By Nicole Sperling
February 25, 2013, 1:00 p.m.
How could veteran musical producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, whose credits include “Hairspray” and “Footloose,” among others, create an Oscars telecast without a tribute to their favored genre?
With an introduction by John Travolta, the star of two of the 1970s’ biggest musicals, “Saturday Night Fever” and Grease,” the 10-minute musical montage featured film clips and live performances from three of the last decades’ most popular musicals: “Chicago,” “Dreamgirls” and “Les Miserables.”
Chicago star Catherine Zeta-Jones was the first performer to take advantage of the moving stage, rising up from underneath the floor in a black fringy number to reprise her song “All That Jazz” from 2002′s “Chicago.” Though her fellow castmates Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah and Richard Gere later paired up with the singer to present an award, they did not perform with her onstage.
That duty was left to a slew of black-clad dancers who helped Zeta-Jones with the routine that looked markedly similar to what she performed on-screen a decade ago.
Former “American Idol” contestant Jennifer Hudson was next to take the stage in a gray sparkly number that shone well for the cameras but restricted her movement. No matter. The Academy Award-winner belted out her iconic song “And I Am Telling You” to a standing ovation. Even Jack Nicholson seemed impressed.
And then the massive “Les Miserables” cast took to the stage to show off their singing prowess. Hugh Jackman started out the medley with the Academy Award-nominated song “Suddenly” by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil, before Anne Hathaway joined him to sing the beginnings of “One Day More” and her number “I Dreamed a Dream.” The rest of the cast soon joined them onstage, with Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried and Samantha Barks, among many others, packing the suddenly compact space with performers.
The overpopulated number concluded with the French flag unfurling and another standing ovation from the audience.