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Archive for November 7th, 2011

By Marilyn Ferdinand

The United States is a young country with an old history. Rising to the highest heights of power in the blink of an eye through rapid expansion across a broad land rich in natural resources, achieving unity more than 100 year before the much more ancient Europe even made a start at it, and now prematurely gray as it struggles to adapt to a global economy and a shattered self-image, the American story has been a tough one to tell. The mirrors held up to Americans have often been fractured and one-dimensional, and perhaps with the exception of the Great American Novel, Huckleberry Finn, no work of art has broken through as a wide-ranging reflection not only of who we want to be, but also of who we really are. So it may be a bold declaration to make, but if I had to pick the one work that has been and will continue to be the greatest telling of the Great American Story, it would be West Side Story.

The enduring legacy of West Side Story could not have been predicted based on its reception when it premiered at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York in 1957. It garnered generally good reviews and had a respectable initial run of 732 performances, but that was nowhere near the 2,717 performances of My Fair Lady during the same Broadway season. Its hold on the imaginations of an international audience would not be secured until it was in a form that could be disseminated widely. When the film, codirected by its theatrical director/choreographer Jerome Robbins and Hollywood veteran Robert Wise, came out in 1961, it was a smash hit, earning the equivalent of $300 million in today’s dollars in the United States alone and winning 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. The huge audience for the film has made WSS a perennial favorite of school, amateur, and professional theatrical companies the world over. What is it that has attracted so many admirers across time and continents to this musical? (more…)

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Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones in Drake Doremus heartbreaking tale of first love, "Like Crazy"

by Sam Juliano

The musical countdown has entered the Top Five with Judy Geater’s spectacular review of Meet Me in St. Louis posting on Sunday.  After nearly three months the wildly popular venture is drawing to a close, with the #1 unveiling scheduled for Thursday.  As a special feature two reviews of that top film will be offered up by Dennis Polifroni and John Greco.  No previous project in the site’s history has attracted more comments or page views than the musical countdown, and none has enlisted the gleeful participation of the blogging community quite like this.  Writer after writer have outdone themselves with masterful writing and a real passion for the material.  That tireless blogger Dee Dee, has managed the sidebar with daily updates and fabulous material that has greatly enriched and enhanced the project.  She is incomparable.

Though Old Man Winter prematurely reared his ugly head last week, it appears that there are still quite a few leaves out there to change color.  Ghosts and goblins are yielding now to turkeys and stuffing, and for a date with the voting booth this coming Tuesday.  Baseball is done and most sports fans are well into the NFL schedule.  Giants fans are ecstatic after a last minute TD gave them a huge win over the New England Patriots at Foxsboro.  The Jets also triumphed over the Buffalo Bills.

Joel Bocko’s “Fixing A Hole” series continues with a new topic for November – “Animated Animals.”  He started the venture off with a band, penning a marvelous review on 1937’s The Story of the Fox by Wladyslaw and Irene Starewicz.  Bocko’s Sunday posting will sit alone beginning next week, as the musical countdown will conclude in three days.  Then there’s Jamie Uhler, who miraculously has reached the 48th installment in his remarkable “Getting Over the Beatles” series that considers British music over three decades.  This series has become one of the site’s most treasured columns, and one of it’s most accomplished.  Bob Clark contributed a stupendous review this past week on V For Vendetta. (more…)

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