This Season's Movie Musicals

Tuesday 4th November 2014

After a summer of blockbusters, there's always a flurry of cinematic excitement around the winter time when the family movies hit the big screens and, like Santa Claus, the movie musicals come to town.

This year there are three stage hits getting a movie makeover, so here’s the lowdown…

I'm particularly keen to see the new film of Annie produced, amongst others, by Jay-Z and Will Smith. I've mentioned on this blog before that I have a soft spot for this show, but I'm particularly keen to see how the updated setting and new songs (written by the original team of composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Martin Charnin) affect the story. 

I'm a diehard fan of the original '82 movie which, while it (unfairly, to my mind) was nominated for various ‘Worst…’ categories at the Razzies, was also Oscar nominated for its sumptuously orchestrated score. New songs improved on some of the weaker material from the stage show and it’s worth watching just for Carol Burnett, Tim Curry AND Bernadette Peters stealing the show. 

I also loved Rob Marshall's '99 Disney TV remake with its host of Broadway stars, including Kristin Chenoweth and Audra MacDonald, leading the cast. Marshall is responsible for directing the movie I'm most excited for; Into the Woods. This is one of my favourite Stephen Sondheim scores and the source material for James Lapine's book, fairy tales, is right up my street - it was one of the things that made Emily & me consider Aesop's Fables for our most recent musical, Return to Aesop.

Nothing pleases me more than new audiences discovering scores previously unknown to them and with a cast including Meryl Streep, Jonny Depp and Chris Pine, there'll be a huge draw thanks to these names, which will only increase the number of new ears falling on this musical magic. The cast also features some of my stage heroes, including Joanna Riding and Simon Russell Beale, and I can’t wait to see how it all pieces together. 

In the role of Cinderella is Anna Kendrick. A former broadway baby, Kendrick is racking up her musical movie credits (with Pitch Perfect 2 now in the can) and also stars as Cathy in the film of Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years. As a long-time fan of this two-hander, I'm excited to see how an intimate stage piece has been translated to the screen. It's in safe hands with Kurt Deutsh, husband of original stage ‘Cathy’ Sherie Rene Scott, as one of the lead producers (Sherie also makes a cameo in the movie). As founders of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records, Kurt and Sherie are responsible for producing some of the biggest Broadway cast recordings and solo albums of the last 15 years, always capturing the art of the musical, which I'm sure will be just as well preserved in this adaptation.

With the gorgeous Jeremy Jordan playing opposite Kendrick, the film will, I’m sure, add to the musical’s existing cult-like following. 

Our reviews of these three movies will appear on this blog in due course, so watch this space!

- Anna