One of the images from this past Saturday’s Women’s March across the nation and around the world that caught my eye was a group of ladies dressed like suffragettes with a sign reading “Same Shit Different Century”, sure a lot has changed in the world but women’s rights are still dragging behind those of men in the United States. Who would have thought that a century after Alice Paul and the other participants of the Woman suffrage parade of 1913 in Washington DC, that we wouldn’t have really gotten that far from what they were fighting for sure Women can vote and even be elected to public office but they haven’t gotten much since. Women are still earning less than a man for the same amount of work and any semblance of the Equal Right Act still hasn’t been passed and approved by the states. However, this seems unlikely to be passed right now with the Republican held Congress, and perhaps the ERA needs to be revived to include all those LGBTQ as well. Let us all work towards bringing this to a reality as we need to become more active citizens by participating in local elections and learning what candidates stand for rather than how much noise they can make.
This march brought up the musical Ragtime set in the early part of the 20th century and tells the stories of three groups of people the Upper-class Whites in New Rochelle, the African Americans in Harlem, and the Eastern European Immigrants. It is a period piece for today, as all these groups still exist today in different forms The musical touches on race, disparities of class, police violence, immigration, equality and justice for women and minorities. If you have some time take a listen to the musical or I’m sure you can find some high school production on Youtube. The stand out songs are the from two different points in the show one at the end of Act One “Till We Reach That Day” and the other just before the end of Act Two “Make Them Hear You”. In the Act One Finale we have an unjust murder by the police, which still is relevant today. The song before the Act Two finale “Make Them Hear You” is an anthem for Justice through non-violence. We hear that “Your sword can be a sermon, or the power of the pen. Teach every child to raise his voice and then, my brothers, then will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men make them hear you.” This is our vehicle for change in the world, and hopefully tomorrow there will be more of us working for the cause where someday gender and race won’t matter when it comes to politics and life in general.
Jedi Junior High has got to be the coolest movie I’ve seen this month. Jedi Junior High is a documentary about the production of a musicalized version of The Empire Strikes Back with kids in California. Back in 2009 at the Arts & Learning Center in Costa Mesa they came up with an audacious idea make a musical version of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back. This is a clever thing as it is something that would attract boy and girls. The documentary talks about the importance of children exploring the world of theater and how it can turn awkward kid a bit less awkward. As far as the musical aspects they took already written Showtunes and changes the lyrics to make it more “Star Wars-y”. sort of like how The Simpsons had “Luck be a Lady” turn into “Luke be a Jedi tonight”. Now the sad part is that we don’t get to see the whole show which would have been awesome. If you are a fan of Star Wars and musical theater this is a must watch. A clever thing is at the end we go back to some of the kids featured in the movie and hear about how they have changed in the four years since doing the show.
Musicals: Washington DC has become a hot bed for new musicals as of late with runs of Dear Evan Hansen at Arena Stage before it made it’s way to Broadway, and Freaky Friday which just opened at the Signature Theatre. Now there is news that Mean Girls the musical based on the Tina Fey movie from 2004 will be coming to DC in fall of 2017. There hasn’t been confirmation about where it will be but Arena Stage, Signature Theatre and Ford’s Theatre have all denied involvement, however it could just be too early for an announcement or something?
Disney movies: It has been announced that Disney is making another one of their animated film into a live action movie. This time around it is Mulan that is joining the ranks of the live action remakes like Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and The Little Mermaid. Mulan is a wonderful story and is based on the legendary woman warrior Hua Mulan. The Ballad of Mulan recounts her tale. It is a wonderful story and according to the article it will combine aspect of the ’98 film and the Ballad along with perhaps other stories of Mulan from the ages to make the best adaptation of the story. Disney is in the process of finding some Chinese actress to play the legendary character.
In similar news there is work going on for a film based on Deborah Sampson one of the women who fought in the American Revolutionary War. This seems like a story that would be great at a time like this in the United States. I hope that it gets made, and that they include the stories of other female fighters as well.
With Anastasia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory already planned to open on Broadway as well as that Spongebob musical the news that they are working on adapting Moulin Rouge! for the stage makes a bunch of sense. Sure when the film came out in 2001 me and my friends would discuss how it would be wonderful if it was adapted for the stage. Something akin to talk of a stage version of Newsies, we were sure that it would eventually happen but hadn’t a clue when. It seems likely that we will continue seeing this idea adapting popular films into stage musicals going forward as it seems to have happened throughout history. I think it would be real cool if like The Prince of Egypt could somehow be adapted for the stage. It would be nice if we could get some new ideas on Broadway and touring the globe but new musicals take time to refine whereas adapting a film is perhaps easier, don’t really have a clue here, but with the story already done you just have to write up song and fit them in some place.
Sondheim: The biggest news story to come out about Sondheim in year his next musical will be opening off Broadway in 2017 at the Public Theatre in New York. It’s based on two films by Luis Buñuel, “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” and “The Exterminating Angel.” It sounds like a interesting idea for a musical, but it seems like I’m going to have to know more about of the musical’s plot before judging it.
Netflix: In the least surprising news story in a while. Netflix has more subscribers than the top cable companies. With 47 million subscribers Netflix has more eyes watching than Comcast and Charter combined as well as more than DirectTV. This is sort of weird as you would think that so many people are subscribed to Netflix, as they are bound to get to a point where every household is going to have an account.
Olympics: As you might already know the Rio Olympics begin on Friday night. One of the most ridiculous stories I’ve read about NBC’s coverage is that The Opening Ceremony won’t be televised live one of the reasons to watch the Olympics. NBC also focuses on the human interest pieces during prime time coverage because “women are more interested in the journey rather than results”. However that wasn’t the most crazy story it has to be that NBC asked the IOC to change the order in which the nations entered into the stadium so instead of being in Brazilian Portuguese it would be in English so that the United States would be towards the end instead of closer to the beginning as Estados Unidos. So perhaps the extra hour will give NBC some time to switch where the US enters.
Pokemon Go: Pokemon mania has swept across the US and Australia this past week with the release of the new game. There have been article about players suffering from walking so much and how “playing while black” might not be the best of ideas. Some locations are unhappy that there are Pokemon in their location like the Holocaust Museum in DC and places in Europe are already asking the makers of Pokemon Go to take like Auschwitz and other concentration camps as well, these like seem reasonable requests. However, there is a surprising side effect to this game and that is more people are exploring where they live as it points out unique architecture as well as art and stuff like that. This is something wonderful and it’s a shame that it took a game for people to learn to explore where they live.
Politics: Bernie endorsed Hillary Clinton so we are all set as we enter the Republican and Democratic Conventions next week. However there is wonderful news as Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate might be able to make it to the debate stage in the fall as he is currently sitting at about 10 percent and if it gets to 15 then he can be in the debates. Unfortunately he isn’t on the ballots across the nation. So it’s a slim chance but it would give those who don’t want to vote for Hillary or Trump someone to cast a vote for.
Sondheim: Stumbled upon this cool interview with James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, where they give a dower look on the current state of Broadway musicals, aside from Hamilton many of them are adaptations of movies. If you have some time it gives an interesting look at the making of a musical and how revivals work.
Lin-Manuel Miranda: This is one of the funniest things I’ve read today. The article posits that Miranda will be creating an Expanded Hamiltonian Universe with musical about all the founding fathers with two productions a year planned out through 2090. It gets even better as it continues saying that there is some competition coming with Andrew Lloyd Webber writing shows about English history going back to William the Conqueror in 1064. This is just a ridiculous idea and I highly doubt that Lin-Manuel Miranda knows what his next stage musical project is and I highly doubt that he would go with the same well for a second time. As for Webber this just seems out of place as he really has not had a great musical since arguably Phantom sure he did Sunset Boulevard, The Woman in White and the sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies but nothing he’s done has really lasted very long since.
US Politics: In the ever long quest by the Republicans to name everything after a Reagan a new bill has been introduced to rename Gravelly Point park near National Airport after Nancy Reagan. Sure she was a good first lady but pretty soon we are going ot have to have a park for all the First Ladies and they already have a site in Canton, Ohio The Ida McKinley House and First Ladies National Historic Site. It was introduced by a Republican from Georgia and has 50 cosigners who are all Republicans. If it ever does get passed it will be another way to know who’s a local and who isn’t, just like the airport, officially it is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, so it would be nice if Ronnie and Nancy are once again side by side. However this seems like something that would make more sense in California where they lived.
FilmStruck: TCM and Criterion have announced that they are partnering to create a new subscription streaming service designed for people who love independent, art-house, and international cinema. It seems like a real cool idea since Turner Classic Movies does a wonderful job at programing their network with a nice selection of film, I especially like the month of February which is devoted to the Oscars. Criterion has done a wonderful thing with the Criterion Collection which is around 900 films ranging in genre and from locations around the world. If the service simply offers the complete catalogues of TCM and Criterion it will be worth the price.
College Education: The White House has announced plans to roll out a $100 million program which would work towards free Community College. This was something President Obama indicated was important in his 2015 State of the Union address and the democratic presidential candidates Clinton and Sanders both have free community college as part of their agenda. This seems like it is going to happen since so many jobs are now requiring post secondary education. Tennessee is among the first in the nation to already provide this through the Tennessee Promise. Let hope that it gets more individuals into an extra couple years of education.
Theater: The stage musical based on the film Waitress, with music by Sara Bareilles, has opened on Broadway and this show is unlike every other show ever. Since there is an olfactory aspect to the show. If you haven’t seen the movie it is set in a diner which specializes in pies. So one of the producers of the musical insisted that that the aroma be there. They tried many way but lo and behold it turns out that cooking an actual pie is the best solution.
Beer: This is a unique story as an Israeli Brewery has recreated a 2000 year old beer. Well sort of It isn’t something that we would consider as beer. They were prompted to make this after researchers found a 2000 year old strain of wheat the brewers decided they wanted to try and brew with it. They made a five gallon batch and all that remains is a single bottle and there aren’t plans to make it again since the results weren’t something that would be marketable.
Golden Globes: This is a long time coming but there have been some changes made to the Golden Globes regarding the comedy\musical film. Now the films nominated actually have to be a funny film and not dramas with comedic elements, so we will not get films like The Martian or The Tourist winning Best Comedy at next year’s Golden Globes.
Pulitzer Prize: In somewhat expected news Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama it becomes the ninth musical to ever win. The nine other musicals have been about once a decade since the 1930s. Miranda in all likelihood seems destined to join Marvin Hamlisch and Richard Rodgers as PEGOTs,
Religion: There is some news about the Shroud of Turin and I learned about another relic of Christ the Sudarium of Oviedo. The news is that both the Shroud and Sudarium are linked as they cover the face of the same man.
This week we have a varied grouping of articles that piqued my interest this week.
Netflix: Researchers have crunched the data and have determined that the average viewer spend about a minute to a minute and a half browsing Netflix to find something to watch. This is furthered by the fact that viewers look at between 10 and 20 title before just giving up.
NASA: This is some pretty cool news as NASA is toying with the idea of working with laser propulsion system which could possibly make interstellar travel a reality. This would be a game changer in the spaceflight since you wouldn’t have to use all that fuel to go anywhere which would make it a less expensive endeavor. Also according to the report it would cut down travel time between Earth and Mars currently about 8 month for like a probe but according to this if the science works out it would cut it down to merely days.
Musical Theater: Over on Playbill there is a unique look at the current state in the musicals where they ask if we are in a new Golden Age, perhaps a Platinum Age of Musical theater. Rick McKay is working on his Golden Age trilogy about the oral history of Broadway from the 40s-today. Playbill says that musicals are more a national phenomenon today with the abundance of musicals available to the general public with the success of the live musicals on NBC and FOX as well as in movie theaters and on musical shows such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Nashville and Empire. Not to talk about that musical about Alexander Hamilton which debuted at 12 on the Billboard 200 and was number one on the Rap chart.
Politics: In not really big news Senate Republicans have confirmed that they will not vote on any Supreme Court nominees that Obama gives them. This would be the first time since the 1800s that this has happened. However this plan by the Republican might blow up in their faces since they have 24 seats up and it seems like the American people might have gotten sick and tired of what they’ve been doing in Washington and want a change. This might also change how Mitch McConnell and Republican feel about scheduling any appointment hearing for Supreme Court justice.