Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DVD! Book! Concert program! Burp!

Early Christmas presents from my US-based friends Mitz and Bing: a copy of the lavish Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert program, the newly released 2-disc, feature-engorged DVD of Barbra Streisand's Yentl, and Stephen Sondheim's invaluable book/master class on lyric writing, Finishing the Hat. No doubt about it, I have the greatest friends in the world!

The Les Miz program is thick, heavy, beautifully produced. Lea Salonga (Fantine) shares a full-color page with Norm Lewis (Javert). Each of the major performers is featured with a quote; Lea's goes like this: I've played both dead girls from Les Miz: Eponine and Fantine. In my first week as Fantine, I found myself so exhausted from a combination of jet lag and a whirlwind rehearsal and put-in period. At one performance, at the end of the first act, I actually started singing the Eponine part of 'One Day More'... very loudly. I was all the way in the back, but I think the guys in the front row heard me. Oops.

Husband-and-wife Mitz and Bing are among the fiercest Lea Salonga fans I know; naturally, at least one of them had to be in London for the concert. Bing made it--even offered me a free ticket when she learned I'd be in London a couple of weeks before the event. Alas, I couldn't extend my stay, so, like she's done in past Lea shows, she bought me and some other friends a copy of the program. The stack turned out to be so heavy she had to ask the help of an usher to carry them!

The Stephen Sondheim book--what else can I say about it after all the hosannahs? Its full title, by the way, is typically, winkingly Sondheim: Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) With Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes. Try resisting a title like that.

I was all set to brag that I might be one of the very first to have a copy of this book in town--only for the Philippine Star's Exie Abola to text me early this morning that Fully Booked now carries the title. Darn, balloon deflated. But, seriously, go and buy yourself a copy. I've thumbed through it--it's invaluable reading.

The Yentl DVD, meanwhile, is a much-improved edition of the earlier copy released by MGM, which was a bare-bones entry without any input from its producer-director-screenwriter-star. This time, Barbra has commandeered the process and stamped the release as her own by including outtakes, video diaries, commentary, the works, on top of a pristine, newly refurbished print of her, uh, Funny Boy movie (Funny Girl's high point has Fanny Brice singing Don't Rain on My Parade atop a tugboat; Yentl's finale shows the Jewish girl-turned-boy-turned-girl-again belting out A Piece of Sky onboard another boat. Not that they're any less amazing--especially her audacious harmonizing with her younger cinematic self in her 1994 concert. Here, watch:)

Maraming salamat, Mitz, Bing and my inaanak Kenji! Now, if you'll excuse me, folks, I have a book to devour.


Anonymous said...

hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

Crystal said...

wow i'm really drooling over the les miserables program!!! is it possible to have it photocopied in full color? hahahahah

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