Tag Archives: Broadway musicals

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda Book Review

Fans of Broadway musicals and students of Jewish history know the final scene of Fiddler on the Roof all too well. The Jewish residents of the fictional shtetl of Anatevka have been forced out of their homes by the local authorities. As they scatter to four winds, their fate is unknown. Presidential advisor Stephen Miller comes from this world. As do I and millions of Jews of Eastern European descent. But for any number of reasons, Miller has forgotten this history.

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, written by journalist Jean Guerrero, was published in August. Miller grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in California. As a young man, his political beliefs began to swing to the extreme right, especially when it came to immigration. He was not shy about sharing his opinions, and like many with that perspective, couched his words in a way that would not immediately come off as racist.

After college, he went into politics, which ultimately led him to his current position working for you know who as a speechwriter and policymaker.

In my world, Miller would be described as a shanda (disgrace). As an American and a Jew, he has forgotten the traditions and the history that we carry with us. Without the United States, Miller’s family, like my family would have been part of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

There is nothing wrong with regulating who can come into this country. But as I see it, his policies are a bridge too far. There were moments while reading this book that I was both outraged and disgusted. While it was a good book, it was a smack in the face that hate, prejudice, and xenophobia is still alive and well in America in 2020.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Politics

Flashback Friday-Grease: You’re the One That I Want! (2007)

Reality television has a way of worming itself into every niche of the television world that it can.

In 2007, it made it’s way to Broadway. Grease: You’re the One That I Want! aired for one season. The purpose of the program was to use the reality show format to cast another revival of Grease. Using the competition show as a backbone, the format was not unfamiliar: the contestants would perform every week. One by one they are eliminated until the winners are cast as Danny and Sandy.

At the time, it was good television. Looking back I can see that it was not that good. It was not completely lifeless, but it was one of the shows that was only destined to last one season.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Music, Television, TV Review

Flashback Friday-Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

Phantom Of The Opera is a classic. Originally written as a novel by Gaston Leroux, the most famous adaptation is the Broadway musical. It opened on Broadway in 1986 and is still one of the most popular shows on the great white way.

In 2004, the stage production was adapted into a movie. Gerard Butler played the title character and Emmy Rossum played Christine. The supporting cast included Patrick Wilson (Raoul), Miranda Richardson (Madame Giry) and Minnie Driver (Carlotta).

Movie adaptations of Broadway musicals have to walk a fine line these days. In the 1950’s and 1960’s when musicals (especially ones based on Broadway shows) dominated the movie industry, a successful film was not that hard to come by. These days, the film has to appeal to the audience who loves the stage production, while also filling the seats with moviegoers who may not know the stage production.

The movie is simply okay in my eyes. Is it the best Broadway to big screen adaptation? No, but I’ve seen worse.

Do I recommend it? It depends, especially if you have not seen the show on stage.

 

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Filed under Books, Broadway Musical Review, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies

Sense And Sensibility, The Musical

Today I had the pleasure of attending the spring meeting of JASNA‘s New York City chapter.

The subject was the musical adaptation of Sense And Sensibility.

While I do not see Broadway musicals very often (or any show on Broadway at all), I walked away from this meeting genuinely excited to see this production on a Broadway stage.

As with any adaptation, certain changes had to be made. But, based on the presentation by the creative team, I can confidently report that this musical will entertain the audience, regardless of if they have read the original novel. And if the result of seeing the show is to read Sense and Sensibility (in addition to the other novels), and join JASNA, then that is an end result that I happily look forward to.

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Filed under Books, Broadway Musical Review, Jane Austen, New York City, Sense and Sensibility

Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Flashback Friday, Movie Review, Movies