Needlework Musings and The Producers

I’m so bad about updating here. I stitched a 3-D Mill Hill ornament, Willow Diamond, a few weeks back and am now considering getting materials to redo some of their other ornament designs. (There were several that I made some years back but gave away as gifts.) I wish I had more of the 3-D designs, too. I know Mill Hill usually does 6 designs per series and I only have 2 but it’s highly doubtful I’d find the rest of the kits since the designs are over 10 years old and they put out a new ornament series each year.

And I’ve decided I’m not entering my Cloister Garden sampler at Woodlawn this year. I can never make it down to Virginia to see the exhibit anymore and the entry fee would be $20, which is nearly 3 times what the adult entry fee was when I first entered in 1998! I usually win something; out of the eight pieces I’ve entered in the past, there’s only been one that didn’t win a ribbon. However, when the only prizes are ribbons and I have to pay to have the piece shipped there and back on top of the entry fee, it just doesn’t seem worth it. If I had something spectacular that’d qualify for a major award, maybe. But the major awards are for things like best original design and best miniature and Cloister Garden doesn’t fit into any of the categories.

Moving on…

I saw the Producers movie musical over the weekend with a friend. Overall, it was decent but could have been much better. I’d previously seen the Broadway version with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who reprised their roles in the film. Gary Beach and Roger Bart also returned as Roger DeBris and Carmen Ghia. (I thought Roger Bart looked better in the stage version though without his hair all smooshed down. I’m guessing they were trying to make him look like Carmen in original non-musical Producers movie.)

Instead of Cady Huffman and Brad Oscar who originated the roles of Ulla and Franz in the Broadway show, the parts were played by Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell. I didn’t like Uma as much as Cady. And a minor point but some scenes looked a bit odd with Uma towering over both Nathan and Matthew. I guess Will was okay. Franz’s material was just never a favorite of mine.

Much of the film’s script was very similar to the stage version although there were some cuts and small changes.

Cuts:
-the omission of “The King of Broadway” near the beginning.
-Franz’s little song with his pigeons “In Old Bavaria”
-parts of “Along Came Bialy”
-finale from act one
-the usherettes’ “Opening Night” reprise
-challenge tap section from “Springtime for Hitler”
-Max and Leo’s “Where Did We Go Right?” song
-curtain call song

Additions:
-much larger groups of accountants, chorus girls, little old ladies, etc. (One thing I liked better in the movie was the rows and rows of little old ladies marching out of the apartment buildings with their walkers. *laugh*)
-outdoor locations for parts of some scenes
-audience reactions during “Springtime for Hitler”
-a little scene with Leo and Ulla in Rio
-a new song during the ending credits

Even though there are fewer limitations in terms of space, special effects, and such, I don’t think the movie took full advantage of it. For instance, the camera would sometimes focus in on one of the performers singing and just stay there with nothing going on in the background. While it can work on stage to have one performer be the focus, it just looks boring on film when the camera stays in place too long. Also, I got a somewhat cramped feeling in some of the indoor scenes, especially the one at Roger’s house where there were over half a dozen people dancing around the living room but the camera seemed to keep moving over the same couple of spots.

Another thing is that some of the jokes from the stage show just didn’t work for the movie. Like the part with Ulla painting the office completely white just fell flat. On Broadway, it had come at the beginning of Act 2 and when asked when she found the time to do all of it, she answered, “Intermission.” Of course, there’s no intermission in the movie and instead she says, “I skipped lunch.” Not nearly as funny.

William Ivey Long did the costumes for both the stage and movie versions so most costumes remained the same. The most noticeable change was probably the chorus girls in “I Wanna Be a Producer,” who now wear costumes pieced together from strands of faux pearls. I suppose it was changed to play on the lyric “beautiful girls wearing nothing but pearls” but I liked the Broadway costumes with their gold and money theme much better. They were still glitzy and in my opinion more classy than strands of huge faux pearls which tend to look cheap. Max got a red suit when he went out to seduce the little old ladies in “Along Came Bialy.” The style of Ulla’s dress when she returns from Rio stays the same but the fabric was changed to a blue and purple floral print on white, along with Leo’s matching tie. In the Broadway version, it was a fuschia, orange, and purple floral on white and I think those colors fit the tropical theme better.

So, overall, it was okay but nothing spectacular. I think it mainly suffered from the moviemakers not trying to better adapt it to the different medium. Considering this failure, a taping of the Broadway show (like PBS’s recording of “Kiss Me, Kate” in London) might have been better than a full blown movie.

And on an unrelated note, The Phantom of the Opera became the longest running show in Broadway history last night. I love the musical but it’s been several years since I last saw it so maybe I should considering revisiting it sometime.
  • Current Music
    "Goodbye!" from "The Producers"

Cloister Garden

Boy, I’m really bad about updating here… I got kind of bored of the wizard I was working on and hadn’t stitched on it for a while so I started a new project the other week after digging through my stash a little. It’s The Cloister Garden by The Drawn Thread. (http://www.drawnthread.com/CloisterGarden.html ) It’s been moving along well and I’ve already finished everything down to the square garden section. If I keep making progress, maybe I’ll have it done by Thanksgiving. :-)

This one has been fun to stitch since it has lots of specialty stitches instead of just X’s. If I can manage to overcome my usual laziness about framing my stitchery, I think I’ll enter this at the Woodlawn Plantation Needlework Exhibition next year. I’ve really slacked off on my competition stitching and just stitching in general since I didn’t have much time for it during college and didn’t feel very motivated to get back into it afterwards. I suppose it doesn’t help that I haven’t actually been able to get to Virginia to see the show in years. (I’ve always shipped my entries there and had them shipped back after the show when I entered.) My father took me a few times but it seems like he doesn’t really want to go anywhere anymore and I don’t know how to drive.
  • Current Music
    "In Praise of Women" from "A Little Night Music"

A Visit to the Met

On Friday, I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see their Chanel exhibit. Although Chanel had been discussed in the fashion history course I took a few years back, I learned some interesting things that I hadn’t know about her work before. Such as the fact that she designed ruffly, lace dresses in the 1930s, had some gypsy-inspired work, and sometimes did designs completely covered with sequins. Chanel tends to be associated with simpler things such as her suits and the “little black dress” those things seemed a little surprising. Plus, I finally found out why it’s Chanel No. 5; five was supposed to be Chanel’s lucky number.

I also visited a few of the other special exhibitions, including one of Matisse paintings along with the textiles that inspired them. It seems that Matisse was a textile collector and liked to use them as backgrounds in his paintings or put them on his models. I’m not much into modern art but it was interesting to see the textiles. Some quilted pieces from North Africa were particularly interesting. The layers were stitched together in intricate designs and then had pieces cut out between the quilted lines so that they resembled filigree. It reminded me a bit of an online friend who’s a quilt designer.

I went to the Chinese decorative arts section and saw some garments and embroidered pieces that hadn’t been on display during my last trip to those galleries. I particularly liked a vest pieced together from several rich fabrics and a valance embroidered to resemble peacock feathers. I’m feeling somewhat inspired now to find a project where I can do lots of fancy embellishment. It’ll probably take a while for me to settle on something though.

And I forgot to write about it earlier, but I got a copy of the Pacific Overtures revival recording. I already had the original cast recording but I thought this would be nice to get this since one of the singers is a guy who I knew from high school. What’s nice is that this version has more of the dialogue included than the original and a thick booklet with all the lyrics and lots of pictures. However, the orchestrations aren’t as rich and there are a few songs that seemed much better on the original. Like I hate how the shogun’s wife is wailing away in the background during “Chrysanthemum Tea.” I think it distracts from the lyrics. And the accents of the foreign admirals were better on the original.
  • Current Music
    "Welcome to Kanagawa" from "Pacific Overtures"

New Project

My, it’s been a while since I’ve written in here. I’ve gotten back to stitching and started Midnight Enchanter ,
a James Himsworth design of a wizard on a cliff with the moon in the background. I’m not too far along yet since it’s a huge design.

I finally got a picture of a cute purple skirt I made a few weeks ago. I used leftover fabric from the duster that I made a couple of years ago. No real pattern, I just calculated some things and cut rectangles and sewed. I think it came out pretty well although I hadn't quite expected the ruffles to stick out so much.



And I really need to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week. Their Chanel exhibit opened in May but I was distracted by other things and kept procrastinating and haven’t seen it yet. I checked the museum’s website last night and this is supposed to be the final week for the exhibit so I’d better go in the next few days.
  • Current Mood
    okay okay

New Skirt and Stitching

Boy, I haven’t written in this journal for a long time! I haven’t made it to the theatre for quite a while so I don’t have reviews to post. The Chanel exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened several weeks ago so I should try to get to that sometime.

I made a cute purple skirt a few days ago. I had a large piece of lightweight lavender stretch denim leftover from the duster I made a couple of years ago and figured I might as well use it for something. So, I made a simple skirt without a pattern. I just cut rectangles of various sizes and turned them into a knee-length skirt with 2 tiers of ruffles at the hem and an elastic waistband. I wore it when my family went out for dinner for my sister’s birthday but I didn’t get any pictures of it. I’ll have to take some when I remember.

I’ve had a bit of an urge to get back into cross stitching. It’s been some months since I’ve really done any. So, last night, I got out a large project I had started a long time ago, The Kiss by Mirabilia Designs. I was putting it on my scroll frame but was a bit concerned that the top of the stitching seemed to be so close to the edge of the fabric. So, I decided to measure it and found that the fabric is barely long enough vertically for the design. Ack! I’m usually careful about stuff like making sure the fabric is big enough. What possessed me to start this thing on such a small piece of fabric?!

I think I’m going to have to scrap what I did so far (thankfully, it was only about 6 square inches out of about 200). I guess I’ll use the unstitched part of the fabric for another project if I can find something that calls for that color of linen (it’s a rosy pink). I can’t really think of anything else that I have started and feel like continuing on at the moment so I might go dig through my stash and find something new to work on instead.
  • Current Music
    "Please, Hello!" from "Pacific Overtures"

Quilting Website

A friend of mine who's a quilt designer and teacher just got his website up: http://www.pickleroad.com I'm much more into cross stitch (that's how I first got acquainted with Mark) but he has some gorgeous quilt designs. :-) His class titles are funny, too. *chuckles*

I visited the Museum of Modern Art yesterday with my sister but since it's getting late, I'll write up my commentary some other time.
  • Current Mood
    okay okay

Kind of Sad...

A friend from my needlework group just found out on Sunday that she was pregnant but she started miscarrying yesterday. :-( From her e-mails, she sounded like she was taking it relatively calmly since she was only a few weeks pregnant. But I feel bad for her since it had been very difficult for her to have children because of fertility issues. It had taken years for her and her husband to have their first daughter. They now have two and my friend takes such joy in being a mother that this seems rather sad.
  • Current Mood
    sad sad

Sondheim Trivia

Hmm… I’ve been meaning to write an entry here but keep getting distracted by other things. I listened to most of the Wall-to-Wall Sondheim concert last Saturday and picked up a couple of interesting bits of trivia.

1)“A Weekend in the Country,” one of my favorite numbers from “A Little Night Music” was actually written after the blocking for the scene was created. All of the actors' actions were very specifically planned out and then the song was written to reflect them!

2)Of all the songs he has written, “Someone in a Tree” from “Pacific Overtures” is supposed to be his favorite.

I’m hoping to go out tomorrow in search of a digital camera. :-) I’ve wanted one for a while but hadn’t gotten around to looking yet. It’d be nice to finally have a way to take pictures of my projects to share online without having to wait until a whole roll of film is used up and developed.
  • Current Music
    "The Speed Test" from "Throughly Modern Millie"

Wall-to-Wall Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim’s 75th birthday is coming up next week and tomorrow (well, actually today since it’s past midnight) is the 12 hour Wall-to-Wall Sondheim concert. Sondheim is the composer of a few of my favorite musicals so I was pleased to find out that the entire thing is going to be broadcast online at xmradio.com. (The concert’s being held locally and is free but I heard the venue is small and that you should expect to be in line very early and wait for hours if you want to attend so I hadn’t planned to go.)

I signed up for a free trial at xmradio.com and after downloading a newer version of Windows Media Player, I’ve gotten it to work properly. *is listening to their Sondheim marathon at the moment* :-) My computer speakers aren’t the greatest but I’m happy and looking forward to the concert. I printed out a list of the planned performances earlier and see a bunch of familiar names from my trips to the theatre. Plus, an acquaintance of my mine from high school will be singing in several of the numbers.
  • Current Music
    "One More Kiss" from "Follies"

Quizzes

Oh, I kept forgetting to post these… Some quiz things I made a while ago. I left them blank since they wouldn’t work very well for me because most of my online friends don’t have a livejournal.

The Producers musical starring your LiveJournal friends by Lady of the Thread
Username
Max Bialystock
Leo Bloom
Ulla
Franz Liebkind
Roger De Bris
Carmen Ghia
Quiz created with MemeGen!


The Scarlet Pimpernel musical starring your LiveJournal friends by Lady of the Thread
Username
Sir Percy
Marguerite
Chauvelin
Armand
Marie
Dewhurst
Ozzy
Elton
Ben
Farleigh
Hal
Quiz created with MemeGen!
  • Current Music
    None