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On the Beach and in the Theatres

Welcome to EJW‘s very first Digest, AKA Meal Ticket! This is a summary of relevant news items, coming out twice a week, for Elton John aficionados.

These are written by Cheryl Herman, who has been with this website almost from the start . . . five months after its March 2002 launch!

Probably not quite the quote from wartime leader Winston Churchill, but do you remember last summer, when Elton surprised La Guerite beach restaurant guests in France with a performance of Cold Heart? This was just one day after his Dua Lipa collaboration came out.

On 23 August–three days before its release–Elton returned to the eatery, about half a mile from Cannes, to perform his new version of Tiny Dancer with Britney Spears. It’s called Hold Me Closer, and according to Uproxx, the pop veteran sang over the recording, so Spears’ voice was not easily heard.

Elton shared the cover art–childhood pictures of himself and his singing partner–ahead of the release of Hold Me Closer as well.

These appear here, courtesy of Interscope Records.

Spears also posted images on her Instagram page. There was an old shot of Elton in his rhinestone Dodger Stadium baseball outfit. But the 40-year-old Baby One More Time debutante was featured as well, wearing a similarly designed bodysuit with Elton’s name on it.

Incidentally, Spears’ old boyfriend Justin Timberlake was Elton’s first choice when choosing the title role of Rocketman (which wound up going to Taron Egerton). According to Cheatsheet, David Furnish admitted as much to the Hollywood Reporter in 2019.

Timberlake starred in the 2001 music video for This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore, while David thought he did ”an amazing job,” he and Elton ”never formally approached” the singer about the biopic.

Another Rocketman connection is sound engineer Mike Prestwood Smith. He’s been in the news.

A sound facility which he helped to establish has been acquired by Streamland Media and its sound giant, Formosa Group.

This is Sonorous Trident, an establishment for film, television and immersive content based at the legendary Trident Studios in Soho, London (where the likes of Elton, Carly Simon, and Thin Lizzy once recorded).

As for Smith’s role in the biopic, he mixed the music, and later discussed the experience. He said one of the challenges was that they wanted the musical numbers to be ”big, bold and enjoyable musical experiences. But at the same time, we wanted to ground them in a physical reality.”

The interview was conducted by StudioDaily, which shut down in February 2020.

But it is worth checking out, and can be accessed here.

Unfortunately, many don’t feel that way about Elton’s latest theatrical project. . . . .

The Devil Wears Prada musical, featuring songs by Elton and Shaina Taub, has completed its Chicago run. Although there are plans for it to play New York’s Broadway, a lot of work will be necessary before that, according to the New York Post.

After poor reviews from ”every major critic” , it’s been reported that Kinky Boots director Jerry Mitchell was flown out by producer Kevin McCollum to ”see the struggling stiletto” and present his feedback. It appears that even Elton’s contribution didn’t pass muster with the pundits.

A number of reactions can be found here.

Meanwhile, London’s Almeida Theatre has posted the dates for another musical–this one with songs written by Elton and Jake Shears. Tickets for the Tammy Faye performances (from the 13th of October through the third of December), are already on sale for Patrons, Gold, Silver & Bronze Friends, here . The general public will be able to purchase tickets from 6 September.

And, in case you missed it . . .

* In August, Elton tends to be photographed on his yacht rather than onstage. He apparently is fond of the Riva shipyard, having been seen on board several models. One of them was named Hercules, and it was available for sale last year for just over a million dollars. Built in 2008, there’s enough space to comfortably seat a dozen people. More recently, Elton and his family were spotted on another Riva motor yacht. This one is called Hercules II, according to Autoevolution.

That’s All Folks! Here’s to the Next Time (Elton, 1968)