Friday, July 8, 2016

Blame It On The Movies!


Happy Birthday, Steve Lawrence!
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind

Happy Friday, July 7th, 2016!
I hope this finds all that read these having a good day. You would have to be living under a rock to not know what was going on in the world yesterday and last night. I wrote about it in my log yesterday and I was up till 4AM watching the news. I feel beat up today. I find myself internalizing the strife that is going on in the world. I find myself internalizing everything. When I find that happening to me, I desire to escape into the movies. The movies that do it for me are either musicals or the classic films of old Hollywood.
I also love Carol Burnett's spoofs the movies. Steve Lawrence, who's birthday is today, was featured in many of those, along with his wife Eydie Gorme.
I think today that I desire to escape into the movies!
On Saturday, July 30th, I will be going once again to South Shore Theatricals for their next outing, Blame It On The Movies. 
I always love the care and dedication that goes into their shows. Bruce Bider and John Pane co-produce and direct together. If you will be in the tri-state area on the 30th, I hope that you will join me. What a cast! Starring: Kathryn Crosby, Frank Basile, Marie Danvers (Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera”), Rob Gallagher (Broadway’s “Les Miserables”), Jimmy Moore and Judi Mark.

With a staggering collection of over 75 of the most well-known songs from the most well-known films ranging from Gone With the Wind to Footloose, Blame it on the Movies! is a delicious romp through cinematic history. Popcorn in hand, audiences are guided through a cavalcade of the most memorable music from the movies. Blame it on the Movies! features unforgettable tunes from The

Wizard of Oz, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Color Purple and countless others. It’s a fun-filled homage to movie musicals, screwball comedies, shoot-’em-up westerns, sizzling screen romances, thrillers, action-adventure flicks, historical epics and auteurs alike.

To purchase tickets go to http://madisontheatreny.org/current-season/blame-it-on-the-movies/ or call the Madison Theatre Box Office at (516) 323-4444.
In celebration of Blame It On The Movies, I Celebrate the Movies!
I reached out to my Facebook friends to talk about movies that touched their lives. and here are the results.

For Shelly Goldstein, the movie that she blames is the original The Producers. I was about 9. I'd
never laughed so hard in a film before. I laughed so hard I literally fell off the chair and fell onto the theater floor. I was with my Mother and older sister and we all collapsed in laughter. But I also realized that the film wasn't merely "funny" -- it was about something bigger. It was about using comedy to make a point about bigger, human themes. Mel Brooks destroyed Hitler, not with violence but by making him ridiculous. It was mesmerizing. So smart and so funny. It was also about personal freedom. When Gene Wilder screams, "I'm Leo Bloom! I'm me" and the fountain shoots up behind him -- it's a thrilling moment of personal human triumph. And did I mention how funny it was? And is! Yes, in close to 50 years, the movie gets funnier every time you see it. The musical was glorious and fun but it was a different medium made in a different time and it's not really fair to compare them. I saw it 3 times with 3 different casts and I must say, Nathan Lane did as great a job as Max Bialystok as any performance in the history of theatre. (As did the rest of the cast.) Stroman's work as a director/choreographer was magical. Sadly,
Roger Ebert's Review of The Producers
the musical didn't translate on film. I choose to concentrate on the original film which is a lesson in writing, character and how humor can simultaneously heal and change hearts and minds. 

 
 I also reached out to Bruce Bider, co-director/co-producer of Blame It On The Movies.
On this day in 1935, Universal's Poe-themed shocker THE RAVEN, starring Karloff and Lugosi, opened in theaters.










The film version of The Pirates of Penzance starring Angela Lansbury and Kevin Kline
See Jimmy Moore in Blame It On The Movies July 30th
Judi Mark returns to South Shore Theatricals
Please give me a brief description of your career up to this point
For many years, I have been both a stage and musical director in regional, community
and educational theatres at many venues across Long Island. I am also an elementary
general music teacher in the Oceanside Public School District, and direct their annual
middle and high school productions ... coincidentally this year our OHS musical was
State Fair, which on Broadway starred Kathryn Crosby, our special guest star in Blame
it on the Movies! 

Frank Basille
Kathryn Crosby Returns
Two great highlights for me have been - can it be nearly 20 years ago?
- a unit of 4th-6th grade Oceanside “Munchkins” under my co-direction was selected to
perform in Madison Square Garden’s production of The Wizard of Oz (starring Roseanne as the Wicked Witch); and just last year, I was invited to bring veterans of my 2012
Oceanside Middle School production of the Ziegfeld/Eddie Cantor musical Whoopee to
perform a special concert version of the show for the Ziegfeld Society of New York,
with myself on piano and narration by society president Mark York.


How long has your summer performances been goin on?
We began in 2013 with An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein, which featured Lee
Meriwether, Marni Nixon and Lee Roy Reams, continuing in 2014 with A South Shore Summer starring Anita Gillette, then last year The Melody Lingers On (the songs of
Irving Berlin) with Kathryn Crosby, and now here we are again with Mrs. Crosby as

well. And with us in every single one of these

productions (plus a Crosby Christmas revue three years ago as well) has been the marvelous bass-baritone Frank Basile!

How did Southshore Theatricals come about?
SST was formulated in late 2010. My business partner John Pane and I noted the absence
of a professional theatrical venue for many years on the island’s south shore. The desire for such a company was shared by our dear friend, the late Joan Roberts, best known as the
original Laurey in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, but who subsequently relocated to
Rockville Centre and starred in productions at the Long Beach Playhouse and the Westbury
Music Fair. 

Ms. Roberts was instrumental in the formation of South Shore Theatricals, Inc. and
prior to her passing in 2012, brought us together with Angelo Fraboni, artistic director of the
Madison Theatre at Molloy College.
 

Doris Day in one of my favorite films, Love Me or Leave Me (also starring James Cagney)
How did you choose Blame It On The Movies?
We love doing musical revues which can feature a large, intergenerational group of performers;
last year we had a hard time deciding between this and The Melody Lingers On ... when we
chose the latter, we knew we had our show for this year as well!
What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Blame It On The Movies?
For our older audiences, we hope they have a most enjoyable trip "down memory lane,"
George Chakiris
perhaps even hearing a song or songs that have personal significance to them, or which bring to mind happy events of long ago ... and for our younger audiences, we hope they have the thrill of
discovery of hearing some wonderful cinematic "pop" standards for the first time and loving
them. I know that happened with The Melody Lingers On, in particular -- in which even some
of the children in our cast mentioned that they got the songs "stuck in their head" and couldn't
stop singing them!



There is an interesting through line that brings us to our next guest today. Jamie Lee Farrar and I both bonded because of our love of the 1965 TV version of Cinderella which starred Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon.
That production also starred Celeste Holm as the Fairy Godmother. Celeste was also married to Frank Basile.
Jamie blames it on Cinderella!
How old were you when you first saw it?
I must have been three or four years old. When I was little, my night time routine usually revolved around watching a movie with my parents after my bath. Around that time, Mom was introducing me to musicals. She had just introduced me to Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang the week before and the VHS had just come out. It was a surprise “just because” gift. She gave me the gift hoping to carry on the tradition from her own childhood.

In what way did it affect you?
Even though I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy months after birth, I was able to walk (ever so slowly) with my leg braces on at the time. This was the first musical I danced to ( The dancing would carry on to Sound Of Music later) I would run around the house dancing to In My Own Little Corner pretending to clean up the house . I still sing when cleaning funnily enough.
On a deeper more profound level, Cinderella taught me to think positively and to be kind to whomever I met despite whatever circumstance came my way.
Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella
I was faced with a lot of adult circumstances even then because my CP caused me to spend a lot of time in and out of the hospital for various leg operations . I spent every summer in leg casts from the age three until I was about eleven and said “enough” to the constant need of a hamstring release. Being humble, positive and kind lessons that everyone should learn and I learned them at a young age. It also taught me not to be bitter no matter what happens in life and to dream big. Nothing is truly impossible if you work hard enough for it.

with Stuart Damon

Stepsisters Pat Carroll, Barbara Ruick, Stepmother Jo Van Fleet
Do you still feel the same way seeing now as you did then or has it evolved ?
I think it has evolved over time as I’ve gotten older. It’s something that I can look back on with happy childhood memories and enjoy. It is something that connects me to my Mom, a common ground we share.

But it has evolved for very personal reasons. The VHS tape had broken from watching it so many times over the years. By the time it was on DVD, I was in my last years of high school, but the DVD got lost after I moved and by that time was very expensive to replace (before the current beautiful re- release!). By the time of my accident in 2013, I had not seen the movie in well over ten years. On the first night at the hospital, I was gripped in a surge of unspeakable pain. My Mom slept peacefully in a recliner that the staff had brought in and I didn’t want to wake her if I didn’t have to . So, in the middle of the
night—to take my mind of that unspeakable pain, I began to sing In My Own Little Corner as my mind floated back to the first time viewing the film with my Mom. I sang songs from Cinderella for every painful treatment I had to endure thereafter . It helped me to smile again. And of course

How well do you think it is translated into other versions?
I think the story is timeless. I have fond memories of all the versions I have seen. I’m still waiting for a version with a disabled Cinderella whose prince falls in love with her because she stands out from the crowd in a different way than all the other versions, but I think that’s hoping for a little too much.;) Who knows? Anything is possible right? If they ever do
make one, I volunteer!

What are your thoughts on the other adaptations ?
The Disney remake of the musical with Brandy and Whitney Houston came out when I was ten (1997) and while it was wonderful, it didn’t hold the same magic or capture my attention in the same way. Of course, the animated classic has its own charm and I enjoyed that as a child as well. I never saw Julie Andrews' version of the musical, but intend to someday.
Non musically speaking, I have two favorite adaptations. The first being Ever After with Drew Barrymore because it gave the character more spunk then previous versions and explained a little more of the back story. It gave the Prince and Cinderella more of a history. The live action remake of the Disney classic did the same thing. It’s tagline was “ have courage and be kind” I loved it for that reason. I loved the changes they made to the 2013 Broadway musical and would love to see it on stage someday.
But the 1965 version will always be my favorite!

Please join me at Molloy College on July 13th as I really celebrate Blame It On The Movies!

Thank you, to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!


With grateful XOXOXs ,
 





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