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Friday, 03 May 2013 15:00

David Krane, Then and Now:

Written by  Dennis Kucherawy
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From Stage to Screen

David Krane, Then and Now:

“Kiss of the Spider Woman”

Toronto, London, Broadway (1992-3) /

Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” the World

(Coming soon to a Theatre near You)

Veteran composer/arranger reunites with “KSW” colleague Rob Marshall,

Director of Oscar-winning “Chicago”

It was 20 years ago today…

Celebrating Friday’s 20th anniversary of the Kander & Ebb / Hal Prince Musical “Kiss of the Spider Woman" today (Friday, May 3rd) isn’t the only thing Broadway/Hollywood musical maven David Krane and movie director/choreographer Rob Marshall share.

Walt Disney Pictures has given the green-light to its film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning fairytale musical “Into the Woods” (ITW). Pre-production will begin this summer with Rob Marshall co-producing and directing. Although the date is not set, filming is scheduled to begin at London’s Pinewood Studios this fall.

For “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” Krane began as the dance music writer straight from the beginning from its 1990 workshop at New Musicals in Purchase, NY, then on to Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre, London’s Shaftesbury Theatre (1992) and Broadway’s Broadhurst Theatre (1993). He was the music supervisor for the National tour before travelling to Austria and conducting the show at Vienna’s Raymond Theatre. He also produced the German language original cast recording.

For Marshall, a dancer, choreographing “Kiss” was his break, his first chance to work on a major Broadway musical with a major star, legendary Chita Rivera. He replaced Vincent Paterson, who had choreographed Madonna’s “Blonde Ambition” tour and various videos and shows for Michael Jackson. He danced as a gang leader opposite stellar choreographer Michael Peters in Jackson’s “Beat It” video. Both he and Marshall shared a Tony nomination for Best Choreography.

Krane says “Kiss of the Spider Woman’s” unusual subject matter distinguished it from other, more conventional musicals. However, “it was a natural fit for Kander and Ebb,” Krane said. “`Cabaret’ and `Chicago’ also had dark subjects in a musical form.”

Also, Krane continues, “it was a Broadway equivalent of Magic Realism. The subject matter was groundbreaking at that time, and the escape fantasies created through projections gave it a dramatic texture that is not like anything on the boards today, not to mention the wonderful Kander and Ebb score.

Krane confided that he and director Hal Prince share a favorite song, “Where You Are.” “Rob Marshall had the idea to dress Chita in white top hat and tails, in the androgynous spirit of Marlene Dietrich,” he explained. “Kander’s original song was very light, feminine and bright, with a kind of `Carmen Miranda’ feel.

“Rob’s idea was to slow it down in a sexier, more masculine manner. The opening signature vamp is actually mine, so I’m very proud of that transformation.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUQlQGH1fhc – “Where You Are,” Tony Awards, 1993

David also reminisced about the cast, especially Brent Carver with his classical theatre experience. “There have been other classical actors in musicals (Rex Harrison, etc.),” he said, adding that most of the time they were unsuccessful “and not singers as organic as Brent is".

“Brent was a revelation. I saw so many performances and the nuances of the realism with which he played Molina varied ever so slightly from night to night. He is a genius on stage. Anthony Crivello (“Valentin”) is a sweetheart who was the perfect balance for Brent.”

He called Chita Rivera “a force of nature,” adding “it was a thrill to work with her. I had the pleasure of accompanying her in an Australian tour a few years back when we played the Sydney Opera House.

“One story I love is when our musical director from London, Gareth Valentine, visited. In New York, our conductor was visible on a closed circuit TV screen. As a surprise, at the opening of the second act, Gareth stepped into the frame to conduct her as he had in London. It was all that Chita could do to stop from breaking up!”

Last August, forget “Into the Woods.” David, or rather President Obama and the Democratic Party, were “into the cash” at a $16,200 a plate held at movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s Westport CT estate. David accompanied Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway on piano in a spoof of Adele’s “Someone Like You” rewritten especially for Obama. It was along the lines of we need a president like you. Guests included Anna Wintour, English editor-in-chief of American “Vogue” magazine, actress Marlo Thomas, talk show host Jerry Springer, producer/screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and Dannel Malloy, the governor of Connecticut.

“ITW” reunites Marshall with Krane who is writing musical arrangements for the film as he did for Marshall’s previous movie musicals, his adaptations of “Nine” and “Chicago,” which won the Best Picture Oscar in 2002.

Jonathan Tunick, Sondheim’s long-time orchestrator (beginning with “Company” in 1970), will orchestrate the movie.

Krane said he is currently in the midst of auditioning “some very famous stars” for the film. “Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to discuss it, but it’s very exciting.”

“Playbill” magazine confirmed Academy Award winner Meryl Streep will star as the Witch while “Variety” reported Johnny Depp is in talks to play the Wolf.

On October 1st last year, Krane said, the creative team held a workshop in a building adjacent to Lincoln Centre that is part of Juilliard. Among the cast were Donna Murphy as the Witch, Christine Baranski as the Stepmother, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, James Corden (who won a Tony last year for Best Leading Actor in a play for “One Man, Two Guvnors”) as the Butcher and Nina Arianda (2012 Tony winner last year for Best Leading Actress in a play for “Venus in Fur”) as the Baker’s wife.

James Lapine, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning scribe has adapted the screenplay based on his own book. The workshop cast read from a streamlined, two-hour screen treatment he had penned.

Meanwhile, in another part of the woods, “The Road to Qatar,” David’s original musical, that recently played a limited engagement in London, will run for the entire month of August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Also, it has been licensed in the UK and Europe by Josef Weinberger, the noted theatrical company with a view for a tour of the UK and ultimately a run in the West End.


Dennis Kucherawy

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:23
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