HOLLYWOOD—HELLO AMERICA! With the success of the film versions of “Momma Mia” and “Sweeney Todd,” the sudden acceptance of “Glee” and the return of “Fame” on the tube, it is obvious that the American audience is hungry to sing, dance and be, again, entertained. It is also very clear that the musical can be a big money-maker. Remember, in the ”˜30s and ”˜40s, that watching Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, even George Raft, dancing on the screen, made a difference in how we perceived our lives and what the future might bring about. More than ever, we need the powerful force of music that once helped to keep a nation believing, hoping and, yes, singing.
Fortunately, there are those still around who understand this, and eager to recapture the feeling and spirit that saved a country from emotional devastation. Raymond Singleton, British producer, is one on that list who has decided to try and make a difference. He is currently preparing a production of a mega musical “The Way It Was.” “I’m very excited about the film because it will reintroduce a lot of the old as well as the new,” Singleton offered. “There will be cameos, big production numbers, you name it. It’s going to be a blast.”
The producer has a potential cast list including the likes of George Chakiris, Mitzi Gaynor, Debbie Allen, Russ Tamblyn and Rita Moreno to name a few. “Hopefully,” Singleton said, “it will be a musical to be remembered. Everything will be shot in Hollywood, working with those artists who helped to make the business the way it is. I want to remind people how exciting ”“ how wonderful it is to spend an evening in a theater, listing to beautiful music, and watching dancers that takes you away from all the troubles and stress of the outside world. If we can do that, then the musical will become contagious again. That’s what I want ”“ what I dream of.”
When speaking with choreographer Bobby Banas, who was also featured in West Side Story, he made it quite clear that he agreed with Singleton that without a doubt the nation is ready to dance and sing again. “The musical represents our energy, our absolute joy of being alive and free,” he noted. “It was music that got us through the Depression and all the hardships, when simply trying to survive. I believe that Singleton is on the right track. I’m with him all the way.”
The producer is set to begin production of “The Way It Was” early in 2011. “This is a dream come true for me ”“ I hope it will make a difference!”