Monday, November 29, 2010

SPIDERMAN - Finally!

Well they finally had a first preview for that Spiderman thing.  Here's a commercial.  Meh.

UPDATED TO ADD: I am finding it hard to even enjoy a bit of schadenfreude at the reviews this show is getting.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NSFW: Cee-Lo

Cee-Lo Green's awesomely catchy and gleefully radio-unfriendly new song apparently features the girls from Little Shop of Horrors (or their modern equivalent).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Color Me Magenta!

At Atlanta's Dragon*Con this weekend I had the wonderful experience of meeting Patricia Quinn.  What a lovely, friendly, funny lady.  A class act all the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS: Cross-Pollinization!

Since I first heard them in 1986, the Little Shop songs have been like a personal scavenger hunt for me, as I explore 60s music and find all the little references which make this an indelible bit of Baby Boomer nostalgia.

By design, the Little Shop score evokes MotownDoo-Wop and the songs of Ellie Greenwich as produced by Phil SpectorAs a point of comparison, Menken's Brill-Building-inspired, piano-driven pop is very much in the same vein as Billy Joel's.  Of course, Menken marries these pop/rock influences to a classic Broadway sound, exemplified by Rodgers & Hammerstein (The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, etc) and Lerner & Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot etc), with just a smidgen of Kurt Weill in there, too.  Menken's musical style is also quite consonant with that of Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Wicked).  It is surely no accident that both composers have been tapped by Disney for its newer films.

As for Howard Ashman's lyrical style and its possible influences, that is a much more difficult thing to pin down, though of course the book and lyrics abound with witty references to pop hits of the era.  One might observe that his clever, idiomatic lyrics recall the work of Frank Loesser (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Guys & Dolls, etc).

These general influences aside, I have found a lot of direct musical and lyrical quotations, and I thought it would be fun to enumerate them, with links galore for your listening pleasure.  Click "Read More" for the full list.  I advise right-clicking on links to open in a new tab, so you can listen & read without interruption.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I have been waiting for someone to do this!  

Friday, July 2, 2010


I have started a Facebook Group for people who'd love to see a new DVD of Little Shop of Horrors with the original ending intact.  Let's get Geffen and Warner Home Video to notice!  2011 is the 25th Anniversary of the film's release.  Isn't it about time?

A handy round-up of my Little Shop material can be found here, including my argument for why the original ending is integral to the film, and some very nice stills from the deleted scenes.

Here is my Blu-Ray Wish-List, which includes both new material and items from the original DVD.  While we are at it, a newly remastered version of the Original Soundtrack Recording would also be lovely.  That 25 year old CD sounds pretty tinny these days.


New Material:
• New HD transfer of the Original Theatrical and Restored Versions
• Commentary on Restored Version by Ellen Greene and Alan Menken
• "The Meek Shall Inherit" Dream Sequence (either reinstated, or as an extra - at Frank Oz's discretion)
• Puppetry & Visual FX feature with Lyle Conway, Bran Ferren, Richard Conway, Brian Henson, Anthony Asbury & Martin P. Robinson
• Mike Ploog's storyboards
• Photo Gallery
• Isolated score
Levi Stubbs performing "Mean Green Mother" at the Academy Awards
• Any rushes, trims, tests and behind-the-scenes footage that might still exist
• Anything relating to the original play, like this TV Commercial.
• PDF version of the screenplay by Howard Ashman
• PDF version of the FX feature from Cinefex Magazine

From the Original DVD:
• Frank Oz Commentary on Theatrical Cut
• Original Ending Rough Cut (both with & without Oz commentary)
• Blooper Reel
• TV & Cinema Trailers
• Original Electronic Press Kit documentary


The whole thing needs to be remastered.  I'd like to hear the opening verses of "Don't Feed the Plants" restored, and I'd love to include selections from Miles Goodman's excellent score as well.  And please do include any demos that might exist for cut songs, like "Crystal, Ronnette & Chiffon," "Your Day Begins Tonight," "Bad" and especially the wonderful "We'll Have Tomorrow," which was cut from the stage show.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Peter, Paul & Mary do G&S

This is not really "mondo" but it's lovely nonetheless.  It's Peter, Paul and Mary in front of the Sydney Opera house, singing their version of the faux medieval ballad "I Have A Song To Sing, O" from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Yeoman of the Guard (1888).  Love it!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

CONAN: The Musical

Sorry for the paucity of posts of late.  As if anybody's reading anyway!  This has made the rounds of the blogs lately and I think it's fairly funny, so here it is.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Gotta love those YouTube spoofs.

Friday, April 2, 2010


In honor of Good Friday, I am re-posting my 2008 entry on  Jesus Christ Superstar. This is one of my favorite musicals.  It dramatizes the intersection between faith and politics, using the prism of modern celebrity culture to take a new and compelling look at the story of Judas' betrayal of Jesus. This phantasmagorical combination of rock music and pop culture cynicism, applied to the tales of the Bible, make Jesus Christ Superstar a mondo musical indeed.  Read more after the jump!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Goodbye, Baby June

It's time to say farewell to June Havoc, whose vaudeville childhood was immortalized in the legendary Broadway musical Gypsy.

The actress, whose career stretched from the 1920s to her retirement in 1990, has passed away at the age of 98.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SUCK: The Vampire Musical

This premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and it looks like fun.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

SOUL MUSIC: The Moral Dimension of Rhythm

Just read a very provocative and stimulating article by Roger Scruton, taking the music criticism of Plato and Adorno and applying it to how we encounter the popular music of today. Scruton's distinction between music which moves with us and moves at us is compelling, and I thought I'd share.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Best Music Videos of the Aughts

Slant Magazine has an excellent round-up of the best music videos of the first decade of this, our new century. Sure, I don't agree with a lot of the choices, but as I see the music video as a direct linear descendant of the old-time musical movie, I thought I'd present their list for your perusal.

The 50 Best Music Videos of the Aughts

Monday, February 15, 2010

The 29 Funniest Musical Numbers?

The Huffington Post has a round up of what they consider the 29 funniest musical numbers of all time. Not sure why they couldn't include even a single Tenacious D clip to make it an even 30, but there ya go. Enjoy.

The 29 Funniest Musical Sketches of All Time


Here's a case of a classic show getting the mondo treatment - apparently musician Nick Cave (formerly of The Birthday Party) and mime actor Andy Serkis (he played Gollum and King Kong) are teaming up for a CGI, motion capture film of Brecht & Weill's The Threepenny Opera. Sounds interesting. Nick Cave seems like an obvious fit for this material, but the CGI element makes me wonder just what kind of movie they have in mind.

Threepenny Opera, of course, was based on the 18th Century play The Beggar's Opera by John Gay. It has been filmed at least twice before, including a brilliant version from 1930 by G.W. Pabst, and is the source of the ever-popular song "Mack the Knife," as sung by Lotte Lenya, Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, Marianne Faithfull, Ella Fitzgerald, and a raft of others. It also contains the song "Pirate Jenny" which was brilliantly performed by Nina Simone in the 1960s. The play was recently mounted in a star-studded Broadway production which got mixed reviews.

Allow me a moment to weep that Raul Julia never got to film his Public Theatre turn as Macheath from the 1970s. We miss you, Raul!

Via SlashFilm

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BLUE VELVET: "In Dreams"

As a sidelight to the main idea of "mondo musicals" I'd like to briefly discuss non-musicals which have a musical number that comes out of nowhere, and seems to push the film into the realms of the surreal. And where better to start than with Blue Velvet? It's a film that is fairly surreal anyway, even for an ostensibly realistic crime drama, but the "In Dreams" sequence stands out after all these years as a milestone of creepy musical strangeness. Click through to read more.
David Lynch's 1986 masterpiece is a landmark of film noir, a film of multiple layers and ambiguities, about which much has been written elsewhere. In the celebrated sequence below, the psychotic Frank (Dennis Hopper) has caught the hapless voyeur Jeffrey (Kyle McLaughlin) hanging around his tragic moll, Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini). (Ironic that for these three accomplished actors, this one low-budget art film would provide them all with their most memorable and definitive roles.) He takes them both for a ride, with a stop off to see the disturbingly fey Ben (Dean Stockwell) along the way.

Frank obviously thinks Ben is a riot - not to mention "suave" - and Ben, while he seems to find Frank a bit much, condescends to indulge him. Who is Ben, and why does he seem to be the only person who can talk sense to the twitchy, edgy Frank? Is he a pimp, drug dealer, white slaver, or what? Who are the fat old women surrounding him? Why is Ben the one holding Dorothy's son hostage? Who knows...and who cares, when there's ice-cold PBR for all? (Hopper's line "Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!" was single-handedly responsible for making PBR the swill of choice for your modern hipster.)

Before Frank's rage gets out of control, Ben calms his nerves with a lip-synched rendition of Roy Orbison's "In Dreams," using a shop-light as a microphone. This is obviously Ben's favorite party piece, and it prompts Frank into a reverie in which he mutters "Now it's dark" (an incantation to be repeated ad mysterium in Lynch's later Twin Peaks). Frank gets emotional, then agitated (bad memories?) and finally stops the song in the middle. Ben looks piqued, but resigned. He is obviously used to, and wary of, Frank's rages.

This sequence (which does not appear in the screenplay; or rather, the scene is there, sans music) is justly famous, and helped revive Roy Orbison's popularity in the 1980s. David Lynch has always had a canny ear for pop music, and always chooses songs which seem haunted by sinister, melancholy undertones. The film itself is named after the Bobby Vinton song, which is performed by Isabella Rossellini's tortured torch singer. Intriguingly, Frank is seen weeping during her performance. Apparently there's a heart - weird and twisted though it may be - inside him after all.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Idiots, Monsters and Peas at the Grammy Awards

I don't think they won anything, but here's the cast of American Idiot performing "21 Guns" with Green Day at the Grammy Awards. I would love to see this show!

I have no idea why the new blogger format won't allow full-sized YouTube videos...I could be the American Idiot here, but I can't figure out the new tools.  Oh well - you can always click "Watch On YouTube."

Lady GaGa and the Black Eyed Peas both gave stellar performances as well, with staging and concepts that turned their own numbers in to little mini-musicals of their own.


Variety reports that Duncan Sheik (2007 Tony award winner for Spring Awakening) will write songs for a stage adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Should make a nice double bill with American Idiot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

COBRA: The Musical

Presented without comment - video of the GI Joe-based musical which premiered at the 2002 Montreal Fringe Festival.

Friday, January 8, 2010

TORCHWOOD - The Musical?

No. But, there was an idea for it! Apparently, Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of the 70's super-group ABBA approached Doctor Who and Torchwood honcho Russell T. Davies with an idea for a Torchwood musical. Now, this sounds insane, but considering the duo were responsible (with librettist Tim Rice) for the genius musical Chess, a dark, sexy, sci-fi musical thriller doesn't seem so unlikely. And with the all-singing, all-dancing (all-snogging) John Barrowman in the lead, the idea seems even more intriguing. But alas, it was not to be. The incident is related in Davies' forthcoming book The Writer's Tale, Volume 2.