Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reading, watching, listening

I always like to check out the weekly list of upcoming theatre-related book, cd and dvd releases on Talkin Broadway. Here's some of what I'd like to be listening to, watching and reading:

Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz from Godspell to Wicked: Wow, that's a pretty long title. Now granted, I'd probably just skip ahead to the section on Wicked, but according to the publisher, author Carol de Giere spent 80 hours interviewing the composer and talked to more than 100 of his colleagues friends and family. The 544-page biography reveals "never-before-told-stories and explores both Schwartz's phenomenal hits and expensive flops." Available now.

The Grapes of Wrath: I don't anything about composer Ricky Ian Gordon, but I've been a big John Steinbeck fan since high school. My favorite work of his is actually the nonfiction account of his 1960 trip across America, Travels with Charley. Still, I'm curious about Gordon's opera version of Steinbeck's Depression-era novel The Grapes of Wrath. This 3-cd set was recorded last year with the Minnesota Opera. Available now.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular: I took a tour of Radio City Music Hall last year and it was great. Unfortunately, because a show was going on, we didn't actually get to go into the auditorium. So until I can see those high-kicking Rockettes in person, this may be the next best thing. This 90-minute dvd features last year's 75th anniversary production, including the reportedly spectacular Parade of the Wooden Soldiers. Release date: Nov. 4.

In Spite of Myself: A Memoir: I loved Julie Andrews' memoir, Home, and now her Sound of Music costar, Christopher Plummer, is weighing in with a 656-page autobiography. The early reviews sound good. Publisher's Weekly calls the book “An enchanting observer of the showbiz cavalcade, drawing vivid thumbnails of everyone from Laurence Olivier to Lenny Bruce and tossing off witty anecdotes like the most effortless ad libs. The result - a sparkling star turn from a born raconteur for whom all the world is indeed a stage.” Release date: Nov. 4.

The Gospel at Colonus: Since seeing The Dreams of Antigone last week, I'm on kind of a Greek tragedy kick. The Gospel at Colonus is a retelling of Sophocles' play Oedipus at Colonus through the medium of modern gospel music. This is the 9o-minute filmed version of a 1985 Philadelphia performance and features Morgan Freeman as a Pentecostal preacher and The Blind Boys of Alabama, collectively, as Oedipus. Release date: Nov. 18.

13: Even if I don't get to see Jason Robert Brown's new musical, I'll still pick up the original Broadway cast recording. I don't feel compelled to buy the cd of every new musical, especially if I've never seen it. But I enjoy Brown's music - whether I've seen the show, like Parade, or whether I haven't, like The Last 5 Years - and this is the kind of catchy pop score that's usually right up my alley. Release date: Nov. 25.

Hair: Let the Sun Shine In: If I could travel back in time to see the original Broadway production of a musical, Hair would definitely be high on my list. Maybe it's not so shocking today, but I can only imagine what it was like to see it 40 years ago. This 55-minute documentary, which also includes an hour of bonus footage, "conveys a portrait of an era, a generation and its politics." Release date Dec. 9.

Passing Strange: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical: Stew won the Tony award for Best Book of a Musical for writing Passing Strange and I can understand why. The dialog was smart, witty and memorable. I'm curious to see how his words hold up when I read them rather than listen to them. Release date: January 15.


Sarah B. Roberts said...

You know, just because Wicked is Schwartz' biggest commercial hit, doesn't mean it's his best work. It's certainly not as good as Pippin or even The Magic Show, in my (not so) humble opinion. Schwartz is not even terrifically prolific. Oh, well.

Esther said...

Hey Sarah,
You know, the blog post was just designed to be a list of some of the things that I'm interested in, the books, cds and dvds that piqued my curiosity as I was looking through the Talkin Broadway list. I like Wicked and I'm kind of curious to see what the Stephen Schwartz biography has to say about it. I realize that others may not share my interests, which is fine. I'm not trying to tell people they should rush out and buy everything I mentioned. Unless of course, they wanted to buy them for me, which would be quite all right! ;-)