Universal via Everett Collection
Plenty of singers try their hand at acting… some successfully (Cher, Barbara Streisand) and others not so successfully (Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, etc.). There are times, though, when we're bowled over by the musical talents of our favorite actresses.
Whether it's voicing an animated heroine or taking an unexpected role in a big budget musical, these actresses have proven that they have the pipes to belt out a tune while still delivering top-notch acting performances.
When many people saw the credits for Disney's Frozen, they assumed that Bell was just providing the speaking part for Anna, that surely it was someone else singing on "Love Is an Open Door." Even some hardcore Veronica Mars fans had lost sight of the fact that Bell came from a musical theater background or forgot about her appearance in Refer Madness: The Musical.
So, a lot of people find Hathaway pretentious and annoying… it doesn't change the fact that the girl can sing. Audiences were surprised when her character started singing in one of her early films, Ella Enchanted, but by the time of Les Miserables, we were all aware that she had the ability. Still, her powerful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" surprised just about everyone.
When Seyfried was first starting out in Mean Girls, we thought she was just another soap opera actress (she appeared on As the World Turns and All My Children) making a jump to the big time… which she subsequently did with her role on HBO's Big Love. Little known to the public, she had training in not only musical theater, but opera. It wasn't until 2008's Mamma Mia! that audiences got a taste of her singing… and then came her performance as Cosette in Les Miserables. C'est magnifique!
Stone doesn't sing much because of some vocal cord issues, but when she was younger she was part of VH1's In Search of the New Partridge Family. She also did some backing vocals for the remake of The Waitresses' "I Know What Boys Like" from The House Bunny. It was her performance during the school assembly scene of Easy A,where she rocked the disco classic "Knock on Wood," that left audiences wondering if it was really her voice. It was indeed, and she was spectacular.
For years, Streep was known as the premier actress of her generation, though not as a performer with any musical ability. Starting with 2006's Prairie Home Companion, however, Streep has been unafraid to put her voice out for public consumption. She looked like she was having a blast playing the lead in Mamma Mia! opposite Seyfried and will soon be back on the big screen playing the Witch in the film adaption of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.
Despite starting her career doing Broadway musicals as a girl, the new "It" singing actress first came to notice with largely non-musical roles in Twilight and Up in the Air (although we did get a glimpse with her karaoke version of "Time After Time"). It wasn't until she killed as the reluctant a capella participant in Pitch Perfect that audiences fell in love with her voice. The actresses even scored a hit single with her version of "Cups (When I'm Gone)" from the soundtrack. With roles in Into the Woods and Pitch Perfect 2, we'll get plenty of opportunities to continue enjoying her vocal talent.
Her work with M. Ward on their She & Him projects have turned Deschanel into a legitimate recording artist, but she's still better known for her acting in movies like (500) Days of Summer and her TV show New Girl. Every Christmas the actress pops up in one of her earlier film roles as Will Ferrell's love interest in Elf singing holiday classics and she's set to appear in Barry Levinson's musical comedy Rock the Kasbah.
Adams may be a five-time Academy Award nominee and might turn heads on the red carpet with her plunging necklines, but she knows her way around a song as well. The actress made a believable live-action Disney princess in Enchanted, including taking center stage during the big production number "That's How You Know." She apparently likes to sing in kiddie fare, because her other big on-screen musical moments mostly happened with Jason Segel, Kermit and Miss Piggy in The Muppets.
Paltrow's mother, Blythe Danner, started her film career in the musical 1776 and she has an uncle that's an opera singer, so she comes by her vocal abilities honestly. After making her on-screen singing debut in Emma, she starred in her father Bruce Paltrow's Duets, where her collaboration with Huey Lewis on Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" spawned an adult contemporary hit. Besides having a recurring spot on TV's Glee, Paltrow also got her twang on in Country Strong.
Actress Amanda Peet has won positive reviews for her debut as a playwright after launching new Off Broadway drama The Commons Of Pensacola with Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner in the lead roles. The Something's Gotta Give star reunited Danner and Parker, who previously co-starred in a 1995 stage production of Sylvia, to play mother and daughter in the show, about a woman struggling to make ends meet after her financier husband is jailed.
The play opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club on Thursday night (21Nov13) and it appears to have won over the majority of New York's notoriously-tough critics.
The New York Times' Charles Isherwood calls Peet's efforts a "creditable debut", "engrossing and watchable", adding, "Ms. Peet writes easily flowing dialogue, laced with biting humor and a brash streak of vulgarity."
The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney echoes Isherwood's sentiments, branding the play "a pleasing debut", while a writer for Variety suggests the drama "isn't half bad in the hands of a superb cast" and a reviewer for New York Magazine's Vulture.com blog declares it "worthy of attention".
Parker, who portrays the daughter of the disgraced financier, is praised by Rooney as seeming "right at home" in her first Big Apple stage role in 12 years, and Britain's Independent newspaper critic applauds the actress for delivering a "captivating performance as the broken scion".
However, not everyone was impressed with The Commons of Pensacola - the New York Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz claims Parker's performance can't save Peet's "unfocused" play, which he rated with just two stars out of a possible five.
The Commons of Pensacola runs until 26 January (14).
Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella Mccartney recently hosted a star-studded "English garden party" in The Hamptons, New York, to launch their new fashion collaboration. The designer's dad Sir Paul McCartney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, Paltrow's husband Chris Martin and mum Blythe Danner were among the guests celebrating the new Stella McCartney x Goop collection, which is available on the actress' Goop.com website.
It's not simply the Tinseltown drawbridge that places legacy celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow on the other side of the castle walls. It’s that she is so well-meaning she seems to have no idea we can’t wear flip-flops to work. So please, G, let me spell it out for you.
1) You work even though you don't have to. We'd be at the beach every day.
2) Most of us can't be Googled. And definitely not by first name only.
3) While it is cool that the duvet covers at London’s Connaught Hotel have a turn down flap instead of buttons at the bottom, some of us don’t have a duvet.
4) We rarely get photographed on our Vespas.
5) You told E! Online that the Costume Institute Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum in New York is “unfun.” Okay, we all know that, but most of us drag ourselves to it anyway.
6) You said your wood burning pizza oven is the best investment you ever made. My broker never even told me about that one. Can I get his name?
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Ben Stiller was on the rise after breaking mainstream ground in There's Something About Mary. Robert De Niro was at the peak of his shift from Scorsese dramas to screwball comedies. The script was approachable and amicable, but not without its edge. Meet the Parents was prime crowd-pleasing comedy. Since the film's release in 2000, we've seen a number of other attempts at the in-law-centric comedy of errors, ones destined from conception to live in the shadow of Jay Roach's modern classic. The latest is the Tyler Perry production Peeples, a film that borrows more than just the basic "guy meeting his fiancée-to-be's family" formula from the Stiller/De Niro comedy. In fact, upon leaving a screening of the film on Tuesday night, I heard a fellow viewer remark that Peeples was "Meet The Fockers, but with music." Understandable, but not entirely fair.
Peeples sees the likable Wade Walker (Craig Robinson), an aspiring child psychologist who writes and performs songs to teach kids about expressing themselves verbally, struggling to impress his uptight girlfriend Grace's (Kerry Washington) rigid and tyrannical father, Judge Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier) upon meeting him and the family for the first time during a weekend getaway to their summer home in Sag Harbor, Long Island. Yes, at times, the new movie seems like it cited the script of Parents with a checklist in hand: both films take place in prosperous Long Island, pit a sensitive working class dreamer against the hard-nosed professional patriarch, and involve the gradual surfacing of family secrets. For a while, there, it seems as though the movie is setting up for a rip-off of the too-well-known-to-be-reproduced Meet the Parents. But a few leagues into Wade's increasingly ill-fated vacation with the Peeples clan, the movie actually begins to one-up its predecessor.
With performers like Stiller and, to a greater degree, De Niro, Parents felt comfortable using its supporting cast as set dressing. There wasn't much for anyone else to do in the film: Teri Polo, Stiller's romantic interest, was flat and unsubstantial. Blythe Danner had some words of reason, but hardly anything to contribute to the comedy. Even De Niro's stoner son (Jon Abrahams) didn't have anything in the vein of a story. Stiller didn't meet the parents, much less the family. He met the dad. But here, Peeples is champion. Chism invests a little something in each member of her cinematic family: father Virgil is an overbearing, hypermasculine A-type (an identity that clearly stems from his relationship with his own father, whom we meet briefly). Grace has, as a result of her rearing, and her dad's well-documented favoritism, become a somewhat self-destructive, victory-affixed obsessive-compulsive, opting desperately to hide her imperfections from everyone in her life.
And Grace isn't the only Peeple to get an industrial treatment: her sister is, in the same vein, trying to hide her homosexuality from her abrasive father. Her brother is a kleptomaniac, and a contentious scientific genius with low self-esteem. Her mother is a recovering addict and a former music artist whose career and glory were overshadowed by her husband. The characters in Peeples are given full plates. And as Wade gets to know them through the film, he finds himself connecting with each of their individual stories.
Unfortunately, Peeples throws the lot of this out the window in the third act. In a 90-minute romantic comedy, there's only so much room for a full-fledged supporting cast, at least as far as the film is concerned. Each of these characters' conflicts, all far more engaging than that of Wade and Grace, are discarded when it comes time for the big, sweet ending. Even Grace's proclivity for dishonesty and judgment, not to mention her subtle Elektra Complex, are ignored in the end: the movie doesn't give its superior material a fair chance to shine, opting instead for your typical genre conclusion.
Throughout the movie, the gags are standard and predictable, with the performances of Robinson and Malcolm Barrett (playing Wade's goofy brother Chris) offering a few laughs here and there. The real meat of the movie is its devotion to the characters. Unfortunately, that devotion fades away instantly when the time comes from a sweeping romantic ending and dynamic musical number. But really, in a genre where these are the norm, couldn't we have spent a little more time solving the Peeples' problems?
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Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker have signed on to play mother and daughter in actress Amanda Peet's debut as a playwright. The Something's Gotta Give star has written The Commons of Pensacola, about a family struggling to make ends meet, and after months of circling the project, the two actresses have signed on to lead the cast.
The play will begin previews at the Manhattan Theatre Club on 22 October (13).
Parker and Danner have shared the Manhattan Theatre Club stage once before - they co-starred in a 1995 production of Sylvia there.
Actor Matthew Broderick will be looking for a new job after learning his stage musical Nice Work If You Can Get It is closing on Broadway. Producers announced on Wednesday (24Apr13) the curtain will fall on the Tony-nominated comedy on 15 June (13) following 27 preview performances and 478 regular shows at New York City's Imperial Theatre.
Broderick, who is co-starring with Blythe Danner in the current cast, will remain with the production until the final date, while a U.S. tour is being planned for next year (14).
The actor is reportedly preparing to swap the stage for the small screen as he is rumoured to have signed up to star in a new TV comedy from the makers of Scrubs.
"I can't stand the bad press Gwyneth gets. I don't read a word of it because it's all garbage and bulls**t. It's just frustrated people sitting on their hands. Why aren't they out helping feed the homeless?" Actress Blythe Danner hates to read negative reports about her daughter Gwyneth Paltrow, who regularly comes under fire for her strict eating habits and for promoting expensive products.
Veteran entertainer Barbra Streisand was given an early birthday treat on Monday (22Apr13) as a host of stars gathered in New York City to salute her glittering movie career. The singer/actress, who turns 71 on Wednesday (24Apr13), was the toast of the 40th anniversary Chaplin Award Gala, where she was handed the prestigious accolade in honour of her film achievements.
Pierce Brosnan, Blythe Danner, Ben Stiller, Jeremy Irons, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were among Streisand's famous friends who attended the Lincoln Center event, which raised $2 million (£1.3 million) to promote independent cinema.
Introducing Streisand to the stage, former U.S. President Bill Clinton told the crowd, "Every great person is driven, but if that person has massive talent, big brains and a bigger heart, you want to go along for the ride."
Accepting her trophy, Streisand said, "Ever since I can remember, people have been calling me bossy and opinionated. Maybe that's because I am. Three cheers for bossy women."
Liza Minnelli serenaded her pal with Isn't This Better? from Funny Lady, telling the crowd, "She's a good lady and a helluva broad (sic)!" while Tony Bennett sang classic song Smile, written by Charlie Chaplin.
In a video clip, Robert Redford joked that he had been warned his The Way We Were co-star would be "a pain", but insisted she turned out to be "totally engaging to act with, beautiful, thorough and skilled".
Previous recipients of The Film Society's Chaplin Award include Alfred Hitchcock, Laurence Olivier, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, James Stewart, Meryl Streep, Sidney Poitier and Tom Hanks.