Saturday, May 4, 2013

Friday Dance Party: Not Just Overnight

Christina Hendricks as June. Or is it
April?
The arrival of new episodes of Mad Men has revived a problem I consistently have with cable series.  Generally, these programs have only about a dozen episodes per season.  Once they are broadcast (side question:  are cable shows actually broadcast, or are they instead... I don't know, cabled...?), the show disappears until the next season, usually about 10 months later. 
Christina Hendricks sails through the office with luxurious smoothness. She claims the formfitting wardrobe is responsible for her unmistakable movement.  As soon as she hit the airwaves, she was heralded as an example of the classic hourglass figure which disappeared with Twiggy, and never returned.
My addled, aging brain tends to forget the specifics of TV shows in that period of time, and the announcements of "Previously, on Breaking Bad..." really don't jog my memory enough.  What's a fellow to do?
I certainly remember this controversial episode from last season's Mad Men. An important client demands to sleep with office manager Joan. The agency is near collapse;  to save the day (and to become an actual partner in the firm), Joan prostitutes herself, a decision which I understand comes back to haunt her this year.
With Mad Men, I am currently taping the new season, but have not watched any of it. 
In reviewing early episodes, I am again
struck by the work of Hendricks and John
Slattery, who stand out in a great cast. I
wrote about it here, before the 2nd season
aired.

Instead, I am reviewing the full series, from its first season, and when I'm done, I'll launch seamlessly into the new episodes.  This routine works better sometimes than other times.  I did the same thing with Downton Abbey, and of course, was bombarded with spoilers as the new season was being shown.  So, by the grand finale, I already knew which major characters had died, and how.  Downton seems to have generated much more social media buzz than Mad Men this year, so I haven't seen any spoilers just yet.
Mad Men creators admit that Christina was completely different from their original concept of Joan. They immediately started writing the character for Hendricks, even including her unusual talent: the accordion.
I'm just finishing season one of Mad Men, and I am once again falling in love with the work of Christina Hendricks.  She turned 38 on Friday, and deserves to star in this week's Dance Party. 
The clip below is from a concert staging of the musical Company, which is filled with TV stars who don't really belong on the musical stage (Jon Cryer and Stephen Colbert, of all people, are also featured in this thing). 
This concert staging of Company, backed by the NY Philharmonic, was first broadcast to theatres.  It has since been made available on DVD.
But we forgive a lot when Sondheim is involved, and this particular production was led by Neil Patrick Harris, who can do no wrong in these pages.  The song below is one of the more well-known of the tunes from Company, though you'll never hear a recording star cover it. 
Company's Bobby has a one-night stand with stewardess
April.  Or is it June?

It's a perfect example of the way Sondheim's songs tell complete stories;  like so many other of his compositions, it resembles a one-act play more than a showstopping standard.  And while it's unlikely this tune will ever turn up on a pop star's latest offering, it surely shows up in musical theatre performance classes, as it offers the performers a great opportunity to display both acting and vocal talents.  Christina Hendricks's vocal talents are not particularly strong here, but she gets points for effort.  Happy Birthday!

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