When I was thirteen, my Girl Scout troop traveled to the Big Apple. We had tons of plans packed into one weekend, but the thing I was most excited about was seeing my first Broadway show. I had been doing theatre for eight years at that point and I knew that the Broadway stage was my destiny.
Sitting in the darkening theatre, my arms were covered in goosebumps. As the orchestra struck the first chord of the overture, I felt my heart nearly burst. My first Broadway show was the incredible Les Miserables. From “I Dreamed a Dream” to “Stars”, I was riveted. As every thirteen year old girl who loves musical theatre did, I loved Eponine, the French Revolution’s embodiment of Bella from Twilight. She had the best songs; she was misunderstood; she loved a boy who would never love her in return; she died in the most awesomely dramatic way ever. We were basically the same person.
I still know all the words to that glorious musical. Which is why, when I heard Working Title Films and Universal Pictures were coming out with a movie version, I died inside.
The magic era of movie musicals is over. Chicago notwithstanding, there has not been a good movie musical since the original Hairspray and the movie Crybaby. America has grown too cynical to either make or appreciate a quality musical brought to film. Examples include, but are not limited to Rent, Nine, Phantom of the Opera, Footloose (the remake), Hairspray (the remake), Mama Mia, The Producers (the remake), and if secondhand-embarrassment-inducing previews are any indication Rock of Ages. Big studios can’t bear to bring in people who can actually sing and act, preferring big names over actual talent; movie-goers don’t give a crap about seeing something moving through song on the big screen, preferring to see reality stars instead of Broadway veterans.
All this to say, for everyone who thought Anne Hathaway as Fantine would be the most irritating casting choice of the season (when did she stop being the awesome actress who I loved so much in The Devil Wears Prada and start sounding like such a douche in interviews?), Taylor Swift is going to play Eponine.
Taylor Swift was so cute when she first burst onto the scene, but three platinum albums in, her fake humility act is getting a little old. Add that to the fact that she couldn’t even believably play a regular teen girl in the movie Valentine’s Day, AND the fact that I have never heard her sing above a C and what you have is the worst movie musical casting choice since they tapped Gerard Butler to play the Phantom. “Taylor Swift plays Eponine” sounds like the kind of joke I’d make about a cast of Les Miserables that includes Martha Stewart as Madame Thenardier and Lindsay Lohan as Cosette. “Taylor Swift plays Eponine” is a phrase that almost made my contact get stuck in the back of my head, my eyes rolled so hard. “Taylor Swift plays Eponine” is the kind of marquis I would expect to see over a Nashville community theatre in about ten years in an E! special of “Pop Stars: Where Are They Now?”
I like anything that inspires popular interest in musicals and encourages people to go enjoy live theatre. It’s why I keep my Glee critiques to a minimum. But producing mediocre movies that only hint at the greatness that can be achieved on Broadway is completely depressing.