Musicals

All posts in the Musicals category

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Elaine Stritch

Published October 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

She put the BROAD in Broadway, carving out an extraordinary career for herself on the stage. But those blinded by the sheen of her Tony and Emmy wins (and her association with such theatrical legends as Noel Coward and Stephen Sondheim) may not be aware that the magnificent Elaine Stritch has a couple grizzly genre credits to her name.

Significantly, in a time when the world was still afraid of lesbians, Stritch bravely enacted the role of Sapphic minded club owner Marian Freeman in the 1965 psycho-stalker thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear? Interestingly, the presence of the openly gay Sal Mineo as the disturbed busboy that the story focuses upon adds another lavender component to this gritty look at obsession and murder. Granted, Marian’s advances on Juliet Prowse’s Norah, the film’s heroine, are unwanted, affording her preferences the stereotypical ring of the perverse. But Stritch fills the character with as much dignity as she is able to while simultaneously applying her noted and uniquely salty perspective to the mix.

10 years later, Stritch sarcastically zapped her way through the second theatrical remake of The Spiral Staircase, as well. While a mysterious killer hunts down Jacqueline Bissett’s plucky mute adventuress, Stritch’s world weary nurse tends to the needs of Mildred Dunnock’s uncooperative matriarch character. Gravitating to the movie’s theatrical set-up of a winding mansion on a dark and stormy night, she ultimately provides the necessary diva antics while still remaining true to the take no bullshit essence of her character.  

With two appearances in the British genre anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, an arc on the murder-mystery based soap Edge of Night and the effective voicing of the grandmother in the animated favorite ParaNorman among her further credits, the truly singular Elaine Stritch definitely earned her place among the notoriously unsung heroines of horror before her passing at the age of 89 in 2014.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Scott Free

Published September 6, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

On the rare moments when one is able twist a thought or two away from the many social disasters that are plaguing us, it’s easy to remember that the world is actually populated with a ton of cool people. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you got to associate with one or two of them. LGBTQIA musician and activist Scott Free has been a longstanding voice for queer artists in Chicago, hosting a decades long performance showcase called Homolatte and being a very loud reminder to queer festival organizers that actually booking gay acts is a necessity for their events to be a true source of pride and awareness.

A few years ago, we spent a lot of time together working on a show called Zombie Bathhouse: A Rock Musical. To this day, friends still tell me how his lyrics for that project totally nailed aspects of their own lives, a true testament to his empathy and talent. His latest work, The Last Revolution, is a social call to arms that has deservedly gotten tons of praise and attention and, as with the majority of his work, really raises an eye on the tremulous circumstances that we are now facing as a nation.

Obviously, it almost goes without saying, that It’s truly been my honor to know Scott as a collaborator and friend and it’s truly my pleasure to welcome you to visit more of his fine output at http://www.scottfree.net/ and http://www.zombiebathhouse.net/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Hopelessly Devoted To: Marilyn Maxwell

Published May 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Marilyn Maxwell

Whether mocking the heroics of action cinema in 1956’s Forever Darling or reacting perfectly to the antics of comic Red Skeleton as the two explored a haunted house on his long running variety show, Marilyn Maxwell was always on the mark. One of those eclectically zaftig blondes that never got the attention she deserved despite her multiple talents, Maxwell has probably been best known, and then only to aggressive cinephiles, as the agreeable accomplice to such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Skeleton.

Marilyn Maxwell Swing FeverBeginning her career as a beautiful background artist, often cast as supple showgirls, in such MGM epics as Presenting Lily Mars and Du Barry Was a Lady (which featured both Ball and Skeleton), Maxwell eventually graduated to leading roles in such silly efforts as The Show Off (again with Skeleton) and The Lemon Drop Kid (with Hope). Her first major role as entertainer Ginger Gray in 1943’s Swing Fever even had a bit of a genre connotation as it revolved around the ridiculous exploits of a band leader cursed with an evil eye.

Skilled as a singer and dancer, Maxwell was also a hit in USO shows for the troops during WWII and the Korean War. Apparently, she was a hit with Rock Hudson as well and, thusly, has been sporadically entering the news again as Hudson’s public profile blossoms due to Ryan Murphy’s recently released Hollywood series. Apparently, after initially being set up as one of the gay actor’s beards, the two quickly grew close and even contemplated marriage. Some reports even claim that their relationship may have gone past the friendship stage. Marilyn Maxwell and Rock Hudson 2

But more than anything, Maxwell, who died at the very young age of 50 due to heart problems, deserves to be remembered for her magnetic performances and joyful spirit. She was definitely one of kind. In fact, one can even imagine her spirit sprinkling out into the starlight, creating glittery energy and hopeful wanderlust for all those weary small-town kids living only for their future dreams.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Marilyn Haunted Red

Maxwell haunted house hunting with Red

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Virginia Bruce

Published February 17, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

VB Invisible Woman

If I had been an old Hollywood diva, I would have wanted the career of Virginia Bruce. An important figure in the world of Universal Horror due to her pert and powerful essaying of the leading role in The Invisible Woman, Bruce also worked with such notables as Jimmy Stewart, William Powell, James Cagney and Abbott and Costello.

Significantly, while trying to earnestly woo Stewart in Born to Dance, she also introduced the Cole Porter classic I’ve Got You Under My Skin.

Pretty much fading from the screen by the late ‘40s, this silver streaked celluloid wonder still left behind a legacy of dreamy magnificence, permanently drifting beneath the fantasies of old school movie lovers worldwide.

Virigina Bruce

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By – June Havoc

Published February 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

June Havoc

Sporting one of the most unique life resumes for a performer, the unstoppable June Havoc was a vaudevillian, playwright, film actress and the owner-landlord of an entire town during her lifetime. Perhaps best known as the inspiration for the character of Baby June in the classic musical Gypsy, a theatrical offering she always emphasized was a fable not reality, Havoc also gave vampirism a distinguished glow in Larry Cohen’s A Return to Salem’s Lot. June Havoc Salems

Of course, her vampishly dynamic performances in a series of Hollywood musicals left quite an impression on a generation of young men, as well.

Sinful Cindy Lou from Sing Your Worries Away paired her with the rubbery Buddy Ebsen and comic legend Patsy Kelly.

Meanwhile, The Man With the Big Sombrero from Hi Diddle Diddle allowed her to sonically compete with herself.

The maverick Havoc, who died in 2010 at the age of 97, actually has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was nominated for a Tony Award as the director of Marathon ’33, a play that she also wrote.

June Havoc signed

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Va-Va-Villainess: Virginia Bruce

Published January 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Virginia Bruce Born to Dance cigarette

As Broadway diva Lucy James in 1936’s Born to Dance, smoldering pixie Virginia Bruce causes much havoc between enthusiastic hoofer Nora Paige (Eleanor Powell) and her shy, devoted sailor beau Ted Barker (Jimmy Stewart).

bruce-stewart-born-to-danceInitially using him as a publicity ploy, James soon grows serious about Barker. This, nicely, gives Bruce a chance to add layers of soft pain to her characterization. This humanity doesn’t stop this character’s out of control anger issues, though. After destroying a hotel suite and getting Paige fired from her understudy job, James is decidedly left on the outskirts of the film’s grand and happy finish. Virgina BTD2

Not surprisingly, the talented Bruce still comes out the winner, though. Born to Dance’s score was composed by none other than Cole Porter and, with sweet elegance, she introduced his classic I’ve Got You Under My Skin, which was nominated for an Academy Award, here.


Horror Hall of Fame:


Bruce filled the title role of 1940’s The Invisible Woman, a more comic take for the classic Universal horror series. This natural celluloid wonder also tangled with eternal mad scientist Lionel Atwill in the Abbott and Costello comedy Pardon My Sarong.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Lorna Luft

Published December 22, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Best known for her enthusiastic portrayal of Pink Lady Paulette in Grease 2 and for her famous lineage, Lorna Luft also joined the ranks of horror goddesses with her role in the Tales of the Darkside episode The Shrine.

The veteran of countless musical theater productions, Luft also knows her way around a torch song as evidenced by her take on The Music That Makes Me Dance:

Of course, New Wave enthusiasts are aware that she also backed up the likes of Debbie Harry, most notably on the popular Eat to the Beat track Slow Motion, and Hilly Michaels in the early ‘80s, making this performing dynamo a true delight in almost every entertainment medium imaginable.

https://www.facebook.com/LornaLuftOfficial/

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted To: Joan Woodbury

Published December 21, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Joan Charlie

With cheekbones that could have cut you like a quick blade, the striking Joan Woodbury actually brought a truly cozy energy to her many screen roles. Whether adopting a slight accent (King of the Zombies) or blonde locks (The Chinese Cat), she always radiated with warmth and easy humor.

The Living Ghost, an old dark house style murder mystery, especially gave her a chance to shine with a screwball wit. Paired against the wisecracking James Dunn, Woodbury truly steals the show here with her glamorous fashions and good natured bantering.Joan Woodbury the-living-ghost-2

Proceeding Brooke Shields by decades, Woodbury was also the first actress to bring famed comic strip reporter Brenda Starr to life. Although, she is perhaps more significantly known for her multiple roles in the Charlie Chan programmers, including Charlie Chan on Broadway.

Joan charlie-chan-on-broadway-1937But with credits in everything from Bride of Frankenstein to popular musicals (Bring on the Girls, Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies), Woodbury is truly deserving of appreciation from old school film lovers of every imaginable genre in glorious perpetuity.

 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Joan Woodbury blonde

Review: BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths

Published December 15, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Bette Midler is many things. Her repertoire of songs alone includes rock and roll, MOR pop ballads, girl group classics and new wave energizers. Her role as the hysterically vengeful Winifred in Hocus Pocus also imbues her with a strong horror pedigree, allowing generations of outsiders to delightfully engage in their inner wicked witches.

In BETTE Xmas at the Continental Baths, Chicago theater goddess Caitlin Jackson invokes many of those Midler personalities while also remaining uniquely herself. Based upon the Divine One’s ‘70s showcase at a NYC men’s club, this production is full of goofy energy and go-for-broke silliness, making it not only a seasonal delight, but one of the year’s best stage offerings as a whole, as well.

Jackson’s desire to make this a sort of performing arts fever dream is perfectly realized. For example, the corny jokes in Jackson and David Cerda’s fun script are often so obvious that they don’t land with the audience…at first. But the performer’s skilled reactions to the theater’s radio silence are truly hysterical, making the presentation as a whole an unmitigated delight from start to finish.

Of course, Jackson’s softly anguished takes on songs such as Superstar, River and I Shall Be Released are the evening’s master points. This go-for-broke yet subtle emotionality is her forte as a performer, making one pity those who will never experience this kind of brilliance in their lifetimes.

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Nicely, Jackson is ably assisted here by Terry McCarthy as Mr. Gerard, Midler’s game hairdresser, and Sydney Genco and Allison Petrillo as Laverne and Trixie, Midler’s backup singers. Genco and Petrillo get a chance to shine on their own during the show’s intermission/costume change. Their pert energy and spot on timing ultimately prove that they deserve a show of their own one of these days. Hmm…maybe next season!!!

But until then… give proper kudos to Jackson and co-director Marc Lewallen, by checking out this year’s festivities before closing night on December 31st.

https://www.facebook.com/events/570448403729627/

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Pearl Bailey

Published November 24, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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From The Mummy to Thinner to Drag Me to Hell, gypsies have been colorful characters in the world of horror. While their predictions and curses have long generated trauma and ruin for the people they encounter in these films, the divine Pearl Bailey gave us a more jovial approach to their abilities with the amusing The Gypsy Goofed.

A powerful icon in her own right, Bailey commanded the worlds of film, stage and television. Famously replacing the (seemingly) irreplaceable Carol Channing in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly, this undefeatable songstress is rightfully remembered, in perpetuity, as one of the giants of the entertainment industry.

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pearl-Bailey

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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