Saturday, January 20, 2007

Positively dreamy.

About a week ago, I had the opportunity to see the movie Dreamgirls. WOW. A quick synopsis - three young girls (played by Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, and Anika Noni Rose) compete in a local talent competiton, where they are noticed by recording artist Jimmy Early (Eddie Murphy) and car dealership owner Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx). The girls sign on to sing backup for Early, with Taylor coming on as a manager of sorts. Together, they begin to forge a professional career using talent and payola (courtesy of the car dealership's profits). Once the girls decide to sing as their own group, Taylor chooses the beautiful Deena (Knowles) to sing lead, even though hefty Effie (Hudson) has the real voice. Effie, who is sleeping with Taylor by this time, rebels and is eventually kicked out of the group. The movie then follows the "DreamGirls" as they enjoy professional success and Effie as she struggles through life.

First of all, the clear standout of the cast is Jennifer Hudson as Effie White. Granted, the part is written for her to steal the show, BUT Hudson is so amazing, particularly when she's singing, that she truly leaves the other cast members in the dust. She absolutely mops the floor with Beyonce, and Beyonce can sing. What sets Hudson apart is that, not only can she sing, the girl can ACT. She means every syllable that comes out of her mouth, and she is particularly arresting because her amazing voice is coupled with true feeling for the words she's singing.

The other real gem in this movie is Eddie Murphy, who plays Jimmy Early. He does a great job during his musical numbers, and (especially towards the end) he proves to us again that he can really act. Beyonce Knowles holds her own, but you can definitely tell that she's one of the less experienced actors in the cast.

The film recently won a boatload of Golden Globes; expect it to be an Oscar contender. In the meantime, if you haven't seen it, get yourself a ticket.

10 lashes with a wet noodle.

Okay, I haven't posted in AGES. Ten lashes with a wet noodle for me. But I have been busy. Very busy, I tell you!

I did finish reading Naked by David Sedaris. I thought it was funny, especially the essays about his experiences at a nudist camp/resort. However, of all the Sedaris books I've read, I laughed hardest at Me Talk Pretty One Day. So, if you're interested in checking him out, I highly recommend that you start there.

Secondly, I went to see the Kessler production of The Producers. What fun! I really enjoyed this show, particularly Jason Simon, who played Max Bialystock. (He'd previously played the cowardly lion in a touring production of The Wizard of Oz, and you could see alot of the lion in his Bialystock character.) I personally thought that Austin Owen, who played Leo Bloom, did a better job than Matthew Broderick did in the movie version of this show. John West, as over-the-top Carmen Ghia, pushed his type to the limit. While some moments seemed very forced, other touches were pure genius. We had great seats (row K, center section), so we really got a good look at the production. Over all, I was very impressed. We laughed like hell and enjoyed ourselves immensely.

Oh, I also saw the movie Nanny Mcphee, starring Emma Thompson. What fun!! I SO enjoyed this fresh take on a rather un-Mary-Poppins-like nanny who whips seven (that's right, SEVEN) rebellious children into shape. First of all, good for Emma Thompson, who doesn't mind donning a few warts and a fat suit to make Nanny McPhee all that she should be. The kids are adorable, Colin Firth (as their bumbling father) is endearing, and Nanny McPhee walks off with the whole show. As an added bonus, Angela Lansbury gives a hilarious supporting performance as the children's crotchety great aunt. This is a fun family film, but it is also entertaining for adults. Two thumbs up!

Upcoming - The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra will be presenting Mozart by Candlelight next weekend (Saturday, January 27), and I know I'M planning on being there. Tickets are only $15, and the performance will be presented at 7:30 p.m. at Belhaven's Center for the Arts.

In addition, New Stage Theatre will present The Good Thief, a fast-paced Irish crime story by two-time Tony nominee Conor McPherson, at the end of January. The show is billed as a violent rollercoaster in which a petty thug recounts his final, bloody job. (Think Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and The Departed.) The play, a one-man-show, features actor Chris Roebuck (who I think is ready to carry a show on his own in this town) and is directed by Turner Crumbley (who we loved as Bob Cratchit in this year's A Christmas Carol.) Performance dates are January 27 at 10:00 p.m., January 28 at 7:30 p.m., and January 29 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are a mere $5 (cash/check at door). I'm SO GLAD they are working in some earlier performance times for this show. Usually, shows that are not on the mainstage at this theatre are not presented until at least 10 p.m. in the Hewes Room (at which time, quite frankyl, I am either asleep or well on my way there). I say good for them for offering the Jackson theatregoer a few options.