Bleh with Barry

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Posts Tagged ‘phantom

The Sweeney Phantom Who Won’t Pay Last Years Rent in Chicago: Musical Movies

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Over the past ten years or so, many musical movies have come out to appeal to the general public, and while some of them are good, most of them have been lack luster at best. However, I’m not saying this about all of them because there have been a few that have stood head and shoulders about the rest. So, I’m going to discuss the good, the bad, and the “eh”.

The Bad:
The Phantom of the Opera–A broadway success that was finally brought to film by Joel Schumacher (very poorly I might add). While the costumes and things were grandiose, the leads were terrible. Christine (Emmy Rossum) and the Phantom (Gerard Butler) were just awful. Neither one of them could carry off the vocalization of the parts or the characters themselves. Most of the time Rossum looks like she is in a trance and has what my friends would call the “muffin face” which is the where her mouth is open (the majority of the movie) and a muffin could be placed in it. Also, they cut a whole verse of “The Phantom of the Opera” theme song because she couldn’t make the key change. It was too high for her. Butler is not much better…while his voice isn’t the worst in the world, he is nowhere near the quality of voice needed to play the Phantom. Why? It is because the Phantom has to be a tenor with an extremely large range…Butler is a smoker with a normal range…also, I suspect that he isn’t a tenor…he is a faux-tenor (a baritone masquerading as a tenor). Both of them are also pitiful when it comes to the emotions behind the show…but I will not get into that…and lip syncing ability (watch the movie their lip match is the worst).

The best part of this show to me is the supporting cast. With Minnie Driver (who did not sing the Carlotta songs…but did sing “Learn to Be Lonely” during the credits), Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, and others, they are the reason to watch…I recommend watching the ensemble pieces which are fairly okay…

The “Eh”

Sweeney Todd–A movie directed by Tim Burton and featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim. It contains dark music, and the tone of the movie accentuates this. However, the main two characters Todd and Mrs. Lovett played by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are not the caliber of singers needed for these roles. Broadway greats such as Len Cariou and Michael Cerveris and Angela Lansbury and Patti Lupone have played these characters too much success, but they have something which the movie main characters didn’t have. They have power. Depp and Carter do not…they come off as hollow shells of the original characters. Because of this, powers songs like “A Little Priest” and “My Friends” came off as wimpy.

Again, I will have to make allowances for the supporting cast. Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the others all do a tremendous job of bringing the world of the demon barber to life.

The Good

Chicago and Rent are the two movies that I would say adapted well and kept the heart of the original. Why? Because for the most part they got Broadway caliber actors to perform the roles. Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Rapp, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, and a majority of the others have actually been on Broadway…OMG! Such a concept to have Broadway stars in MUSICAL Movies…They add so much to the overall sound and dynamic of the show.

They also don’t try to play the musicality of the movies too realistically. If you have watched either movie, they are pretty blatant about keeping the audience in the “you’re in a musical” loop. Now, don’t get me wrong; they don’t beat you over the head with it. However, they play with the idea of it being in a character’s head (Chicago) and the fact that all of them are artists living a very unrealistic disillusioned life(Rent). Why not have music?

They tie both the worlds of the realistic and the over-the-top world of musicals into a cohesive whole. They make no claims to be anything but what they are. I think if other musical based movies tried to follow suit that more of them wouldn’t get lost to the wayside and be considered to be crappy renditions of a once great show.

The Phantom of the Opera

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Recently, I got the opportunity to go to New York City for the second time. While I was there, I got to watch several musicals (my whole reason for wanting to go…there’s nothing like watching a musical on Broadway). Of these several, I got to see The Phantom of the Opera (POTO) for the third time, and honestly, I can say that I enjoyed and felt like I was watching it for the first time because new actors bring nuances to characters that I might not have ever thought of before. However, with this being said, some other thoughts came to my mind after I enjoyed watching the show.

I’m sure some of you have heard of the sequel to POTO that just premiered in England and will be making its way to Broadway in the fall. I have heard the music and the plot and believe that Webber is making a tragic mistake in trying to write this particular musical. Love Never Dies is set in Coney Island, New York where the Phantom runs a freak show. He lures Christine to him…and then, all hell breaks loose….it’s an odd concept. Also, most of the songs are slow and musically boring for me. It lacks the pizzazz of the original…My thoughts about the whole thing are as follows.

1. With POTO being in the Majestic Theater for the past 23 years, I wonder if they are going to try to replace it with the sequel. I think that this would be sheer lunacy on their part because POTO has never had an unsold seat (as far as I know)…I was there the other day, and all the seats were filled to brimming with people of all nationalities and backgrounds. It still mystifies people even now.

2. Will the sequel be successful? I think in my own mind that it will have some success because it is tied to POTO, but I also believe that the success will be short lived. Listen to the cast recording, and you’ll understand. Their voices are nice; however, the songs themselves have no substance….I started listening for  “Masquerade” or “Point of No Return” and heard nothing that reminded me of any of POTO other than they used the same characters…

3. Will this musical have an effect on POTO? Is this musical going to cause POTO to lose its popularity? Or is there nothing out there that can make this happen?….Honestly, I don’t know about this one…it’s a toss up because people are fickle. If people were predictable, then, this question would be more answerable in my mind.

4. Is Andrew Lloyd Weber losing his touch? Since the 80’s, Webber has enjoyed limited success with his music….he has opened a few musicals (Woman in White, etc.) that haven’t done well at all…has he lost his touch? I think that it may be because he is trying to find something fresh and new for himself when he should stick to his 80’s power ballad style…