROWN. While Tarantino won his only Oscar to date for his screenwriting work on PULP - a credit he shared with co-storywriter Roger Avery - it is his studied, mature and delicate directorial work on JACKIE BROWN that won over many film fans who may have found a bit too much flash, pop, sizzle and razzmatazz in the packed-to-the-gills PULP. Although, if all the Tarantino tough guy talk and off-the-wall soundtrack selections are not quite your speed, we also have three early Halloween selections sure to send some shivers up your spine, with MANHUNTER, HANNIBAL and the recent remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. While MANHUNTER was the movie-going public's first glimpse of what became the most beloved movie villain of all-time - the cannibalistic genius himself, Hannibal Lector - it was in a very different, completely different guise: noted stage and screen actor Brian Cox plays the role that eventually was made famous (and Oscar-winning) by Anthony Hopkins in the second film of the Hannibal Lector series, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (by Jonathan Demme), just a few short years after Michael Mann's treatment of the original Thomas Harris novel, RED DRAGON. Of course, RED DRAGON was also made into a movie of the same name recently, directed by Brett Ratner and featuring an all-star cast comprising Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ralph Fiennes, Mary Louise Parker, Ed Norton, Harvey Keitel and many more. While many film fans certainly cite SILENCE as the finest Lector film - and it very well may be - my personal bias is for Ridley Scott's daring and gruesome 1999 hit, HANNIBAL, starring Hopkins alongside Julianne Moore in the role of Clarice Starling (made famous by Jodie Foster, who passed on the ultra-violent script), which is also finally getting the Blu-ray upgrade along with Mann's MANHUNTER. Then, there is the witty and disturbing remaining of one of the most scandalous and prurient torture porn films ever made - created long before that term was ever coined; in the age of Eli Roth and the SAW series - Wes Craven's harrowing horror revenge tale, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Recent PROMISES, PROMISES on Broadway star Tony Goldwyn was a recent InDepth InterView participant and told me about how pleased he was with this remake and while it does not have the seedy voyeuristic bent of the original, it makes an impact in a new and equally entertaining way. Whether checking out one or all of these superb new Blu-ray releases you are assured a memorable movie experience, just as the temperatures begin to cool and you yearn for nights of warmth inside away from the elements. (more...)
SOUND OFF SPECIAL: Revivals Galore! A Retrospective With FUNNY GIRL, SUPERSTAR, GODSPELL, EVITA, ON A CLEAR DAY & PORGY & BESSSOUND OFF SPECIAL: Revivals Galore! A Retrospective With FUNNY GIRL, SUPERSTAR, GODSPELL, EVITA, ON A CLEAR DAY & PORGY & BESS
by Pat Cerasaro - October 8, 2011

Today, in an extension of the FLASH FRIDAY column, we are sharpening our focus on the six upcoming revivals of musicals that are soon to hit the boards in the next few months (post-FOLLIES) and battle it out for the Best Revival as the Broadway season heats up just when the weather begins to cool: the classic Jule Styne/Bob Merrill musical that originally starred that star-of-stars, Barbra Streisand - FUNNY GIRL; the groundbreaking rock opera that rewrote the theatrical rulebook thanks to young creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice - JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR; the hippie, flower child take on the Christ story covering some similar Biblical ground to that of SUPERSTAR, with this one being the composing debut of WICKED songwriter Stephen Schwartz - GODSPELL; another Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice collaboration that won seven Tony Awards and acted as the vehicle for Patti LuPone's blazing Broadway debut in a starring role - EVITA; the significantly reworked, revised and rewritten new version of the beautifully scored time-travel musical by Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner, this time starring a male movie star crooner - ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER; and, the landmark American opera composed by the Gershwins with DuBose Haywerd - PORGY & BESS. While each and every one of these entities has a huge hit song or two that nearly everyone on the planet knows by heart - "Don't Rain On My Parade", "I Don't Know How To Love Him", "Day By Day", "Don't Cry For Me Argentina", "On A Clear Day…" and 'Summertime' included - each of these revivals also comes after a film version (or two) that, in more than a few of these cases, will be relatively difficult to top as far as expectations of many audience members undoubtedly will go. So, by taking a listen to the smash hit crossover songs from these musicals as well as looking at their respective film version's trailers - as well as a couple of surprises, too - perhaps we can glean some insight into what makes these generally pretty terrific properties so well worth reviving on Broadway, here, now, today, in 2011. Furthermore, all of this crystal ball commentary is not even taking into account the starry assortment of performers that have already been announced for these productions so far - especially with FUNNY GIRL's Lauren Ambrose and Bobby Cannavale, GODSPELL's Hunter Parrish, SUPERSTAR's lauded Josh Young, EVITA's Ricky Martin and Michael Cerveris, PORGY's Norm Lewis and Audra McDonald, as well as the leading man in what was once a leading lady's role (that of Barbara Harris) in ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, Harry Connick, Jr.! What a tight race it is turning out to be for these new productions, particularly come Tony time in June! With rock to rhumba and borscht belt comedy to messianic hosannas and even full-out opera, seemingly every conceivable customer base is more than covered by this packed, potentially, well, awesome, season of shows - and many Broadway babies around BroadwayWorld are undoubtedly looking most forward to these six forthcoming revivals - with particularly good reason given the relative dearth of new musicals announced so far. So, let these revivals revive your flagging spirits as we leap into the 2011-2012 season with this comprehensive prospective and retrospective all about what makes them work so well in the first place and so worthy of another look! (more...)
SOUND OFF: AMERICAN HORROR STORY Makes Hell HeavenSOUND OFF: AMERICAN HORROR STORY Makes Hell Heaven
by Pat Cerasaro - October 6, 2011

SOUND OFF: AMERICAN HORROR STORY Makes Hell Heaven Perhaps it should have been billed more appropriately as: Grand Guignol From The Genius Guys Who Gave Us GLEE (& NIP/TUCK, too). Any entity with the pedigree apparent in FX's new drama series AMERICAN HORROR STORY is worth a view or two and last night's premiere episode was nothing short of riveting. An explosive and absolutely terrifying corroboration of creepy historical drama, atmospheric suspense, psycho-sexual character study, semi-snuff, psychological terror, grand guignol and plain old scares, AMERICAN HORROR STORY delivered on all of the mysterious and intriguing previews that have aired for the last several months on FX - from the creator of NIP/TUCK and the co-creators of GLEE, Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchak, this was a definite opportunity for envelopes, buttons and limits of taste, decency and sheer terror allowable on TV. On that accord, Murphy and Falchuk scored a solid field goal. Insofar as the talent assembled to tell the tale at the heart of the haunted house story - including major TV talent in the leads with Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton, as well as a seriously starry supporting cast including Broadway regulars Denis O'Hare and Jessica Lange. AMERICAN HORROR STORY delivers as a compelling character-based family drama - with the backstory of the central couple being a situation rife with possibilities - and an all-out horror show of THE SHINING proportions - and, the acerbic comedy, camp, one-liners and hot-button-pushing that makes Ryan Murphy television always entertaining is amped up to such a high level as to be far too much to take all in in one mere viewing. Even on the second look I'm not sure I've caught all of the flash-cut secrets and editing tricks employed in the impressively dynamic and complex meta-narrative employed by the various camera and stylistic techniques. If the creepy, cryptic and surprisingly quite comprehensive website is any indication whatsoever of the devilishly detailed tapestry being woven by Murphy, Falchuk and company over the course of the first season then we are certainly in for the decadent danse macabre of the decade - perhaps not since David Lynch's groundbreaking TWIN PEAKS has a TV premiere so completely enraptured and ensnared me in its wicked web of debauchery and depraved devilry. Heck - if this is Hell, throw another coal or two on the flames. (more...)
SOUND OFF: In GLEE Math, 3 + 3 = Asian FSOUND OFF: In GLEE Math, 3 + 3 = Asian F
by Pat Cerasaro - October 5, 2011

Last night's GLEE, titled "Asian F" (referring to an A-), was an A+ in almost every respect, managing to pack all the musical power, dramatic pathos, fabulous diva-tude and off-the-wall comedy that made GLEE the international sensation that it is and also push a few buttons over the course of an hour - and make a new star or two of its impossibly talented cast in the process, with that individual walking away - or, should I say, strutting away - with the night undoubtedly being Harry Shum, Jr., thanks in no small part to his premiere solo song sung on the show so far in his two seasons on the show. Indeed, Shum's "Cool" from WEST SIDE STORY was imbued with more choreographic tics and embellishments than even Jerome Robbins could have dreamed up in a week's time to get on film this swiftly and speedily. Besides the ultra-hip-swingin' awesomeness of Shum, last night's GLEE also set in motion a number of plots that will surely be a central focus of this fresh-faced and bold newly focused season - Santana/Brittany's relationship, the new Glee club member arriving next week and Idina Menzel's continuously ingratiating and increasingly impressive arc as Shelby, Rachel (Lea Michele)'s estranged mother, foremost among them. What will next week hold for New Directions? Plus, how did the famous recitative sequence from DREAMGIRLS - "It's All Over" - work outside of the classic r&b musical's context? Did Mercedes (Amber Riley) deliver in true Oscar-winning Effie fashion by taking on Jennifer Hudson's hit single "Spotlight" and making it her own? What about Heather Morris and Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)"? And, most importantly, which semi-secondary lead stole the whole show? To see the answers to these pressing "Asian F" queries and some explanations of many of the reasons why GLEE continues its sterling winning streak with the third episode of the resoundingly successful Season Three, read on! Merely calling it "cool" doesn't even begin to cover it! (more...)

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