The performance was debuted on the Les Miserables podcast found within iTunes. Like “One Day More” released earlier this week, “At the End of the Day” features powerful choruses from the French townspeople then features great work from Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean.
Watch ‘Les Miserables’ “At the End of the Day”
This is another performance which shows off the unique shooting process for the film: The actors and actress sung every take 100% live while filming. There was no pre-recorded music, and the cast would often change up how they delivered each song with every take. Eddie Redmayne, who plays Marius, provided more context a in a featurette. “Normally if you were making an old school movie musical as a group of actors we’d go into a studio, record an album, and then two months later we’d arrive on set and we’d play the playback and we would mime along side. The problem with that is that you need to make your acting choices three months before you’ve even met the actor you’re working with.”
Forget Captain America: Civil War. The 1990s straight-to-video version is where it’s at.
A week ago, I had the pleasure of watching Captain America: Civil War, the third movie in Marvel’s esteemed Captain America trilogy.
There is no denying that the Russo brothers have created a masterpiece. While I personally didn’t think it lived up to the expectations set by the phenomenal The Winter Soldier, the third instalment of Cap’s story has everything you could ask for in a comic book movie: Beautiful people and special effects, great acting, incredible fight sequences, humor, conflict, and heart.
But enough about Civil War. We’re here to talk about another Captain America movie — a movie I wasn’t aware existed until earlier this week, when the Screen Junkies brought it to the attention of the world.
Captain America was not a property that I, a little Danish girl whose closest thing to fandom growing up was Duck Tales, was ever exposed to. I certainly don’t remember seeing this American-Yugoslavian straight-to-VHS production at my local Blockbusters, if it even came out in Europe at all.
Honestly, this whole ‘Captain America’ thing would probably never have appealed to me if not for Avengers, in which I thought he was kind of funny (but not as funny as Thor), and later Captain America: The First Avenger, which genuinely moved me, and for a long time was the only comic book movie I had more than a passing interest in (Peggy Carter may have had something to do with that, too).
So color me surprised when, on a dare, I decided to give the 1990s version of Cap’s saga with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes a whirl, and actually… maybe… possibly… liked it?
But wait, isn’t this the worst movie of all time?
Let’s get this straight: Cap ’90 sucks. It’s awful. It’s exactly what you’d expect a superhero movie made in the 90s with b-list actors would look like.
When The First Avenger came out, 90s-Cap Matt Salinger (yup, that Salinger) did an interview with GQ in which he admitted that the new Marvel movie, “looks like what we had hoped ours would look like.” Heartbreakingly, Salinger went on to confess that he had asked Marvel for a cameo in the movie, which they didn’t grant him. (I feel like he’s my Steve now, so this hit me really hard. Love you Matt.)
But to be honest with you, I don’t really care that it’s objectively terrible. I sat down to watch this movie in an effort to educate myself on Captain America’s history (and to gain new appreciation for the MCU), and, maybe because I was expecting everything about it to be awful, I was honestly surprised by how much this movie got right.
All the moral ambiguity you want in a ‘Cap’ movie
After Age of Ultron, there was a lot of talk about Chris Evans’ Steve being too clean, too nice, too noble. ‘Real’ Steve Rogers fans recognized that the comics character has a dark side, that he can be selfish, that he’s human.
And, for all his buffoonery, Salinger’s Captain America actually, albeit possibly by accident, embodies a lot of the traits we look for in a flawed Steve. Twice he fakes carsickness (!), does a silly run (!), and steals an innocent person’s car (!), leaving them stranded on a deserted road because of some stubborn conviction that he doesn’t need their help (seriously, it’s so dumb and also hilarious).
He’s allegedly a patriotic soldier whose father died in the war, and who leaves his family to become America’s first supersoldier. In the movie’s first 20 minutes, he heads straight into battle with Red Skull and falls into a pile of snow before anyone even realizes he exists, then wakes up 50 years later and heads straight back into the same battle.
During their final confrontation, Red Skull tells him, “No one cares about you,” and Steve’s reply is, “I care.” The world isn’t aware of Captain America in this version of the story, and the values he’s supposedly upholding are irrelevant to everyone around him.
The movie may tell us otherwise, but in actuality, Captain America is just a guy with a grudge, a would-be hero who’d never make it round the block if everyone around him didn’t jump in to help him out. (This probably wasn’t the character flaws fans had hoped for, but it is a nice change to see a supposed superhero actually having to rely so heavily on his non-superhero allies.)
Meanwhile, the movie’s villain, Red Skull, is the one with the tragic past. This was back before Hollywood knew how to make interesting good guys, and so they poured all their characterization into the villain: The movie opens with him as an innocent child in the 1930s watching his entire family get murdered, and then he’s tortured and transformed into a monster.
Red Skull sees Steve as his ‘brother,’ and when we catch up with him in the 1990s, he’s gotten a plastic surgery overhaul, and is working with his daughter Valentina, who for all intents and purposes is his second-in-command. During WW2, Red Skull was working with the Nazis to bomb the White House (don’t worry, Steve rode that rocket all the way from Italy to Washington, and onward to Alaska!), but when that failed, he apparently decided to settle down in Rome and become a low-key Mafioso.
In 1993 (don’t ask why this movie takes place three years after it was made, that’s just part of its magic) he has this big plan to kidnap the President and implant him with some kind of control chip, and when that also fails, he decides to just blow up everyone.
He stands by a piano — which is significant because he was playing the piano right before the Nazis made him watch as they killed his family — and tells Cap, “We are both tragedies. And now I send our two tired souls to rest.”
And Steve? He strikes a pose and declares, “Not if I have anything to say about it!” before using his shield to knock Red Skull off a cliff and possibly-very-likely slice the head off Valentina in the process. Subtle, this Steve is not.
But, intentionally or not, this actually leaves us with genuine Sympathy for the Devil, a depth which The First Avenger arguably didn’t allow for (Red Skull was pure, sadistic evil in that version).
It’s kind of feminist (no, really)
I mean look, it’s the 90s and lead girl Sharon not-Carter totally gets locked in a cell, Ultron-style. But pretty astoundingly, none of the ladies in the movie — of which there are quite a few — are ever actually damsels.
The Erskine character played in the Marvel movies by Stanley Tucci is actually a woman in the movie, named Doctor Maria Vaselli. She starts out as a Nazi scientist working on the Red Skull serum, but when she sees what they do to the kid she rebels and, when they try to shoot her, escapes.
She begins working with the American government to improve the serum, and by the time Steve is all ready for his dose, she’s still around. She’s killed, of course, like Erskine is, but having a woman in such a position of authority in the 1930s, so matter-of-factly, just reminds me that the 90s were a lot more chill about what we’d consider ‘progressive’ in 2016.
Then there’s PeggyBucky Bernie, Steve’s one true love who promises to wait for him “forever, and ever, and ever and ever.” You think she’s just a doe-eyed love interest until we catch back up with her 50 years later. Turns out PeggyBucky Bernie did wait for Steve, but not forever.
When Steve finds her, she tells him she waited till she was 38, then basically said ‘f*** it’ and got married and had some kids, because she wasn’t actually gonna let her life pass her by. When she confesses that she feels old and ugly compared to him, he tells her she’s beautiful, which is also kind of neat, in this age of women being told they’re ‘too old’ to exist at age 26.
Later she dies, killed by Red Skull’s daughter, and we learn that even when her life was on the line, she never gave up any information about Steve — a hero, in her own, quiet way.
And then there’s Bernie’s daughter Sharon. If you thought Civil War made it weird with Sharon being Peggy’s niece, oh boy — not only could this Sharon have been Steve’s daughter in another life, but the two women are also played by the same actress!
But Sharon, for all that she’s not the awesome, badass Agent 13-version of Sharon we meet in the MCU, is actually a pretty refreshing lead female character. For one, she’d never explicitly made Cap’s love interest, and she’s also got a very specific non-romance-related reason for tagging along with him.
“We get our orders from the Red Skull’s daughter”
When Bernie dies, Steve mourns for about 0.1 seconds, but Sharon is obviously devastated. She follows Steve to Rome in order to confront Red Skull, and learns that Valentina is the one who killed her mother. Sharon finds herself up against Red Skull’s daughter several times (and the two even have a few conversations that earns Cap ’90 a pass on the Bechdel Test), before she ultimately punches her in the face. Cap might be the one to kill Valentina, but Sharon definitely got her moment.
At one point, Sharon also pulls Steve’s own silly car stealing trick on him, basically sacrificing herself by letting Red Skull’s henchmen catch her so Steve can get away (if you’ve seen Civil War, this might ring a bell).
Okay but it’s still awful, right?
Oh don’t worry, it’s terrible.
For one, the movie does absolutely nothing to explain what the serum actually did to Steve, other than cure his limp. He’s stronger and can throw a frisbee with deadly accuracy, and that’s about it… but in fairness, I guess that’s kind of true for Evans’ Cap, too. The lack of a physical change — he’s a dopey dude and post-serum he’s still a dopey dude — really diminishes the effect of him, however, especially considering the dorky costume they make him wear.
Also, Cap freezes in the ice within the first 30 minutes, and beyond being mildly wary of tape recorders seems completely unperturbed by the world of 1993. There’s no Black Widow, or Bucky, or Howard Stark, or any of the other people the MCU have taught me to assume would of course be present in a Captain America movie.
“Pictures don’t lie and neither do best friends”
There is however a President Kimball, a super sympathetic Al Gore-type environmentalist, who ends up helping out with the whole saving-the-day thing (this is a movie about Captain ‘Murica after all).
Tom Kimball actually saw the rocket-surfing Steve back in the 40s, and the transition from the 40s to the 90s is done through newspaper clippings showing how Tom went from a boy who dreamed of being the president, to the actual president (that part was actually really cool, even if they made a really obvious spelling error — see below).
He also keeps up with his childhood best friend Sam, and their friendship through the film actually feels genuine, amidst all the terrible stunt coordination and one-liners.
Sam, who helpfully drops a Human Torch reference (Chris Evans, it was meant to be), continues to believe in Tom’s Captain America, even after Cap leaves him stranded on a highway. And when Sam is killed, still in an effort to protect Cap — who gives no f***s — he leaves Tom some kind of decoder locket thing he’s had since they were kids. #ImagineYourOTP
Captain America suffers from spectacularly bad production value, and some misguided (and half-assed, to its benefit) attempt to make Captain America a stoic, square-jawed Superman rip-off. The punch sound effects are taken straight out of a cartoon, some of the backdrops are laughable, and Steve’s actual character arc is non-existent: He’s a good soldier who wants to be a good soldier and continues to be a good soldier — his only real personality trait is that he likes to pretend he’s gonna barf and then steal people’s cars.
But around the epic fail of the hero himself, there’s actually a semblance of an interesting story. There’s a tragic villain ripped from his family and forced to become a monster, raising his daughter to be a leader in her own right. There’s a strong-willed girl who loses a parent and follows the one man who may bring her justice, and there’s a president whose faith in this mythical Captain America may be an expression of his faith in a better world — a faith which, if the desperation and ill-contained frustration of our contemporary Captain America is anything to go by, we’re collectively beginning to lose.
Am I giving this movie too much credit? Absolutely. It’s cheesy, badly made, and not very much fun. But it’s also dark — a child is tortured, a family is gunned down, and Red Skull’s daughter has to listen to a recording of her grandparents being killed — and, of course, there are cool chicks doing motorcycle stunts. At the end of the day, there’s a lot to enjoy about the 1990s version of Captain America.
As someone whose knowledge of Cap pretty much begins and ends with Chris Evans’ MCU version, I was actually pleasantly surprised by this supposedly-and-actually-awful, but still surprisingly solid, Captain America movie.
The first trailer for Center Stage: On Pointe is the latest addition to the long list of nostalgia-inducing films arriving this summer.
Forget that 2008 sequel, this is the Center Stage fans deserve. It seems that once every eight years the team from Center Stage needs to scratch an itch and dance out their feelings on screen. While we’d rather forget the failed straight-to-DVD attempt of the mid-aughts, Lifetime’s made for TV movie is just the right amount of nostalgia fans deserve.
Once again we are set in the throws of the audition process for The American Ballet Company. Wait. Does that mean? Yes! Both Peter Gallahger and Ethan Stiefel, Jonathan Reeves and Cooper Nielson respectively, are back for the film! Also joining the group is dancer-turned-choreographer, and the heartthrob of all twenty-something former dance camp attendees, Charlie (Sascha Radetsky).
The synopsis of the film, from E!, reads: “Jonathan Reeves (Gallagher) is tasked with infusing more contemporary styles and modernism into the American Ballet Academy and enlists his top choreographers Charlie (Radestsky), Cooper (Stiefel) and Tommy (Kenny Wormald) to recruit dancers to compete at an intensive camp where the winners will be selected to join the Academy. Bella Parker (Nicole Munoz), who has always lived in the shadow of her hugely successful sister Kate, finally gets her chance to step into the limelight as one of the dancers selected for the camp. Chloe Lukasiak (Dance Moms) stars as Gwen, a talented dancer prodigy who competes at the camp.”
Because we know you want it…
Will you be tuning in to ‘Center Stage: On Pointe’ this summer?
Who has the time and money to see every show that comes breezing through Broadway? Not us. Here are the shows we’re sad to have missed. There’s always revivals.
Brittany: ‘Bridges of Madison County’
Pinned to my desk is a window card. Stored on my bookshelf is a printed copy of the script. Sitting at the top of my Top 25 Most Played Songs is a collection of showstoppers. What do all of these things have in common? They all hail from the best Broadway show I can think of — The Bridges of Madison County, a show I have never seen.
Long story short a mysterious man, Robert, visits a small country town to take pictures of their bridges for National Geographic and has a four-day emotional affair with a housewife. Francesca immigrated from Italy after she married a soldier and left for a great adventure in the United States. Iowa was not what she had in mind, but 18 years, two kids, and cattle competitions later, there she sits in hospitable captivity. Bridges is a romance, one based on a book by Robert James Waller, that toes the line of fluff fiction, but is grounded in this adaptation as more of a contemplative piece on what happiness and love does to people who experience it for the first time at an inconvenient time.
I cannot help but feel a some form of kinship to Francesca and not just because if Steven Pasquale came up to me and asked me to run away with him it would take very little convincing to get me out the door. What more is there to the world that I am too complacent to discover? Could I ever just pack up and go away for good?
One listen to the soundtrack and it is no secret why Jason Robert Brown’s score and orchestration both won the Tony in 2014. When O’Hara and Pasquale’s voices join together, especially in “One Second and a Million Miles,” it is something otherworldly. Jason Robert Brown catered this soundtrack to the voices delivering the words on stage every night. From “To Build a Home” straight through “Always Better,” The Bridges of Madison County is a roller coaster of emotions. Even without the visual imagery to compliment my listening experience, a listener is not robbed of the depth in each the scene. It’s all there, buried in the lyrics and notes. It’s no wonder that “The Last Five Years” and “Parade” frequently appear in my musical rotation.
There was a brief window of time, from February 2014 until May 2014 to be exact, where the stage musical, starring two of the biggest powerhouse singers on Broadway, Steven Pasquale and Kelli O’Hara, came to life eight times a week. How those two voices did not bring the theater to the ground is something that will always keep me in wonder. On more than one occasion my car speakers have almost given out to the soundtrack. This is not a musical that has been off Broadway for years like Company that allows me to say, “Oh, it just hasn’t been around when I have the free will and means to see it.” This is a show that was easily accessible. I’ll probably never watch the movie starring Meryl Streep or pick up Weller’s novel. Instead, I’ll enjoy my script, soundtrack, and keep my exposure to the show in the form I discovered it.
Luckily, I will not find myself wandering to an empty Broadway stage many years from now with a bottle of brandy and a letter informing me that all of my chances to see a staged production of the show have faded away. In a few months time the Bridges tour will bring Francesca and Robert’s story to life. I will, however, always find it hard to get over the fact that mere blocks away I let the original production of The Bridges of Madison County play on without me.
Musical theater has got to be the only art form in the world where you can call yourself a fan of a piece of media without ever having actually seen it. Part of the peril of being a Broadway fan from afar — an issue I’ll talk about combating later in the week — is that the run of a show can be fleeting. Some reach levels of success that ensure you will be able to see them, somewhere, one day, because they’ll never close, or they’ll go on tour, or they’ll be licensed to schools and communities and become part of the permanent cultural zeitgeist. But many productions come and go before a lot of potential devotees ever get the chance to see them, whether it’s down to a planned limited run, a celebrity cast, or a production that just doesn’t hit the mark and doesn’t survive. In these cases, all you can do is cry over the album, attempt to get your hands on the script, and do everything you can to build a vision of the lost show in your head. My Great White Way great white whale is Newsies, and specifically, the Newsies original cast that brought the show to Broadway in 2012.
Newsies had a somewhat odd conception — it feels like it should have always been a Broadway show first and foremost, but it was actually a live action Disney movie-musical starring Christan Bale with music by Alan Menken, which developed a cult following and became an actual stage musical 20 years later. The subject matter is just my cup of tea — as a longstanding Les Mis fan, I’m a sucker for a group of plucky boys in period costumes standing up for their rights. Newsies is based on the real life Newsboys’ strike of 1899, which led to a change in child labor compensation from publishing bigwigs like William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, who’s actually a character in the show.
But the heart of the show is the enigmatic young strike leader Jack Kelly, a role originated by my favorite voice on Broadway, Jeremy Jordan. He held the role for the first six months of the show, which earned him a Leading Actor Tony nod, one of eight nominations received by the show. Newsies went on to run for two years, and I think it will have good shelf life. It’s currently touring and I will probably get the chance to see it at some point, and I will enjoy it. I love the music and the plot and I know the choreography to be legendary. However, for me, this precise pain stems from never getting to watch Jeremy Jordan bring Jack Kelly to life, which also creates a guilt spiral, because unlike film or TV, theater characters are bigger than the actors that play them. Shows are constantly recast and part of the beauty of the medium is the prospect of seeing many interpretations of the same roles, so it’s kind of sacrilegious to pine over missing a certain actor do his turn when it’s the show itself that should matter. But still.
Kristina: ‘American Idiot’
I know it’s a rock album and I know there’s not much “story” to the show, but man do I wish I could have see this show when it was on Broadway from 2010 to mid-2011. The Green Day album was completely transformed from all out punk rock music to a harmonious soundtrack of stories of a post-9/11 generation. We’re all trying to figure it out: Where do we stand in this country? Where do we stand with our friends, our loved ones? What will make us stronger, and what will beat us down? American Idiot tackles all these issues with a verve that’s meant for a much bigger show, but handles it spectacularly.
It’s always the one show I always return to, wish I’ve seen. There are a lot of fantastic, amazing musicals on Broadway, and I feel extremely lucky to have seen Wicked and Hamilton, and I know The Lion King will always be there should I ever want to see it and it will outlive us all, but American Idiot feels like a very flash-in-the-pan, once-in-a-Broadway-generation kind of experience. The idea of adapting pop music isn’t novel — just look to Mamma Mia!, Jersey Boys or Beautiful, but the emotions that John Gallagher Jr., Stark Sands, Michael Esper, Tony Vincent (and, for a brief time, Billie Joe Armstrong), and Rebecca Naomi Jones are able to conjure as Johnny, Tunny, Will, St. Jimmy, and Whatshername, are raw, and powerful.
There is no doubt that the short, 90-minute, intermission-free, blood-pumping evening is memorable to those that saw it, and for those that haven’t, there is the phenomenal soundtrack available to us. You haven’t lived until you cried hearing the cast sing “Last Night on Earth,” or during John Gallagher Jr.’s delicate strumming during his solo, “When It’s Time.”
If you want a small, but thorough taste of what this show is about, I highly recommend you check out Broadway Idiot, the documentary that followed the show’s director, Green Day, and the cast as they go from workshops, to rehearsals, to previews to Broadway and even to the Grammys.
Not many people in America know that the two guys from ABBA once wrote a musical with Tim Rice (lyricist for many Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals and the better half of the Disney Renaissance). Well, they did — Chess, a musical about the Cold War told through the lens of a chess tournament between an American and a Russian, and their fight over a woman. The show premiered on the West End in 1986, where it played for three years and won over the hearts of Brits. Two years later, it opened on Broadway… and promptly closed two months later, barely even a blip on the Broadway landscape. In fairness, according to a friend who saw the short-lived Broadway production, the book of Chess was never its strong point. Perhaps that is why the show has remained a favorite for concert productions, featuring a who’s who of Broadway talent over the years, but has not yet seen a proper revival on either side of the Atlantic.
I discovered it through my long-lived ABBA obsession, by following a YouTube rabbit hole and finding Elaine Paige singing “Nobody’s Side,” which remains my favorite song from the show. I got the full two-disc recording from a friend, and listened to it ad nauseum. All of the songs are spectacular, with such talents behind them, but the standouts are definitely “Nobody’s Side” and “Anthem.” I came close to realizing my dream of seeing the show during the thirtieth anniversary concert at 54 Below last year. In addition to the music, I thought the story sounded really cool. Now I await the day producers come to their senses and bring back this glorious musical, which (as evidenced by the concert I attended) has developed quite a cult following over the years.
What Broadway show do you wish you had to opportunity to see?
This article is a part of Hypable’s inaugural Broadway Week in celebration of the 2016 Tony nominations. For more theater articles, click here!