The Broadway Musical Blog – Musical theater news and gossip from the Great White Way

Dishing out daily (or almost daily) Broadway musical news and gossip. The companion site to The Broadway Musical Home (broadwaymusicalhome.com), a directory of Broadway musicals with the story, songs, merchandise, video clips, lyrics, tickets, rights & awards for almost 200 shows.

Archive for Review

A Merchandise Review: The 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray Version of Cabaret

Cabaret_BeautyShot

The 1972 film version of Cabaret is now out in a new 40th anniversary Blu-Ray edition, and if you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s well worth revisiting.

As you may or may not remember, the movie version is quite different from the staged one.  Many songs are cut or just played as instrumentals, and singing arises realistically — songs are performed onstage at the cabaret by Sally and the Emcee, with the action of the play grounded in unsung realism. Many of the subplots are missing and much of the original Isherwood tale is added back in, but Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey give wonderful performances in their roles under the expert direction of Bob Fosse. The movie won eight Oscars, especially impressive when considering  it was nominated alongside another movie you’ve probably heard of – The Godfather.

The film quality isn’t too much better than the DVD version (and is exactly the same as the previously released Blu-Ray), but what the 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray does offer is an insanely large collection of extras, including a detailed (and wonderful) documentary about how the show changed musical theatre.  Also included are ‘behind the scenes’ videos, oodles of interviews, and funny and touching stories from the actors and others involved with the film.

If it all just sounds too marvelous to miss, you can buy your own copy at Amazon for under $20, and starting tomorrow, we’ll be featuring a giveaway of the new Blu-Ray on the blog here — so be sure to come back and enter to win!

The Broadway Musical Home received a complementary copy of this Blu-Ray, but was not paid to endorse this product in any way.

101 Dalmatians: A Light-Hearted, Family-Friendly Musical (A guest review by Amanda Blake)

dalmations

If you are looking for a family friendly new show, The 101 Dalmatians Musical may be the show for you.

101 Dalmatians, which had its world premiere at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, MN on October 13th, takes Dodie Smith’s 1956 novel from the page to the stage.

This new adaptation of Dalmatians is from the dog’s point of view. Humans are seen as pets, not owners. The dogs walk on two feet, not four. And the actors playing humans are on well-disguised stilts, which cause problems throughout the show (some of the actors walked around clumsily and there were a few who actually fell).

The Dalmatians, led by Pongo (James Ludwig) and Missus (Catia Ojeda), are the primary heroes of the story. Pongo and Missus suffer the agony of Missus’ pregnancy, then enjoy family life until their pups are stolen by Cruella De Vil (Rachel York).

Usually you wouldn’t root for a villainess who plans to murder and skin dozens of puppies for her fall fashion line, but when you see how much fun Rachel York is having in the role of De Vil, you come close. York steals the show with her loud screeching entrances, very glamorous and outrageous costumes and fun numbers.

The show also features 15 furry cast members who carry two scenes during the show, one at the end of each act. The Dalmatians add a much-needed boost to the show by performing “tricks.”

Beyond that, there really isn’t really much of anything that makes the audience go “wow.”

Former Styx member, Dennis DeYoung, wrote the music for the show and was co-lyricist with B.T. McNicholl. Dalmatians has some fun numbers and a few heartfelt ballads, but the music, though light and nice, leaves you with the feeling that you’ve heard all of it before.

When you see Dalmatians, you can leave the theatre with a light-hearted feeling – knowing that the good guys won and the bad guys got punished.

Amanda Blake is an avid theatre-goer and self-proclaimed “theatre dork” who regularly sees touring productions in Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN. Follow her on Twitter @th3heights.

Interested in guest reviewing a Broadway musical for the blog? Shoot me an email. I’m looking to assemble a great group of reviewers.

The Memphis reviews are in …

You read what our guest reviewer thought of Memphis, the newest musical to open on Broadway, but what do the critics think?

Unlike Bye Bye Birdie, which was universally panned, reviews for Memphis were mixed. Here’s what the big media outlets had to say:

NEW YORK TIMES

Sex and race and rock ’n’ roll made for a potent, at times inflammatory, combination in the 1950s, when the new musical “Memphis” is set. But there’s no need to fear that a conflagration will soon consume the Shubert Theater, where the show opened on Monday night. This slick but formulaic entertainment, written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, barely generates enough heat to warp a vinyl record, despite the vigorous efforts of a talented, hard-charging cast. While the all-important music, by Mr. Bryan of Bon Jovi, competently simulates a wide range of period rock, gospel and rhythm and blues, the crucial ingredient — authentic soul — is missing in action. Read the full review.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The sensuous, soulful sound of rhythm ‘n’ blues hits the audience right from the start of “Memphis,” the exhilarating new musical now shaking Broadway’s Shubert Theatre. Take a deep breath as the curtain rises because the exuberance doesn’t stop. Read the full review.

USA TODAY

You might expect a show called Memphis, with a score by rock keyboardist David Bryan and a book by Joe DiPietro, whose last Broadway outing was the jukebox musical “All Shook Up,” to be an homage to Elvis Presley. It isn’t — and for that, the Presley estate owes Bryan and DiPietro a debt of gratitude. Read the full review.

VARIETY

A talented cast, stirring vocals, athletic dance numbers and vigorous direction supply crowd-pleasing elements in the lively new musical, “Memphis,” as evidenced by the waves of appreciation coming off the audience. But there’s also a nagging predictability to this story of a white DJ who brings rockin’ rhythm and blues from black Beale Street to the mainstream in 1950s Tennessee. The show is entertaining but synthetic, its telepic plotting restitching familiar threads from “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls,” while covering fictitious ground adjacent to that of recent biopic “Cadillac Records. Read the full review.

AM NEW YORK

Contrary to popular belief, rock and roll did not start with Elvis Presley. The new Broadway musical “Memphis” depicts its birth among black singers in underground nightclubs on the now fabled Beale Street – and how the art form was soon pirated by white businessmen as a form of mass entertainment. Read the full review.


Bookmark and Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,109 other followers