Holiday Entertainment: Film and Theater

Into The Woods

What do you get when you mix a star studded cast, classic fairytales, and magnificent music together? An imaginative, beautiful and altogether fabulous film, called Into The Woods. The unstoppable Meryl Streep stars as the Witch, and is joined by an incredibly talented cast which includes, Emily Blunt as the Baker’s Wife, James Corden as the Baker, Chris Pine as Prince Charming, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, Christine Baranski as the step mother, Tracey Ullman as Jack’s mother, and Johnny Depp as the Wolf. Even though I have seen the stage version several times including the original Broadway production of 1989, I felt that the story came alive in a much clearer way. The film is a beautiful spectacle of color and sound. Each performance resonates with an abundance of depth and emotion. There is much in the way of humor provided by the clever words of James Lapine and especially in the repartee between the two Princes. Of course, Tracey Ullman and Christine Baranski, adept at comedy, are at the top of their game here, and will keep you laughing. I am a sucker for musicals, but even if you don’t share my enthusiasm for this art form, I guarantee that you will enjoy this film and emerge from the theaters humming “Into the woods…!” Into The Woods opens Christmas Day.

 

The Elephant Man

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For those of you who know Bradley Cooper as the handsome and hilarious cad in films like “The Wedding Crashers” and “The Hangover” trilogy, the troubled and mentally ill ex school teacher “Silver Linings Playbook” or the over zealous FBI agent in “American Hustle,” you have never seen him like he is in his current role as Joseph Merrick, the central character in the Broadway play “The Elephant Man.” I have known Bradley personally for about 18 years, having shared a manager together in New York. After meeting him for the first time, I recall very clearly telling Jeff, who was just beginning his career as a business manager, that Bradley was going to be a huge star one day. It was a moment of clairvoyance that has never shown itself to me since, but because I love being right, I tend to brag about it any chance that I can get! Indeed Bradley has become a huge star, and the line outside the Booth Theater’s stage door is just one example of his stardom. And yet, in spite of all the theatrical and film accolades, the Oscar Nominations and being dubbed People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, he is still Bradley-- sweet, kind, down to earth and unaffected by his celebrity. Above all, and most importantly, he is a doting son to his mom Gloria! Yet, it is Bradley’s intelligence and talent that provides the ability for him to take on an acting role and make that character his own. And he soars as Joseph Merrick, the Englishman afflicted with disfiguring neurofibromatosis causing gross physical defects that leave him physically lame and visually abhorent. Dressed in just a pair of shorts at the top of the play, Bradley morphs his body, hands and face on stage so that the audience sees him become the Elephant Man. From that moment on, Bradley disappears and one is only aware of Joseph Merrick on that stage. He plays the role with such charm and vulnerability that you can’t help but fall in love with him. The cast, which includes the very capable and prolific Patricia Clarkson, is marvelous. I am quite certain that Bradley will earn a Tony nomination for this role. The engagement is limited, so if you are planning to travel to New York , or you live in the area, you must see it before February 22.