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Everything posted by sidwich

  1. Thank you, miliosr. It's very interesting to look at these figures. I do wonder, though, what the return on investment was as well. For example, ​Rich, Young and Pretty may not have made enormous profit, but given it's a Jane Powell musical, it was probably a Joe Pasternak production. Pasternak's films were usually all-singing, fairy low-budget films. They were the "C" team of the MGM musical arm, so the movie probably didn't cost too much to make. Even though the profit wasn't big, the ROI might have been okay. It certainly cost a lot less than any other of the films on that list, although The Great Caruso probably turned a massive profit and ROI, since I don't think it was a big Arthur Freed "A" production. Comparatively, even though Singin' in the Rain's profit looks okay, I know it was considered an MGM disappointment because it was not a cheap film to make and it was considered an underperformer.
  2. I'm sorry. I must not be following you again. Can you please clarify how: 1. Misty Copeland translates into increased ticket sales, 2. Those increased ticket sales do not translate into expanded audiences, AND 3. People of all different races and ages fall in love upon seeing ballets like Agon regardless of cast. Because if Copeland sells more tickets than other dancers where are those ticket sales coming from? As far as I understand it, if sales numbers increase that must mean either 1) more people are buying tickets, or 2) current ticket buyers buying multiple tickets. (Personally, I don't think current ticket buyers are buying tickets just to let them go empty.) And if people of all different races and ages fall in love with ballet regardless of cast, I would think that some of those increased ticket sales would translate into some group of people falling in love with ballet and remaining ballet-goers who go to multiple performances. As I said before, Copeland is not a dancer I really particularly enjoy seeing. I certainly don't go out of my way to see her at a performance. But it's to a certain (limited) extent, it's like Dancing With the Stars. DWTS is not a good example of ballroom/latin dancing. Half of the things out of the judges mouths don't make any sense. Some of the choreography is terrible. It promote A LOT of questionable technique. It frustrates me quite a bit. But does it expose Americans to dance? Yes. Does it expose Americans to good dance? Sometimes. Is it a positive that people like Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner and Donald Driver can show Americans that manly men can enjoy dance and be good at it? Absolutely. Did dance participation in America spike in the wake of the show? No question. So I consider it net positive.
  3. And by middle America you mean white Americans? So you're saying that Elvis Presley was important because he brought something that already existed to people of his race which was not available to them previously? Is that correct? And why do you think someone like Chuck Berry did not go on the Ed Sullivan Show and Elvis Presley was able to be the messenger of what was until then almost exclusively a black-dominated genre of music? And if I'm following you correctly, does the comparison fail because it happens that Elvis Presley's group happens to be the majority race (white) and not the minority group (African-American like Copeland)? Or is that ballet is something that IS available to African-American families, so Copeland isn't bringing anything new to them? Or perhaps a more apt comparison is Jackie Robinson. If you look at Jackie Robinson's on field performance as a baseball player, the numbers are very good. But there have been much more accomplished players with much longer careers. Even in comparison to other Negro League players of the time, there were more talented players, more famous players, players with more ability, etc. Looking purely at his on field performance, there is certainly no reason for him to be the towering figure in baseball that he is. His number is retired throughout baseball, there is a day in his name where all players wear his number in his honor, there's a foundation in his name, etc. Would you say that he too is exceptional because of his race rather than anything else?
  4. I think it's both. I think all of those dancers are famous because of their dancing, and I think they've also sought it out, Bussell especially. There are plenty of famous people, even strikingly beautiful ones, who do not grace major magazine covers like Darcey Bussell. (Actually, Bussell's self-promotion machine is very similar to Copelands with magazine spreads, books, and reality show judging, so I think it's very apt comparison). The point I was trying to make is that if you don't mind the publicity machines that those dancers (and as I said, especially Darcey Bussell) are, then what must irk you is the origin of Misty Copeland's fame, what makes her noteworthy. I do not disagree at all that she is not the dancer that Guillem, Bussell and Durante are. Her accomplishment is because of what she has been able to accomplish being who she is. Now, you may not think that it's noteworthy that she is the only African-American dancer of her stature and seniority at a major company, but a lot of people do. Or it may be that you don't think that that's enough of an accomplishment to achieve the level of fame that she has. I'm just trying to puzzle out what it is that bothers people so that she gets compared to Kim Kardashian. I'll give you another example: Elvis Presley. Presley didn't really accomplish anything noteworthy musically on his own. He didn't write any original music. His music and stylings were derived from music that had been performed by African-American performers for quite some time before he broke on the scene. If you were to take who he was out of the equation (white), he was a fine performer but not someone who rises to the musical importance of many pioneers like say a Chuck Berry. So if you ask popular musicians who were your influences, he doesn't get brought up in the same way that someone like Berry, Hendrix, Lennon & McCartney, Phil Spector or Brian Wilson do. But is Elvis Presley noteworthy? Of course he is! It's because of who he was, when he was and the music that he brought to white audiences. I'm not trying to say that Copeland is Elvis. But there are a number of female ballet superstars. If you look at my earlier example, the Royal Ballet alone had Giullem, Bussell and Durante during the 1990s. There's still only one African-American female dancer at her level in the ballet world. Personally, I think that does make her exceptional in some way.
  5. So are you saying that you approve of dancers becoming self-promoting publicity machines (and actually publicity machines on a much, much greater scale than Copeland) as long as you approve of their dance skills?
  6. I really can't see McCracken as Rose in MMSL. I honestly can't believe she would have been offered the part on the strength of Oklahoma! at the time, although I suppose anything is possible. Yes, Yolanda and the Thief really did Lucille Bremer no favors. I actually still enjoy her in her two parts of Ziegfeld Follies with Astaire, though. Neither requires much acting, and her striking looks really serve the pieces well. Astaire also had the knack for making (almost) all of his partners look good. Yolanda and the Thief has too much stuff that even Fred Astaire can't save, though...
  7. I can't either, not when that's how the game is played today. Still, modesty's a winning (charming) virtue. But is that modesty? Living on the West Coast, I don't see much of this aggressive self-promotion which is apparently happening all over the place. If Copeland is self-promoting herself to the degree it seems, it's still not on the scale of what I'd see in London during the 1990s where it seemed Sylvie Guillem, Darcey Bussell and/or Viviana Durante were plastered on every street corner in the city between public transport, magazine covers, newsstands, posters, etc. I think of modesty as humbleness, and I haven't seen Copeland claim to be the best dancer ever, a shining light of dance, or the savior of African-American dancers. What I've seen is her participating in non-ballet projects and getting ballet, ABT and her own story out into the general public. I don't see that as mutually exclusive with modesty. Or do you think of modesty as hanging back and not trying to get noticed by management at all? Because I don't see anyone at the company doing that. I'm sure they all campaign for roles and opportunities in their own way. Please... it's not like we haven't discussed Julie Kent's "special status" at ABT. I also think Misty Copeland is in a difficult place. Some may find the self-promotion distasteful, but if she were not publicizing her unusual success in the media, I feel there would undoubtedly be those who would say that she was not being responsible as a good role model for the African-American community. A friend of mine is an African-American female surgeon, a species almost as rare as female African-American ballet dancers at major companies. She regularly gets invitations to professional events, and of course, must decline some of them. It's not unusual for her to get a follow-up on her declines, asking if she would still come if only to take a picture at the event (and then leave if she must). It's that important to some members of the African-American community to show that kind of success, that it can be done and to show examples of that success to younger people. So where some people may find aggressive self-promotion, it may also be a responsibility to the African-American community at large as well.
  8. That was me, and yes, I have seen Copeland cited as a non-traditional body type in ballet. It was actually on these boards, where I've seen comments ranging from "That bust does not belong on a ballet stage" to "She's ballet's answer to Jessica Rabbit."
  9. I beg to differ. If they were going to pick a short soloist for SL, it should have gone to Lane, not Copeland. Lane is a superior dancer, and has also performed the role with Corella Ballet. Merit should win out, but it doesn't. Do we really want ABT to become a company where roles are based on a popularity contest instead of quality? This is a very slippery slope. But casting is a popularity contest. It's based on whoever is popular with Kevin McKenzie, and it's obvious that dancers can be popular with him for reasons that bear little to no relation to their abilities onstage. Some clearly fit into a particular dance aesthetic he has, but others may play the political game better, some may be able to bring him financial patronage, some may be easy/inexpensive to work with, some may bring in more audiences/press for whatever reason, and some he may just like for personal reasons and nothing more than that. At least, Copeland is promoting herself in ways that are ballet-positive, ABT-positive, and even positive to non-traditional bodies in ballet. I actually think there is merit to that. I also think it's indicative of how few opportunities there are at ABT that there's this much angst over the casting of a veteran soloist in a Wednesday matinee performance on tour. I do find it interesting that there isn't nearly as much discussion over Hammoudi's casting when his technical shortcomings are probably on par with Copeland's.
  10. I agree with sandik and Tapfan that comparing Misty Copeland to a woman whose original claim to fame is a sex tape seems uncalled for. While I too would prefer to see a number of other dancers at ABT get chances at major roles before, this is Kevin McKenzie's decision not hers. After seven years as a soloist, is Copeland supposed to turn down the biggest opportunity of her career? And are there like comparisons for Hee Seo, Isabella Boylston and Julie Kent at this point in her career? And like it or not, her story is very unique like Jeremy Lin in the NBA. Maybe it is tiresome to longtime ballet fans, but if we complain about companies not reaching out to new audiences and potential new fans, should we also be complaining that Copeland, along with promoting herself, is promoting ballet and ABT to a group that has been and still is very underrepresented in the art and in its audiences? I know the last time I was in NY at an ABT performance, I sat behind an African-American family with two little girls, and they were very excited to see Copeland dance. They really went wild every time she came onstage. Maybe that's not how it should be, but it is. (I do remember the first time I saw Asian people not playing cooks or laundry owners on American TV. I actually called my mother to tell her there were Asian people on TV. ​And they were eating cornflakes!)
  11. This rare clip of Gwen Verdon doing a piece from the almost never seen Redhead was pointed out to me recently. I thought some might enjoy it, especially in light of the discussion of "theatrical faces" (and Cory Stearns' lack thereof).
  12. I've always been a fan of the Walters/Alton Good News, and leaving aside the significant ethnic insensitivity of "Pass that Peace Pipe," it's one of my favorite numbers in the film. Actually, I've found Walters to be a very underrated member of the MGM musical unit. He also staged one of my favorite of Judy Garland's less famous numbers: Walters is the dancer partnering her in the clip. Joan McCracken was one of Agnes DeMille's dancers, and was one of the featured dancers in the original production of Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl. It's a shame there's not more footage of her dancing.
  13. You've made very good points, sidwich. As for more songs though, why has the "workshop" casted two ballet dancers? Your response probably might be, "they can recast." So we'll see. Well, quite frankly, I think that's why Bart Scher has been brought in. I'm not in love with all of Scher's work, but he is a very experienced theatre director and knows what is feasible on the theatrical stage and what is not. And no, workshop casting is no guarantee of Broadway casting. At all. The workshop casting is probably a good opportunity to get an idea of what the Wheeldon choreography and concept look like, but beyond that.... who knows? Just ask Stephanie J. Block (who was infamously passed over for the Broadway cast of Wicked after the workshops). I would love to see a good dance oriented musical production as well, but I am concerned about Chris Wheeldon helming what is sure to be a very complex, multi-million dollar musical production as his first venture into musical theatre.
  14. I don't think there's any way a stage adaptation could be anymore than "relatively" faithful to the film. Just the concept of the ballet alone, dancing through famous paintings... that would be extremely difficult to recreate anything like it onstage. Just the mechanics of moving all the sets necessary and getting the costume changes in in a timely fashion, let alone the wear and tear of dancers performing every night. I just don't see how it would be possible. Even mundane things need to be taken into account in doing a stage adaptation. When "Singin' in the Rain" was adapted, the initial attempt did try to stay close to the film, and it was pretty disastrous from what I've heard from people who worked on it. I mean, there's the obvious... how does anyone do "Make 'em Laugh" 8 times a week and not kill themselves eventually? But just getting from scene to scene could turn into an issue. The set piece 'Singin' in the Rain" precedes a scene in the studio office, and initially, the stage musical followed the scene sequence which sounds okay on paper. But when put into practice, it resulted in the excellent Don Correia (playing Don) show up wet and shivering in the next scene because there was no time for him to dry off after "Singin' in the Rain." If the stage adaptation goes anywhere, I would be surprised if it doesn't get filled out with some additional Gershwin songs. There aren't that many in the film and it's pretty common for stage musicals generally to have around 10-12.
  15. I'm sorry to come late to the topic, but just some random thoughts on some things in this thread: 1. My choice for Jerry probably would have been Adam Cooper: dances well, can sing, has the experience of doing 8 shows a week, has charisma onstage. I adored the little I saw of Robbie Fairchild in the Carousel concert, but wonder how he's going to come across onstage. To me, he just seems to read a little young to play Jerry, the ex-GI. 2. I'm very curious has to how An American in Paris is going to be adapted to the stage. The centerpiece of the film is the 20 minute long ballet at the climax, and I am skeptical as to how that can be adapted to stage for 8 performances a week. 3. Generally, no, Broadway musicals do not use alternating casts, but it does happen sometimes. The closest case would probably be Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out which used 2 casts of 4 performances each, and I think two casts were also used for her Frank Sinatra piece as well. Otherwise, well, Sarah Brightman (aka Mrs. Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time) only performed 6 times a week and had an alternate for matinees when she did Phantom of the Opera and every Christine since then has had the same. The most recent Evita production had the same for Elena Roger. Wicked probably should do the same for the Elphabas but doesn't because the actresses tend to be young and eager with little bargaining power. The other times I can remember there being multiple casts involve children, in particular, under British labor laws on the West End. 4. Yes, Astaire did choreograph his own material, although was rarely if ever officially credited. The one outright collaboration I can remember off the top of my head is his work with Eleanor Powell on The Broadway Melody of 1940. Powell also choreographed her own material and spoke about the joint nature of that partnership when Astaire received his AFI award. I think Caron also spoke about the challenges of Astaire trying to fit in his own persona and style into Roland Petit's vision of the Daddy Long Legs ballet in that film.
  16. A fun contrast to the clip of Frankie Manning and Norma Miller above, but here are Dean Collins and Jewel McGowan: http://youtu.be/qONrSOsqNRQ You can see the contrast between the (and wildly generalizing here) New York/Harlem and Los Angeles/Hollywood-friendly styles of Lindy Hop during the period. I don't enjoy doing the Dean Collins style myself as much, but it photographed beautifully and Jewel McGowan had some of the most gorgeous leg and hip movement around.
  17. In old interviews, some of the old MGM actors have reminisced about how when an Eleanor Powell production number was being filmed, it was the event on the lot. Anyone who could come out to see it being filmed would, and it's easy to see why. And even though she didn't "fit in" so well with the Hollywood "glamour girl" archetype, I think Eleanor Powell is the Hollywood female musical star I'd most want to have over for dinner and drinks. She and Esther Williams, I think.
  18. "Moses Supposes" is my favorite number from "Singin' in the Rain," too. It deliriously silly and brilliant at the same time. About Kelly and Garland, MGM tried to pair them more often as a team since the chemistry and rapport are clearly there, but circumstances (usually, Garland's) got in the way. Most famously, "Easter Parade" was supposed to be a major vehicle for them, but for once, it was Kelly who couldn't do it (I think he broke an ankle). Astaire came out of his first retirement to do it and you can see that the part of the meanie is not really a fit for Astaire's onscreen persona. I still adore the movie just for seeing Astaire and Garland together onscreen.
  19. There's youtube footage of Carlyle with Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild that was part of the promotion for the concert: Finally got around to watching the concert and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Rodgers music sounded glorious with the Philharmonic. Was very impressed with Jason Danieley and Jessie Mueller as Enoch and Carrie. To me, they were the highlight of the concert. Danieley has come a long way from being the golden-voiced, but rather wooden performer he was starting out, and Mueller justifies her hype as a star-in-the-making. The rapport between them was delightful. Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild were the other highlight of the evening for me. Since I don't live in NY anymore, I hadn't 't had the opportunity to see them dance before, and now I will have to seek them out when I'm there. True luxury casting to have them dancing Louise and the Fairground Boy! Nathan Gunn sounded lovely, but I found him to be a very blah Billy. I wasn't very enthusiastic about Michael Hayden's performance as Billy in the Nicholas Hytner production at the time because of his relatively weak vocals, but as time has gone on, I've appreciated the quality and subtlety of his acting more and more. I was very glad to see Kelli O'Hara as Julie. I completely appreciate her desire to stretch and grow as a performer, and I completely appreciate that people must love to work with her because she is hired all the time, but I've found her cast in far too many roles which I don't think really suit either her or her voice. I don't think she's really a very naturally funny performer (Nice Work if You Can Get It, Bells are Ringing) nor does she have a true belt (The Pajama Game). This kind of Rodgers and Hammerstein blonde soprano part is really where I feel her wheelhouse is, and she was wonderful in it.
  20. Does ABT do a 1/2 price student/senior/military rush an hour before performance? Does NYCB? That's another great way to fill seats, get a little more $$, and open up the artform to people on very tight budgets, especially the young audiences that should be cultivated for the future of the artform. Nobody has mentioned whether the house sold well for Vishneva-Gomes. That's the dream casting for balletomanes, but I wonder how many casual ballet goers or tourists knew that. I can't speak to seniors or military, but ABT does do a student rush, and from what I remember, it's all day on performance day. I was at a conference in NYC last summer, and had no problem getting a student rush ticket to one of last year's Vishneva-Gomes "Onegin" performances at lunchtime. (I technically still had grad student status at the time). NYCB also does student rush, but their student rush process is actually more complicated-I think you have to register for it ahead of time. I am a little surprised that ABT doesn't do more to sell some of its more lightly-sold performances. The Met is nearly impossible to sell out, and with the advent of internet marketing, I don't think it would be hard to do something with some of the weekday performances. I've seen performances at the TKTS booth from time to time, but it's really been a once in a blue moon offering. (Funds from the ticket booth goes to Broadway Care/Equity Fights AIDS, a worthy cause, but not the shows themselves).
  21. Both those models would be a step backwards. Gelb's model with the HD Met broadcasts actually is closer to what's going on in sports these days. In the sports markets, the value of the TV rights is outstripping the value of live attendance. I seriously can't think of any football or baseball games that are blacked out anymore. (I don't watch basketball, but I suspect it's the same). You can pretty much watch watch every game your favorite team plays from coast to coast . You can even watch internationally in most cases. And as you pointed out the publishing model is going digital as well.
  22. I think it's clear the HD broadcasts are clearly a net plus. The important thing to remember is that the Met-attending audience may be a somewhat smaller piece of the pie, but the broadcasts are making the overall size of the pie bigger. Actually, i suspect the Met audience as a whole is a lot bigger. Yes, there will probably be some drop-off in attendance, but there are large swaths of the public who will never get to a live Met theater performance for one reason or another (financial, physical, geographic, etc.) that Gelb has now made performances accessible for. From personal experience, I can tell you that a number of my friends here in Los Angeles cannot make it to New York for Met performances because well, frankly, they can't hop on a LAX-JFK flight on a weekly basis, but they faithfully go to virtually ever single one of the Met HD performances.
  23. Up until the late 1940s to early 1950s, there was very strong crossover between pop and musical theatre. Many popular songs at the time originated in musical theatre, and many songwriters interchanged between pop, film and theatre like Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer and Burton Lane, and singers crossed over as well. The paths really started diverging with the advent of rock and roll. As much as opera singers try, the phrasing style and enunciation really needed for musical theatre songs usually isn't there resulting in a lovely but unintelligible vowel soup. In my opinion, Frederica von Stade was probably the most successful at it that I've seen on a consistent basis, followed by Dawn Upshaw. (Although Paulo Szot was a wonderful de Becque in Lincoln Center's recent South Pacific indeed.) Leontyne Price had some disastrous attempts as musical theatre music as well as some surprisingly good ones. The Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras musical theatre CDs are just ... strange to me. Interestingly, when the recent City Center Encores! concert of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream was casting the part of the Fauna originally written for and very unsuccessfully played by Helen Traubel in 1955, they went in a completely different direction with Leslie Uggams. The universal consensus seemed to be that it was a much more successful choice. Getting back to the Carousel concert, I did hear that it was fabulous with the only slight quibble being Nathan Gunn's performance as Billy. In particular, I heard that Jessie Mueller's Carrie and the ballet performances (if not choreography) were outstanding. In case anyone else was unable to see it live, I believe it's scheduled to be on PBS in April. And just for chuckles, someone clipped together some music that may have influenced Andrew Lloyd Webber:
  24. Hathaway replaced the Valentino gown that she had been planning to wear with the pink Prada at the last minute because Amanda Seyfried's Alexander McQueen was similar. In Exhibit A of celebrity "more-than-we-needed-to-know"-ness, Hathaway's camp released a statement to that effect after the Awards. Seriously. So there probably no opportunity for her team to scrutinize the dress as it should have been. Hathaway has a longstanding relationship with Valentino and I'm sure that dress has been pored over for weeks, perhaps months. The Prada looks like it was thrown on, and not even properly fitted, unfortunately.
  25. Anne Hathaway is a fine actress, but it's not just her skill that's causing that effect. Part of the reason for the reverse is because the relative size of the parts was reversed as well. Fantine doesn't really have a chance to grab your heart in the stage musical; she comes on, she sings "I Dreamed a Dream," and she dies. The part's almost a cameo. But when a big, A-list star was cast as Fantine and a no-name West End actress was cast as Eponine, it's not surprising that the part of Fantine is beefed up and the part of Eponine is cut down. Anne Hathaway also won because she went on a major campaign for the Academy Award. Out of the actresses up for the award, she campaigned the longest and hardest for it. Based just on the amount of time she's spent on the talk show circuit, I'm not surprised she won. The Eponine role was cut down a lot in the film when Samantha Barks was cast. Dramatically it makes sense. Eponine isn't a large role in the Hugo novel. But I suspect a lot of it is because Barks is the relative no-name in the cast. The producers had been gunning for Taylor Swift or Scarlett Johansson and I would guess that if either had been cast, the part would have been at least the size it is in the stage musical. That being said, i almost cried in gratitude when Samantha Barks came out to sing Eponine's lines in "One Day More." The quality of the vocals were no contest compared to anybody else on the stage. (I like Aaron Tveit, but Enroljas really isn't in the sweet spot of his voice.).
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