“I’m not always on time
Please don’t expect that from me”
I think I have to rank Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years as one of my favourite new musicals (it was first performed in 2001) as any show with such a sequence of extraordinary songs as ‘A Part Of That’, ‘The Schmuel Song’ and ‘A Summer In Ohio’ at its heart surely deserves. I had the privilege to be introduced to the show by the Paul Spicer and Julie Atherton-starring version in 2009, I loved it again with Jon Robyns and Danielle Hope a couple of years ago, and I was a fan of last year’s film version and how it adapted the show’s unique structure for a different medium.
The show’s conceit is that he tells the story of a relationship between 2 twenty-something New Yorkers both from start to finish and from finish to start at the same time. So Jamie’s narrative commences in fresh hope at the beginning and Cathy’s opens at a moment of real heartbreak and as they move along their timelines, there’s one moment where they crossover, where they actually interact, a moment of glorious happiness made all the more tragic for already knowing how it is going to end. Continue reading “Review: The Last Five Years, St James Theatre”
“Yes he’s insane, but look what he can do”
No word of a lie, it’s extremely difficult to listen to the soundtrack of 2015’s movie adaptation of The Last Five Years without being utterly seduced by the personas of its stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan and their hugely empathetic performances. I really enjoyed the film, not least because it managed to take a show I already knew and loved and spin it, just ever so slightly, into fresh and new.
Jason Robert Brown’s musical is a two-hander about a single relationship told from two perspectives – we get Jamie’s viewpoint in chronological order and we get Cathy’s in reverse, their narratives only connecting at one crucial moment in the middle. Stage productions thus often have the couple not interacting at all, save for that one scene but where the film excelled was in expanding their world to allow not just more people, but each other into their storylines. Continue reading “Album Review: The Last Five Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2015)”
The inevitable end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances will be soon be coming (I just have to, you know, stop seeing shows…) but something I did last year which I really enjoyed was a compendium of “top moments in a theatre”, the breath-taking, show-stopping aspects of productions that have etched themselves in my mind over the past year. Continue reading “10 of my top moments in a theatre in 2015”
“Let the moment go, don’t forget it for a moment though”
The big screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods has now become a huge box office success, apparently heralding a new golden age of movie musicals, and as a musical it comes complete with a soundtrack which you can get in either single-disc or deluxe-double-disc edition.
The main reason to get this soundtrack would be to get Emily Blunt’s gorgeous renditions of her songs. Her voice was an absolute revelation in the film and she brings such character to The Baker’s Wife that is just irresistible – she nails all the emotional colour of ‘Moments in the Woods’ and blows James Corden off the turntable with her wondrous delight in ‘It Takes Two’. I remain a fan of Anna Kendrick’s Cinderella and Meryl Streep’s Witch is also good, solid rather than spectacular if we’re being picky, in her solo moments. Continue reading “Album Review: Into the Woods soundtrack”
“I don’t know how anybody survives in this life without someone like you”
I’ve actually been sitting on this review since November, when I was lucky enough to attend a screening of New York love story The Last Five Years at the Prince Charles Cinema thanks to What’s On Stage. We weren’t told to strictly observe an embargo but rather asked to wait before writing about it until the film’s release in the UK. Now it came out in the USA on Friday and as per the below tweet from Jason Robert Brown, the writer of the original show on which the film is based, we could be waiting a wee while before we even get a release date here. Which is a shame, as Richard LaGravenese’s filmic adaptation of this almost entirely sung-through tale deserves a fair crack of the whip, especially as it could have ridden on the over-exposed musical theatre coat-tails of Into the Woods into our cinemas.
I have asked. I have not gotten answers. It’s above my pay grade. Hopefully soon! RT @JemmaAnderson: when exactly is TL5Y coming out in UK?
— Jason Robert Brown (@MrJasonRBrown) February 13, 2015
Anyhow, the conceit of the story is that novelist Jamie and actress Cathy’s relationship is played out from two perspectives concurrently – at the beginning we see Jamie in the full flush of new romance with the headily seductive ‘Shiksa Goddess’ but Cathy’s first song is the exquisitely bitter pain of ‘Still Hurting’, five years down the line when they’ve split up. Each then gives us their side of the story but moving in opposite directions in time, enhancing the bittersweet beauty of a love that just ought to be. Onstage it means there’s only one point in the show, their marriage at the midpoint, where the two actors co-exist in the same scene but what’s fascinating about the film is that in fleshing out both accounts, they’re both utterly present and interactive throughout the whole thing, and it works. Continue reading “Film Review: The Last Five Years”
Anna Kendrick – Life Upon The Wicked Stage
With The Last Five Years still not having a release date for UK cinemas, I thought I’d treat us all to a little Kendrick and Jordan action to tide us over. This inspired Showboat/Cabaret mash-up sees a 12 year old Kendrick showing off her already considerable MT chops.
Continue reading “Saturday afternoon music treats”
“Into the woods to see the King, to sell the cow, to make the potion”
After the Oscar-winning success of Chicago, it is little surprise that Rob Marshall keeps returning to the world of musical theatre for his films and it is now the turn of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods to get the full cinematic treatment. The story pulls together a whole raft of characters from various fairytales and asks the question ‘what happens after happy ever after?’. So we meet familiar characters like Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack on their respective journeys but keep on following them deeper into the woods as they’re forced to deal with the consequences of their actions.
So Cinderella has to deal with the fact she’s married to a man she barely knows, Jack is called out for thieving so many of the Giant’s possession back down the beanstalk and so on, and the characters also crash into each other’s stories too, further muddying the waters. At the heart of the film is the Baker and his wife whose desperation for a child is a key contributing factor to the chaos that emerges and Marshall manages to keep the strands of this multi-threaded story clear and comprehensible – the staging is rarely audaciously exciting but the lack of tricksiness actually works in the film’s favour.
Continue reading “Film Review: Into the Woods”
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman
Angelina Jolie – Unbroken
Richard Linklater – Boyhood Continue reading “20th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees”
Anna Kendrick – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Rebecca Caine, Gina Beck + Annalene Beechey – O Holy Night
Continue reading “Saturday afternoon Christmas music treats”