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There have been many rumors about Houdini for years now, but it looks like the musical is finally taking shape. In a statement released earlier today, more details about the production came out, including the intended release: Broadway’s 2013/2014 season. It was also announced that Hugh Jackman has officially signed onto the project.
As has been previously reported, the talent behind the musical on the late and great magician is extensive, with Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing) writing, Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell) composing, and Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, The Coast of Utopia) directing. Set designer David Rockwell (Hairspray) is producing alongside Scott Sanders (The Color Purple).
Hugh released a statement on his involvement, while Aaron Sorkin provided a brief summary:
“I have been deeply fascinated by the life of Harry Houdini since I was young, and in many ways I’ve been preparing for this role my whole life,” said Jackman. “I am thrilled to be collaborating with this collection of artists who are all at the top of their game.”
“Rather than being a biography, Houdini — told in a contemporary tone — tells the story of an epic battle that took place between the world’s greatest illusionist and a trio of women, known as ‘Spiritualists’, who convinced millions of people, including the editors of Scientific American and The New York Times, that they could communicate with the dead,” said Sorkin.
A new interview has surfaced for the new year, in which Hugh talks about breaking Broadway box office records and Les Miserables, his upcoming movie. There’s also some talk about the Australian film festival, Tropfest, and gives some advice for would-be filmmakers looking to score a hit in the inaugural event brought to New York. Check out an excerpt below, then head to the source for the whole thing:
Back on Broadway broke a number of Broadway records, like the highest weekly gross for the Shubert Organization.
The show has gone way better than we could have imagined. I decided to do it because Wolverine kept getting delayed, so I didn’t want to just sit around waiting. I had quite modest ambitions. I said to my agent, “Find me a 30-minute charity gig or something, just get me going,” and he rang me the next day and said, “We’ve got a theater.”
You’re starting rehearsals for the movie adaptation of Les Miz later this month. I read that there are going to be no prerecorded songs — that you’ll be singing live on the set. Is that true?
Yes, I believe we are going to be singing live. We will obviously have to do a safety prerecord, because when you’re singing you’ve got to have all the music in your ear, and I’m guessing also for quality of sound for the soundtrack. And sometimes when you film there are noises — smoke machines, things like that — where the actual sound on set may not be usable. But most of it we’re going to be singing live, which for something like Les Miserables is essential. You don’t want it to feel like it’s all done in a recording studio, nor do you want it to look like the actors are miming the whole thing. I wouldn’t know how to do that. I think it would take more work to mime it than to sing it.
Tropfest has been in Australia for twenty years. Why expand to New York now?
Tropfest is like a rock concert in Sydney. You get 100,000 people watching short films, and suddenly all of Sydney thinks they are filmmakers. It has demystified that whole idea of, “Oh my God, it’s impossible to make films and you can’t do it without a lot of money.” So it seems to me that if it can work in Sydney, Australia, then in New York it should become an even bigger phenomenon. This is New York!
This is a bit delayed, but we’ll just blame that on the holiday season! Hugh Jackman recently appeared on CUNY TV’s Theater Talk, hosted by Susan Haskins and the New York Post‘s Michael Riedel, where he talked about his one-man show and Broadway experiences. It’s a pretty long interview – at just under a half-hour – and worth watching, if only for the anecdotes that Hugh peppers in throughout. You can watch it below or visit the official site for television air dates/times:
HitFix has given the great opportunity to eager fans to learn more about the upcoming DreamWorks film, Rise of Guardians. There’s a lot of new information on the otherwise very hush-hush project, including some details on Hugh’s character, the Easter Bunny. The film itself sounds very interesting with a lot of potential, being different from the more recent, rowdier animated features. I’ve included an excerpt of the article below, but please visit the source for the rest. A poster has also been debuted, which can be seen above. Enjoy!
What we don’t have is a better look at the art that we were shown during our sit-down conversation with the creative team. We were surrounded by images, including the Yetis who actually work at the North Pole. There are Elves too, little guys who wear their hats as full-body wardrobe, but the toys are made by Yetis who look like aggressively pissed-off pomeranians. We saw part of a sequence where the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost and the Sandman, who never speaks in the film except through sand shapes that he manifests around himself, all go to visit St. North at his secret home, and he ends up taking all of them on a wild sleigh ride, and even in a scene marked with some broad physical comedy and some wild CGI action, I was impressed by the sound of the film, the language of it, the elegance with which it lays out its fantasy world.
I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, then, that David Lindsay-Abaire (“Rabbit Hole”) is the screenwriter here. Working from extensive notes and ideas prepared by Joyce, Lindsay-Abaire was the one charged with actually pulling all of the material together into a film. This is the sort of ultra-high-concept idea that could easily be crass or noisy or phony, but it feels like they’re reaching for something here with some scope and some beauty.
I liked what I heard of Hugh Jackman’s Easter Bunny and Isla Fisher’s Tooth Fairy, and Chris Pine seems like a good fit as a sort of trickster spirit who starts to realize that his actions matter in the world and he can’t just keep floating along, never choosing a side between wrong and right, good and evil. Each of the Guardians is so different visually and in terms of environment that you get the feeling it’s a very big world in which these stories are going on.
William Joyce has been working on this project in one form or another for almost 20 years, and he’s intimately involved in every aspect of getting this franchise up and running. And likewise, Dreamworks is credited inside both of the books he just put out, and they’re the ones who signed on to handle every part of this big dream he’s got. They’ve teamed him up with the filmmakers I’ve already mentioned as well as Guillermo Del Toro, an executive producer on the film, and it seems like this is a group that has a real handle on what film they’re trying to make, and both the time and the talent to get it right if they want to.
Here’s the sort of ambition we’re talking about. The novel series is going to be 13 books long, and it’s not scheduled to finish publication until 2015. The movie is really just one moment in a much larger narrative that Joyce is shaping, and it’s somewhat appropriate, based on his ambition, that one of his characters is The Sandman. He doesn’t have anything in common with Neil Gaiman’s character from his seminal comic series, but this reminds me of the sort of reach that Gaiman’s series had, pulling in mythology from around the world, blending inspirations, styles, and sensibilities into something that Joyce hopes feels timeless and that speaks to kids who are trying to make sense of these characters.
I like that the film feels very different from the sort of bright comic adventures that most animated films aspire to these days. Each of the Guardians lives in very different worlds, with very different palettes, and as we were shown a few sequences and some design work and a rough trailer, we got to see the way the characters have evolved visually over time. The Tooth Fairy, for example, originally had a much stronger Hindu influence, classically Indian in design, but her finished design makes her look more like a hummingbird or a tiny parakeet. Jackman’s getting a chance to turn up the Australian as the Easter Bunny. He’s heavily armed and he’s got a swagger to him, designed as a long, lean, muscular character.
My favorite design has to be The Sandman, though. I love that he doesn’t speak, and he rides around on a cloud of golden sand, perpetually chasing the sunset, showering the cities below him with the very stuff of dreams. He’s played for comic relief in some ways, but he’s also very wise. It’s going to be interesting to see how these very different characters play off of one another, and how they face down the challenge of Pitch, the force of evil in the film.
Last night, December 16th, Kearran Giovanni was honored with the traditional Gypsy Robe! The Ceremony is a long-standing “theatrical ritual” that started back in 1950, and now involves celebrating a cast member’s achievements by bringing them to the center of the stage and allowing other company members to dance around them. A robe decorated by Broadway seasons is also involved. Here’s what Broadway World had to say on the history:
The Gypsy Robe began in 1950, when Bill Bradley, in the chorus of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, borrowed a dressing gown from Chorus member Florence Baum and sent it to a friend in Call Me Madam on opening night Oct 12, 1950 saying it was worn by all the Ziegfeld beauties and would “bless” the show. A cabbage rose from Ethel Merman’s gown was added and the robe was passed along to next Broadway musical on opening night. The tradition evolved so that the robe is now presented to the “gypsy” who has performed the most Broadway musicals on a chorus contract. Along the way, the robe is decorated, painted, patched, stitched, and signed by everyone in the show, becoming a fanciful patchwork for an entire Broadway season.
Kearran – who was seen in Broadway’s Catch Me If You Can earlier this year – is currently starring in Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway. It was no surprise, then, that was Hugh was at the event to help honor one of his show’s girls. Pictures from the Gypsy Robe Ceremony have been added to the gallery.