Archive for April, 2008

You Are The Dancing Queen

Today I was reminded of the latest Broadway musical which will be coming soon to a mutiplex near you. Following in the footsteps of Hairspray, the forgettable Producers, and the dreadful adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera is Mamma Mia! the musical based on the music of the Swedish 1970s-80s supergroup ABBA. The big names in the cast seem to be Pierce Brosnan (who knew he can sing?) and Meryl Streep (ditto).

I very vaguely remember hearing the music on the radio during the heyday of disco. I was reminded of it a few years ago when I participated in a karaoke contest at an area bar and grill which an acquaintance operates.  A rather rotund man decided to give us his interpretation of “Dancing Queen” and brought the audience to tears from the hilarity.  His “performance quality” must have given him some points (or it may have been his nerve) because he come in second place in a group of 20.  I am pleased to say that I came in 5th.

I Am Altering The Deal. Pray I Don’t Alter It Any Further

Sorry but no “American Idol” post tonight. I grow continuously disenchanted with it the more I watch. Pure and simply, it is nothing more than a popularity contest with the teeny-bopper who happens to have the quickest finger choosing the winner.

Last night, one of the three shows I try to make it a point to watch every week had the obligatory “Special Edition.” “Deal or No Deal” featured a fantastic Star Wars themed game. The contestants who played were both huge fans of the series. The first was a woman who was a Vietnamese refugee whose youngest memories involved seeing Episode 4 in the movie theatre. Instead of the 26 delightful models who usually hold the cases, there were 26 Stormtroopers (yes they were members of the 501st Legion). As an added bonus, Carrie Fisher
(her royal highnessness herself) appeared to root the contestant on. Man, has she aged!

The second contestant was treated to an appearance by the eight-foot walking carpet, Chewbacca and everyone’s favorite astromech droid, R2-D2. Both contestants had to face the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader as the banker. The voice was no James Earl Jones but not a bad imitation.

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I almost forgot to mention that in the second half of the show, the models appeared with their cases dressed in replicas of the slave girl outfit worn by Princess Leia in Jabba the Hutt’s palace in Return of the Jedi.

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A very entertaining episode. I wonder why they did not procure the rights last year for the 30th anniversary of the original film.

Where Are You? Why Do You Hide?

I see by the old Firestats Count that Morat’s Blog has had 1000 unique visitors from countries foreign and domestic. However unique the 5 or so repeat commentators may be, I urge even the casual passer-by to not be afraid to comment if you have any profound bits of wisdom to add. Surely my profound knowledge of even the most minute of trivia peaks enough curiosity to leave a few letters…. and some of those letters may even form a word or two. Even Morat himself has asked me to send greetings to everyone living in Liswathistan. And there must be other fans of “The Office” out there who would like to share their views as well as on movies old and new. Especially with the summer blockbuster season approaching despite the early word on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I heard reports that fans are not to expect too much… WOOLY SHEEP to you all who review movies months before they open.). Plus, The Dark Knight sounds like it will be fabulous.

Make The Most Of What You Are Given

I just learned that I will be portraying the role of Braxton in my local theatrical production of Little Women.  Since I know very little about the show apart from the book that I read years ago, I have no idea who this character is.  He is part of the ensemble which could mean anything.  However important the character is I will do my best to make him as memorable as I can.  Hopefully, it calls for some amount of energy and  a chance to stand out (if not who’s to say I cannot do so on my own).  There are no small parts only small performers, right?

Dumb-O-Dumb-One-O Take 2

Yet another television series will be reimagined soon.  Apparently, an update of “Beverly Hills, 90210” is on the way.  According to sources, none of the original cast or characters will be included (unfortunately for them who seem to have disappeared into oblivion).   I think a better appraoch would be to cater to the  fans  of the original series who probably are in their late 20s-early 30s and  bring back the old and  see them dealing with adult hood.  If there actually were people who enjoyed the show of teenage-angst.  Personally, I never missed an episode…..HAHAHAHA.  Actually, I proudly confess that I never saw one and cannot name a single character but do remember an actor by the name of Puke Luke Perry.  However, the cast of the updated series will include Lori Loughlin from another late 80s classic “Full House.”  How about adding the actor from “Family Matters” who played Steve Urkel (what was his name?) or Malcolm-Jamal Warner.  Reimagining it as a comedy could not hurt it at all… right?

Choices

Tonight was the big night for auditions. There were a total of six auditioners (5 ladies and yours truly). I was familiar with all but two of the females. I have worked with the remainder on more than 1 occasion… so at least I was familiar with most of them. And of course, I HAD to be the first to arrive. But when volunteers were taken to be the first to perform, there were actually people who were more eager than I.

The first to go was a high school age girl who had never been in a show her entire life. She knew the story of Little Women, has read the book, seen the movie, and just wanted to try something new. She chose to sing “Think of Me” from The Phantom of the Opera. She was really nervous. After she got through the excerpt, the director asked her to sing it again and gave her advice on how to better perform the song. The second time she sounded much better.

The next person to audition was a freshman in college who came just to audition for the show. My apologies because I do not remember what she sang or how she did.

The next contestant was someone I have worked with on several previous occasions. I have been in different show casts and she has been the vocal director for past shows. Most recently, we were part of the choir for a performance of Faure’s Requiem. After she performed her two selections from Little Women, her student also performed the same piece. This is something that seems very odd. I’m sure that it is not unheard of to audition with a song from the show you are trying for, but it just seems weird to me.

Which brings us to you know who. I chose to sing the last 16 measures of “Any Dream Will Do” from Joseph I chose it because I felt that it really shows my vocal range and I have practiced it a time or two; but it has been a while since I have been able to rehears it with an accompanist. I did take a bit of liberty with the last measure by taking it up an octave.. it just seemed right. Apparently, the director thought so, too because he said: “Good choice.”

The rest of the tryout was basically finding where our vocal range is. On the audition form, it had a space marked “Vocal Part.” I put tenor/baritone. The accompanist remarked that I sound more tenorish. I agreed so we labeled me a tenobear. It has been a while since I have gone through and actually determined where I fall. I have about an octave and a half (low A….which surprised me to a high G then on to falsetto where I almost reached soprano range). After the range game, I was surprised by the amount of writing the pianist did.

All in all, it seemed to be a good audition. The director was very laid back and made all of us feel at ease which is the mark of a good actor’s director. Now all I have to do is WAIT……… which is always the hardest part of any casting process. We were informed that it could be a cast of 15-20 with doubling or a cast of 40. Unless the turnout is better tomorrow afternoon, it may be the 15.

We Squeeze To Please

1995’s James Bond offering, Goldeneye, introduced Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007.  His road to the role is a long, detailed journey that I will not elaborate upon.  The plot concerns the efforts of the Russian mafia to control the world’s electronic circuits with the use of a high tech satellite named Goldeneye.  This would lead to a financial meltdown on a global scale.

However, as with most Bond films, the plot takes second seat to the tried and true devices seen in the best of the series.  The pre-title sequence shows 007 taking a 720 foot plunge from atop a dam (which still holds the world’s record for the highest bungee jump from a fixed structure).  Later while driving a large armored tank, Bond chases villains through the streets of St. Petersburg.

The femme fatale, played by Famke Janssen, disposes of her victims in a rather crushing manner.  Some of the most memorable character names are attributed to roles from the spy series.  Goldfinger gave us Pussy Galore; the rather forgettable Moonraker introduced Dr. Holly Goodhead; the title character of Octopussy; not to be out done, Xenia Onatopp appears in Goldeneye.

The film was also significant for two other important reasons.  It was the first to be produced following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Goldeneye also introduced Dame Judi Dench as the first female “M”, head of the British Secret Service.  She is extremely quick in establishing her position and making it known that she sees Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic of the Cold War.”

While not the best of the series, Goldeneye does have several bits of necessary Bond lore to make it an important segment in the continuing franchise.  It does have enough action to keep the viewer entertained and that is the most important part of any 007 film.

Christmas in April?

After walking downstairs this morning, I ALMOST looked at the calendar to make sure I knew what day it was. On the television, the 1994 remake of the classic Miracle on 34th Street was playing. Whichever channel was playing this must have been pretty desperate, especially at the end of April when most people’s thoughts are not focused on anything remotely related to Christmas. Plus, why choose such a horrible remake to play?

The beloved 1947 movie starred John Payne, Maureen O’Hara, a young Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn who received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Kris Kringle. It also featured William Frawley who is best known for his role as Fred Mertz onI Love Lucy.”

The overall plot of both films is relatively the same. A department store Santa who claims to be the real thing, is put on trial to prove his sanity. He seeks to not only convince the court but also a young girl who has been trained by her mother to dismiss all notions of myths, fantasy, and imagination.

Too much was changed from the original to the most recent remake. Characters were dropped including a young man who works with and idolizes Kris. In the original, Kris sings a charming song to a young Dutch girl in her native tongue. Macy’s department store was wise enough to not allow the use of its name in the remake; instead, the name was changed to Kohl’s (or if you prefer, Coal’s which 20th Century Fox should have been given in their collective stockings).

But, the casting of Mara Wilson as Susan sent shivers down my spine. Something about the youngster’s acting just makes me cringe. This film and Mrs. Doubtfire are the only times I remember seeing her on screen.

There have been a few other television remakes of the immortal classic. However, as in most Hollywood remakes, the original is far better. Next holiday season, treat the entire family to this fun movie (even if you have to explain to the children why there is no color).

Poppies…. Poppies Will Put Them To Sleep

Yes, Spring has finally arrived. For most, that means looking forward to making plans for the summer getaway. For me it means looking forward to auditioning for one of two (or this year…. three) big musical productions in the area. I narrowed my choices down to two this week. I really wanted to audition for a production of The Wizard of Oz. I have always wanted to be the Cowardly Lion…. a fantastic character role if ever there was one. I contacted the director of the show to ask about performance dates. Alas, they begin in mid-July (after auditions for another play I am extremely excited about trying out for (now be nice)… The Nerd. And yes, I will be auditioning for the title role, but of course will gladly accept any part offered to me.

Even while considering the possibility of dreaming that “If I Were King of the Forrrrrrest” (not Queen, not Duke, not Prince), the more logical option seemed to be to try out for the musical that is closer to home with the group I have been involved with for the past two years. It will save a bit of money on the gas tank as well. So…. according to an email I received earlier today, I will make my way tomorrow to audition for a role in Little Women (and yes, there are male roles in the production).

The Queen In Philadelphia

Tonight’s Final Jeopardy category: The Academy Awards in the 21st Century

The Final Jeopardy answer: The only actress to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for portraying a former Best Actress recipient.

I have to admit that I was stymied (not to mention I have never seen the movie for which the actress won the award). The more recent actress has appeared with such well known performers as Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, and Jude Law.

The former Best Actress winner is no longer with us. She holds the most Best Actress awards with four. Some of her co-stars were John Wayne, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Her sister was also a former Best Actress winner as well as a UNICEF ambassador.

Be the first to give the correct question and you will have done better than I. Name the film for which she won the award and you are brilliant. Name the actress she played and you are a genius. Of course, you win absolutely nothing except the honor of having your answer posted on Morat’s Blog which is (in a word) priceless. Once again, we are on the honor system which means: NO CHEATING!!!! No wikipedia, no imdb, no any other web site or outside source to aid you in your response. AND…..

I am make a the rules. So a you a follow the rules. And if a you a cheat I will a hunt a you down. And dems de berries.

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