Sondheim Forum

Other Artforms => Movies => Topic started by: scenicdesign71 on Jun 28, 2019, 06:46 pm

Title: Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jun 28, 2019, 06:46 pm
...may be coming to Netflix.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to direct, from an adapted screenplay by Steven (Dear Evan Hansen) Levenson.

With Andrew Garfield (maybe) starring as Jon.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Chris L on Jun 30, 2019, 09:17 pm
With members of the Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen teams involved in shows like Fosse/Verdon and Ryan Murphy having signed a deal with Netflix, I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of Broadway shows on the home screen. In the era of Peak TV, there's room for niche programming that wouldn't have found its way onto the air in the past, especially with the long viewing window afforded by streaming and Blu-Ray. And I expect the quality level to be higher than in the era when the late Craig Zadan seemed almost to have a monopoly on this kind of programming.
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jul 08, 2019, 05:41 pm
I hope you're right!

For starters, I'd like to see the works of Jeanine Tesori adapted for the screen -- mostly, granted, because I think she deserves the wide exposure; but also because the idea intrigues me on its own terms.

Violet is linear enough to work as a movie, though it would beg the question of what to do with the show's main imaginative flourish (onstage, the title character's ghastly facial scar is left entirely to the audience's imagination).

Fun Home presents plenty of visual opportunities, though I suspect the obvious one -- animation -- might be rejected out of hand by the story's subject and creator, Ms. Bechdel (not without reason, but still...).

Oddly enough, Caroline, or Change -- in some ways the most fancifully theatrical of the three, with its singing appliances and such -- intrigues me the most as a candidate for adaptation.  Structurally speaking, its marriage of historical sweep with the seemingly tiniest of family dramas seems like the kind of thing film can do really well, perhaps even better than the stage.  And I have a hunch that period footage and hyperreal, you-are-there (i.e. in early-60s Lake Charles) design and cinematography, could be interwoven with the story's fantastical/surreal elements to really fascinating effect.

I'm not really counting Thoroughly Modern Millie or Shrek here, though I suppose either could be translated back into screen terms easily enough -- and they'd presumably be much easier to sell, if also correspondingly much pricier to film, than Tesori's chamber works.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Chris L on Jul 09, 2019, 11:29 pm
Quote from: scenicdesign71 on Jul 08, 2019, 05:41 pmFun Home presents plenty of visual opportunities, though I suspect the obvious one -- animation -- might be rejected out of hand by the story's subject and creator, Ms. Bechdel (not without reason, but still...).

If I were an animator and a Bechdel fan rather than just the latter, I'd take that as a challenge. Although I'm not sure it would result in what would normally be thought of as a "major motion picture," I should  think that an innovative visual artist could find an animation style that would resemble neither traditional Disney hand-drawn work or Pixar-ish CGI yet capture the essence of the original graphic novel in a way no ordinary animation could. It might contain relatively little of what we ordinarily think of as character movement but have a virtual camera weaving around Bechdelish hand-drawn images so that the result would still be constantly in motion.

The result might be innovative enough to garner at least a feature-length animation Oscar, raves from film festivals and almost no mass audience whatsoever. But it might be relatively inexpensive to make, perhaps with Bechdel directing or at least serving as "cinematographer," and produce a work that would be relatively cherished by fans and art-house viewers. Netflix might even be willing to throw money at it to attract hard-to-reach lesbian viewers (not that I have any idea whether there's a portion of the lesbian audience that's holding out against Netflix).

That said, Bechdel's work is realistic enough that a more conventional live-action approach could also be satisfying -- in fact, the graphic novel is practically a storyboard -- but animation might solve the problem of creating a believable movie in which characters break out in song by abandoning any pretense at being fully realistic.
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jul 10, 2019, 03:00 pm
Or a blend of (quasi- or fully-)animated sequences and live-action ones.  In film terms, the story's complicated structure could be made visually clear by framing a live-action (adult) Alison as the creator of the animated imagery, and the story itself as that of her struggle to shape her memories.

The "real," unvarnished events she describes could begin as her photographic (and perhaps home-movie?) "research," and at various points we could "jump into" those images (in live-action memory scenes), or into her sketches of them (with animated ones).  It sounds complicated -- juggling three separate visual styles along with three versions of Alison?? -- but, handled skillfully, I actually think it could be beautiful, and no harder to follow than the stage version.

I'm envisioning (adult) Alison, in live action, poring over photos which we see only as reflections in her glasses -- where they spring to life in her memory.
Or, the same, with her drawings, when she's "on a roll" catching those recollections on paper.

Bruce (in live action, though long-gone by this point chronologically) leaning down behind her drafting chair to look at what she's drawing.

Alison finding herself, at 43, inside her own drawings (animated), alongside her parents (at the same age), her siblings and even her younger self -- possibly as early as the opening number, when all the voices join in counterpoint.

And some kind of unexpected juxtaposition of live action and animation to quietly draw our attention to the replacement of Medium Alison with her older self at the beginning of "Telephone Wire".  This scene might be the hardest for adult Alison to draw -- perhaps she finds it necessary to literally draw her older self into the scene in order to relive it -- so when the song ends, and we see that the figure on the page is that of Medium Alison, it's both an acceptance and a defeat:  in the end, nothing much was really said that night, no questions answered, no real understanding reached.  But before that point, the song might be intercut with footage of the "real" event -- Bruce and Medium Alison in the car, in grainy 70s film stock -- while older (live-action) Alison feverishly tries to hash out a different ending on her sketchpad.

Just spitballing.

Oh, and if Ryan Murphy is hypothetically producing this -- can Sarah Paulson sing?

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Chris L on Jul 10, 2019, 05:30 pm
As a lesbian herself, Sarah Paulson might murder Ryan Murphy if he didn't cast her as older Alison.

Brilliant spitballing, Dave. Some spitballs of my own: I wonder if it would be possible to do something similar to what Richard Linklater did with his adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, where he filmed it with live actors (Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., etc.), then ran it through a filter to make it look hand-drawn. Linklater's filter is too realistic and conventional, but some sort of Bechdel filter might allow the characters to blend from live action to "hand-drawn" action with the live-action older Alison stepping in and out of the filtered characters, especially in "Telephone Wire."

That said, I can't begin to imagine what a "Bechdel filter" might look like.
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jul 11, 2019, 05:55 am
Quote from: Chris L on Jul 10, 2019, 05:30 pmAs a lesbian herself, Sarah Paulson might murder Ryan Murphy if he didn't cast her as older Alison.
As far as actresses who definitely can sing, I'd be curious to see Sutton Foster as Helen (though she's never worked with Murphy, as far as I'm aware).  I haven't seen her TV work, but Violet on B'way was enough to confirm my long-held suspicion that there's more to her than Millie-ish winsomeness: in fact, she does prickly reserve, layered over deep hurt, very compellingly indeed.  Of course, in Violet she was still playing much younger -- she's actually nine months older than Paulson (both currently 44), but if she still reads youngish for Helen (played by Judy Kuhn at 55), I don't mind: aren't we all surprised, at one time or another, by how much younger our parents look than we remember them being, in old photos of times we can still recall?

Or you could reverse them:  Foster as adult Alison, Paulson as Helen.  (I'd like to think no one would get too bent out of shape by the optics of casting the straight actress as the lesbian cartoonist while relegating the gay one to the slightly-smaller role of her straight mother).  I like them both a lot, in different ways; it's a tough call, even granting that Foster can probably outsing Paulson by a wide margin.  (A quick internet search yields little hope of the latter as an unheralded vocal prodigy, though it did remind me that she sang briefly -- and quite pleasantly, as I recall -- in Talley's Folly at the Roundabout a few years ago).

Ellen Page, whom I adore, would be a sensational Medium Alison (again assuming, for the sake of argument, that she can sing), though even at a youthful 32 I suppose this would have to happen soon for her to be at all convincing as a college freshman.  Though she's hardly a dead ringer for either Foster or Paulson, I could accept Page as the younger version of either one (and the daughter of the other) just about equally -- which is to say, with mild suspension of disbelief and a minor challenge for the makeup designer.

I still want to see Raúl Esparza as Bruce, so much so that I can't think of any other plausible contenders for the role offhand.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Chris L on Jul 11, 2019, 03:22 pm
Some non-singing actors can learn if sufficiently motivated. I remember Christine Baranski saying that she'd never sung before being cast as Mrs. Lovett in the Kennedy Center's production of Sweeney Todd back in 2002 and took lessons so that she could handle the role. You'd never have known it to see her on stage. She held her own beautifully against Brian Stokes Mitchell, whose stage singing is legendary. And she did a great duet on The Good Fight with Audra McDonald on "Raspberry Beret." Pretty good for a once-non-singing actress working side by side with two of the greatest stage singers we currently have.

That said, not everybody is teachable, though I imagine Paulson would give it a good try, assuming she isn't already a singer. I'll admit that I couldn't have imagined Paulson playing older Alison at all until I saw her as Marcia Clark in Murphy's O.J. Simpson miniseries, which was the first time I realized she could play anybody besides, well, Sarah Paulson.

I have no idea what Sutton Foster's acting range is, having only seen her in a few things, where she still seems to be playing something of an ingenue. (The TV series Younger turned this into a joke by casting her as a middle-aged woman pretending to be a millennial.)
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jul 20, 2019, 12:41 pm
As long as we're digressing (and just because I can't bring myself to start a whole new thread for this)...

Last year there was some discussion of the upcoming Cats movie in one of the daily threads (, but now it's really upon us, in all its uncanny-valley CGI weirdness... just five months away:

I guess Dame Judi's participation is kind of sweet (?), after having bowed out of the original London production in 1981 due to what sounded like a rather spectacular rehearsal injury.  (Or two, in succession, neither of which sounded exactly minor, IIRC?  A torn tendon, followed, after that had more or less healed, by an unintentional terpsichorean flight off the edge of the deck and into the stalls?  Does this ring a bell with anyone?)

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Leighton on Jul 20, 2019, 01:35 pm
I heard it was a ruptured Achilles; never heard anything about her throwing herself into the front row.  There has always been a vicious rumour that her injury wasn't as bad as reported, and it was her inability to handle the score that led to them replacing her with Elaine Paige
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Leighton on Jul 20, 2019, 01:35 pm
And the CGI is bloody weird 
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Aug 05, 2019, 04:42 pm
No!  It's "a level of technology which [James Corden doesn't] think has ever been used before"!
Director Tom Hooper elaborates: "we've used digital fur technology to create the most perfect covering of fur."

So now you know.   :))

And yes, Dench confirms the ruptured Achilles from wayback-when.  I think I'm recalling the dancing-into-the-stalls incident (perhaps further back than the first row, given how that set snaked through the New London's flexible space) from an ancient Theatre Crafts article, though I've never heard it anywhere else since, so I could be misremembering.

The London set also revolved, carrying along with it several rows of audience (who were consequently urged to stay seated "while the auditorium is in motion") -- which I suppose could have caused potentially-perilous confusion in rehearsal.  Seeing the show from one of those "wild" rows, five or six years into its West End run, I remember the mild disorientation of leaving my seat, at intermission, to a thereby-reconfigured space -- from which the nearest lobby exit was no longer anywhere near the one I had entered at the start of the evening.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: Jenniferlillian on Aug 06, 2019, 03:48 am
The Cats trailer looks like someone put a movie through a Snapchat filter. 

I will still see it. 

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom!
Post by: MartinG on Aug 06, 2019, 11:20 am
Quote from: Jenniferlillian on Aug 06, 2019, 03:48 amThe Cats trailer looks like someone put a movie through a Snapchat filter.

I will still see it.

Title: Re: Cats... the movie
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Dec 18, 2019, 11:16 pm
I haven't yet witnessed this apparently colossal turd for myself, but the reviews are in... and it sounds as though John Guare ( couldn't have imagined a more batshit-insane realization of the Cats-movie nightmare that he grimly predicted ( almost three decades ago, nor invented more gleeful poison-pen criticism of same -- exuberantly expanding upon the universal WTF that greeted the trailer:

Apparently, burning the midnight oil in a frantic attempt to mitigate the whole digital-fur disaster didn't solve everything -- go figure.

Perhaps temporarily deranged by sleep-deprivation psychosis, director Hooper even nips at the heels of Guare's surreally-fictionalized Sidney Poitier* -- unintentionally, one presumes, though at this point who can tell? -- with his recent declaration ( that Cats is all "about the perils of tribalism and the power of kindness," and while I'm usually not much for rubbernecking, I'll probably go see the damn thing anyway.  Call it pity-watching, as opposed to hate-watching: seeing Hooper's brief, Oscar-laureled film career implode onscreen is bound to be unpleasant, but I suppose the price of a movie ticket is the least one can offer by way of condolence.

On the positive side, at least he wasn't desecrating material that didn't richly deserve it.  And, whatever Hooper's apparently innumerable missteps, the whole exercise was in any case -- as most of the reviews concede (in chorus with Guare and most other sentient humans) -- doomed by its very nature.

* PAUL/SIDNEY:  "I have no illusions about the merits of Cats. But the world has been too heavy with all the right-to-lifers. Protect the lives of the unborn. Constitutional amendments. Marches! When does life begin? Or the converse. The end of life. The right to die. Why is life at this point in the twentieth century so focused on the very beginning of life and the very end of life? What about the eighty years we have to live in between those two inexorable bookends?"

OUISA:  And you can get all that into Cats ?

PAUL/SIDNEY:  I'm going to try.

Title: Re: Cats... the movie
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Dec 20, 2019, 04:34 pm
This may be another of my patented ridiculous about-faces, but last night I got a phone call from a friend who was driving home from seeing Cats and needed someone to splutter to about its hallucinatory, brain-mangling weirdness.

The upshot of which is that, where I had been feeling reluctantly obligated to see it, by the end of our conversation I was almost desperately eager to do so.  Judging by my friend's descriptions, the movie was starting to sound like some fabulous hybrid of Rocky Horror cult object-in-the-making and actual, not-quite-under-the-radar avant-garde subversiveness.  And something one should decidedly not let small children anywhere near.

All of which would likely baffle its creators -- or perhaps not ( -- and all of which raises hope that there might be a DVD "alternate version" with all the digital fur restored, just to jack up the jaw-dropping-FUBAR quotient even further.

But my friend and I don't always share the same taste, so I could easily be disappointed.  I do plan on seeing the movie, perhaps at a midnight showing this weekend, but I'm not discounting the likelihood that -- camp value (if any) notwithstanding -- I might still just find it tedious, ugly and profoundly pointless.

Title: Re: Cats... the movie
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Dec 20, 2019, 07:32 pm
Also, in what may be a felicitously-timed bit of damage control (, MGM today released a glamorous teaser for RESPECT, with Hudson defiantly bouncing back from her weepy Grizabella in full Queen Of Soul mode:

Title: Re: Cats... the movie
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jan 01, 2020, 05:33 pm
One of my lesser (way lesser) New Year's resolutions is to quit dragging this particular thread off into seemingly every subject BUT tick, tick... BOOM!.

But just for closure on the subject of the Cats movie: I did finally see it a few days ago.  More than enough digital ink has been spilled across the interweb (including by me, here) mocking its inexplicable why-was-this-ever-even-a-thing? weirdness, so I'll just say: it's pretty terrible, and not even very interesting in its terrible-ness.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)
Post by: Sommerville on Jan 13, 2020, 10:04 am
I agree. That's the worst kind of terrible. It's pointless.
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)
Post by: KathyB on Jan 28, 2020, 05:44 pm
Bradley Whitford to play SJS in Tick, Tick...Boom! (http://Bradley Whitford to play SJS in) (To get this thread back to its original subject)
Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)
Post by: scenicdesign71 on Jan 30, 2020, 03:15 pm
I had not seen that, Kathy -- thanks for posting!

But I couldn't get your link to work, so I googled it and discovered that Judith Light and Joshua Henry are also joining the cast (, as Jon's agent Rosa Stevens and someone called Roger, respectively.  I don't recall anyone by the name of Roger being mentioned in the original libretto, but its coincidence with that of the Rent character set me to wondering whether screenwriter Steven Levenson might be tinkering with the book to the extent of having the musical on which Jon has pinned his hopes be Rent itself rather than his unsuccessful earlier effort, a dystopian space opera called Superbia, from which "Come To Your Senses" is drawn.  It may or may not be meaningful that IMDb ( credits Larson himself as TTB's original bookwriter, with no mention of David Auburn, who actually reshaped Larson's original material fairly substantially.

Auburn made a point, in 2001, of not foreshadowing Larson's tragic death on the eve of his success: the young composer's own confessions of feeling as though his "heart would explode" from thwarted ambition were, ironically, cut after being deemed so on-the-nose -- five years after his death from an undiagnosed aortic aneurism -- that they might register as ham-handedly manipulative and implausible, despite being Larson's own words.  But I could imagine that, twenty years later, the story of Larson's life after his thirtieth birthday -- including his untimely death and posthumous mega-success -- might be too dramatically compelling for a screenwriter to ignore entirely.  (Likewise, perhaps, the chance to clear up a popular misconception: now that this is all ancient history, it seems some people are under the false impression ( that Larson died of HIV/AIDS).

As far as Rosa and SJS are concerned -- in the original, they're both just voices on Jon's answering machine.  As I recall, Rosa's was performed live by the actress who played Susan -- ditto Jon's parents' messages, voiced by "Susan" and "Michael" -- much like the many answering-machine messages, including those of similarly "concerned parents," voiced by the ensemble in Rent.  (I don't know whether this device was already a holdover, during Larson's life, from his original solo performances [of the material that would eventually become TTB] to Rent five-ish years later; or conversely, whether Auburn added these (spoken, not sung, IIRC) answering-machine messages to TTB in 2001, as a subtle nod to the by-then-widely-known Rent).

But Sondheim's message was pre-recorded, and sounded unmistakably like the voice of the real SJS -- either gamely recorded for the 2001 Off-B'way production or, for all I know, the actual recorded first contact between the two composers following Larson's 1991 Superbia workshop.  (If such a voicemail did really occur, it would almost surprise me if Larson hadn't saved the answering-machine cassette as a treasured memento, and it then seems plausible that the show's adaptors might have found it among his papers and recordings while pulling tick, tick...BOOM into its final form).

I was actually good friends with TTB's original director at that time, and I seem to vaguely recall him having said something that might have answered one or both of these questions, but I can't remember for sure.  However, when I designed a production of it six years later, I do seem to recall Sondheim's voicemail once again sounding like the man Himself -- which leads me to suppose that that recording might have been included with the production rights to the show.

Title: Re: Tick, Tick... Boom! (movie)
Post by: scenicdesign71 on May 19, 2020, 09:59 pm
TTB love-fest (cast interviewed before the pandemic hiatus):

Broadway Direct's decision to publish this article now would seem to suggest that, so far at least, they're not planning to shelve the film on account of the world ending or anything.  Hopefully the same is true of the Jake Gyllenhaal Fun Home film ( -- though that wasn't actually in production yet anyway, hence presumably not directly affected by the shutdown.

Speaking of these two upcoming flicks (both decidedly on the smaller end of the scale, as movie musicals go): with all kinds of ideas flying around (, in recent months, about what the film & TV industries will look like when they come back, I've been thinking that an emphasis on much smaller-scale, more intimate types of scripts might be the single most plausible move (in terms of actually keeping our industry's workers safe, that is) that I can imagine for the indefinite future.

(To me personally, "the indefinite future" means until a vaccine is developed or a cure found, or until herd immunity eventually halts the virus's spread.  I've now been on enough sets -- which are invariably a logistical shitshow even under the best of circumstances -- to be highly skeptical about the feasibility of making daily testing, masks, split shifts and physical distancing work safely on the scale of a major, big-budget motion picture or TV show.  As a waaaaaay-below-the-line peon myself, I have zero confidence that corners would not inevitably be cut -- not for the stars, undoubtedly; but for those of us who are considered highly replaceable, almost certainly.  And even under the unlikely assumption that producers would be willing to distend their production schedules and inflate their budgets by orders of magnitude in order to be truly fastidious about safety on blockbuster-scale sets with enormous casts and crews -- if I try to imagine the effect of the necessary measures on my own former "average workday," I find it almost impossible to imagine anything whatsoever actually getting done).