Summertime and the Livin’s Easy and So Is Catchin’ Theater, Movies, TV Specials, and Cast CDs
By: Ellis Nassour
And one of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singin’ especially after seeing a vast array of Broadway shows and these films in theatres and on DVD; series coming soon on DVD; and listening to dozens of cast albums.
It’s always the perfect time to see a show. Broadway show perform every day of the week and, as we’d learned to accept [and if only others would look at their tickets for the correct start time] at multiple curtain times. However, to make it even more complicated, during the week of the July 4th holiday, some shows are changing performance schedules. Alternate curtain times include more Thursday and Friday matinees and additional Monday and weekend performances.
Good advice: Check schedules at this link from the Broadway League for specifics: WEEK OF JULY 4TH PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE
For your viewing consideration, how about:
For a front row seat to history and how LBJ got the Voting Rights Act passed into law by doing everything but bopping congressmen over the head, don’t miss Tony and Drama Desk winner Bryan Cranston’s tour-de-force performance in Robert Schenkkan’s Tony and DD-winning All the Way, through John McMartin delivers a full-bodied portrayal of Senator Richard Russel (D-GA) and Michael McKean as J. Edgar Hoover. Closes June 29.
For a rollicking good time, don’t miss Robert Freedman and Steven Lutvak’s hilarious Tony/DD-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, starring the irrepressible Tony/DD nominees Jefferson Mays [winner of the DD] and Bryce Pinkham, Lisa O’Hare, DD winner and Tony nominee Lauren Worsham, and among the many in numerous roles, Joanna Glushak, especially in her side-splitting turn as Lady Eugenia opposite Mays. And here’s a congrats to the ab fab quick-change wardrobe crew and Linda Cho’s Tony-winning costumes.
An aside: A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is credited as being based on the novel by Roy Horniman, which was also the basis of the Alec Guinness starrer Kind Hearts and Cornets (1949; a BAFTA for Best Film), opposite Dennis Price, from the U.K.’s famed Ealing Studios. Those of a certain age certainly remember the genius of Guinness. The younger set know him from Star Wars, but there’s also the legacy of Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai. Experience Guinness’ "reel" genius, especially if you never saw him onstage, in Film Forum’s retrospective, Alex Guinness 100, through July 3. Kind Hearts and Cornets gets an encore screening on July 1, the same day of another Guinness comic masterpiece, The Ladykillers.
That said, nothing in the movie tops Freedman and Lutvak’s demise of the Reverend Lord Ezekial D’Ysquith and Henry D’Ysquith in the musical. What deadly imagination!
If you haven’t been, get thee to the "joint is jumpin’" Jazz Age cavalcade of Duke Ellington’s music at Harlem’s Cotton Club in After Midnight , closing June 29. It features outstanding dancers and mind-blowing choreography by Tony/DD-winning Warren Carlyle, who also directed. Patti LaBelle guest stars along with "guide" Dule Hill. There’re fantastic big-band orchestrations by the Jazz at Lincoln Center All Stars and stunning costumes by Isabel Toldeo. Among After Midnight’s honors are seven Tony nominations and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Revue.
Run to the Vineyard as fast as you can, to catch Nicky Silver’s newest "absurdly funny" play, Too Much Sun, ending Sunday. It stars six-time Tony [one win] and eight-time DD nominee [four wins], the "priceless" delightfully shrill-voiced "monstrously funny Linda Lavin. The six-member cast in directed by Mark Brokaw [Cinderella; DD winner, How I Learned to Drive], also headlined by Jennifer Westfeldt. Ms. Lavin portrays a celebrated actress who unravels while preparing for a new production of Medea.and arrives at the seaside door of her married daughter, where’s she’s not exactly greeted with confetti and champagne. Silver sets off a chain of hilarious and harrowing events. The play reunites Ms. Lavin with Silver and Brokaw, who served up tons of laughs and pathos in 2012’s The Lyons.
In the cineplexes:
What a summer of movies!
Opening Friday: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s film adaptation of their Broadway megahit Jersey Boys [Warner Bros.], which takes four street singers and perpetrators of petty crime from the streets to the top of the charts. Clint Eastwood directs. Starring is the original Broadway Frankie Valli, John Lloyd Young, Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi, Vincent Piazza [Boardwalk Empire] as Tommy "the Louse" Devito, Erich Bergen as hitmaker/producer Bob Gaudio, Mike Doyle in a spot-on portrayal of hitmaker/producer Bob Crewe, who lives his life according to his horoscope, and, stealing every scene he’s in – and dancing [like the Broadway hoofer he used to be], Christopher Walken as mobster Gyp DeCarlo. The film builds slowly, and at two hours and 14 minutes is too long. After the 45 minutes, the hits come one after another and the pace picks up. Repetition sets in occasionally. Young, in his film breakout role, was 30 when the Broadway show opened in 2005. At 38, even with the magic of make-up, he hardly pulls off being a 15-years-old, but gradually overcomes that with a steady performance and his amazing chops. Choreography is by Tony and DD nominee Sergio Trujillo, who choreographed the musical. Eastwood has opened the film quite a bit to delve more into the family drama and former street thug Devito’s duplicity. The end credits Bollywood sequence is fun and perpetrators of petty crime from the streets to the top of the charts as the Four Seasons.
Trivia: Erich Bergen played Bob Gaudio in the Las Vegas engagement of the musical; and Michael Lomenda played Nick Massi in San Francisco. Renée Marino, who plays Mary Delgado, Valli’s first wife, was a later member of the Broadway cast. Donnie Kehr repeats his role of gangster Norm Waxman.
Opening June 25: Jalil Lespert’s YSL: Yves Saint Laurent [Weinstein Company; French with English titles] is more fashion show, with dozens of YSL’s creations on display [which should make the film a hit with ladies of style], than a bio of substance. However, Pierre Niney does an excellent job of morphing into the designer from his youth in Algeria, segueing from a designer at Paris’ House of Dior to helming the company, then venturing out on his own and becoming a pioneer of modern haute couture. The film is quite honest about YSL’s drug habit and sexual additions. Guillaume Gallienne excels as YSL’s patient partner and loyal business manager Pierre Bergé.
Still in theatres, and offering tempting air-conditioned breaks, are: The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Edge of Tomorrow, a sci-fi thriller with a Groundhog Day twist in which a slightly different, self-effacing Tom Cruise proves he can still deliver the goods and not take himself too seriously; Godzilla, the old gal’s back bigger, meaner than ever; Maleficent [go just to see what CGI can do to Angelina Jolie’s face]; 22 Jump Street; and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which returns Hugh Jackman as Wolverine to the past in an effort to change history and prevent doom; and, a don’t miss treat, one of the most exhilarating films and the feel-good film of the season, Chef, starring Jon Favreau, who also wrote and directed. Before you go, check Google for the nearest Cuban restaurant, because you’re definitely going to leave the theatre quite, quite hungry in addition to a big smile on your face.
Hot on DVD:
Just dropping is Netflix’s House of Cards: The Complete Second Season [Sony Home Entertaiment; Wade/Thomas Productions; 13 one-hour episodes; four discs/DVD and Blu-ray], starring two-time Oscar and Tony and DD winner Kevin Spacey as rancid, ruthless, get-ahead-at-any-cost, stab-you-in-the-back Francis Underwood as newly-appointed Vice President of the U.S. [but for how long until he’s at the top of the political food chain?] and Golden Globe winner Robin Wright as wife Claire. Underwood is the perfect role for Spacey to sink his fangs into. There’re five bonus featurettes ["Two Houses" explores the differences between the classic ‘90s British mini-series and Beau Willimon’s U.S. adaptation; "Table Read" gives a behind-the-scenes look at rehearsal cut together with actual scenes; "Direct Address" focuses on how Francis breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to viewers]. The winning ensemble includes Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys, Elf, A Time to Kill) the always-easy-to-watch two-time Tony and DD nominee Jayne Atkinson, Kate Mara (TV’s American Horror Story), Gerald McRaney, and veteran Broadway star Larry Pine.
Discover the mystery behind Johannes Vermeer’s life-like paintings in the acclaimed and compelling detective-style documentary Tim’s Vermeer [Sony Home Entertainment; Blu-ray Combo Pack; 80 minutes], which follows Texas inventor Tim Jenison’s wildly ambitious global quest to discover how the artist create his works 150 years before the invention of photography. The epic research project culminates with his recreating Vermeer’s masterpiece, "The Music Lesson." Featured are English artist David Hockney and actor-painter Martin Mull. Bonus material includes two-and-a-half hours of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes, as well as commentary with Jenison and writers of the documentary, Teller, who also directed, and Penn Jillette, who narrates and is a producer.
Revisit the start of the sexual revolution with the first season of Showtime’s seductive hit drama Masters of Sex [Sony Home Entertainment; 12 episodes; Blu-ray/DVD; available June 24], focusing on the work and after-hours lives of the science of human sexuality’s pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, portrayed by Golden Globe nominee Michael Sheen (Twilight Saga 1 and 2, Midnight in Paris, Frost/Nixon) and Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls). Based on Thomas Maier’s book and co-starring Caitlin FitzGerald and Teddy Sears and such guest stars as Beau Bridges, Julianne Nicholson, and Allison Janney. Bonus features include deleted scenes and five new featurettes, such as one exploring the contributions ofl Masters and Johnson.
Also out there: the delightful romantic comedy Austenland [Sony Pictures Classics; Blu-ray/DVD; 97 minutes], based on Shannon Hale’s best-seller and anchored by Golden Globe winner Keri Russell, who’s so obsessed with Austen that she spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland, an eccentric resort where guests experience complete immersion in the Regency era. Armed with her bonnet, corset, and needlepoint, she strives to avoid spinsterhood, but ends up having a difficult time determining where fantasy ends and real life – maybe even love – begins. Jane Seymour and Jennifer Coolidge co-stars. Austenland premiered last year, marking the 200th anniversary of Austen’s publication of Pride and Prejudice.
Two-time Oscar winner George Clooney’s clever action thriller, which is very short on action, The Monuments Men [Sony Home Entertainment; Blu-ray Combo pack/DVD/ Digital; 118 minutes] is based on Robert Edsel and Bret Witter’s non-fiction book that pays tribute to those who risked their lives to recover and return thousands of cultural treasures stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Never does the film match the raw excitement of John Frankenheimer’s superb, edge-of-the-seat 1964 The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and, as his nemesis, classical actor Paul Scofield. However, Clooney has a knack for casting. Co-starring are Oscar winner Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville (TV’s Downton Abbey), Oscar winning Best Actor Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. Clooney also adapted the book with Grant Heslov. The package is loaded with bonus materials, including two new featurettes. One is In Their Own Words, featuring an interview with Harry Ettlinger, one of the last surviving members of the "Monuments Men."
* Tony and DD winner Neil Patrick Harris and Tony winner Lena Hall in the Tony and DD-nominated revival Hedwig and the Angry Inch [July 1]
*Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, Tim Rice, and Chad Beguekub’s Tony and DD nominated musical Aladdin, co-starring DD nominee Adam Jacobs and Tony and DD winner James Monroe Igleheart
* Robert Freedman and Steven Lutvak’s Tony and DD-winning musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, co-starring Tony and DD nominees Jefferson Mays and Bryce Pinkham
* Beautiful: The Carol King Musical starring Tony winner Jesse Mueller, Tony nominee Jared Spector, and DD winner and Tony nominee Anika Larsen
* Jason Robert Brown’s Tony-winning score The Bridges of Madison County,
which starred Tony and DD nominee Kelli O’Hara and DD nominee Stephen Pasquale
* Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet, Tony and DD-nominated revival, co-starring Tony and DD nominees Sutton Foster and Joshua Henry
* Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s Tony-nominated score, If/Then, starring Tony and DD nominee Idina Menzel
* Woody Allen and Susan Stroman’s Bullets over Broadway, co-starring Tony and DD nominee Nick Cordero
Ume [Universal Music]
* Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ DD-nominated musical Rocky [June 20], starring Tony and DD nominee Andy Karl