Oscars show to hit musical high note

Published February 21, 2013

Singer Adele arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. — AFP Photo

LOS ANGELES: Barbra Streisand will perform for the first time in 36 years, Adele will sing “Skyfall,” and the stars of “Chicago”will reunite 10 years after their Academy Awards triumph.

Sunday's Oscars show, the climax of Hollywood's annual awards season, will hit a musical high note, if nothing else.

“Les Miserables” - a film performed almost entirely in song -- could also provide some highlights with eight nominations, while Norah Jones, whose Indian sitar legend father Ravi Shankar died last year, is also due to appear.

On the diva legend front, Britain's Dame Shirley Bassey, who sang two 007 theme songs - “Goldfinger” in 1964 and “Diamonds are Forever” a decade later - is due to make her first Oscars appearance.

Although full details have yet to be revealed, presumably it will be in the segment of the show celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie franchise - along with her fellow British singing star.

Adele - in her first live performance since last year's Grammys - has said it will be “terrifyingly wonderful” (she used more earthy language backstage at this year's Grammys) to sing the “Skyfall” theme tune.

“It's an honor to be nominated and to be singing in front of people who have captured my imagination over and over again,” said the 24-year-old Londoner, who gave birth in October.

“It's something I've never experienced and probably only ever will once!”The musical theme to this year's Oscars is no coincidence: the show's producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan produced hit 2007 film “Hairspray,” 2011's “Footloose” as well as multiple TV credits.

Barbra Streisand, star of the new film ''The Guilt Trip'' poses on the arrivals line at the film's premiere in Los Angeles December 11, 2012. — Reuters Photo

“The musical as a motion picture genre has had a remarkable renaissance in the last decade,” they said in advance of the show, announcing it will showcase “Chicago,” 2006's “Dreamgirls” and “Les Miserables.”Oscar winners Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”), Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe will join “Les Miz” cast members Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, and Helena Bonham Carter.

“We are thrilled that so many talented actors have agreed to bring our vision to life,” the show's producers said Wednesday.

Meron and Zadan also co-produced 2002's “Chicago,” which won six Oscars including best picture -- and whose stars will be reunited on stage at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on Sunday night.

Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah were all nominated for the 2002 film, although only Zeta-Jones won a personal prize, for best supporting actress.

The cast of “Les Miz” will be hoping the film can score a musical triumph 10 years on. Its eight nods include supporting actress for Hathaway, who gives a stunning rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” in relentless close-up.

It appears likely the film's cast will sing together Sunday -- coincidentally, Hathaway and Jackman have already sung together on the Oscars stage, as part of the Australian's opening segment as host in 2009.

Helped by the success of the film version, the “Les Miserables” stage show will be going back to Broadway in March next year, producer Cameron Mackintosh has announced.

Musicals have won the best picture Oscar in the past, but not so much recently: before “Chicago” the last was “Oliver!” in 1969, after “The Sound of Music” in 1966 and “My Fair Lady” in 1965.

This year's show producers' extensive musical contacts may explain how they persuaded 70-year-old Streisand to sing Sunday.

Streisand has earned two Oscars, but has only performed at the top Hollywood awards show once before, in 1977 when she sang the winning song from “A Star Is Born.””In an evening that celebrates the artistry of movies and music, how could the telecast be complete without Barbra Streisand?” said Zadan and Meron, when announcing her inclusion on the bill last month.

For Adele, the spotlight will be huge: it will be her first public appearance since she sang “Rolling in the Deep” at last year's Grammys show, also in Los Angeles.

“Skyfall” is up for best song -- as are “Suddenly” from “Les Miz,” “Pi's Lullaby” from “Life of Pi,” “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice,” and “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted” -- to be sung by Jones on stage.

Adele revealed at this month's Grammys show that she has been staying in Los Angeles ever since the Golden Globes - when she won the best song award - and will be here until the Oscars.

Asked how she felt about the prospect of singing to Hollywood's finest, and hundreds of millions watching live around the world, she answered, with characteristic frankness: “I'm shitting myself.”

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