Around this same time last year, Divergent was a box office success – pulling in almost $300 million dollars worldwide on its $85 million dollar budget. This was yet another attempt to kick-start a movie franchise based on a YA property, similar to that of The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. Where other similar attempts like Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have failed, The Divergent Series seems to be right on track to cash in. But has the lackluster second film in the series predicted the future for the franchise?
Taking place only days after the events of the first film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her love interest Four (Theo James), along with brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and frienemy Peter (Miles Teller), take refuge in Amity until they are ready to take on Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Meanwhile Eric (Jai Courtney) and his army have been searching Abnegation for a box marked with all of the symbols of the factions. After uncovering the artifact and taking it to Jeanine, we learn that only a Divergent can open it – causing her to order the capture of their kind. When Eric shows up to Amity, Tris and her friends escape on a train to Factionless territory – where we are introduced to their leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She asks that Dauntless join forces with the Factionless to take on Jeanine and the Erudites.
In 1950 Walt Disney Productions was $4 million dollars in debt, and took a huge gamble on producing the $3 million dollar animated feature Cinderella. It was a film that would either make or break the studio. Yet here we are, and we all know the outcome of the film – 65 years later as we watch the live-action re-imagining of the classic, which is revered as one of the greatest animated features of all time.
Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor) directs a screenplay by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Antz) in a straight forward adaptation that doesn’t try to flip the original story, which audiences know and love, on its head. The film follows the classic animated version pretty much beat for beat, and it isn’t at all a bad thing. We do gain more insight into Cinderella’s childhood, and relationship with her mother (Hayley Atwell) and father (Ben Chaplin) before they pass away, which only helps to grow the connection we feel with the main character – played by the charming Lily James (Downton Abbey).
Before Ella’s father passes away, he tries one more attempt at happiness by marrying the widowed Lady Tremaine – masterfully portrayed by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, Blue Jasmine). Blanchett may look as lovely as ever, but she is evil incarnate as the wicked stepmother. Never before has a cartoon villain come to life on film in such dastardly fashion, as the actress makes it extremely easy to hate her character to its core. Blanchett is in good (bad?) company, as she brings her terribly nasty daughters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) with her to live in the house. True to form, the wicked stepsisters are just as cruel and awful to Cinderella as you would expect. All three actresses do a fantastic job of making the audience loathe them.
Test your skills with Oscar Bingo!
So you consider yourself a fan – no, a savant of the entertainment industry. You know who’s who and who’s played what, and you know better than anyone what’s going to happen at this year’s Academy Awards because you’ve seen them all. You know what today’s celebrities are like and you know who’s been nominated and who’s likely to win, what they’re likely to say, and what they’re likely to do. How exactly do you put this knowledge to the test?
Originally written for the 1957 television broadcast starring Julie Andrews, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella finally made it’s Broadway debut in 2013. With a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, the classic tale gets some new updates – but still captures the magic of the story we know and love. The show is now playing at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis through February 1.
Returning from her leading role on Broadway is Paige Faure as Ella, with the look and cadence that would have you thinking she really is Cinderella in real life. Although some details have changed, the story is still close to the one we know and love. Ella lives with her wicked stepmother (Beth Glover) and stepsisters: Charlotte (Aymee Garcia) and Gabrielle (Kaitlyn Davidson) – although the latter is much nicer to Ella than we’ve grown accustomed to. Right at the start, Ella has a meet-cute with Prince Topher (Andy Jones) as he rides through town. It is there we are also introduced to her friends Jean-Michel (David Andino), a zany revolutionary, and Marie (Kecia Lewis) – a crazy old woman who we later learn has more up her sleeve than meets the eye. Topher’s adviser Lord Chancellor Sebastian (Blake Hammond) convinces the prince that it is time to marry – and what better way to find a bride than to throw a magnificent ball? It’s all fairy godmothers and magical transformations from then on, as the classic tale comes to life.
The show consists of many of the musical numbers from the original 1957 production, as well as some additional songs from the Rodgers + Hammerstein catalog – cut from shows like South Pacific, Me and Juliet. The number “There’s Music in You” was added from the 1997 television version that starred Brandy, which actually came from the 1957 film Main Street to Broadway – where Rodgers and Hammerstein can be seen performing it. CINDERELLA is full of great music and performances, sure to have audiences mesmerized when combined with the direction of Mark Brokaw (The Lyons, After Miss Julie, The Constant Wife, Reckless, Cry-Baby) and choreography of Josh Rhodes (Company, The Film, Three Generations at the Kennedy Center, Sondheim: the Birthday Concert).
A captivating forest inhabited by whimsical and enchanted creatures.
Cirque du Soleil returns to St. Louis with their critically acclaimed production of Vareki! Premiering in Montréal in 2002, over 8 million people have enjoyed the show in over 72 cities and 20 countries. Now through January 11, St. Louis can enjoy the explosive fusion of drama and acrobatics at the Chaifetz Arena.
Varekai features stunning cast of 50 performers and musicians from 18 different countries. More that 33,000 hours of work has gone into the brilliant costume design for the show, lead by renowned designer Eiko Ishioka. There are over 600 costumes, shoes, wigs, hats and accessories used in each performance.
The production is packed full of breathtaking scenery, from The Forest (over 300 trees between 4.5 and 10.5 meters tall) to The Stage (a golden clearing 12.8 meters wide), and the Catwalk (a 30 meter long staircase the actors use to travel over the stage) to the Lookout (a 7-square-meter cabin, serving as the centerpiece of the set)
For more information about Vareki, visit cirquedusoleil.com.About the show:
Deep within a forest, at the summit of a volcano, exists an extraordinary world – a world where something else is possible. A world called Varekai.
From the sky falls a solitary young man, and the story of Varekai begins. Parachuted into the shadows of a magical forest, a kaleidoscopic world populated by fantastical creatures, this young man sets off on an adventure both absurd and extraordinary. On this day at the edge of time, in this place of all possibilities, begins an inspired incantation to life rediscovered.
The word Varekai means “wherever” in the Romany language of the gypsies the universal wanderers. This production pays tribute to the nomadic soul, to the spirit and art of the circus tradition, and to the infinite passion of those whose quest takes them along the path that leads to Varekai.