Arguably the greatest movie musical ever made, Singin’ in the Rain is celebrated as much for its songs and dances as its behind-the-scenes lore: Gene Kelly’s 101-degree fever while filming the title number; Donald O’Connor taking to his bed with exhaustion after filming “Make ’Em Laugh”—only to have to reshoot it days later due to a camera malfunction; Debbie Reynolds rehearsing until her feet bled. But of all the “making of” stories, the most impressive is that Reynolds, only 19 at the time, learned to dance in just three months to play leading lady Kathy Selden.
Pennsylvania’s Bucks County Playhouse has seen two of its world premiere productions transfer to Broadway within the past four years: Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons, starring Tyne Daly, and Misery, a play by William Goldman, based on the Stephen King novel. Will the Playhouse’s current production of the new musical Cake Off be the next to move from bucolic Bucks County to the Great White Way? Probably not.
Film buffs have Rotten Tomatoes. Bookworms have Literary Hub. But where do theater lovers go to explore and rate their favorite live shows? Enter Show-Score, a just-under-one-year-old site that compiles and displays basic information, member and critic reviews, and links to ticket sales for all recent and current Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway shows. Its comprehensiveness and usefulness is astounding, but it’s the site’s numeric scoring system that makes it truly unique. Show-Score has found a way to quantify artistic quality while simultaneously honoring the diversity in the individual voices of the site’s users. In this way, Show-Score avoids the worst aspects of our culture’s need to pin a number and rank on every experience.
On October 26, 2013, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos argued before a group of film industry insiders—producers, buyers, directors—who had gathered to hear him give the keynote at that year’s Film Independent Forum in Los Angeles, that the movie business will soon die unless cinema owners embrace the distribution model Netflix has championed. Ideally, Sarandos would like to see all films—from big-budget summer blockbuster hopefuls to small, independent documentaries—released simultaneously in traditional movie theaters and via Netflix streaming. In the nearly three years since Sarandos’s chiding speech, theater owners have still not adopted the Netflix model; but neither has the movie business died as a result.
With its noirish murder mystery miniseries The Night Of, HBO has introduced yet another innovation bound to alter people’s TV-watching habits. The show officially premiered on Sunday, July 10, but the cable network made the first episode (of eight) available to subscribers through HBO On Demand and its online HBOGO service more than two weeks earlier.
On “the day the music died”—as Don McLean tagged February 3, 1959, in his hit song “American Pie”—the 22-year-old rock-and-roller Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash that also took the lives of rock stars Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Had he lived, Holly would be celebrating his 80th birthday this year, on September 7. Hollywood paid tribute to the bespectacled singer-songwriter with the 1978 biopic The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey. But the similarly titled 1990 Broadway musical, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, is thought to be a truer depiction of the influential music-maker’s brief life.
It’s hard to say exactly what the title of Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series is meant to signify. It could be Bamford’s manic depression—her sense that, at any moment, everything in her life could explode. It could be her fear, common among introverts, that if she doesn’t please everyone around her, her fragile relationships might come crashing down like a demolished building. Or it could be the fact that Bamford, who has toiled in C-list obscurity for years, is finally, at long last, blowing up.