NBC's live musicals

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Post by Catspaw »

Thanks for the info and link, bookworm. It looks like it could be a fun production, though the promo was pretty short.
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Post by bookworm »

Yeah, they've never really shown anything about the shows they're just to introduce the cast I guess.

Like last year's I'm not familiar with this show, but will check it out as part of this series.
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Post by Catspaw »

I've never seen the original film, but I have seen the movie that came out a few years ago and mostly enjoyed it. I'm not expecting any big plot departures. There are some fun songs! I would like to see this production, since live musical productions are pretty cool. :D
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Post by bookworm »

I enjoyed this quite a bit. It was well performed and a good production. I wasn't familiar with the show going in, but I liked it. It's still a timely story of rejecting prejudice against race and weight.

This was a big move away from stage sets like their past productions were to real sets, including shooting outside on a lot. I'm curious if that was a direct response to Fox doing that for Grease or if they would have changed it for this one anyway.

One thing I didn't really like was their continually taking focus off the show to hype up being a live event by cutting to various viewing parties. This shouldn't have to be a gimmick like that, the show you're putting on should be able to highlight the broadcast itself. That was my main criticism of Fox's production, too much of a sense of self importance about the details of the live production rather than the actual show they were producing.

The behind the scenes looks at the commercial breaks were obviously influenced by Fox doing that during their show, including a direct copy of showing the cast run off one set and get on carts to race to another set during the commercial. It didn't need all that, that was my least favorite part of the Fox production and I've never thought the NBC ones needed to start doing it, just put on a good show and show that.

The show itself was well done and I enjoyed it, it's just how it was presented that put me slightly off. But it was probably to be expected after Fox's show got a lot of praise while NBC's haven't been well received for whatever reason, so they're going to try to copy what they thought made the other work and apparently they thought it was having a host constantly interject to hype up the live-ness. I disagree, but I get why they did it.

Something I thought was pretty neat about the broadcast, though it's not about the actual show, is some of the companies that had commercials during the night embraced the context and did live ads in the style of the time the show is set in.

NBC is doing a great job finding these unknowns capable of headlining the shows, last year Shanice Williams in The Wiz and now with Maddie Baillio. They didn't get overwhelmed by the production, sang really well, and had the right presence for the roll. One critical note on performances that stood out to me in this one though was Ariana Grande. I liked her acting parts, but I actually thought she was rather underwhelming in her singing parts. She wasn't bad, but I definitely expected more of an impact since she's a famous professional singer, but she seemed oddly subdued to me.

Anyway as a whole this was a solid production, overall the best so far in the series.
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Post by Catspaw »

I had totally lost track of this, so I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed it, bookworm! :D I would like to see it at some point, so I'll have to see if I can soon. I agree that showing viewing parties over the actual production seems silly. Hopefully future shows won't continue that.
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Post by bookworm »

It appears NBC won't be having a production this year. They had shown a teaser way back during last year's show for Bye Bye Birdie, but that's reportedly been pushed back to next year.
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Post by Catspaw »

Hmm, I wonder if the ratings were low or if there was another reason? I'm not familiar with that musical (I've heard the name, but don't know more than that) so it doesn't really matter to me, but that is interesting.
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Post by bookworm »

-- December 9th, 2017, 8:50 am --

It seemed odd from the start to me that they were already advertising a full year early. Even if they were really confident about it that's too soon, so much can change before then.

There are rumors that they dropped it for concerns it wasn't a very familiar title so it wouldn't attract viewers, or worry about competing with Fox's next show, but they deny those and insist it's just postponed. The official explanation is scheduling conflicts with the cast.

-- November 25th, 2021, 7:05 pm --

Well, whatever the reason was, that production never came to be. Instead their next show was The Grinch Musical last December. Couldn't post about it at the time since the forum was offline, but I did watch it. Anyone else make that mistake?
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Post by Catspaw »

Haha, thank goodness I missed it, based on your wording! I like the old Grinch cartoon (and book, of course) but beyond that, I think any live-action interpretation of Dr. Seuss is weird and creepy looking. I didn't even know about this live production but I probably would have skipped it even if I knew about it.

Also, time is weird - I had almost forgotten that the site was down last Christmas until you mentioned it here. :anxious:
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Post by bookworm »

It was absolutely awful. I can't believe I actually watched the whole thing, but I kept thinking 'it must get better at some point, or why would they have produced this?' But it never did.
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Post by Catspaw »

That's too bad. It sounds like they started off strong with a few good musical productions and really went downhill from there.
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Post by Petrichor »

bookworm wrote: Thu Nov 25, 2021 8:23 pm It was absolutely awful. I can't believe I actually watched the whole thing, but I kept thinking 'it must get better at some point, or why would they have produced this?' But it never did.
I don't think I've ever seen you give quite such a scathing review, bookworm. I think that's my cue to never, ever watch the live Grinch musical.
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Post by bookworm »

Petrichor wrote: Sat Nov 27, 2021 10:03 amI don't think I've ever seen you give quite such a scathing review, bookworm.
I don't think I ever have. I make a conscious effort to not label media as objectively bad; if I don't care for something I usually hold the view it just wasn't for me but it could be someone else's thing. But this is a rare item that I couldn't do that for, so I knew it was on some different level.

I learned later that the original stage show was actually a children's theater production so I thought maybe that's what was off-putting, it was a simple kids show and I wasn't watching with the right perspective; but no, that show was later upscaled to a proper Broadway production and I believe this was based on that version, so there's no excuse for how bizarrely unejoyable it was. I mean it wasn't even in 'so bad it's good' territory if that's a concept you believe in; there was no entertainment on any level.
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Post by Catspaw »

I love musicals in general and I think the concept of a live television musical is a fun idea, so I hope they try again with something really good!
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Post by bookworm »

Their next one is coming right up in a few days! Annie Live on December 2nd.
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Post by Catspaw »

Yes! I was checking to see if there was anything good on TV this week (because I like to record stuff and watch it later so I can skip through the commercials) and I saw Annie listed. It's one of those musicals that I have seen (movie versions, never on stage) and like, but don't love, so hopefully that will be just right so I can enjoy it but not be super picky. I saw that Tituss Burgess was listed as one of the main actors, and he has an amazing voice, so hopefully that's a good sign.
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Post by bookworm »

I wasn't overly enthralled by this show, but I enjoyed it well enough. I don't feel like I'll have a desire to see it again, but I'm glad I finally saw it once. This is a show that I've always been nebulously aware of culturally but didn't actually really know anything about. I had very vague knowledge of the premise, but none at all about the story, and I was familiar with a couple of the most famous songs but didn't know their context.

In terms of production it was a pretty good show, glad to see them back on track.

The sets were neat and I liked the staging. They used fairly traditional stage sets, but not in a traditional stage space, it was a 360 performance area very similar to the setup for Fox's production of Rent. I'm curious if they took direct inspiration from that show or if they would have used this design for this production in any event. It is interesting that they have twice now staged their sets in the style of the preceding Fox show, with the outdoor lots used for Hairspray after Grease and now this one, with both being big departures from how they had set up their other shows.

I thought it was neat that Wendy's had the show's Boylan Sisters do their ad in that old time radio style. I had liked how some companies had styled their spots to fit the context during Hairspray Live, it was fun to see that continued here.

Interesting side note: I just learned that the original Broadway Annie was planned to appear in this as Eleanor Roosevelt, but had to step away for a family matter.

Also the dog from this show has performed in more live theater productions than any other Sandy in history.
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Post by Catspaw »

I had recorded Annie Live and watched it today. I really enjoyed it. I think some of the charm came from keeping it in the original setting. I don't think I had heard the Hoover song before, but the singers sure brought what felt like authentic animosity to the number! I thought the FDR parts were fun too.

I agree with bookworm that 360 degree space worked well.

I didn't see any of the matching ads. Because I saw bookworm's post before I watched the show, for the first commercial break I didn't automatically skip through but kept an eye out for anything interesting, but I was obviously getting Canadian ads and not the original ones (unless you also had ads for Tim Hortons and Sportsnet). ;) Oh well. It is a fun idea!

Overall I was impressed - there were a lot of people, including quite a few children, doing amazing live theatre. I enjoyed the singing and dancing and the story, and just the general spectacle that came with the live show. I'm glad I watched it.
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