The Plot Against America, which I watched during a week-long free trial of HBO Max, was a little too slow and vague for me, but the finale was particularly good. I loved Zoe Kazan as a terrified Bess trying to soothe a hysteric child over the phone. If anything, the series got me more interested in the work of both Kazan and Anthony Boyle, and the parallels between Philip Roth’s original story and today are startling.
We finally downloaded Disney+ to indulge in the wonder that was Hamilton, but since that inaugural weekend, I’ve traveled down memory lane and watched some of my favorite old DCOMs. Gotta Kick It Up!, Go Figure, and Read It and Weep were still really delightful, and I have viewings of my ultimate favorites — Stuck in the Suburbs, Smart House, and Cadet Kelly — to anticipate. Since the movies are so short, it’s really easy to get through one right before bed.
Several Lost alums making up for a certain co-star’s extremely selfish opinion. Daniel Dae Kim is forever as valiant and charming as Jin was. Maggie Grace is a steady voice of reason with just the right amount of bite. Harold Perrineau apparently helped Henry Ian Cusick’s son travel home safely. We have to go back…to leave Kate on the island.
Meg Cabot writing about the coronavirus outbreak from Princess Mia’s perspective.
The Broadway community fundraising, performing, and congregating via live-streamed shows. Seth Rudetsky’s “Stars in the House” series and Broadway.com’s “Live at Five: Home Edition” occur daily, and Rosie O’Donnell’s conversation with Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker during her benefit show still delights me (they’re just at home watching Columbo and doing laundry!).
Podcasts are my go-to background noise when I have a low-stakes lineup of tasks at work, but given current situations, I suspect new episodes of my followed podcasts may be few and far between soon. I still have plenty of bookmarked episodes to catch up on, but listening to an author talk about her debut book or following a debate about Nancy Meyers’ greatest film feels a little weird when you’re in such an apocalyptic mood.
So, I figured that nothing is better medicine than singing along to or just playing an uplighting cast recording or movie soundtrack. Yes, I love Hamilton as much as the next gal, and I can practically quote Fiddler on the Roof verbatim, but let’s be real — a lot of those songs are pretty bleak and depressing. The albums below might have their share of slower, reflective songs, but as a whole, they tell stories of optimism and heart, and they have happy endings. The joy entangled in these lyrics and performances is contagious, and even just listening to some of my favorite songs below helped me feel a little lighter. I hope they help you feel the same!
1) Bright Star
Standouts: “If You Knew My Story,” “Whoa, Mama,” “Sun Is Gonna Shine”
This music by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell is inspired by their own bluegrass compositions, but what really makes Bright Star such a soothing listen for me is the voice of leading lady Carmen Cusack. Her performance here scored a Tony nomination during the Hamilton year, which is an accomplishment unto itself. Her delivery is so soulful, and particularly in her single version of “Sun Is Gonna Shine,” you start to believe that everything will be okay. It might be the only cast album I can play without getting bored because every song has a little something that you can appreciate, whether it be a gorgeous note or a moving lyric.
Beyond the Screenplay and IndieWire Filmmaker Toolkit, breaking down films from the perspectives of screenwriters, directors, and editors.
Mamas Talkin’ Loud, covering the lives of mothers working in theater and fueling inspiration for a budding writing project.
Any podcast interview with Greta Gerwig I can find, with favorites including her talks with Scriptnotes and Five Things with Lynn Hirschberg.
I wish for…
Taylor Swift to act in something not horrible.
A Bachelorette over the age of 25.
Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain to play sisters in a project.
Winning a Broadway ticket lottery for the first time.
Finishing and adoring Gavin and Stacey just in time for James Corden’s announcement of a Christmas special.
Soaring through the Morgan Matson books I hadn’t read yet.
Getting the shivers over The Act and reading countless articles about Gypsy Rose Blanchard.
I have a soft spot for Broadway revivals. Depending on the season, I’m usually either excited or neutral about new, original musicals, but nothing beats seeing gorgeous, full-blown productions of the shows I grew up loving. I’m still waiting for a revival of The Music Man, but in the meantime, I had the pleasure of seeing My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater last week. While it’s never been one of my favorites, I’ve always adored My Fair Lady‘s score, and seeing it on such a grand scale was wonderful.
Following Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle’s mission to improve her dialect with lessons from linguistics expert Professor Henry Higgins, this revival originally opened in April. TV star Lauren Ambrose played Eliza Doolittle, and after scoring a Tony nomination, she left the production to film a TV series. Acclaimed Broadway star Laura Benanti, who I’ve grown to love for her humor and great social media presence, then stepped into what she has long described as her dream role. She joined original company members Harry Hadden-Paton as Henry Higgins and Norbert Leo Butz as Alfred Doolittle.
Happy November! This is my favorite time of year — the weather has finally realized it’s autumn, Oscar bait movies are hitting the theaters, and the general merriment and chaos of the holiday season is in the air. While I have several contemporary reads coming up on my library holds list, I mostly read historical fiction in October. Four of these books were NetGalley ARCs, but two of them have since been published and are receiving some well-deserved praise!
Although the ratings of this lineup suggest the books were fairly average, the majority of them had special elements that really stood out to me and kept me invested.
One Day in December, by Josie Silver (★★★★☆)
In her early twenties near the Christmas holidays, Laurie spots a man waiting on the street below from the top deck of a London bus. They make eye contact and have an inexplicably strong connection. Laurie and her best friend Sarah spend the next year searching London for the mystery man. She finds him the following Christmas when Sarah introduces him as Jack, her boyfriend. The rest of the book follows Laurie and Jack over the next several years, becoming close friends while avoiding the fact that they once shared that special moment.
I had the pleasure of seeing Waitress on Broadway back in October as a belated birthday present. My mom, sister, and I took advantage of the show’s “Buy One, Get One for $10” deal to grab discounted tickets for a Sunday matinee, and as much as I’ve gotten used to the post-evening show hustle through Times Square to make my train home, it was nice to drive in with people and leave the theater a little more relaxed than usual.
Waitress has been on my list of must-see Broadways show for awhile, and at this point, it was really the only new musical that I was interested in seeing. Even now, I’m more looking forward to next season’s revivals than its new shows. The cast recording became essay-writing music for me in my last semester of school, and I figured that, if anything, seeing the show would be a fun, girly afternoon with my mom and sister.
Based on the 2007 indie film, Waitress tells the story of Jenna, a diner waitress in a small southern town who finds herself pregnant by her abusive husband. In addition to feeling ambivalent about becoming a mother, she has a talent for baking unique pies, and schemes to raise enough money to enter a pie-making contest that could allow her to leave her husband and start anew. Things become complicated when Jenna starts falling for her married OB/GYN, and the plot also explores her coworkers’ experiences with finding love.
The last Dream Casting blog I did was for Into the Woods, and today I wanted to do another Dream Casting for one of those classic shows I saw so many community productions of while growing up. The Music Man probably has my favorite overall score of any show – the songs are so easy to catch onto and are fun yet beautiful.
I think a huge part of The Music Man‘s initial appeal is Robert Preston in the title role both in the original Broadway production and in the film. Any other Harold Hill, professional or amateur, seems to fail in comparison because they’re (consciously or not) trying to emulate Preston’s unique style.
This may be why Broadway revivals of The Music Man are few and far between. There was a 1980 production with Dick Van Dyke that’s considered a revival, but it lasted less than a month after its opening. The 2000 production with Rebecca Luker and Craig Bierko lasted a little over a year and a half, which is a pretty standard run for a revival, but those are huge gaps between versions. What with Carousel and My Fair Lady being revived next year, there isn’t much room for another large-scale classic from that era, but I’m hoping for a Music Man revival in the next few years! So, I lived vicariously by casting my dream company of the show.
Harold Hill – James Monroe Iglehart or Seth MacFarlane
Seth MacFarlane is often the Internet’s choice for an ideal Harold Hill because he performed a very Preston-esque rendition of “Ya Got Trouble” at BBC Proms. I have to admit, I forgive Seth for all of his gross humor (ugh, remember the Oscars?) when I hear him sing musical theater, but I really don’t see him doing a Broadway show. I think he’d be a safe revival choice if producers want to please an older generation that likes their traditional musicals. However, current Hamilton star James Monroe Iglehart said in a recent interview that he would love to play Hill if non-traditional casting was embraced, and I sort of love the idea!