The spirit of Broadway in 6 songs | RCF

The Cinema Symphony is in the colors of Broadway and 100% songs this week. With Christmas approaching, it was a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the magic of musicals and some legendary films.

“Grease” (1978): John Travolta, Olivia Newton John and the Campus Madness

California, summer 1958. The plot takes place in a high school where Sandy arrives, a young and pretty Australian who will capsize the heart of Danny, a tough with a soft heart, leader of the T-Birds gang. The joyful “We go together” comes to conclude “Grease” in a final chorale in apotheosis where Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta seal their love and fly away in the car in the sky. Considered one of the best musicals of all time, “Grease”, which was originally created by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey in 1972, was adapted for the cinema six years later. Produced in a hurry and shot in two months by Randal Kleiser, with a modest budget of six million dollars, the film did not arouse the enthusiasm of Paramount. What follows will prove otherwise. Ode to youth and eternal love, “Grease” is carried by a soundtrack that has become legendary, composed mainly by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John appear on 7 of the 24 titles of a soundtrack which has sold nearly 30 million copies to date and remains a reference.

“West Side story” (2021): Spielberg revisits the myth

Sixty years after Robert Wise, Steven Spielberg tackled in 2021 “West Side story”, a Broadway monument, which we originally owe to a quartet: Arthur Laurents, for writing, Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein , for music, and Jerome Robbins for choreography and direction, premiered September 26, 1957 at the Winter Garden Theater in NY. Almost everything has been said about “West Side Story”, about its modernity, the universal themes it addresses, and its excellence at all stages of the artistic process which will earn the film no less than 10 Oscars in 1962. Sixty years later, Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort have replaced Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer in the title roles and sing this romantic and eternal “Tonight” on the balcony.

“Cabaret” (1972): Liza Minnelli, bird of paradise in a decadent Berlin

“Willkommen” and the voice of Joel Gray in Bob Fosse’s “Cabaret” in 1972, inspired by the musical comedy by John Kander and Fred Ebb, staged on Broadway in 1966. Musical comedy which is itself adapted from the play “I Am a Camera” by English playwright John Van Druten and the collection of short stories “Adieu à Berlin”, published in 1939. When we talk about “Cabaret”, we cannot but mention “L’Ange blue” and Marlene Dietrich from which the character played by Liza Minnelli is greatly inspired, who embodies an American singer who performs in the Kit Kat Klub cabaret in Berlin in the early 1930s. The film will be a triumph and is worth to Liza Minnelli and Joel Gray an Oscar, as well as to Bob Fosse and Ralph Burns for directing and best song score and musical adaptation.

“Chicago” (2002): Catherine Zeta Jones vs. Rene Zellweger

“All That Jazz”, sung by Catherine Zeta Jones and Renée Zellweiger, is one of the key songs from the film “Chicago”, by Rob Marshall in 2002, composed by John Kander, on lyrics by Fred Ebb, initially for the musical directed by Bob Fosse at the 46th (Forty Sixth) Street Theater on Broadway in 1975. A little gem of the quintessence of Broadway, namely glamour, style with studied choreography and brilliant music in this case that of John Kander forever associated with two monuments that are “Cabaret” and “Chicago”. “Chicago” or another example of the successful transition from musical to musical comedy in cinema, again laden with awards. But let’s change the atmosphere while still remaining in good company with a film that has become cult over time and which, 47 years after its release, is still the object of true devotion among fans around the world… Its title: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”…

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975): the cult musical in spite of itself

Barry Bostwick addresses Susan Sarandon to whom he sings “Dammit Janet.” The two actors respectively interpret the roles of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, a parody musical comedy, pastiche of the genre that is the horror film that has become a monument of pop culture for some unknown reason. The fact is that the film, which we owe to Jim Sharman, is intended as a tribute to gore B-movies and has for years brought together fans from all over the world who know the smallest dialogues by heart and have fun mimic the scenes during the projections. Originally, this musical was created in London in 1973 by Richard O’Brien, who is one of the actors and also composes the songs. In view of the success achieved, 20th Century Fox decided, two years later, to adapt it to the cinema and to entrust its production to a specialist: the Australian Jim Sharman, who had adapted “Hair” in his country in 1970 which then triumphed on the boards of Broadway…

“Hair” (1979): anti-militarist manifesto and ode to freedom

It took ten years before cinema took hold of the phenomenon “Hair”, the openly rock musical created by James Rado and Gerome Ragni and set to music by Galt MacDermot. In this year 1978, it is Milos Forman who sticks to it. He gathers around him a troupe of young actors and actresses including Treat Williams, who plays George Berger, the natural leader of a band of hippies who will befriend a young farmer from Oklahoma, eager to visit New York. before committing to Vietnam. Ode to freedom without hindrance and bluntly antimilitarist “Hair” remains a pivotal film which breaks the codes and clashes on its release, shocking the opinion for some of its remarks and its explicit encouragement to free love.

The spirit of Broadway in 6 songs | RCF