Vanessa Hudgens Heads To Broadway With ‘Gigi’

Vanessa Hudgens has signed on to headline a Broadway production of the Oscar and Tony award winning film and stage musical Gigi  (Leslie Caron starred in the 1958 film) The project is penned by Emmy nominated screenwriter Heidi Thomas (Call the Midwife, Upstairs Downstairs, Cranford) and directed by Eric Schaeffer (Follies, Million Dollar Quartet).

“I started performing in musicals from a young age, and it has always been my dream to be on Broadway,” said Hudgens in a statement. “I cannot wait to get back on stage, singing and dancing these songs and living in Gigi’s glamorous world.”

Vanessa Hudgens, photographed by Andrew Macpherson

“I have been living with Colette’s feisty, elegant, feline Gigi in my imagination for a long time now – and in Vanessa Hudgens, she is finally made flesh,” said Thomas.

A pre-Broadway engagement, which takes place at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., runs from January 16-February 12, 2015 (opening night is January 29). Tickets go on sale Monday, September 22 to Kennedy Center members and on Wednesday, October 1 to the general public. For further details go to www.kennedy-center.org.

Vanessa Hudgens has turned in her share of inspired work with The Frozen Ground and Gimme Shelter. During the Gimme Shelter interviews, she talked about “riding on a total high” while doing the film.

In the following audio clip, Vanessa Hudgens talks about preparing for her role in The Frozen Ground:

Rosario Dawson Finds Personal Connection With ‘Gimme Shelter’

ROSARIO DAWSON " JUNE" :  ROSARIO DAWSON  (Roadside Attractions)If you’re in search for a drama filled with heartrending (and inspired) work from its actors, it’ll be hard to beat Gimme Shelter. Vanessa Hudgens is Apple, a pregnant teen who struggles to find a home after leaving her crack addicted mother June (Rosario Dawson). Both actresses give standout performances in the feature, which also stars Brendan Fraser as Apple’s Wall Street exec dad.

“I felt a lot of compassion for her,” said Dawson. “There’s going to be a lot of people who will be walking by Junes on their way into this movie, and I really hope when they walk out they see Apple and have a different experience, and maybe see people who they didn’t see before.”

The film’s theme of finding one’s family, whether it stems from one’s DNA or a group of former strangers, is sure to pull on our heart strings, but thankfully director Ron Krauss avoids painting the story with heavy handed or maudlin brushstrokes.

For Dawson, accepting the role of June Bailey came from a very personal place. Click on the clip below to hear her talk about how she connected with Gimme Shelter.

The actress, who is set to travel to Haiti for 100K World Water Day, also. “I hope I get to push myself and grow and be a better actor,” added Dawson. “I have one of the best jobs in the world. As long as I stay lucid, and I can remember a few lines here and there, I can act until the day I die. And that’s an awesome thing.”

Gimme Shelter is now playing in select theaters.

Review: Gimme Shelter Shines With Inspired Work From Vanessa Hudgens

Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions)During Gimme Shelter’s third act, director Ronald Krauss effectively utilizes “To Build A Home,” a stirring song from The Cinematic Orchestra. Although it starts off in  subtle fashion, the track reaches an epic swell as Patrick Watson reflects on life’s evanescent nature. But nothing in this world is truly permanent, and on our borrowed time building a home, or for that matter a family, can be a truly beautiful thing.

We are introduced to Apple (Vanessa Hudgens), a distraught, angry teenager who leaves her crack addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) to find her absentee father (Brendan Fraser), a successful Wall Street exec who’s moved on with his own family (Stephanie Szostak, memorable in Dinner for Schmucks, plays Fraser’s wife). Life in a new environment unfortunately doesn’t suit Apple, whose emotional scars won’t exactly heal overnight.

Apple’s pregnancy complicates matters with her father and stepmom, as they suggest that motherhood is not her best option. Distraught and confused, Apple moves on and decides to keep her baby even with no resources at her disposal. A near fatal car accident leads her to a friendship with a dedicated clergyman (an effective James Earl Jones) who then steers her into a shelter headed by a woman named Kathy (Ann Dowd).

Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions)

Ronald Krauss’ film is inspired by his friendship with Kathy DiFiore, the founder of Several Sources Shelter, and he lived at the shelter for a year to research a planned documentary. After taping over 200 hours of interviews, he decided a narrative was the most effective way to tell Kathy’s story, and Apple was inspired by several women he met at the shelter (including one of the film’s co-stars, Darlisha Dozier).

It’s great to see Krauss’ cinematic heart is in the right place, and although some naysayers may see the drama as heavy handed and predictable, I was completely immersed with Apple’s journey. I’m a sucker whenever an actor goes for the fences and hits a performance out of the park, and Vanessa Hudgens, who gained 15 pounds and lived in a shelter for several weeks, gives her most inspired performance to date. There are no false notes in Hudgens’ work, and it’s hard not to connect Apple’s transformation with the actress’ own personal growth. It’s a finely etched and nuanced turn, and along with her turns in Spring Breakers and The Frozen Ground, Hudgens is carving out an impressive body of work.

Brendan Fraser, who donated his film’s salary to DiFiore’s Several Sources Shelter, brings ample empathy and depth to a role that could have been considered two dimensional. As June, Rosario Dawson also delivers a pitch perfect portrayal of a woman who will probably never overcome her crippling addictions. In one memorable sequence with Hudgens, Dawson delivers a monologue that’s truly hard to shake, as June finally realizes that she’s lost her one and only love.

To hear Rosario Dawson talk about the complex relationship between Apple and June, click on the clip below:

There will be discussions that Gimme Shelter is a pro-life film since it explores Apple’s decision and and Kathy DiFiore’s faith filled experiences. But these are all ingredients which are part of a bigger meal, as the picture offers a compelling look at how family isn’t simply defined by our DNA. A house is not a home without filling it with the people we love, and thanks to sublime acting from all parties involved, as well as solid storytelling from Mr. Krauss, Gimme Shelter continues to resonate past the closing credits.

To hear Vanessa Hudgens staying in character during Gimme Shelter, click on the Soundcloud bar below:

Gimme Shelter opens today in select theaters.

Emotionally Bracing ‘Gimme Shelter’ Finds Its Family With Kathy DiFiore

Gimme ShelterOne of the beauties of Italian neorealism is its dedication at using non-actors in telling an immersive narrative. Crafted by such directors as Roberto Rossellini (Rome, Open City) and Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), it’s a genre that still echoes today, most notably in director Ronald Krauss’ inspired (and at times heartbreaking drama) Gimme Shelter.

In her most nuanced and challenging performance to date, Vanessa Hudgens is Apple Bailey, a pregnant teenage runaway who tracks down her birth father (an understated Brendan Fraser) in an attempt to seek a bit of refuge. With an abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson) as her main parental figure, Apple’s life has been nothing short of a nightmare, but thanks to her determination and flourishing friendship with an extended family, things gradually change for the better.

The feature is inspired by Kathy DiFiore, who has made it her life work at running Several Sources Shelters. Mr. Krauss spent a year living in a shelter to initially direct a documentary, but instead decided to pen a screenplay based on his experience with the various women he met during his stay.

“When you see ‘based on a true story’ in a lot of films, usually those are recounting a story from years ago, ” says Krauss. “(With Gimme Shelter) it was evolving around me as I was writing the screenplay. There was a limit because the abuse that these girls really go through, I couldn’t put that in the movie.”

Gimme ShelterA harrowing sequence of the film features Apple’s mom ready to attack her with a razor blade sticking out of her mouth. “The razor blade (scene) – that really happened to this young girl named Darlisha (Darlisha Dozier, who co-stars in the feature),” added Krauss. “They told me things that were so hard and I felt so much for these girls and their lives. The courage of (them) to come out and open up – it’s hard. They trusted me to do a good job and tell their story and their story to help others, so that other people can see this film and get inspired to reach out to people.”

To hear Kathy DiFiore talk about the joy behind making Several Sources Shelters her life work, click on the SoundCloud bar below:

Gimme Shelter opens January 24. To hear Rosario Dawson talk about her role in the film, check out the previous post, which also contains Gimme Shelter’s official trailer.

Vanessa Hudgens Finds Creative “Shelter” With Upcoming Drama

Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions)

January is usually a month that’s littered with horrible movies. However, one film I’m eagerly anticipating is Gimme Shelter, a project which continues Vanessa Hudgens’ inspired choice of work. In the past several years, the High School Musical star has turned in solid work in Sucker Punch, Spring Breakers, and The Frozen Ground (I still haven’t checked out Machete Kills).

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