Friday, July 06, 2007

Welcome Back My Friends... To The Show that Never Ends

The title is taken from an old Emerson, Lake and Palmer record. One of my brother's favorites in his teen years. As a side note, it introduced me to Aaron Copeland, whose piece Howdown was played by the band. Howdown which was part of the ballet Rodeo written for Agnes De Mille.

So I am coming down with a hot weater cold/flu. This always happens when we have Santa Anas. Luckily, today was my day off from Buddy Holly. Tomorrow, its back to work. The show is coming along well. Thanks to a wonderful cast. My co-director on the show, Steve Gunderson...

Had to leave the process early due to a not so elective surgery. It wasn't part of the original plan, but we found out enough in advance that we could adjust for it. In the meantime, here is a get well card for Stevie.

If you aren't a Land of the Giants fan, it won't make sense. But if you are it will. So Stevie you are sorely missed.

Oh, the balloon is pretty much flattened.

Cyd Charisse. Cyd. Cyd. Cyd.

Trained as a ballet dancer, Cyd became one of the more iconic faces of the great age of Hollywood musicals. Although she had already appeared in small parts in a few films, she smoldered (yes, smoldered) into cinematic consciousness in her brief (but memorable) turn in Singing in the Rain

Seen here with Gene Kelly (who directed and choreographed), Cyd plays a ganster's moll in a dream sequence. Because of this dance, whenever I need to have a character that is even slightly sexual in nature, I always want to put them in green.

Nobody, but nobody, has legs like Cyd Charisse. It isn't just the shape and musculature, its the way she uses them. A dancer's entire body should be expressive. And by expressive, I mean, it should communicate to you. Look at the way Cyd, uses her legs in the pas de deux with Kelly. She "speaks" volumes, with each little step.

Something else that will strike you is that there is nothing "girlish" about Cyd. Most female dancers, on screen, have an element of youthfulness. Not Cyd. She is a woman. And she dances with the power of a woman. One of my favorite quotes is from Fred Astaire. "That Cyd. When you danced with her, you STAYED DANCED WITH."

Cyd was responsible for (in my opinion) two of the most potent portrayals of female sensuality on film. Given the fact that in neither case does she speak, that says something for the power of suggestion. The aforementioned specialty is the first. The second is in the finale of The Band Wagon. This time, Cyd trades her green for a more obvious red.

In a sort of variation on Odette/Odile, Cyd plays both the red dressed femme fatale and the willowy blonde victim in a comedic dance spin on Mickey Spillane novels. While the blonde portrayal is adequate (she does do a TERRIFIC slide across a subway floor), its the Lady in Red who steals the show. Forget all those Ellen Barkin, Angie Dickensen, blah, blah whatever sex goddesses. They are all just ladies in waiting to Cyd's queen of mean.

The reason I have brought up Cyd today is because the Old Globe has announced that they are doing a revival of The Bandwagon. A vehicle written especially for the talents of Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan (the British Fred Astaire), Cyd Charisse and Nanette Fabray.

I don't really know of a Fred Astaire in the world of musical theatre these days. That isn't to say that somebody else couldn't bring something new to the role, but too often to me these movies-turned-into-musicals just seem as if they are being done to make money. Not because someone thought, "Oh I can do that differently or better... or even as well.

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