Monday, October 27, 2008

THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN

According to BroadwayWorld.com, it seems that the producers of Napoleon Dynamite and the creators of the unauthorized spoof musical Silence! (based on Silence of the Lambs) will bring the 60s schlock-fest They Saved Hitler's Brain back to life as a sci-fi musical comedy film.

First Mel Brooks, now this - are we going to be in the position, someday, of griping "What, another Nazi-themed musical comedy!?"

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Soderbergh's CLEOPATRA

Variety is reporting that respected writer-director Steven Soderbergh will make a live-action, 3D rock & roll musical film based on the life of the Egyptian queen. Music is by the indie group Guided By Voices, and Soderbergh is courting Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hugh Jackman for the roles of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.

Mondo? Maybe. Unexected? Definitely.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

TOXIC AVENGER: The Musical

The good folks over at io9.com have a video report on the new musical of The Toxic Avenger, the 1985 Troma schlockfest that launched a slew of sequels. Check it out!

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Levi Stubbs, 1936-2008

Levi Stubbs, the gruff, soulful lead singer of Motown legends The Four Tops, has died at 72. He is beloved by me for providing the voice of Audrey II in the 1986 mondo musical Little Shop of Horrors. He'll be truly missed!

Here are The Four Tops in 1966 singing their huge hit, "Reach Out, I'll Be There." My personal favorite of their songs is "Bernadette" but I can't find a good version online. Other hits included "Baby, I Need Your Loving" and "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch."

Friday, October 10, 2008

FRANKENSTEIN IN LOVE

If I have any readers in Chicago, I would advise going to see Will Act For Food's production of Clive Barker's 1982 play Frankenstein in Love. Barker, who made his name with the Books of Blood short story collections and the 1987 film Hellraiser, sets the Frankenstein story amid South American revolutionaries and throws in plenty of gore and sex, as one might expect from Barker's blood-red pen.

The show runs through November 1. Tip of the hat to the fabulous Frankensteinia blog.

New Sci-Fi Musicals

Two new science-fiction musicals are featured in this year's New York Musical Theatre Festival. The first, I Come For Love, finds a lovely alien landing in Roswell and discovering (all together now) "that which you humans call 'love.'" Co-authors Terrence Atkins and Jeffery Lyle Segal pastiche 1950s science fiction - not exactly a fresh field for spoof - and the results sound charming, if not revelatory. You can hear samples of the music here.

A review of the show at Discover Magazine segues into a think-piece on the interesting question, "Why aren't there more science fiction plays?" I've wondered that myself - especially since good sci-fi doesn't depend on effects for its impact, but rather, examines the effects on human psyches and society in the face of changing technology or (alien) cultures.

However, I can also point out two very noteable science-fiction stage shows. The 1921 play R.U.R. by Czech author Karel ńĆapek introduced the term "robot" into the lexicon, while Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a progenitor of both sci-fi and horror genres we know today, has been a stage hit since the Victorian era.

Meanwhile, in Ho Chi Minh City (how often do you get to type that?), the avante-garde show Nguoi Nam 2222 (Human Being in 2222) blends traditional Vietnamese performance with "the sexy moves of physical theatre." Written by Le Duy Hanh and soon to be translated into five languages, the play finds a husband-and-wife scientific team fighting the robots and clones that they themselves created, as the automata try to impose a soulless regime on Earth. Sounds interesting! Report from Viet Nam News here.

Thanks to io9.com for alerting me to these shows!

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SPIDER-MAN: The Musical

The forthcoming Spider-Man musical, with songs by Bono and the Edge, looks set to be the most expensive show in Broadway history. Reports say it will cost up to $40 million to mount the production, to be directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King). With that price-tag, it will have to run to sold-out houses for 8,000 years to turn a profit!

Pardon me if I don't rush right out and see this totally egregious adaptation of an adaptation, with music by pompous, over-the-hill rockers and flying rigs galore. And pardon me if I don't want to pay for tickets which will probably top Young Frankenstein's famously obnoxious high prices.

Just think - for that kind of money you could mount forty brand-new million-dollar shows Off-Broadway and do them quite handsomely. You might even create a few memorable additions to the world of theatre that way. But that would be too much like art, and not enough like a Universal Studios tour...

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