Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Donna Murphy is "Mother Gothel"

If you don't just skip the occasional theater post on The Film Experience you may know of my love of Tony winner Donna Murphy. She has what might be her most significant screen role ever this very year. 'But what they want from her is....her voice.' She is playing Mother Gothel, the villainess of Disney's Tangled. She's the one who grounded Rapunzel, like, forever. [Okay, stop gagging. I know the juvenilia of the Tangled marketing has been entirely off-putting but let's stay positive for two minutes.]

Here's the first image release of Mother Gothel, just released.

Tangled's song score -- eight new songs the soundtrack is out in November the week before the movie -- is by Alan Menken so we hope against hope that the songs will be good and some of his past work is very good indeed. Lately it hasn't been quite so magical but at the very least a Menken score would have to be preferrable to the pop-song laden trailer music which led us to believe that this would be another Shrek, musically speaking. [Shudder.]

<--- Donna (left) with fellow Broadway headliner Sutton Foster, who has weirdly never appeared in a film, despite being a rather big deal on stage. (Usually the big theater stars get at least some film work.)

You've probably seen Donna in a few things already since she does bit parts on film (like in Door in the Floor or Spider-Man 2) and major parts on TV... but her voice is INCREDIBLE so I'm hoping she gets a song that's worthy of her.

So, let's think about the "villain songs" in Menken's oeuvre. How would you rank them? Here's what I'd say.
  1. "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from The Little Mermaid. Undeniable classic!
  2. "Gaston" from Beauty & The Beast. Not exactly an 'I'm evil' song but so great nonetheless.
  3. "Suppertime" from Little Shop of Horrors. Creepy.
  4. "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hunchback's music is SO underrated and this scene sandwiched next to Children of God is maybe my favorite musical act in any Disney picture. Marvelous. Can I get an "amen"?
  5. "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" from Little Shop of Horrors. Fun.
  6. "Mine, Mine, Mine" from Pocahontas. Errrr. not so much.

Now, admittedly the lyrics are a crucial part of the best villain songs. So hopefully Menken will have great assist from Glenn Slater in that department though obviously there will never be another Howard Ashman. Not every villain gets a song. If I recall correctly Hades from Hercules and Jafar from Aladdin don't have songs but that better not be the case when you've got pipes as golden as Murphy's to work with. That'd be like casting Mandy Patinkin in a musical and not letting him sing. Hey, now wait a mi...

Here's some Murphy performances I just love. "Hit Me With a Hot Note" from What About Joan? "Swing" from Wonderful Town, "Loving You" from Passion and "Shall We Dance?" from The King and I.

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