Review: ‘Footnotes’ brings the classic 60’s musical into this century.

Inspired by the films of Jacques Demy and Stanley Donen, this musical comedy follows a young woman who must dance between a budding romance, a scheming boss, and co-workers on strike at her new job in a luxury shoe factory.

Footnotes comes at a perfect time in cinema history where the movie musical is once more appreciated and praised. This sweet and relatable story of Julie having to choose between love and loyalty has all the whimsy of a great French musical from the 60’s. From the costumes to the Fosse-esque choreography, Footnotes brings a smile to your face at each turn. It is very reminiscent of The Pajama Game but set this time in a shoe factory. Lead, Pauline Etienne is as charming and awkward as the role of Julie requires. Her airy voice suits the role and is a lovely foil to the gaggle of surprising factory women. With a wonderful, never over the top message of respect in the workplace and equal pay, this gem of a film will have your feet tapping and heart singing, no doubt about it. You can listen to the soundtrack right now on Spotify (link below) but first, check out the trailer. You can catch Footnotes in theaters today!

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Listen to the official Footnotes soundtrack with original songs written by Olivia Ruiz, Clarika, and many more!

Liz’s Review: The big screen breathes new life into musical farce ‘Lucky Stiff’

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LUCKY STIFF is a musical comedy with a romantic heart. A young down and out British shoe salesman named Harry Witherspoon (Dominic Marsh) takes his dead American uncle (Don Amendolia) (a murdered casino manager) to Monte Carlo for the best time of his life a week of fun, dancing, making money with the awesome casino games, gambling and sun. If the young man fulfills his uncle’s request to the letter, he will inherit the $6 million left to him. If he doesn’t, the money will go to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn. As Harry races from casino to nightclub to beach to bedroom with his dead uncle, he is chased by a desperate put upon optometrist (Jason Alexander), his controlling, myopic, trigger happy sister (Pamela Shaw), an avaricious French chanteuse (Kate Shindle), a mysterious Italian playboy (Dennis Farina), as well as a young woman from Brooklyn (Nikki M. James) dead set on getting that money for the dogs. Guns go off, disguises go on, champagne corks pop, nightmares come to life, romance blossoms, dogs bark, and everyone sings! lucky-stiff nikki dom dennis
Dominic Marsh is a genuine star with an innocence you most certainly route for. Tony Award winner, Nikki James‘, wide eyed optimism and pure-hearted determination is a refreshing take on what could be an easily overshadowed character in a film filled to the brim with colorful performances. Jason Alexander is hilarious as always and it was nice to hear his very distinct singing voiced matched with his comic timing. Pamela Shaw‘s Rita is a beautifully cartoon version of a hustler and boy, can she still shake it with the best of them. This film happened also to be Dennis Farina‘s last. His boisterous, man about town is the perfect marriage of quirky and theatrical. This is truly an ode to an ensemble cast done right. No one outshines the next. There is something to be said about using true theatre people. Theatre people experience true camaraderie; they naturally become family to each other, which only lends to an enhanced end result. (But, that may just be the musical theatre nerd in me speaking.) Jason Lucky Stiff still
The sets are great and the costumes, a late 60’s-70’s vibe are fabulous. Lucky Stiff is what you might get if you mashed up A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Weekend At Bernie’s and set it to a musical score. There a fantastic dream sequence in the film that features some of the lesser utilized yet fully recognizable faces in the film. This particular scene is actually the most theatrical in the entire movie, being set on an actual stage. One of the most darling aspects of Lucky Stiff is the frequent use of short animated clips that move the films pace and highlight some of the musical numbers. It’s a great substitute for a full scale broadway esque number. Lucky Stiff is a fun entry into the musical theatre world via film.

LUCKY STIFF opens in theaters and is available on VOD today, Friday, July 24th.

Liz’s Review: ‘THE LAST FIVE YEARS’ hits every note.

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When I graduated college in 2002, everyone was buzzing about a new musical by one of my favorite lyricists/composers Jason Robert Brown. Not a single person I spoke to about The Last Five Years walked away without some sense of wonder. God only knows how I missed the run, perhaps graduation and surrounding shenanigans got in my way. Needless to say, when I heard that the show was making the jump to the big screen, I leapt at the chance to finally get in on the magic.

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In this adaptation of the hit musical, The Last Five Years is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie (Jeremy Jordan), a young, talented up-and-coming Jewish novelist falls in love with Cathy (Anna Kendrick), a Shiksa Goddess and struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through song.  All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes.

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The camera work in this film is stunning; voyeuristic without being intrusive. The opening shot is very much an homage to Hitchcock‘s bird’s eye opening shot in Psycho (no story line similarities, I assure you.) The tinted lenses used to represent the good and bad in the relationship are thoughtful and extraordinarily effective for each emotional shift. There is something truly special about this film. It appears absolutely seamless as it bounces from timeline to timeline. Jason Robert Brown‘s lyrics are some of the most accessible in the industry. Think thought provoking, stream of consciousness, meets clever and catchy musical theater for the any audience. Anna Kendrick does some of her strongest work to date as Cathy. The opening ballad, “Still Hurting’ is a killer punch in the gut. This is tough stuff and she nails it. I was thoroughly impressed. The stickler in me wishes her presence had been a tad bit stronger when it came to sharing the screen with Jordan as he sings. There seems to be a slight disconnect when he takes center stage. But, I will say her acting chops on the heavier songs are quite lovely. Jeremy Jordan as Jamie is a stunner. From the moment he appears on screen, from the first note, he owns this character. I could not have asked for more from his performance. He lights up the screen, his voice is delicious, and he is an unapologetic scene-stealer and I am so fine with that. In no way is he obnoxious, or over-the-top. In my pretty harsh musical theater book, he gets an A+. Jeremy Jordan is a star. Standing ovation to director Richard LaGravenese. Successfully adapting a musical is a huge task. This film is so down-to-earth. You do not have to be a musical theater fan to enjoy this movie. That alone, makes it a hit. I highly recommend The Last Five Years and I guarantee you will walk away humming some, if not all, of these gorgeous songs.

The Last Five Years opens today!

 

Do You Have What it Takes to Sing Your Way ‘Into The Woods’?

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Sing Your Way INTO THE WOODS: A Musical Contest

Disney invites you to show off your singing skills and your love for the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” with the online musical contest “Sing Your Way Into the Woods”. Read More →