‘The Sting’ Theater Review: Harry Connick Jr Aims to Go From Ragtime to Riches

‘The Sting’ Theater Review: Harry Connick Jr Aims to Go From Ragtime to Riches
It’s not hard to see why someone imagined a stage musical could be made out of “The Sting,” the 1973 Oscar Best Picture winner starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Depression-era con artists who pull off the ultimate heist. After all, George Roy Hill’s artfully constructed film leaned heavily on Scott Joplin’s ragtime tunes — providing fodder for many a ’70s-era student-piano recital rendition of “The Entertainer” and “Rose Leaf Rag.”

There’s much to admire in the new stage musical version of “The Sting,” which opened Sunday for a pre-Broadway run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey — starting with the tap-tastic choreography of Tony winner Warren Carlyle, whose ensemble work is truly showstopping here.

The production has found an emerging star in J. Harrison Ghee as Booker, the green hothead con artist that Redford played on screen, even elevating a racial subplot of the film (Redford’s Booker was called a “n-word-lover” for helping a black man on the street) into a front-and-center element of the story. Ghee has a spry energy that suits his impetuous character, and a golden voice to match.

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Ghee almost manages to upstage the show’s above-the-marquee star, Harry Connick Jr., as Booker’s older, wiser con-artist mentor, first played by Newman in the film. Here, his wizard-like character, Gondorff, is introduced as a “piano monkey in a whorehouse” who spends more time tickling the ivories as he does palming cards or picking pockets.

Connick is a wiz at the piano, of course, riffing on Mark Hollman’s deliberately Joplin-esque score on stage, and he also proves to be surprisingly nimble on his feet during dance numbers like the Act 2 curtain-raiser “This Ain’t No Song and Dance.” (He’s also credited with additional music and lyrics.)

The difficulty is that not all of the movie’s virtues have been successfully integrated into the new medium. Hollman (“Urinetown”) serves up mostly jazz-lite pastiche, and the lyrics by longtime collaborator Greg Kotis seldom do much more than advance the plot or bide time till the next dance break.

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Photo: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade

As to the plot: Some of the best lines in Bob Martin’s book are lifted directly from David S. Ward’s original screenplay, and the very structure of musical theater allows us to linger over some of the less felicitous elements of the story.

Take for instance, the women, who were always more like accessories in the original film and again feel like missed opportunities to flesh out parallel romantic subplots. Connick’s brothel-owning buddy and on-again-off-again lover (Kate Shindle) is given a number or two of her own — but not much real agency, or even a duet with Connick’s Gondorff.

The same goes for Janet Dacal’s waitress Loretta, who gets a first-act duet and a second-act torch song but still feels more like an afterthought. When she agrees to invite Hooker into her apartment late in the second act, you can almost feel director John Rando handing notes to Carlyle to find a dance ballet sequence to fill in the gaps in the storytelling.

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Martin’s script has the unfortunate habit of protracting unimportant elements of the story — the overlong show could easily lose 20 minutes, including a drawn-out scene in a Western Union office — while passing up chances to explore other aspects of the story that the film gave short shrift.

There’s a moment when Hooker is on the spot, cornered by the feds who want him to turn on his partner in crime. But he hastily and uncharacteristically agrees, without a moment of reflection, or a song to explore the upsides, downsides or consequences of his apparent act of betrayal.

Despite these flaws, “The Sting” still has the power to enchant with its deliberate artifice and syncopated charm. There’s good reason why the film has forever been associated with “The Entertainer.”

Read original story ‘The Sting’ Theater Review: Harry Connick Jr Aims to Go From Ragtime to Riches At TheWrap
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Theatre Review: "The Sting" Starring Harry Connick Jr At The Papermill Playhouse, Millburn, New Jersey

  • CinemaRetro
By Lee Pfeiffer

I've become somewhat jaded and downright cynical when it comes to the tidal wave of musical stage productions based on popular, non-musical motion pictures. So it was with a sense of wariness that I approached the world premiere engagement of "The Sting" at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. After all, the classic, Oscar-winning 1973 film doesn't need musical production numbers to "improve it". There was already a great deal of interest in the production prior to the relatively last-minute announcement last month that the production would star Harry Connick, Jr. That sent already healthy tickets sales into overdrive and you'd be hard-pressed to find seats for the engagement, which runs through April 29. It doesn't take long to set aside one's suspicions that this might be a lightweight rip-off of a great film. As with all Papermill shows, this one first impresses with its creative and often ingenious
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The Sting Begins Performances Tonight at Paper Mill

Tonight Paper Mill Playhousekicks off the world premiere production of the new musical The Sting, based on the 1973 film, and with book by Bob Martin, music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann amp Greg Kotis with Harry Connick, Jr. In addition, the score will contain music by Scott Joplin including The Entertainer. John Rando is set to direct with choreography by Warren Carlyle and music direction by Fred Lassen.
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Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Channels Tom Hanks in Big By Playing a Giant Piano with His Feet!

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Channels Tom Hanks in Big By Playing a Giant Piano with His Feet!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson just added another skill to his already impressive resume: playing the piano — with his feet!

The wrestler-turned-actor, 45, fulfilled his childhood dream of learning to play a song with the musical instrument… but with a twist.

“As a kid I had this dream of playing my favorite ragtime song, ‘The Entertainer’ from Marvin Hamlisch on piano. But I truly sucked at piano. Until I started using my feet,” he captioned the Instagram video shared Sunday afternoon.

The tune, written by jazz musician Scott Joplin, was popularly adapted by Hamlisch for the film classic The Sting in 1973.

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From ‘Citizen Kane’ to ‘The Post,’ a History of Newspaper Movie Scores

From ‘Citizen Kane’ to ‘The Post,’ a History of Newspaper Movie Scores
When Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” opens on Friday, John Williams will join an exclusive club: that handful of composers who have successfully tackled one of the most difficult genres to score: the newspaper movie.

The Post” is Williams’ 28th film for the director and could, when the Oscar nominations are announced a month from now, become his 51st. He already has five Academy Awards and is the most-nominated living person.

In general, composers say, newspaper movies are tough assignments. First, they tend to be verbose and expository; and second, they are often as objective as the journalists they depict, and manipulative music may seem out of place. Yet, over the years, some have produced compelling music to complement powerful dialogue.

Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” (1941) was the first film score to composed by the legendary Bernard Herrmann, who had spent much of the previous decade working with Welles in radio. Here, the Boston Pops
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Doctor Who: The Lie Of The Land geeky spots and Easter eggs

Pete Dillon-Trenchard Jun 3, 2017

Doctor Who series 10 episode 8: join as we dig deeper into The Lie Of The Land...

Everything’s wrapped up, and much later than usual… After three episodes, we’ve finally said goodbye to the Monks. Fortunately, we’ve not said goodbye to our weekly round-up of references, similarities and general observations, so here’s our guide to this week’s episode… If you’re more eagle-eyed than we are, let us know what you’ve seen in the comments below!

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The Memory Cheats

Though this is the first time the human race’s memories have been rewritten en masse (as opposed to time itself being rewritten, which has happened on multiple occasions, particularly since 2005), individuals’ memories have been played with from time to time,
See full article at Den of Geek »

‘Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration’: Watch Highlights From Bet’s Musical Tribute

‘Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration’: Watch Highlights From Bet’s Musical Tribute
Last month the White House hosted the musical tribute “Bet Presents Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration.” The event was televised on Tuesday, November 15 on Bet and served as a love letter to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The celebration, which Dave Chappelle referenced in his “SNL” monologue and joked about Bradley Cooper being the only “white guy,” included performances from Jill Scott, Janelle Monaé, Common, Usher, Bell Biv DeVoe, The Roots, De La Soul, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Williams, Kierra Sheard, and “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom, Jr.

Obama began the night by saying some words on how special the event was, “It’s with a little bit of bitter-sweetness that this is our final musical evening as president and First Lady.”

He then explained the history of holding live performances at the White House and described how Chester A. Arthur opened the doors to the all-black Fisk Jubilee Singers,
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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season 2 episode 1 review: Where Is Josh's Friend?

Sarah Dobbs Oct 24, 2016

Excellent TV musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is back on The CW and Netflix here in the UK. Here's our season 2 premiere review...

This review contains spoilers.

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2.1 Where Is Josh's Friend?

When we last saw Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rebecca Bunch, she thought she’d finally got everything she wanted. The show’s first season saw her give up on her blossoming New York law career to follow an ex-boyfriend across the country and start afresh in the small town of West Covina – only to discover that the ex in question, Josh, was in a long-term relationship with someone else. Cue a season’s worth of pining, scheming, and terrible decisions in general.
See full article at Den of Geek »

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Premiere Recap: A Bucket Full of Love Kernels

It’s a new season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and yes, Rebecca Bunch is still crazy. Or, as she puts it in her new theme song, “adorably obsessed.”

Friday’s Season 2 premiere picks up right where we left off, with Rebecca finally hooking up with her lifelong crush Josh Chan — and her confession that she moved all the way to West Covina to be with him. On the drive home, a dumbfounded (or just dumb) Josh tries to process this: “You moved here for me?” Rebecca snaps into lawyer mode, playing it off as no big deal and then flat-out denying
See full article at »

Nyff: Hermia & Helena & Graduation

Bill Curran reporting from the New York Film Festival. Hot takes on two titles...

Hermia and Helena

Matías Piñeiro’s newest Bard-based roundelay belongs to that venerable arthouse tradition, the stranger-here-in-this-town movie. Far from attempting a fully foreign pose, the Argentina-bred but Brooklyn-living Piñeiro is driven by the same impulse found in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon and Wim Wender’s 70’s USA road trilogy: flaunt the outsider perspective. When Carmen (Maria Villar) hustles back to Buenos Aires with an unfinished manuscript, Camila (Agustina Muñoz) all but assumes her friend’s spot—not to mention a few dangling relationships—in a literary translation fellowship in New York City. Camila’s choice of text: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, naturally, giving Hermia and Helena license to oscillate between North and South America as if they were different worlds, and to riff on the impermanency of love and self.
See full article at FilmExperience »

Film Review: ‘Hermia & Helena’

Film Review: ‘Hermia & Helena’
There’s a reason why petits fours are a patisserie staple, and grands fours are not: what’s puffily perfect at bite size can turn cloying in a larger slice. So it proves, in a sense, with “Hermia & Helena,” in which Argentinian writer-director Matias Piñeiro repeats the recipe behind his previous, scarcely feature-length Shakespearean cupcakes (all loosely drawn from the Bard’s comedies), only for the winsomeness to spread itself a little thin across 90 minutes. Riffing very liberally on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — directly invoked here as a text to be translated into Spanish — this tale of a Buenos Aires theater director finding her feet and potentially losing her heart in New York City lopes along with the same idle, chatty charm as Piñeiro’s hour-long “Viola” and “The Princess of France.” But with its tricksy timeline and waifish subplots, the film feels unduly stretched even to reach its modest length,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Joss Whedon, Cedric the Entertainer's Wacky Another Period Roles Revealed

It’s probably a good sign when a character’s name alone is funny enough to get a laugh: Joss Whedon‘s guest-starring role in Season 2 of Comedy Central’s Another Period is… Duane Reade, our sister site Deadline reports. Cedric the Entertainer will play composer Scott Joplin.

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Whedon’s pharmacist will, since the series is set in the early 1900s, refuse to sell Riki Lindhome’s dim-witted Lillian a condom, the actress explained, “because she’s a woman, therefore a slut, and they’re illegal,
See full article at »

‘Another Period’ Stars Dish on Kanye-Like Scott Joplin, ‘Branding Expert’ Harriet Tubman (Exclusive Video)

  • The Wrap
‘Another Period’ Stars Dish on Kanye-Like Scott Joplin, ‘Branding Expert’ Harriet Tubman (Exclusive Video)
As the second season of “Another Period” gets underway on Comedy Central on Wednesday, the show welcomes a slew of guest stars, including Perez Hilton, Adam Pally, Joss Whedon, June Diane Raphael, Lauren Lapkus and Jemaine Clement. “Basically we just try to get our favorite people,” Natasha Leggero explained to TheWrap’s Stuart Brazell, revealing that Andrew Rannells will also guest star on the period comedy as a love interest of one of the main characters. Starring and co-created by Leggero and Riki Lindhome, “Another Period” will also host Cedric the Entertainer, who plays Scott Joplin “in like a Kanye manner.
See full article at The Wrap »

Meet Jon Batiste, Stephen Colbert's Crowd-Thrilling Rebel Bandleader

Meet Jon Batiste, Stephen Colbert's Crowd-Thrilling Rebel Bandleader
Jon Batiste gets off the elevator and doesn't say a word to the percussionists already tapping out rhythms for a rooftop soundcheck at New York's NoMad Hotel — he just plops down at the white Steinway and joins in. There's not much of an audience beyond a handful of photographers, a soundman and some staff steaming a white tablecloth for a makeshift bar. Still, he's performing: winking and smiling at everyone, digging into the keys, laughing, shouting. Until he gets up from his stool maybe a half-hour later, he doesn't ever
See full article at Rolling Stone »

Every Best Picture Oscar Winner, Ranked From Worst to Best

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the release of "Crash" (on May 6, 2005), an all-star movie whose controversy came not from its provocative treatment of racial issues but from its Best Picture Oscar victory a few months later, against what many critics felt was a much more deserving movie, "Brokeback Mountain."

The "Crash" vs. "Brokeback" battle is one of those lingering disputes that makes the Academy Awards so fascinating, year after year. Moviegoers and critics who revisit older movies are constantly judging the Academy's judgment. Even decades of hindsight may not always be enough to tell whether the Oscar voters of a particular year got it right or wrong. Whether it's "Birdman" vs. "Boyhood," "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network," "Saving Private Ryan" vs. "Shakespeare in Love" or even "An American in Paris" vs. "A Streetcar Named Desire," we're still confirming the Academy's taste or dismissing it as hopelessly off-base years later.
See full article at Moviefone »

Community season 6 episode 9 review: Grifting 101

Matt Berry is on fine form guest-starring as a vainglorious grifter in this week's Community, an homage to movie classic The Sting...

This review contains spoilers.

6.9 Grifting 101

Full-on parodies have been in short supply this season and it's with some gusto that the latest episode lampoons 1973's Best Picture winner The Sting. Like the movie and the episode itself, this review will be about 20% hand-drawn. You should also probably play this in the background as you read...

Grifting 101 is the first episode of the season to find the students among our group - Abed, Annie, Britta, Chang and Elroy - actually going to class. Specifically, they're wound up about the titular class, where they expect to become master con-artists. Jeff is sceptical (and maybe a little jealous) which only spurs the group on further.

But when their double-dealing professor (played by the one and only Matt Berry) charges them $150 for
See full article at Den of Geek »

Maya Rudolph on her variety special, slow 'SNL' goodbye, and Barack Obama impression you never saw

Maya Rudolph on her variety special, slow 'SNL' goodbye, and Barack Obama impression you never saw
Song. Dance. Sketch. These are three things that Maya Rudolph is planning to bring back to prime time — along with a good time. The Maya Rudolph Show, a variety special that airs May 19 at 10 p.m. on NBC, will take the Saturday Night Live vet to familiar places with familiar faces: SNL alums Fred Armisen, Andy Samberg, and Chris Parnell, along with Sean Hayes, Kristen Bell, and Craig Robinson, are among the featured guests. (SNL overlord Lorne Michaels is serving as executive producer.) It’s a chance to reunite with some old pals but also bring back a piece of a different past.
See full article at - Inside TV »

Photo Coverage: Euan Morton with Grandpa Musselman & His Syncopators Launch Live From Gramercy Park at The Players Club

Stageworks Media just launched the Live From Gramercy Park cabaret series at The Players Club 16 Gramercy Park South. The series kicked-off last night, January 27th, 2014 with Tony nominee Euan Morton, backed by Grandpa Musselman amp His Syncopators. Mr. Morton and the six-piece jazz ensemble performed a repertoire of turn of the century ragtime, 1920s jazz and depression-era swing by composers such as Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington. Check out photos from the concert below
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Scott Joplin's ragtime gets its dues

1973's The Sting took it global, but there's more to ragtime music than that film's Keystone Kops crazy-chase soundtrack

Reading on mobile? Click here to listen to The Maple Leaf Rag played by Scott Joplin

One album was all it took to herald a revival. In 1970, the year of Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Beatles' Let It Be, a record of arcane late 19th-century American piano music, released on a label that was otherwise building its reputation as a chronicler of the hardcore American avant-garde, began to sell in implausible quantities. Audiences ordinarily enamoured of piano miniatures by Chopin, Brahms and Liszt were suddenly taking pleasure in the compositions of Scott Joplin, the Texas-born "King of Ragtime" whose über-catchy 1899 Maple Leaf Rag brought him immediate popularity, but who died in 1917 with two typically embarrassing composerly problems hanging over him: syphilis and a terminally unproduced opera, Treemonisha,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

'American Masters Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love': Barbra Streisand's bighearted composer genius

Think of Marvin Hamlisch, and it's impossible not to think of many of the most memorable film and stage melodies of the past 40-plus years.

The late, hugely personable talent and very rare Pegot -- winner of a Pulitzer Prize, four Emmy Awards, four Grammys, three Oscars and a Tony -- composed some artists' biggest hits, such as Barbra Streisand's "The Way We Were" and Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" (from the James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me"), and refitted Scott Joplin's ragtime sounds for "The Sting."

Hamlisch also gave Broadway the hits "A Chorus Line" and "They're Playing Our Song" and kept at his craft to the end, scoring the HBO drama "Behind the Candelabra" just before his passing in August 2012.

The PBS series "American Masters" ends its 27th season with producer-director-writer Dori Berinstein's documentary "Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did for Love" Friday,
See full article at Zap2It - From Inside the Box »
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