Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Dance Party: Less Miserable

Gay rumours have swirled around Hugh Jackman ever since he played the flamboyant Peter Allen so well.  To his credit, he has always addressed those rumours with nonchalant humor and humanity. 
At long last, I sat down this week with Les Miserables, the movie. 
Hugh Jackman's first international notice came in a British
revival of Oklahoma.

As a SAG member, a special screener DVD was supposedly mailed to me months ago, For My Consideration.  This week, months after the SAG awards were presented, the DVD mysteriously arrived.  I admit I was not that peeved that the film was late, as I am most definitely not a fan of this musical.

I'm sure my antipathy toward this musical is my own failing.

I saw the first national tour of Les Miz when it sat down for a while in Los Angeles.  It was supposed to be the greatest thing since A Chorus Line. Nope, but at least it was better than Cats.  When the show entered hour three, I'd really had enough.  There are those out there who love this musical, and I certainly respect their opinions, as many of them are better informed than mine, where music is concerned.  But I found myself bored almost immediately by Les Miz.  The piece worked strenuously to touch the emotions, and all that work really wore me out. 
I dreamed a dream that this film version would improve my opinion of Les Miz.
I'm worn out by the movie, too.  I have sat down twice (so far) to watch it, but I have only reached the half-way mark.  I imagine eventually I'll get through it, but is it worth the struggle? 
Signature Theatre scaled down the epic. It's the only
production of Les Miz I have enjoyed. I wrote about it here.

Anne Hathaway's Oscar winning performance is already over, unless she comes back as a ghost, I don't remember.  The Thenardiers have come and gone, twice, and I find myself agreeing with everybody who claims Russell Crowe is a big disappointment.  I'm sorry this movie fails for me, as I would like nothing better than for the movie musical to make a strong comeback.
Despite critical drubbing, this show packed
houses for a year, due solely to Hugh's
presence in it.

They should make a movie musical out of the show which provides this week's Dance Party.  It's very cinematic, and tells its story in a linear fashion which is attractive to American audiences.  The subject matter, though, is probably not everyone's taste.  The Boy From Oz is a biographical musical telling the life story of composer/entertainer Peter Allen;  it is sometimes classified as a juke-box musical, as the score consists only of music written, or co-written, by Allen himself. 
Peter Allen

Hugh Jackman, who I must admit is pretty impressive in the Les Miz film I am currently slogging my way through, is completely (and appropriately) over the top here in Oz
The Boy From Oz was in a long line of star-driven mediocrities.  Nobody much liked the books or the scores to Coco (go here for that Dance Party), Victor/Victoria (go here for that one), Curtains, even the most recent Promises, Promises revival (go here for that one).  But their stars kept the houses full.  When Hepburn, Andrews, Hyde-Pierce, and Hayes left these shows, they either sputtered out quickly or, in the case of Oz, were immediately shuttered by their producers.
Jackman became a real Broadway Baby with this performance, which won the Tony and was the sole reason the show lasted a full year.  The producers didn't even try to keep the show open after Jackman's contract lapsed. 
Jackman hosted the Tonys and revved
up the crowd as Peter Allen. He won
an Emmy as well as the Tony.

Instead, Hugh took the show back to Australia, redesigned for arena stages which could hold 10,000 people, and toured every stadium on the continent.  Our hero returned to Broadway for 10 weeks in 2011, where his concert show packed the houses and turned an enormous profit.
Jackman's return to Broadway in concert was the hit of the season.
As for Les Miz?  I'll keep slogging through it until I finish, maybe one day next week.  I had absolutely no temptation to use a clip from the film this week.  Wouldn't we all rather watch Hugh Jackman shimmy than brood?