Musicals

All posts in the Musicals category

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Anita Ellis

Published April 22, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Anita Ellis

Providing the ‘40s singing voice for everyone from MGM’s Vera Ellen to the stunning Rita Haworth, the versatile Anita Ellis earned her terror pedigree by having her vocals included in the 1964 horror cheese fest The Flesh Eaters. The sister of Larry Kert, the gay actor-singer who found acclaim in the original stage production of West Side Story, Ellis eventually courted success as a jazz singer in her latter day career – even though a particularly vicious form of stage fright often robbed her of her voice.

Still, her talent and skill will forever reverberate in numbers such as this.

Meanwhile, a more complete biography of this magnificent performer is available at https://www.oldies.com/artist-biography/Anita-Ellis.html.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Shirley Jones

Published March 31, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Roles in Oklahoma, Carousel and The Music Man pegged the exquisite Shirley Jones as one of America’s true sweethearts. Glossy production numbers on variety specials, like the one below, only enhanced that image.

But every performer has a dual nature. Jones, who won an Academy Award for playing a lady of the evening in Elmer Gantry, has been nicely showing hers in such latter day horror productions as Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th and Zombie Night. If that isn’t proof of her full bounty of talent then I don’t know what is!

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Ann Miller

Published March 24, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Her powerful Mulholland Drive landlady may have uttered the line “Ten bucks says you’re Betty,” but the divine Ann Miller, whose amazing career spanned decades, was always one in a million.

Movie buffs will always be grateful to the eccentric David Lynch for immortalizing Ann at the end of her career with a role in his mysteriously gothic masterpiece, but he was not the first auteur to take delight in Miller’s powerful presence. Dance maverick Busby Berkeley, long admired by such genre legends as Joe Dante and John Landis, provided this tap dancing marvel with one of her most captivating and original production numbers in the fun musical Small Town Girl.

Miller, long a believer in extraterrestrial powers – her final book was entitled Tapping into the Force, died at the age of 80 in 2004. But to her devoted fans and dedicated celluloid buffs, this expressive dynamo will live on forever!

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Horror Mash-Up: Fay Wray and Farley Granger

Published March 23, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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As with many superstars, Mary Astor and Constance Bennett among them, King Kong’s expressive Fay Wray found herself playing mothers of grown daughters onscreen far too soon. Nicely, Wray finds plenty of moments to bring a sense of charm and joy to her Mrs. Gordon Kimbell – no first name given!!! – in the 1953 MGM musical Small Town Girl.

Mothering musical sensation Jane Powell as she romances Farley Granger’s society playboy (while simultaneously wrangling her way through the rest of her loved one’s strong personalities), Wray is able to show moments of exasperated tenderness over her brood’s foibles and eccentricities while providing evidence that she is the force that keeps her family on the right track. Small Farley

Terror celebrants, meanwhile, will be pleased to see Wray, whose other horror credits include Doctor X and Mystery in the Wax Museum, share a scene or two with Granger. Granger, who proves here that he was one of the most striking presences in the Golden Age of Hollywood, is well known for his work in Hitchcock’s homoerotic masterpieces, Rope and Strangers on a Train. Besides that amazing contribution to the legacy of dark cinema, this eclectic specimen appeared in a variety of Giallo enterprises (So Sweet, So Dead, Something Creeping in the Dark, What Have They Done to Your Daughters?) and enlivened the beloved 1981 slasher The Prowler, which is highlighted by Tom Savini’s gruesome effects work.

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Nina Mae McKinney

Published March 3, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Best known to old school horror and jungle movie fans for playing the revenge fueled Isabelle in 1939’s The Devil’s Daughter, the glorious Nina Mae McKinney was originally supposed to be MGM’s first black female superstar. Despite a glorious debut in King Vidor’s Hallelujah, the prejudice of the time cancelled out McKinney’s obvious appeal. The five year contract with Hollywood’s glossiest studio only led to a few loan out roles and an opportunity to provide the singing voice for Jean Harlow in the musical melodrama Reckless. Nina Devils Daughter 1

 

Thankfully, McKinney’s contribution to that picture is not lost to time.

 

McKinney, who died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1967, has been, thankfully, regaled by cinematic historians like Donald Bogle. But one still wishes that her potential could have truly been met. A role playing Harlow’s rival, instead of one behind the scenes, would have truly been a breathtaking addition to her legacy.

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Review: Black Button Eyes’ Evil Dead the Musical

Published February 8, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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Cheryl Williams is the specter that forever haunts my friend Kirsten. The classic image of that Evil Dead character’s zombiefied face peeking through a crack in the cellar door endlessly chills her. Thus, we have a proud woman of horror being successfully thrilled by another proud woman in horror.

This cycle continues with Black Button Eyes Productions current mounting of Evil Dead the Musical. Enacted by an incredibly talented ensemble of eight, this Midwest event is proudly presided over by actress Caitlin Jackson’s often ecstatic take on Cheryl. Her energy and skill, coincidentally, make this role a true celebration of one of my favorite yearly events, February’s Woman in Horror Month. Jackson’s ability to present multiple shades of one individual in a comedic terror piece proves that the eclecticism and uniqueness of the macabre arts are often most truly presented in a feminine form. Indeed, suffering and the humor needed to overcome certain tragedies are an essential part of her take on this shy, often abused wallflower who finally finds the devilish power within. Cheryl_Possessed_by_the_Demons

Of course, this is a rather heady take on a show that promotes goofy, blood stained shenanigans. Combining plot points from Sam Raimi’s first two Evil Dead films, EDTM finds proud S-Mart employee Ash Williams breaking into a woods strewn cottage with his closest family and friends. The discovery and subsequent reading of a skin stained, rustic book soon finds him surrounded by possessed, tune humming demons. Therefore, even with the help of an accomplished, talkative scholar, Ash may soon find himself dead before dawn!

Nicely, by hiring a diverse ensemble and toning down some of the more obvious frat boy antics of the original material, director Ed Rutherford presents one of the more balanced productions of this beloved and zany show. Jon Beal’s fight choreography presents all sexes in a strong light and the live band, led by Oliver Townsend, gives audience members an immediate, joyful feel for the limb flinging proceedings.

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But this would all be for naught, perhaps, without the proper take on Ash, a character adored by scare fiends, far and wide. Fortunately, the handsome and charismatic Jordan Dell Harris nails it here. Coming off like Bruce Campbell’s younger doppelganger, Harris sings and dances with charming aplomb. Nicely, he intuitively adds an uncomplicated honesty and heart to Ash’s often over-the-top bravado, succeeding in winning the crowds of people, whom have been rightly flocking to this show, over entirely.

Evil Dead the Musical runs through February 16th at The Pride Arts Center in Chicago. Further information is available at https://www.facebook.com/blackbuttoneyesproductions/.  Tell ‘em Kirsten and Cheryl sent ya!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: June Allyson

Published January 13, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

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June Allyson was the girl that every G.I. wanted to marry. Her sweet presence provided a happy glow to many 1940’s musical-romances. But ever a true performer, her roles in the ‘70s showed a darker depth. She found the emotional heart of a vengeful bisexual in the Giallo style murder mystery They Only Kill Their Masters, giving the film’s final moments an understated punch. The television film The Curse of the Black Widow provided a bit more of the fun side of horror with Allyson’s Olga getting the sticky end of an old family curse.

But even in supernatural circumstances, this Golden Age icon was always accessible. Anyone with an ounce of humanity and self doubt could definitely relate to Allyson’s sorrowful take on Just Imagine from Good News, one of her most popular projects.

Allyson, who passed away in 2006 at the age of 88, is forever (and rightly) being celebrated at http://www.juneallyson.com/.

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

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