The 92nd Street Y presents Going Hollywood: MGM Musicals, as part of its Lyrics and Lyricists program, Jan. 11-13.
The event, featuring Cameron Adams, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Joshua Henry, Jeremy Jordan, Rob McClure and Rachel York, will feature songs from classic films from MGM in the 1940-50s, generated by the studio's legendary "Freed Unit," ruled by producer/lyricist Arthur Freed. Tony-winning director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall (The Pajama Game, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Anything Goes) will make her debut as guest artistic director, stage director, choreographer, writer and host.
Marshall, who directed and choreographed the musicals The Pajama Game, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Anything Goes, spoke with Playbill.com about her favorite old films and the state of the movie musical today.
Did you grow up watching movie musicals?
Kathleen Marshall: I first became aware of many of these great movie musicals with the That's Entertainment movies - to see one great production number after another was amazing. And that was before I even started taking dance lessons. And to sort of get to see them very early on like that was very, very thrilling. And that's what's so wonderful about that — each new generation has discovered them for themselves. They really are timeless in that way.
What were some of your favorite movie musicals?
KM: I have to say that, for me, "Singin' in the Rain" is pretty much perfection. Not only does it have incredible choreography, but it also has incredible characters and incredible humor. You could take the musical numbers out of that movie and it would still be a great movie — it's funny and smart and romantic — so I love that. I also love "Bandwagon" because it's about theatre and sends up a valentine to the process of putting on a show. So I love that.
How did you decide what songs to feature in this program?
KM: There are so many songs. It was a combination of picking songs that we liked and also having an incredible cast... incredible actors and singers and performers. So we thought, let's do a combination of what we wanted and what suits the actors. We sort of wanted to touch on sort of the — Judy Garland, the Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Vincente Minnelli — sort of touch on all those people that were such a huge part of the success of these movies. And we also deliberately chose not to do songs from shows that were pretty much intact — "Showboat" or "Annie Get Your Gun" — and focus more on the musicals that, even if they retained some original songs, [were] produced mostly by the Freed group.
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