Baby, You Knock Me Out

18-Jun-08 3:45 PM by
Filed under Fade to Black; 1 comment.

It's proving a rather devastating year for Hollywood's roster. Yesterday, we lost the many talents of dancer and actress Cyd Charisse.

Brigadoon DVD coverIn an unexpected synchronicity, it's been in just these past six months that I became familiar with Ms. Charisse's work beyond her non-speaking role in Singin' in the Rain. When I was offered a part in a community theater production of Brigadoon, I quickly consumed the movie version to see what I was getting myself into. Though I now suspect the women's dance numbers did not showcase Ms. Charisse's full range of talent as the female lead, I was enamored of the film's colors and her chemistry with Singin' partner Gene Kelly.

A few months later, I finally saw them again reunited in It's Always Fair Weather, a musical I'd seen a clip of a decade past. Though a surprisingly unremarkable film for a performer of his caliber, the scene that drew me to it — a Gene Kelly dance number performed on roller skates — was worth the price of admission, while Ms. Charisse's sassy number in the boxing ring got her the screen time she deserved.

Though not all musicals translate well to film, the medium is infinitely capable of grand tales of song and dance. Hats off to Cyd Charisse for cementing the genre's place in Hollywood's history.

(Hat tip to Dead or Alive?)

Another Op'nin', Another Show

24-Mar-07 3:40 PM by
Filed under Films, On Stage; Comments Off on Another Op'nin', Another Show

My first musical performance was in Cole Porter's Anything Goes. It wasn't for another 13 years — Kiss Me, Kate, opening tonight at the country's second oldest community theater company — that I again performed the works of this prolific composer. So today seemed timely for me to finally watch Kevin Kline portray Porter's life in the 2005 film De-Lovely.

The film is creatively framed as a dying Cole Porter viewing his life as a musical, thus explaining his company's proclivity for breaking into song and dance. Though these numbers are subdued — despite Porter's work is laced throughout the film, I would not call it a musical — they are certainly fiction. What of the story is fact, I am unsure. Surely the highlights of the story are true: his time in Europe writing musicals, his success in Hollywood, his painful, later years. The movie, like my theatrical career thus far, begins with Anything Goes and ends with Kiss Me, Kate.