Clearly, I love musicals. I love movie musicals too. Some of the best musicals are originally adapted from movies, such as Heathers, Matilda, and Wicked (which is great, because it’s actually musical based on a book based on a movie based on a book). But sometimes, casting directors and producers choose to stunt cast these movies instead of casting actors who can actually play the part properly. I understand, believe me. The seats need to get sold and as much as I would have liked to have the original Broadway cast reprise each of their roles, it can’t always happen, especially if the movie adaptation is being made years after its premiere. Some people cannot be taught to sing and these actors should probably stick to their day jobs.
I have nothing personal to hold against Minnie here, but in the 2004 adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera, she didn’t even sing. No, the voice of prima donna Carlotta was sung by Margaret Preece. She has played Carlotta in the stage version of Phantom as well as Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music. If you aren’t even singing, why are you in a musical? There are lots of sopranos waiting for this role. Let them have it.
Listen to Margaret Preece sing “Prima Donna”out of Minnie Driver’s lips:
I owe a lot to the Les Miserables movie since it was my gateway into musical hell, but now, after seeing the show live and listening to many versions of Javert, it is very clear to me that this was not the best casting decision. You can tell he’s not trained enough because he doesn’t have vibrato where it should be. I love Mr. Crowe’s acting in this role, however, and so he’s higher up on this list. He is rigid, yet compassionate when he needs to be, but unfortunately, his voice doesn’t follow him there. Plus, no sideburns? What?
Watch “Stars,” now with extra foreshadowing:
Do I hate the Phantom movie? A little bit. Check out the 25th Anniversary concert on Netflix instead. This man also cannot sing. Phantom came out before his breakthrough role in 300, so perhaps the director thought that casting a more unknown actor would be better than casting a star who can’t sing. Wrong. His Phantom under the mask is not terribly ugly either — some Phantoms have swollen lips and parts of their brain showing through their skull, but Gerard looks like he’s experienced some hair loss. He sounds a lot like Russell Crowe, honestly (and looks like him too). He hasn’t been in a musical before or since, so hopefully he’s learned his lesson.
Watch “Music of the Night”:
I think the Mamma Mia! movie is a lot of fun, which is what the story is about — it’s full of ABBA music, for God’s sake. It’s full of actors who have musical backgrounds, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, and Christine Baranski. Pierce is not one of those actors. His version of “SOS” is laughable and he takes himself far too seriously — Colin Firth almost made this list, but he’s able to make fun of himself (search the clip from The Actor’s Studio where he says when he dies, he’d like God to say “I thought you were quite good in Mamma Mia!”). With rumours of a movie sequel floating around, let’s hope it doesn’t focus around Sophie’s dads.
Here’s “SOS” if you dare:
I don’t know why people continue to cast Johnny Depp in musicals — his voice is absolutely terrible. I watched the PBS Great Performances recording of Sweeney Todd as my introduction to the show and I’m glad I did. Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson make an excellent Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett (Thompson scored an Emmy nomination for the role). But, when a movie is made by Tim Burton, who is apparently the high school drama teacher with favourite students, who else will be in the lead roles? Personally, I don’t think his singing voice is deep enough to carry the role properly (check out the aforementioned PBS special or clips of Norm Lewis as Todd). I love Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, but he’s had made some questionable acting decisions. Don’t get me started on the costume for The Wolf in Into The Woods (in 2014 we can’t do an actual CGI wolf and instead have Depp in a hat with ears on it?) or how all of the chorus songs were cut from Sweeney. Time for a break, Johnny.
Listen to “My Friends” as sung as a pop ballad:
Do you agree or disagree? What’s your least favourite casting in a musical, stage or screen?