Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Balton Productions

Author(s): Brian
Location: Arizona

“Balton Productions”

Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Thomas Meehan
Lyrics by Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman
Music by Marc Shaiman
Produced by Laurence Mark and Martin Brown
Choreography by Susan Stroman

Principal Cast:

Harry Connick, Jr. (Dan Travis)
Christina Applegate (Julia Yates)
Minnie Driver (Wendy Albertson)
Jeremy Irons (Taylor Balton)
Tom Hulce (Frankie Balton)

Tagline: “All They Want is Showmanship"


Musical Numbers (In Order of Which they are Sung):

1. Showmanship (Company)
2. That’s What’s Wrong with Him (Taylor & Frankie)
3. This or That (Dan)
4. Showmanship-Reprise (Dan)
5. Start my Break off Big (Julia)
6. I’m Climbing up to a Star (Dan)
7. Little Favors (Julia)
8. But He Has Charm (Wendy)
9. Showmanship-Reprise #2 (Dan)
10. It Must Be Love (Dan, Wendy & Julia)
11. Out of my Sight (Taylor, Frankie, Dan & Julia)
12. Never Again-Dan’s Lament (Dan)
13. But He Has Charm-Reprise (Wendy)
14. It Must be Love-Reprise (Dan & Wendy)
15. Showmanship-Reprise #3 (Dan)
16. I’m Climbing up to a Star-Reprise (Dan)
17. Raise the Curtain (Wendy & Julia)
18. Patience is a Virtue (Company)
19. Natural Talent (Dan & The Chorus)
20. Showmanship-Finale (Company)

Very loosely based on the story of the Shubert Brothers, “Balton Productions” is about Taylor and Frankie Balton, two brothers that are the biggest Broadway producers alive. They have a slew of hit musicals, and are referred to as the greatest team of producers in Broadway history. They just happen to hate each other. So, to avoid contact with one another, they communicate through their agent, Dan. Dan is a kind man, but too accepting for his own good. Whatever Taylor and Frankie want, he delivers it to them. Dan puts up with their ridiculous demands and incredibly rude personalities mainly because he has always wanted to be an actor on the Great White Way. He figures that getting on the expert’s good side is a good thing. What he doesn’t realize is that he is starting to become the only one doing real work, as Taylor and Frankie spend much more time telling him why the other person is responsible for everything that has gone wrong. In need of a hit, Dan is responsible for finding a surefire musical sensation, which he thinks is in “Essence.” “Essence” is a spectacle about the rise of neon in the 20th century…told from the point of view of the neon. Taylor and Frankie adore it, and begin casting the next day. Or, at least they have Dan begin casting the next day. At the auditions, Dan sees Julia Yates. Julia is not particularly talented, nor likeable, but Dan has always been madly in love with her. He blindly gives her the role, and gives the incredibly beautiful, talented Wendy Albertson a simple role in the chorus. In order to get some prestige, Julia fakes falling in love with Dan, but secretly does the same with Taylor and Frankie. Wendy begins to fall for Dan, but Dan won’t pay any attention to her, or her constant requests to read the musical she wrote. Her show is called “Natural Talent,” and is about a group of Vaudeville performers. Though it is clearly ten times better than “Essence,” Dan is letting Taylor, Frankie and Julia live his life for him. He thinks that everything is going perfectly, until he catches Julia with Taylor and then Frankie. But, when he tells them that she has not been loyal to them both, they fire him. All of Dan’s hopes are crushed, until Wendy finds him and introduces her play to him. He agrees, and the two attempt to conquer the Baltons and Julia at their own game, and produce “Natural Talent” in the same year. Who will have the more successful show? Who will walk away with the Tony? And will Taylor and Frankie ever reunite? All of it unfolds in “Balton Productions.”

What the press would say:

“Balton Productions” is not the best movie of the year. It is not a life-changing experience. It won’t bring you to new emotional heights. What it will do, though, is give you two hours of solid, fun entertainment, along with some brilliant musical numbers. This musical comedy, directed by Mike Nichols, is not only the home to over 10 excellent songs, but also to five fine performances. Tom Hulce and Jeremy Irons play Frankie and Taylor Balton, the biggest Broadway producers in the history of the stage, but arch rivals. They are excellent, humorous and unique in these roles. Christina Applegate plays the cheap Broadway actress Julia Yates, and masters the role, delivering some of the biggest laughs of the year, and is even better than her exceptional co-star, Minnie Driver. But, the show stealer here is Harry Connick, Jr. who already proved his acting chops in “The Pajama Game” on Broadway, and does it again as Dan Travis, the struggling agent who is determined to put on a better show than his bosses. I simply cannot think of an actor better fit to play this part. So, if you are looking for a barrel of laughs, the catchiest of songs, the best of performances and all the excitement of a Broadway show, “Balton Productions” is the best choice out there. Also, it could easily become the feel-good Oscar contender of the year with a strong campaign in the following categories…

Best Picture (It’s not a Best Picture winner, but a nomination is well in its grasp)
Best Director (Mike Nichols)
Best Actor (Harry Connick, Jr.)
Best Actress (Christina Applegate)
Best Supporting Actress (Minnie Driver)
Best Supporting Actor (Tom Hulce & Jeremy Irons)
Best Original Screenplay (Thomas Meehan)
Best Original Song (“Showmanship” is the frontrunner, but any of the songs in this film have a shot)
Best Film Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction (expect this eye feast to clean up in this category)

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