Dancer Tribute 1/8/12: Rob Marshall (Pittsburgh, PA). Lightning usually only strikes once, but in Rob Marshall’s case, lightning has struck many times in the form of great choreography, movie direction, Emmy, Oscar and Tony awards & nominations. What an amazing choreographer! I love watching his choreographies, I get “swept away” in the moment – the magic that he creates in song and dance. Case in point: Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella 1997, Chicago 2002, Nine, Annie 1999, the list goes on and on. Some of my personal favorites are:
1. Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella 1997 starring Brandy as Cinderella, Whitney Houston as her fairy godmother, Bernadette Peters as Cinderella’s stepmother, Paolo Montalbán as the prince, Whoopi Goldberg as the queen, Victor Garber as the king and Jason Alexander as Lionel, the herald. I love, love, loved Jason Alexander playing the Herald. He is dancing his butt off in “The Prince is Giving a Ball.” I also love him in Bye Bye Birdie with Vanessa Williams. I used to watch him on Seinfeld and had no idea that he was a talented singer and dancer. My 2 favorite dances in this movie are The Prince is Giving a Ball and Ten Minutes Ago. I dance to those 2 songs with my granddaughters. They play this movie DVD all the time and we love singing the songs together. I love the song Ten Minutes Ago from the 1965 version with Leslie Ann Warren & Stuart as well. But the love the choreography better in the 1997 version by Rob Marshall. This waltz is over the top, the dancers look beautiful, the costumes are similar yet different. I prefer seeing the dancers in the 1997 version performing instead of watching Brandy and Paolo sing, LOL. I am a fan of all things Cinderella. I remember when the 1965 version came out and it was a big deal to watch. Yep, those horses look cheap now, but back in the day, I did not mind it. I even rented the 1957 version from the library just to compare. I love all of the versions, but the 1997 one is my favorite.
2. Chicago 2002 starring Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta-Jones also featuring Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Lucy Liu, Taye Diggs, Colm Feore, and Mýa Harrison. I had no idea that Catherine Zeta-Jones could sing and dance! All of the actors did an amazing job in this movie. I watch Christine Baranski on The Good Wife and she is one of my favorite actresses with roles in The Adams Family Values and Cybill, Did not know that she could sing. My favorite numbers in the movie are: "Cell Block Tango" and "When You’re Good to Mama.” I love the costume that Queen Latifah wears in Mama. Reminds me of a Belly Dance costume with the beaded fringe in the bust area and the Beaded Arm Band. I am a fan of the previous versions of Chicago as well, the Original Broadway Production 1975 starring Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly, Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart, Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn and Barney Martin as Amos Hart; and the 1996 Broadway Revival starring Ann Reinking, as Roxie Hart, Bebe Neuwirth as Velma Kelly, Joel Grey as Amos Hart and James Naughton as Billy Flynn. I have the Broadway soundtrack on CD. I also have the Fosse movie on DVD and love the Chicago numbers: "Nowadays/The Hot Honey Rag" and "Razzle Dazzle" choreographed by Ann Reinking.
3. Nine 2009 starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and Penélope Cruz. My favorite number from this movie is Cinema Italiano performed by Kate Hudson. She reminds me so much of mom Goldie Hawn. I can visualize Goldie performing this song back in the 1960s. I perform tambourine dance as a Belly Dancer, so I also loved Fergie performing Be Italian. That was the tambourine dance to end all tambourine dances! Glad I don’t have to perform my tambourine dances in sand like they did, looks sort of dangerous.
4. Annie 1999 starring stars Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Alan Cumming, Audra McDonald, Kristin Chenoweth, Lalaine, and introducing Alicia Morton as Annie. Another remix of a movie favorite from the 1982 version starring Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Bernadette Peters, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry, Geoffrey Holder, Edward Herrmann, and Aileen Quinn in her feature film debut. It is so cool to be able to perform your favorite song versions to the original. I like some of the numbers in the 1999 version better than the 1982 version and vice versa. My favorite number from both versions is Easy Street. I enjoy the performance by Kathy Bates, Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming in this move. But I absolutely love the performance by Carol Burnett, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters more! The 1982 version of the song ties into the script with them finding Annie’s envelope. There is an element of comedy in the 1982 Easy Street as well. I love the tap dancing on the steps and when Carol Burnett gets a solo about 3:38 minutes into the song, she is shaking it up like a Belly Dancer! Did Tim Curry really slide down those stairs like that??? Hilarious. This version is so silly, funny and Carol Burnett stays in her sort of “drunk” character throughout the number. I love Carol Burnett! You can get more musical and comical than her. What a treasure. I watch The Good Wife and love Alan Cumming’s character in the show, Eli Gold. I also love his performance in Tin Man and Josie & the Pussycats.
A personal quote from Rob Marshall: "As a director, you should choose a project that will educate you and enrich your life, because you’re going to be doing it for two years." Rent or watch one of his movies tonight and be prepared to be dazzled. The magic of his movie might only last less than 2 hours, but you can see the 2 years of hard work and effort that he put into it.
For more dance gossip & goodies, check out my book, "Learn to Belly Dance Textbook" available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble : http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005SFPN6I/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_g351_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=121QKD526S21XAKBP0T2&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846