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Five First-Rate DVDs

Reports on Glee The Concert Movie, A Tale of Two Cities, A Madea Christmas, and The Sinatra Legacy. logo
With the winter chill hitting many of us, curling up with that special DVD can warm the heart when it's cold outside. Here's five first-rate selections to add to your collection.

Glee: The Concert Movie

Available in 2D and 3D formats, the film combines 20 musical numbers shot during the cast's summer 2011 concert tour with testimonials from fans about how the smash hit television show changed their lives. Each cast member has their opportunity to shine during the otherwise frenetically edited songs; stand-out performances include Mark Salling's fiery "Fat Bottomed Girls," Heather Morris' sensual "I'm a Slave 4 U" and Kevin McHale's energetic "Safety Dance." Perhaps more interesting are the fan segments, where you see just how strong the show's impact really is. It's impossible not to be moved by stories like Trenton's, who, through Chris Colfer's Kurt, found the strength to accept himself after being forced to come out in eighth grade when a classmate stole his journal. Bonus features include extended performances, deleted songs, backstage footage, and the nifty opportunity to use the Shazam smartphone app to unlock even more footage, lyrics and other goodies.

Tale Of Two Cities: Live In Concert

Although it only lasted 60 performances on Broadway, Jill Santoriello's musicalized version of Charles Dickens' novel lives on in the form of a concert staging, filmed at the Theatre Royal, Brighton, England. While her ballad-heavy score is left largely intact, played by an orchestra of 34 and well-sung by original cast members James Barbour, Brandi Burkhardt, Kevin Earley, Natalie Toro and 26 others, most of the show's confusing and heavy-handed book has been replaced with Spark Notes-like narration delivered by Michael York. As bonus features, York interviews Dickens' great-great-great-granddaughter Lucinda Hawksley, and Burkhardt performs "Without a Word," which was cut from the musical and replaced with the Frank Wildhorn-composed "Never Say Goodbye."

Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas: The Play

A family holiday dinner and a presumed Christmas Eve engagement are the starting points of the multi-talented Perry's madcap and heartfelt play -- starring the author as the gleefully argumentative Madea -- which was taped in May, 2011 at Atlanta's Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. The DVD also contains a half-hour feature interviewing the cast, a fascinating making-of featurette which documents the two-week process of putting up the production, as well as a nine-minute reel of hilarious mid-performance line flubs and other assorted bloopers.


Laurence Fishburne reprises his Tony Award-nominated performance as late Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in the HBO Films adaptation of George Stevens, Jr.'s play, shot live at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. In this absorbing monologue, Fishburne captivatingly inhabits Marshall as he recounts his life, legal victories, and historic rise to the highest court in the land. And even if most viewers already know the outcomes of landmark cases like Brown vs. the Board of Education, in Fishburne's hands, the stories become true, edge-of-your-seat legal thrillers.

Michael Feinstein: The Sinatra Legacy

During this hour-long concert, filmed in May at the brand new Palladium in Carmel, Indiana, the beloved singer and pianist takes the audience on a journey through the music of Ol' Blue Eyes and his contemporaries, including Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, and John Kander and Fred Ebb, with brief interludes about Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli and, of course, Sinatra himself. Backed by a 32-piece orchestra, Feinstein once more proves to be a master showman with a magnetic presence.

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