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Jon Severino

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About Jon Severino

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  1. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #16 (FROM FUNNY GIRL): “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going…And you, and you, and you, you’re gonna love me.” (from Dreamgirls) 1. If Barbara belted "People," she would've scared Omar and people. Personally, I find Streisand to be saccharine and hammy but this is a beautifully controlled performance of a fantastic song. (Although, because of my bias, I felt that she was about to go over-the-top at any moment.) 2. While they show clear mutual admiration, they decide that lone wolves of a feather flock apart. As she plaintively sings "People," she further distances herself by climbing the stairs, effectively putting herself on a pedestal. At this point, it's ambiguous whether she's singing the song ironically to him or herself. 3. This scene is all about Babs. She leads Omar and the camera by walking backwards, facing us. When she's on the stairs, the camera circles around her showing Omar in the distant background far below her. At the end, Omar must be wondering if she needs "one very special person" or "people who need [her]."
  2. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #15 (FROM MY FAIR LADY): “That gaping void between us will forever be uncrossable!” “You are arrogant and bossy and I choose to be unbossable!” “You’re Impossible!” (from Dr. Doolittle, 1967) 1. As in Gaslight, the house is a character representing class. But here, when the lights dim, the wide shots makes Eliza seem like another decorated item in the room but misplaced and discarded like a pair of slippers. 2. When Higgins enters, she lights up in sharp contrast to the set to emphasize her anger but it also suggests that Higgins is her light. The camera remains looking down at her over Higgins shoulder suggesting her feelings of inferiority and his assumed superiority. 3. Now the wide shots emphasis their distance from each other and from themselves. However she remains in the foreground facing towards us, so we empathize with her. When she turns from him, saying, “What have you left me fit for?” (ending with a preposition), we are now firmly in the boy-loses-girl second act of the musical. This line also suggests that she was fashioned from his rib and now they are only fit for each other. Cukor was a “woman’s director” because he often chose films with strong female protagonists which he fashioned from his rib.
  3. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #14 (FROM TWO ROBERT PRESTON FILMS): “You wear your hair in a pompadour. You ride around in a coach and four. You stop and buy out a candy store. An actor’s life for me!” (from Pinocchio) 1. Musical leading men to this point were sophisticated, gentlemen and above reproach if somewhat roguish lothario Cassanovas. In these clips, Preston is playing an average everyman con artist and an openly gay man--two characters we haven't seen before, I guess. 2. The art of all actors and performers is that while they must "act" and "perform" for us, they must also make it seem natural. Like anyone whose been at the game as long and successfully as Preston has, he's playing a version of himself. 3. But in this Victor/Victoria clip, Preston is also playing a version of Maurice Chevalier. Like Martin Short (who is also great), he seems to love spoofing playing the ham because, at heart, he's a ham.
  4. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #13 (FROM GYPSY) “Chasing all the lights that shine and when they let you down, you’ll get up off the ground…it’s Another Day of Sun” (from La-La Land) 1. This starts as a backstage musical then we get a behind the behind-the-scenes look at backroom politics by the foreshadowing of new disruptions in musicals by an actual disruption of the auditions by Mama Rose. 2. Mama Rose (Rosalind Russell) is a faded-flower stage mother living vicariously through her daughters, Baby Jane and Gypsy Rose. 3. Baby Jane is dolled up like a living doll in a baby beauty pageant but it looks like the fix is in on the balloon girl who presumably auditioned on some casting crib. The lyrics for this scene suggests that everyone is trying to exploit while being exploited.
  5. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #12 (FROM AN AMERICAN IN PARIS): “Life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter. Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade.” (from Funny Girl) 1. All musicals should be more-than-realistic. They should take us where we can’t go ourselves: physically and emotionally. They should leave us wanting to sing and dance through life if only as far as the car in the parking lot. The plot and dialogue should also be heightened and mainly serve to bring us to the next number. The actors should wear their hearts on their sleeves. What was unfortunate about casting Ryan Gosling in La-La-Land is that he’s a subtle, understated actor (and he can’t sing or dance). As Jeff tells Tony Hunter in The Band Wagon, “icebergs only show 1/8—I want 8/8!” We need them to show the emotions that we must suppress to get through our day. Some of us must pass the homeless everyday without making eye contact. Some of us can’t quit our lousy jobs. Some of us never tell our parents or children that we love them. Some of us never really live because we’re too busy facing reality. We need musicals to cry, laugh, sing and dance for us with heightened reality. Musicals remind us that living without heart is no life at all. And maybe it’s impossible to care about every one in the world—but maybe it’s damn worth trying to. 2. I found Gene Kelly's character to be completely likable but then, I'm from New Jersey.
  6. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #11 (FROM SINGIN' IN THE RAIN: “You say laughter and I say larfter.” (from Shall We Dance) 1. The classmates initiate gesticulates as they enunciate which punctuates what they articulate, then they graduate and matriculate into animated syncopated gyrates which dominate their educator into emasculation. 2. The professor is the lessor and his learners are the master of the lesson so they press on some more upon the lesson by digressing while the professor looks on like a moron. 3. The Diction Teacher is a constricted creature. O’Conners’ Cosmo is comical. Don Lockwood is cocksure--not awkward. Gene Kelly is an alpha-male only in classes on musicals.
  7. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #10 (FROM CALAMITY JANE): "Because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, impossible things are happening every day." (Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella) There are two types of women in 50s musicals: (1) strong women who are depicted as men’s equals and (2) doting submissive women who are depicted as men’s superiors. Doris Day is both in turns which is also typical of the time. Doris Day is on top of her game here. She also gave a strong performance in The Man Who Knew Too Much a few years later. However, the song in that movie, “Que Sera Sera” and those Rock Hudson movies hurt her street cred and led to her being dubbed, “The World’s Oldest Virgin.” This surely hurt her career in the anti-establishment 60s and 70s. I’ve heard Roger Ebert call Doris Day “very underrated.” I’ll take him at his word but unfortunately Hollywood had this thing about image. Doris Day seemed to have jumped right out of a Disney cel but while Disney was working to make animation look more realistic, 50s musicals were working on making reality more Disney-like. That said, I’m looking forward to watching this.
  8. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #9 (FROM THE BAND WAGON): "You may be stranded out in the cold but you wouldn’t change it for a sack of gold"—what and quit show business? (from Annie Get Your Gun) It’s such an ensemble effort that Fred, Nanette and Jack mock hogging the spotlight during their time step. Later Oscar, as the foundation, leaves the acrobatic stance but the others don’t fall which shows that no one member is more important than the team. Previously, the star would take the spotlight and even Fred and Ginger would trade steps in challenge routines. For their time, the dress was cajj nice but today, millennials would call it: basic hipster. Their characters are suggested by the song: Oscar is “the clown with his pants falling down;" Fred is “the dance that’s a dream of romance;" Jack is “the boss who is thrown for a loss;" and Fred points to Nanette when he sings: ”the skirt who is doing him dirt.” Then Shakespeare is referenced (“The world is a stage.”), which suggests that they (and we) are all play acting in the roles we have to play and it’s all good fun. At the end, their eyes and arms extend slightly left of camera to an imaginary audience implying that we are right there with them.
  9. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #8 (FROM CABIN IN THE SKY) “You’ll have brains…heart…courage to last your whole life through/If you believe in yourself as I believe in you.” (from The Wiz) This is a musical fable of redemption. In this scene, Petunia rejoices that her prayer to save Li’l Joe has been answered. She lies next to him, closes her eyes and then we segue to a scene of her folding linens on the line in the sunshine. On first viewing, the cross-fade seems like just a time jump to a later time but on second viewing, we realize that we’re entering an extended dream sequence (similar to Dorothy’s in the Wizard of Oz). We might also see the clean linen as a metaphor for Joe’s soul which was cleansed white by the blood of the Lamb (Rev:7:14) through Petunia’s intercessory prayer. “Li’l Joe” is what rolling a hard 4 (two 2s) in dice is called. It’s the lowest you can roll without “crapping out.” This scene (and the movie) shows how a husband’s and wife’s fate and happiness is intertwined through their strengths and weaknesses. And how love and faith can redeem from transgressions and trials. Petunia’s relation to Joe is of love and devotion but also of dependence on him for her happiness. And as Joe represents a sinner in search of redemption, he couldn’t be played by a child which would represent innocence. To me, this isn’t a race movie but a movie about all humanity with what happens to be an all-black cast. Like Joe, we all wrestle with our conscience and with temptation. Like Petunia, we have all had to make sacrifices and forgive loved ones because their happiness is also our happiness because we are joined to them in love. The wartime subtext being that as brothers-in-arms and sisters-in-arms, all Americans who love their country are all brothers and sisters joined together by that love and therefore their fates are united.
  10. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #7 (FROM TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME) "Whatever Betty wants, Frankie gets." (from Damn Yankees) 1. There's no dancing in this scene but it is well choreographed. Staccato actions match staccato orchestra chords, they hop up and down on the bleachers in time to glissandos and arpeggios, and even the arc of the tossed ball is matched to a rising and falling scale. 2. What starts as incidental running music turns out to serve as the intro to the song. This intro is recapitulated to match their running up the bleachers but this time it's clearly a part of the number serving as an instrumental bridge.
  11. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #6 (FROM TWO JUDY GARLAND FILMS) “Don’t try to rearrange me, there’s nothing can change me ‘cause I (don’t) care” (from "I Don’t Care") Wasn't Dorothy everyone's first impression of Garland and didn't everyone think that she was oh just ever so adorable? But in these clips she is already a seasoned performer. "The Man That Got Away" is the seminal Judy Garland performance. While some school of actors "just hit the mark and say the line," others, like Judy, aren't "acting" at all but are really feeling the full emotion of the song or dialogue. And when you're emotionally honest and vulnerable enough to keep living and "acting" in the moment, eventually you become a virtuoso in emoting nuanced universal feelings. This is the genius of Judy Garland and all great artists. And because all art is a conduit of empathy, great artists grace their audiences with an expanded, deeper humanity just by their experience of it. (This is why we should teach art and music in school.) P.S. I loved Dr. Ament's and Dr. Edward's Video Lecture on Meet Me in St. Louis. There's not a false note in the whole movie. Speaking of which, did anyone notice the jazz note in "Skip to My Lou" at the end of the line, "Go to another par-ty?" I think it's a 9th on a dominant 9th chord which is a note that you'd never hear sung in a 1903 version of the song. This lets us know that we aren't in Missouri any more.
  12. DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #5 (FROM YANKEE DOODLE DANDY) "And when my time is up, have I done enough?" (from Hamilton's "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?") George M. Cohan's biography is quickly associated with America's story. The president summoned him to the White House at 9 pm where he's greeted by a butler who stayed late to show his admiration for his song, "You're a Grand Old Flag" from his play, George Washington Jr.. FDR calls him his "double" because Cohan is playing him in I'd Rather Be Right. Then we flashback to a July 4th parade (where flags abound) when Cohan was born and segue into a born-with-sawdust-in-my-veins scene. (Who writes this stuff?)
  13. Same here. I sent a message in Canvas and tweeted Dr. Ament & Dr. Edwards about it.
  14. DAILY DOSE #4 (Top Hat): When you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree; They'll be pennies in the Depression in the movies. Ginger sits upstage with an earful of Fred's applesauce; Turns one cold shoulder to 23 skidoo him and brush him off; She mocks Fred's angles then mimes his ankles in real (swing) time; They Oliver Twist and she hits on all six in pant suit pantomime. She's given equal footing, because many women had to put in, till they were all in--working for their dough. They weren't floozies, and times were doozies, so cuties wooed the movies--because men's work was slow. This scene advances the quirky love story plot, And it's not part of an enchanted Berkeley staged play; And shows when times are bad, there's still times to be got... ...dancing...and singing...in the rain.
  15. DAILY DOSE #3 (Love Parade): Thank 'eh-Väh(n)! for leet'l guns. 1. Alfred (Lubish) sets the stakes low by breaking the fourth wall, telling us that he knows he's in a movie. His ease at accepting being shot and then finding out he wasn't, furthers this. 2. The violin plays suspenseful lines punctuated with loud dark chords, except for the last time when it's punctuated by the small gun shot, tipping us off that the gun isn't loaded. 3. Even now, we easily allow that the wealthy (and the French) have loose morals which enables these movies to deal with dark subjects with a light touch.
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