LAST THREE SONGS!

Michael Arden as Quasimodo & Ciara Renée as Esmeralda during the finale, La Jolla Hunchack of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo & Ciara Renée as Esmeralda during the finale, La Jolla Hunchack of Notre Dame

While the City Sleeps – A bridge song. Maybe it a slight bitterness in my mood, I’m not perfect in some of criticisms but I really do not care for the choir singing near operatics with the nasal singing of the chorus or rather the congregation. That nasal tone is very musical and Broadway but it two styles that do not mesh well together.

As it is, it’s a bridge song getting the musical from Someday to Made of Stone. But styles of singing just didn’t work, the congregation is capable of singing not as nasally so I’m not sure why they did here.

Made of Stone – I don’t want to seem jaded, though to be fair I am but this version of Made of Stone is very much the same as the German version. Is that bad? No. I just can rave about this song as much. That being said it’s well done. Michael Arden gives great performance. He pulls off a good combination of anger and pathos that the song requires. Though in the stage show at least for the La Jolla performance, I wish he was just a little bit anger but it could have just been that show, that night.

I do think it’s weird that Quasimodo asks what his own mind know of him. Quasimodo is crazy. Also I don’t know if I get why the congregation take off their cowl things? I think something more akin to pulling hoods over their faces would have been better, like they lose the spark and individuality Quasimodo’s mind gave them. But what do I know about stage craft.

Though I still maintain I liked Made of Stone before Someday better. There was just more power there but they clearly wanted the the epic Latin music that the Disney movie had hence the switch.

Finale – OK, before I can even start with the song, I need to discuss this insanity of logic in the script. One of Esmeralda’s crime was stabbing Phoebus. No musical, I told you can not do that. I might have forgiven you if you let it alone but you bring it back? I know the book did it, it made sense (somewhat) in the book but you can’t do it here. Frollo sentenced Phoebus to die in public, then he stabs him, still in public though albeit in some confusion, then blames Esmeralda and THAT is one her crimes she is to die for? THE FUCK? I know you wanted to be like book more but you need to think about logically. There was enough to convict her, witchcraft was enough. Just so much NO here. And that was just one line.

Aside from that one line which seems like it shouldn’t matter but does, how is the Finale? This one is a bit of a roller coaster. There are parts I really like and other parts that I find meh to other parts that are just left me wondering if musical didn’t really getting the original  source material i.e the book.

Before I say what parts of the song that were good and which ones missed the mark, let’s just discuss the song sturture. It’s a frankenstein song as in it’s made up of other songs from the show. Like Made of Stone, Someday, On Top of the World, Esmeralda, Sanctuary, Out There and Bells of Notre Dame. This is the same case of the German version so it’s not a negative. they all work together.

So what parts did I like? I liked the song after Frollo died, in particular the congregation singing about the world to Frollo’s part of Out There. That part was lovely and so bittersweet, made me tear up a little bit. Also the lovely female Latin solo was quite nice. The ending is the best part of this song hands down.

The meh parts were the parts lifted from the Disney movie which is little sad since it’s the Sanctuary/ fight scene. It just didn’t translate that well to stage show. I can see why Notre Dame de Paris didn’t bother. Speaking of Notre Dame de Paris, Frollo has the same powers to suspend Sanctuary or rather negate, still same difference. I will say that the molten lead was cool in the stage show.

The part that leaves me questioning if the people in charge get the book was Frollo’s death. Though I will say I did like that response to Frollo saying “You don’t want to hurt me” and the congregation saying “Yes” in a creepy whipser, that I liked. Ok, so this part hurts my brain trying to figure it out. On the one hand Quaismodo throws Frollo off the building and he utters “There lies all that have ever loved.” But unlike the book where Quasimodo throws Frollo in a fit of rage for laughing at Esmeralda’s death here in this version he seems more intent on killing him, saying the wicked should not go unpunished. Quaismodo was quite murderous here. It just didn’t sit well with me. I get the whole scene was a call back to start of show when Frollo was singing the wicked shall not go unpunished but still.  Maybe if Frollo had been more crazy at this point and laughed. This version he so cool and calm that it just weird. Where is this guy’s crazy lust?  It’s not Frollo.

But hey at least like in the book everyone but Phoebus dies even if it’s super unclear that Quasimodo takes Esmeralda and lies down to die. If you don’t really think about things too much and just let this Finale wash over you, it’s great and very powerful at the end. Though I would note the riddle of what makes and Monster and what makes a man is technically the moral albeit vague. The ending for me was the best part of the finale.

Still more to say on the cast album.

One Song this week!

Hunchback of Notre Dame Musical performing Esmeralda picture image

Ensemble performing Esmeralda

Esmeralda –  Before I start, can I just say that watching the La Jolla performance of this song was bat-shit stupid.  It was dumb to  have Frollo stab Phoebus, then blames Esmeralda for it and yet he just condemned Phoebus to die and Esmeralda is already wanted. It like what the hell? What is the point of Frollo stabbing Phoebus? Musical, I respect what you’re doing but you can’t just insert the stabbing scene from the book  into your show like that. You just seem like you want to add things even though they don’t make sense with the narrative you’re telling. And while I’m mentioning the La Jolla recording, there are a lot of differences from the La Jolla version of this song vs the cast album. Do you have any idea how tasking these reviews are? I have to deal with the Disney Movie Version, the book, the German version, and two versions of the English musical version.

As you may know, Esmeralda is the Act 1 closer from the German version. This is where Frollo is on a man-hunt for Esmeralda and is burning Paris because he is super  obsessed. It’s also where Phoebus says No to Frollo for not burning  a Family in a Mill, though in this musical version it’s a brothel that harbors Gypsies. I think the change is so they could make some sexual connotations about Phoebus visiting and that Frollo shouldn’t be there.

Esmeralda was my favorite song from the German version as it’s both very dramatic and speaks to the basic theme of the story, the differences of the hearts of three men. I will say that it’s not my favorite song in this version as the I slightly prefer the Tavern song but it’s on point with the German. I do however have some issues with it though.

For starters, I hate the lyric “He held the Torch that Crackled like the Gypsy’s Voice.”   Even if Esmeralda in these Disnye-ish versions has a smokey quality, crackled is a terrible word choice. I understand Phoebus is supposed to be reminded of her in this instant and in the German version he hears her singing in his head but really Menken? Crackled?  A Crackling voice is indicative of an old person or someone with a cold.

And there is another issue I have. When Phoebus hears Esmeralda sing in his head in the German version, she sings a few lines from a song she sang to him in Notre Dame. This is the case in La Jolla performance though it’s a chorus and not Esmeralda herself. He then throws the Torch and say I’m just a fool though the line in German is I think I rather be Good than right.  In the cast album it’s FREAKING God Help the Outcasts, which yes is pretty BUT Phoebus never heard that song! It’s wouldn’t be important to him as the other song was because Esmeralda sung it directly to Phoebus. They just replaced  because the audience knew it better. That choice annoys. It also annoys that they just didn’t have Esmeralda sing it because she even reveals herself to Frollo and crew while in the German version she stays out of sight like in the Disney movie. This choices are really ill-conceived.

Weird choices asides, this still a great song that is much like German version in term of its powerful grand scale and is a great song to end Act I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing before I start the songs, I will discuss the La Jolla performance a little when I’m done with the album because the scene prior to this was so much of a combo of the 1939 version and the Disney version plus the scene after Top of the World is such a massive change from the movie that I have to talk about the show itself even if the show was changed from the La Jolla version and the Papermill version.  Also there are one two songs this week for dramatic reasons like Heaven’s Light and Hellfire are meant as a set.

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee and Micheal Arden in the La Jolla Production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

 

Top of the World – This song is from the original German version. It’s a very nice little song about viewing things from a different preceptive and Quasimodo and Esmeralda bonding. In the German version, the Gargoyles sing the part where the Chrous of Quasismodo’s imaginary nameless pals sing. There is a fundamental difference between this version and the German version, this version is a lot slower paced and seems more serious. The German version had a more upbeat, faster and light take on this song. This could because the Gargoyles were the comic relief and this version has distanced itself from the silliness of the movie to be more serious like the book. Though the book did have some funny parts.

I mean the song is pretty enough but I do prefer the German version even with the Gargoyles.

Tavern Song (Thai Mol Piyas) – This song is another original song to this musical and can I just say in listening to the album first I was very confused of how this song came after Top of the World but it makes some sense with the show. Anyway this song takes place at the Pomme d’Eve* which is from the book where Esmeralda and Phoebus have their meeting which Frollo ruined with his stabbing Phoebus. Instead of all that it just seems like Frollo was stalking her   for a few months**,  hears her in bar dancing and flirting, in the show she kisses Phoebus, and Frollo gets more hot and bothered than he already was.

This song is very fun. It has a very distinct sound from the rest of the songs (so far) though Frollo’s part is sounds more like Out There rather the Sanctuary leitmotif, which is ironic since he is looking inside a buidling.

Oddly I really like the whisper singing of this song.  It’s a fun upbeat songs, I really enjoyed it.

One Source said that Thai Mol Piyas it means “And we Drink wine” in Romani.

 

Side of Note – This is the 130oth Blog Post!

*Correction, Pomme d’Eve was not where Esmeralda and Phoesbus met. They met at a Falourdel’s. Pomme d’Ever is a a better name though.

**Frollo first saw Esmeralda on January 6th and the song mentions “Winter is dying” which means it has to be mid March at the earliest. But also this is a very subtle nod to the book. In Book 7 Chapter 4 of the novel, Hugo makes mention of the date, March 29th. And this chapter occurs about the time of the Pomme d’Eve scene.  So kudos Musical.

 

So many side notes on this post.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcasts, production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda singing God Help the Outcasts, production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Topsy Turvy Part 2 –  And Now Part 2 of Topsy Turvy. This part is the King of Fools segment and Quasimodo’s crowning. It has a few differences from the movie version most notably Esmeralda has a few spoken lines and they there is the tune from Sanctuary in there. I probably should mention that  Sanctuary was a song from the German version that occurred right before Out There. In this musical it is more of a Frollo Leitmotif piece than a full song. It’s also heard in Bells of Notre Dame and the next song Into Notre Dame.

As for this song, it’s fine if you like it in the movie you should like it here. I’m not a huge fan of Erik Liberman’s voice on this song but that is a personal preference more than a criticism.

Into Notre Dame –  This song is a bit of a Frankenstein song, I mean that nicely as it just a combo of three songs, well really two. The first part of this is Frollo telling Quasimodo that he was right, that people  suck and he should stay in his Sanctuary. So for this part we get Out there reprise and the shadows of Sanctuary or as I will just call it Frollo’s Leitmotif.

The second part of this song is Esmeralda entering Notre Dame to the tune of the Bells of Notre Dame. This part is quite lovely. I especially love Ciara’ voice on her line ” The Light of Notre Dame.” I must say so far that is my favorite part so far. Also it’s nice to speak of another aspect of Notre Dame than just the bells.

This song is really just a segue song to get from the festival to Notre Dame so that explains why it doesn’t have its own melody but the pieces of the other song work to move the plot and they make sense with the subject matter.

God Help the Outcasts –  For the big songs of Hunchback they are going to perform they near exact to the movie because that one thing the people want, they want to hear their favorite songs along with new songs and no gargoyles and that is pretty much it. So God Help the Outcasts is just that, identical to the movie which is better than Glockner which gave a change that I hated. They made it a duet with Quasimodo which meant Esmeralda didn’t have her own song though Phoebus did. That still bothers me.

All and all aside from some key shifts and singing a bit lower it’s the same song. I do love the chorus on the “bless me part” ironically it sounded very ethereal. Ciara Renee definitely has similar voice quality to the original singer Heidi Mollenhauer whose has very tender warm slightly smoky quality to her voice. It’s a very nice version of the song I just don’t love the song as much other people but again that is a personal thing and not a criticism. I was hoping that this version would sway me into liking more but it didn’t. Not the song fault I’m a hard sell.

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Ciara Renee as Esmeralda, Papermill production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

Topsy Turvy Part 1–  Topsy Turvy  is broken up  into two parts to allow two songs to happen as a mean to introduce Phoebus and Esmeralda. Though technically Phoebus makes his first appearance in this song where we learn that last name of his. More on that soon.

The first 30 second is pretty much identical to the movie. However then Quasimodo sings a bit along with some new lyrics sung by the Chorus. His part has a slight reprise to Out There to it. Also the whole of Quasimodo part  feels very musical-y  and also rhyming Now with Now? You guys could have done better.

The Clopin’s a part start and it’s again it’s identical to the movie, though I do admit I prefer Paul Kandel’s sining. The song again shifts to Phoebus appearing in the crowd after The sixth of January line or “Januervy.” And he pretty much announces himself to everyone, Frollo and Jehan did the same thing In Bells so I guess it just a thing the musical does though I don’t really care for people narrating themselves, though the chorus joins in to tells us that “he has a haunted look in his eyes.”  Anyway this part leads in to the next song…

Rest and Recreation – This song was in the German version and now it’s back. It uses Phoebus’ march from the movie.  Much like in the movie Phoebus is back from the Front.   But you know I have to ask what war? What Front? Phoebus says that he has been gone four years and seems a bit shaken up from it as they  mention cannon fodder.  I’m no expert on European Wars but France wasn’t in wars in 1482. The wars that France was in that were the closest to 1482 were The War of Castilian Succession  of 1475 to 1479 and The Burgundian War of 1474 to 1477. It could be a simple matter that the musical doesn’t take place in 1482 except they say it did. Song mentions a siege and bodies in a trench which are probably more like hot words than actually referring to a war or battle. I can deal with unnamed War in the Disney movie but here it’s a harder pill to swallow since the musical is truing to be more like the book. I mean did the say which war it was in musical?  But this backstory takes me out of the song.

So back to the song. Phoebus also mentions that he’s on furlough but then he gets his new promotion as Captain of the Cathedral Guard. I’m going to real with you guys, that is the stupidest thing. I get what they are doing. Phoebus has to be Frollo’s minion for his character arc and Frollo is now a Priest so the tidiest way to handle this is to make Phoebus the Captain of the Cathedral Guard. BUT Cathedrals didn’t have private guards. This even goes against the book where the Sanity of the Church was respected, even Disney movie Frollo respected it.

Anyway  the I haven’t really discussed the song yet. Much like in German version Rest and Recreation tries to amalgamate book Phoebus with movie Phoebus. Book Phoebus was womanizer and movie Phoebus is nobel and gallant. Since Phoebus is described as having “a dashing manner and bold swagger” we know he got those personality down but the song gives us a reason why Phoebus wants the ladies, because he been away at the unnamed Fantasy war. Despite the war and Notre Dame guard the song is successful at give the blending of Phoebus’s characterization and setting up his character in this version.

Rhythm of the Tambourine – This song is Esmeralda’s introduction song which is also her dance number during the festival. It is also the first new song of this musical version. Judging from the lines Phoebus, Frollo and Quasimodo sing about “who is she” I’m going to guess Esmeralda and Quasimodo didn’t have their little moment where Quasimodo crashes into dressing room, but I could wrong, I’m probably wrong.

Rhythm of the Tambourine is very staccato which I would guess is for said tambourine but it does nothing for me. Also is just me or is this song reminiscent  of Carol of the Bells? Wonder if that was one purpose?   I do like her attitude on dance that it just for fun as she ask “What can it hurt?” Such delightful irony. We also get a Belle moment as like I said Phoebus, Frollo and Quasimodo sing about her. Frollo likens her to a devil, classic him. Phoebus and Quasimodo liken her to an angel but Phoebus goes on to say that she dances with Fire.

It’s decent song and clearly gets across Esmeralda’s love for dance which she REALLY didn’t have in the Disney movie as well as the guys views on her.

 

So this series of review is really just based on the Cast Album and not so much the show itself, that is not say I won’t say anything about the stage production if there is video of it available. Also at this point I haven’t heard the whole album in its entirety.

Olim – Olim is the  actually the first bit of music heard in the Disney movie version and honestly I’m not sure why it’s a separate track. It seems unnecessary to me. Maybe it’s because of the dramatic tone of the opening to what is now The Bells of Notre Dame is different.

All in All it’s the same of the film counterpart, Georgian chanting in Latin. And if your curious the lyrics are; “Once, long ago, God arrived, In this age of brightness, He will come again.” It’s not “Here comes a lion, Father, Oh yes, it’s a lion” but it’s okay.

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Michael Arden as Quasimodo, Musical Production of Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Bells of Notre Dame – A part of me wants to like this song more than I do since I love the movie version. Like in the movie we’re given the backstory of Quasimodo and Frollo but it’s very different as it tries to amalgamate the movie with the book. So first difference we are introduced to Frollo’s younger brother Jehan which is like book. Also like the book Jehan is a wild child. Jehan is sent away from Notre Dame for sneaking a Gyspy Girl into the Chruch so Frollo could get some.  Unlike the book Jehan is the father of Quasimodo. The mother was Gypsy girl, the same one who Jehan brought into the church. As Jehan is dying he begs Frollo to look after the child and he does and give him the cruel name, unlike the book where it was Quasimodo sunday.

I do like that they brought Jehan into the picture and they’re right that  reason why Frollo took in little Quasimodo was out love for his brother but it’s sort of trite here. Book Frollo did it out empathy for a child that had no one because his brother had been in almost same position and here in this musical he does it as a cross to bear out a sense of guilt. Also I don’t like that they have that familial connect of uncle and nephew. It takes away something from their relationship at least for me.

But wait there is more. In the movie when Frollo is chasing down Quasimodo’s mother there is this swell of dramatic music that fits that part perfectly. They have that same music in this version as Frollo is walking with baby Quasimodo but so out place. I really couldn’t tell if Frollo was thinking killing baby Quasimodo or what. It’s jarring and should not have been there despite that fact that it’s awesome music.

The Chorus singing the parts instead of Clopin was interesting not bad just different. BUT one thing I can not and I mean CAN NOT forgive is how they pronounce Jehan. They say like Jay-AN. It’s not inherently wrong but they over emphasis the sounds. They could have just said John. I mean they didn’t keep Phoebus’ last name so what difference does it really make? They call him Phoebus de Martin not sure why since he had a last in the book and plus they missed a great pun by adding that R. He could have been Sun of Morning, Phoebus de Matin. And yet they get Clopin’s last name correct.

Anyway, it’s a good opening that does tries to be a good blend of movie and book it just missed it a bit for me.

 

Out There –  Out There isn’t at all different than its movie counterpart, they play it straight. One thing I did like is the difference of Arden’s voice when he singing the part with Frollo vs his solo. Where he sound more deaf and unsure in Frollo’s presence and then more refined one his own. The movie did this too to a degree but Quasimodo was just meek and timid.  It’s a fine version. I will say that song is a little weird considering Quasimodo didn’t seem that interested earlier in the scene. Like he wasn’t the type to really care to remember  the town’s people’s faces. Still a nice version it’s just a disconnect between the book and the movie.

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album picture image

Hunchback of Notre Dame Cast Recording Album

In 1999 there a German musical version of Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was always the desire of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz that the production should come to the States. It wasn’t till 2013 when The King’s Academy did a production of it which was a collaboration with Disney. This paved the way for two profession versions to be performed as a pre-Broadway try-out at La Jolla Playhouse in last 2014 and at the Papermill Playhouse in early 2015. Ultimately the show did not go to Broadway and is being played around the Country at smaller Professional venues. However on January 22 there was a Studio Cast Album released. It has gotten some critical acclaim and was the number one for Cast Album sales, as well as 17 in album sales and made Billboard  200 at 47. So it has done well.

 

For the next couple of weeks, because that is how I do things, we’re going to look a few songs at a time. I’ll give my impressions, thoughts etc. And we’ll see if this  really is the critical darling of people’s dream or is just pale comparison to the German version. My guess is that is somewhere in the middle.

There has actually been some decent amount of Hunchback related stuff that popped up in 2015 opposed the last few years where there has been much other that Josh Brolin popping up to say something about his movie that will never be I’m guessing.

So 2015 started off with the sad news. On October 24th 2015 Maureen O’Hara, who played Esmeralda in the 1939 movie version of Hunchback passed away at the age of  95.  The 1939 version is considered to be one of the best Hunchback version. It was also O’Hara’s American debut.

Musicals next; The Notre Dame de Paris 10 year anniversary tour in Korea which was French language. Notre Dame de Paris in Asian isn’t anything new but this was the first time in a while for a French Production to be presented.  There also a new Italian cast the uses member from the original cast. But that is set not next year, but this cast has been catching my attention and just recently did that cast come out so yeah, I’m including it here.

There was also the Disney Hunchback musical at the Paper mills Play house in March and April. Since it didn’t go to broadway there will more local productions so keep an ear out if one should be performed near you and it still might go to broadway someday, never say die. Also the cast recording of the Paper Mills and Lo Jolla casting is coming out next month so preorder here.

Also in April, Josh Groban did a cover of Le Temps de Cathedral on his Stages album. I wouldn’t say it did much to help Notre Dame de Paris’ popularity but people who didn’t know might have heard it so that is great.

Let’s what else. Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling named their baby Esmeralda which they directly sited Hunchback as being a favorite novel of their. First is a little funning because I a while ago I was looking up Celebrities and their favorite books and Hunchback never came up. Les Mis did. I sort of abandoned the idea due to how pretentious and/or how self severing their picks were, so I’m glad some actors liked the book.

But the BIGGEST news of the year is that there are 2, not one but 2 Hunchback movies in the works. One has been in the works for a while and is a independent movie from some actor who was in the second Sex and the City movie, Max Ryan. This version I don’t even know what to say. Everyt ime I try to make sense of it I’m reminded that there is a giant and a figment in the cast list and The Mask directors is going to direct so my expectations for this movie are low to hoping ti hilariously bad, but we’ll see maybe we’ll be surprised and it will be a really good version. Strangers things happen.

The second movie seems to be an off-shot of an idea for Once Upon a Time from 2013, a movie for Esmeralda’s POV, which I’m excited about. There hasn’t been a Esmeralda centric Hunchback version since the 1950’s and that was mostly a French movie. For Hollywood there has been a Hunchback version focusing on Esmeralda since Theda Bara’s 1917 movie The Darling of Paris. Not much is known about this movie other than it’s being spearhead by Peter Cherin and will focus on Esmeralda. I hope this movie is good and happens, you never know with movies.

Let’s hope 2016 has more Hunchback stuff!

Into the Woods Picture image

Into the Woods

Here is a conversation I had with this movie right after I wanted it.

Me: You can’t have your characters sing/say how they feel, that makes me feel angry!
Into the Woods: Look, what do you want?
Me: I want my two hours back!

This is common info but I have to say it anyway, Into the Woods is a 2014 musical fantasy movie based on the musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim. It’s a parody of classic fairy tales as multiple fairy tale characters meet in the woods, get it?

Apparently this movie was in development for a long time, like early 90’s but it wasn’t till the  another musical that this movie got the interest of Rob Marshall, director of Chicago.

As you might be able to gauge from my conversation with Into the Woods, I didn’t care for this movie, but you would be wrong, I utterly loathed it.

 Emily Blunt as The Baker's Wife, James Corden as The Baker and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack Into the Woods Picture image

Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack

The “story” goes that this Baker and his wife want a baby but they can’t for some reason. Reason comes busting through their door in the form of a witch who tells them that it was a curse that was put of the baker’s family for his father stealing her vegetables so that the family tree would stop. However he also stole some magic beans which cursed the witch into be old and ugly. So she makes the Baker and his wife get some items, A white cow, a red cape, a gold shoe and yellow hair. And they have to find them in the woods.

Lucky all the characters they meet in the wood have the items they need. Jack an idiot, has the cow. The Baker and wife trade the beans which they happened to find in the Baker’s pocket. Jack uses the bean to climb up the beanstalk and steals from the giant to get his cow back. Red Riding hood, a kleptomaniac with a sugar addiction has the red cloak. The Baker at first tries to steal it from her but she gives it to him after he saves her and her granny from the pedophile wolf. The Baker’s wife then runs into Cinderella, a shy insecure girl who just wanted to go to festival a.k.a the ball. The Barker’s wife tries really hard to get that shoe. The Baker’s wife gets it when on the third night of the festival Cinderella runs away from the prince and she just lets her have it. The barker’s wife also get Rapunzel’s hair, who is locked in a tower and no real personality what so ever. She is locked up there by the same witch who they are getting the items for. Rapunzel is also the baker’s little sister too and his also mixed up in a love story with random prince #2. The hair turns out a bust since the witch can’t have touched the items, that’s a rule and then cow died so Baker had to get another and covered it with flour. But it’s really whatever since the witch just brings the cow back to life and the use corn silk. So yeah wife gets pregnant instantly and witch gets pretty and happy ending for Cinderella for her prince seems to come but then LADY GAINT attacks. She is pissed for Jack killing her husband and robbing them and he’s the good guy.

Then I guess things go to shit. Cinderella and her prince aren’t working out. Jack’s mom dies. The Cinderella’s prince cheat on her with the barker’s wife and then she dies. The witch wants to give jack to giant but no one agrees with her so she just peaces out. And then Cinderella uses her birds to beat the giant and happy ever after with the baker.

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella Into the Woods Picture image

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

So what makes this movie bad? Well lots of things but let’s just focus on the only positive I had about it. And if you read my reviews with any regularity you might think it’s the costumes but nope, I will get to that later. It would be the actors. I think all the actors try really hard to make it work while movie itself doesn’t care. They all sing well though Little Red Riding Hood’s singing style I find annoying.

Also I don’t really believe Anna Kendrick as the shy demure Cinderella, she does try but I don’t believe it but she sings it well. Really this movie should have been more about the actors conveying emotions than then telling us how they feel.

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood Into the Woods Picture image

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood

Which bring us to greatest sin in this movie, this movie at EVERY SINGLE turn just tells the a viewer what the characters feel through narration, dialogue and singing. I feel like a broken record but show don’t tell is a cardinal rule of movie making.

In a stage show you say a little more since there is an energy that is part of the experience but not in a movie. In fact at one point in this movie, the narrator says that Red Riding Hood is suprised but it doesn’t show in her acting and then she SAYS that she feels uneasy. Just fuck you movie.

Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince Into the Woods Picture image

Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s Prince

This anti show don’t tell concept is a massive step further as the movie tells the audience about the things that are happening to the characters. For instance we never see Cinderella at the ball in fact we never seen Cinderella interact with the Prince at all, save for like two exchanges with them same with Rapunzel and her prince. We do see them talking about it though. In fact the princes sing about the their agony of not being with there lady loves to each other despite the fact that we never seen them together. The two princes whining constitutes more scene time then with their loves. So any character development is told to us after the fact.

This make the musical numbers boring as instead showing us what they talking about in creative ways it’s just basic editing as someone sings about what just happened. Though in one instance there is a flashback but the movie literally presented the same scene like 90 seconds before the flashback so even the flashback is boring and pointless.

I won’t say I’m an expert of musical movies but I alway want to like them. But if you’re just going have a characters sing and spin around you might as well just have then say lines. Musicals in movie form need something visually interesting to help keep attention. Climbing a tree or moving around a set doesn’t work. Play with the lightening, editing, or something. It very bad and telling that at the ten minute mark the movie becomes exhausting to watch and the first song was the most visually interesting as it moved from character to character.

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Emily Blunt as The Baker's Wife Into the Woods Picture image

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife

Speaking of lightening and sets, why does it seem like all recent live-action musical movies are gritty and dark? Why is Hollywood trying to make musical movie real life?

This worked a movie in Les Mis though I still didn’t like that movie because it was all sort of pretentious shlock, but it worked in Chicago but that movie played with Roxie Hart as she imagined the musical numbers. Considering Rob Marshal directed both Chicago and Into the Woods he should had a handle on what a musical movie good and entertaining. People wandering in a dark forest and singing about their feeling without giving a reason for them and cutting all the pesky story parts doesn’t a good movie make, I don’t care what your bubble of Hollywood says. You know Hollywood I hate to tell you this but if you’re a musical where singing is a norm to convey information you kind lost the right to give the movie a weird sense of legitimacy but making it “real.”

Then there are the costumes which I could barely see through the dark lightning of the movie. Though when you can make them out they aren’t really anything. They are just adequate at best at worse they are uninspired. Really they could have just had wearing back unitard with their role written on them and it would have had the same effect.

Meryl Streep as The Witch Into the Woods Picture image

Meryl Streep as The Witch

Into The Woods could have been a good movie if the movie cared enough to tell the story instead of reporting it through songs that were performed with ugly sets and poor lightening. It they had done more interesting things with adapting the original musical into a film it could have been so much better. Skip it but then again the movie skips itself.

Clue 1 and Clue 2

French Original Cast Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Original Cast

We have been discussing Notre Dame de Paris’ style for awhile, not just in the look of the show but in the music too. What I never said about the show’s music in so many words is that unlike other musicals in the world, Notre Dame de Paris has a decidedly “pop” take on the music.

Gringoire singing Le Portes de Paris Bruno Pelletier Notre dame de paris picture image

Gringoire singing Le Portes de Paris

This is made clearer by the fact that of the original cast only Daniel Lavoie  and Bruno Pelletier have been in other musicals. They are singers not exactly stage performers. This is not the case with other casts but it’s interesting to note.

Original Cast Belle NOtre dame de Paris picture image

Original Cast Belle

But does this mean? Why does Notre Dame de Paris have such a different look and vibe compared to other musicals of the world? Well I’m sure it has been mentioned that for a while, in France musical were not that fashionable and Notre Dame de Paris brought them back. Before 1998 people didn’t go to them and they didn’t perform them. I really can’t site the source that claimed this as it on wiki with no source and there was something in a program about the behind the scenes of Notre Dame de Paris that mentioned too. However looking at French produced musicals and looking at the years they came, I found there is something like 51 French Musicals and of though 51 shows only 8 were produced before Notre Dame de Paris with the closest one before being produced 1990, a good eight years before Notre Dame de Paris. So yes, it’s true.

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame Ma Maison c'est ta maison garou helene Segara Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Esmeralda and Quasimodo in Notre Dame

The musicals after Notre Dame de Paris have kept the same Pop music style. You do not hear that stereotypical musical belting tone or that kind high pitched nasal tonality. The sets however of some shows are more typical of musical. Like the have sets changes and look grander.

Garou as Quasimodo & Helene Segara Danse mon Esmeralda,Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Garou as Quasimodo and Helene Segara performing Danse mon Esmeralda

It really comes down to the French aesthetic which I can’t really speak to but consider this Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, one of the biggest musical in the world has not, as of 2015 ever had a French version. The French style is defiantly geared toward the pop rock musical which is what Notre Dame de Paris presented. Perhaps the not-complicated simplicity but edgy sets and costumes of the show mixed with its high emotions were just what the French wanted from a musical.