Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Dance Party: A Hard-Knock Life

This week's Dance Party features an award-winning cast.  We have two Tony winners and two Emmy winners, plus an Oscar winner for good luck.  Various of our cast members have also won the Olivier, the Theatre World Award, the Golden Globe, and the SAG. 

We have two Drama Desk winners, two Outer Critics Circle Award winners, and  two winners of GLAAD awards,  for roles and/or work on behalf of the LGBT community.  We even have a recipient of the OBE, awarded by the Queen herself.  They have earned numerous nominations for these and other awards, including a whopping 11 Emmy nods for one of our stars, who finally won one last weekend, playing a ghost (and with some luck, she may win another on Sunday).

The above partial list of accomplishments is particularly impressive, considering there are only three people in this week's clip.  But what a finely talented trio they are.

Alan Cumming cultivated a bad-boy, poly-sexual image in his early career. He is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, and classifies himself as bi-sexual. 
Alan Cumming had a rising career on the London stage when he snagged his breakout role, the Emcee in the 1993 re-imagining of the classic Cabaret
Alan Cumming's grungy Emcee was a
massive reinterpretation of the role which
pixie Joel Grey created.

He transferred with the show to Broadway, and won the Tony.  At roughly the same time, his film career was taking off, with appearances in the Spy Kids and X-Men franchises, as well as well-received performances in quirky indies such as his own The Anniversary Party, which he co-wrote and co-directed.  He occasionally returns to the musical stage, including an all-star revival of Threepenny Opera, in which he sang "Mac the Knife". 
Alan cleans up good. As Eli on
The Good Wife, he's earned 2 Emmy

His recurring role in the first season of The Good Wife was immediately expanded;  he is now part of the permanent supporting cast.

Kristin Chenoweth
Chenoweth's career has included some non-musical projects, including the "Jimmy Smits" years of The West Wing, and last season's failure, GCB

Chenoweth spent 2 years on
The West Wing. She was dating
Aaron Sorkin at the time.

But she is best known for her musical appearances, including this week's Dance Party, as well as Glinda the Good Witch, Marion the Librarian, and Charlie Brown's sister.  Our Kristin had a very rough summer;  coincidentally, she was beginning a guesting gig on her costar Alan Cumming's The Good Wife this summer when she was clobbered by a falling light instrument and was hospitalized. 
That's Kristin Chenoweth on the stretcher. It was a major accident which pulled her out of the planned story arc on The Good Wife. I smell a lawsuit.
She spent weeks in a neck brace, recovering from a fractured skull and other issues.  She has since reappeared publicly, including the season premiere of Anderson Cooper's talk show, during which she described the extent of her injuries (after which, she opened the door for Cooper to address the issue which was on everyone's mind at the time, his public acknowledgment of his homosexuality). 
Kristin unexpectedly won the Emmy
for Pushing Daisies, which had long
since bit the dust.

Regular visitors to these pages know that I am a great fan of Chenoweth (her own Dance Party, one of the best ever, can be seen here).  I have never seen this firecracker live, but will surely rectify that when she returns to Broadway in the upcoming revival of On The Twentieth Century, playing the role created by Madeleine Kahn.

Kathy Bates
If Kristin Chenoweth has had a rough summer, Kathy Bates has had a truly devastating one.  First, her TV show, Harry's Law, was cancelled, despite being the highest rated scripted program on NBC.  Then, her diagnosis of breast cancer led to a double mastectomy.  Any woman who agrees to such a massive operation immediately following her diagnosis, well, I'm guessing her prognosis was not positive.
The demographics of this hit show registered too old, and the program was axed.  A grassroots campaign to save the show sprang up, but did not convince NBC to continue production.  Meanwhile, Bates was having her breasts removed.  A really lousy summer for our gal.
Kathy Bates is considered one of the best actresses of her generation, and I would not disagree. 
'night, Mother

Her uncluttered, no-nonsense style made her a hit on the New York theatrical scene, where she won a Tony nod for her performance in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'night, Mother (her role went to Cissy Spacek when the play was filmed).  Terence McNally wrote Frankie and Johnnie at the Claire de Lune specifically for Bates, who was nevertheless replaced by Michelle Pfeiffer (!) for the movie.  Eventually, though, our gal made up for those egregious disappointments, becoming a bit of a sensation in her breakout role of a crazed fan in Misery.  She won the Oscar and Hollywood took note.
No one will ever forget this scene with the mallet and the ankles.
I'm pleased that she's been all over the place lately.  She took the title role in Harry's Law, originally written for a man, and attracted a large, but aging, audience. 
Bates earned another Oscar nod for Primary Colors.

Over the years, she has earned 11 Emmy nominations, and it was a bit reminiscent of the Susan Lucci / Angela Lansbury curse, until last weekend, when she picked up the award for Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. 
Kathy won the Emmy last week,
playing the ghost of Charlie Sheen.

She is up for her own series on Sunday, facing stiff competition, but don't count the old broad out.  She overcame ovarian cancer a decade ago, and this new assault, I hope, will be dealt with just as completely.

This week's clip features Kathy in a rare musical role.  The story goes that she pursued the role herself, when she learned a TV remake of the 1970s smash Annie was in the works. 
As "unsinkable" Molly Brown in Titanic.

Nobody remembered that she had crooned a tune in 1971's Taking Off (at that time she was calling herself Bobo Bates.  Thank god she changed her mind on THAT before it was too late).  She holds her own with her costars here, in a number which has already appeared on the Dance Party, sung by its originators onstage, here
Annie's Rooster and Lily.

This is the only production of this song, though, that my eye does not continually fall on the character of Miss Hannigan.  Here, Alan Cumming's performance is so smoothly quirky that he swipes the number.  I have a lot of admiration for Bates's talents, but she does not have the musical charisma which her costars in the clip possess.  But boy can she scare the sh*t out of everybody.
Misery loves company.

Annie was in dire need of a do-over, after the mess director John Huston made of the 1982 film, and this one will do nicely. Victor Garber and Audra McDonald are also in the cast. This number remains my favorite song from the musical.