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Do You Know?

December 21, 2010 2 comments

Today is the birthday of Snow White and the Seven Dwarf. Released in 1937 ,between the end of the Depression and before the Second World War, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”was the first full-length animated cartoon with color and sound. This was at a time when Hollywood stars would thrive in the motion picture industry, in restoring thoughts of glamour to the everyday society of men and women, and Disney would begin its rise to the multi-faceted monopoly it is known for today. Trivia buffs: The dwarfs’ names were chosen from a pool of about fifty potentials which really included the names of Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzey,Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy,Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty and Burpy.

Do you know any of the societal and political meanings hidden within the movie?

Here is a link to my friend’s sight:

http://thewitcontinuum.wordpress.com/2008/11/12/the-real-snow-white/

Happy birthday to the Soup Nazi!

November 3, 2010 3 comments

Today is the Soup Nazi’s Birthday. In a 1995 episode of “Seinfeld,” a much raved about sitcom done in theater style, the Soup Nazi was first introduced to a starving world. Based on a real-life temperamental New York chef, this show was one of Seinfeld’s greatest hits.

Just For You Serenity:

I placed the highlights of the “Muffin Tops” episode in the comments.

Childhood chillers!

Everyone knows that ALL HALLOW’S EVE is just around the corner. The cool weather rolls in and leaves crunch beneath our steps. Wicked creatures start to adorn the doorsteps of even the some of the most “christian” neighborhoods. Fall carnivals and fairs fill empty parking lots with the loud mix of screams and carny music and cackles…smells of beer, corny dogs and cotton candy fill our noses … and I am reminded of a particular movie inspired by a childhood book I read from the creations of Ray Bradbury.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

I remember sitting in my room on the bed, my eyes wide with anticipation for the next paragraph and the next page. So engrossed in the characters’ movements.

Then, they made it a movie and I watched with fascination as the book came to life before my eyes.

The phrase “something wicked this way comes” originates in Act IV scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The speaker is the second witch, whose full line is, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” The wicked thing is Macbeth himself, who by this point in the play is a traitor and murderer.

Like many phrases from Shakespeare, it has become a popular choice for titles in pop culture. Its enduring usage may be due in part to Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name.

IN this particular story, two young boys named Will and Jim encountered a sinister carnival whose proprietor, Mr. Dark, lured the townsfolk to their doom by promising to fulfill their childhood desires. The movie trailer asked, ” What would you give a man who could give you your deepest desires?” The characters of Will, Jim, and Will’s father, Charles Halloway, found out these wishes came at a horrific price and the outcome was left within their own hands.

Here is a link to an intriguing scene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmRdHVkqS_k&feature=related 

Another childhood chiller, read when I was 10 years of age, Monkey Shines.

This book gave new meaning to the ever-quoted, ” see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”.  The movie did not do as much just to the story, as sometimes is the case. The story told of a quadraplegic who had given up on life until introduced to a monkey named Ella, who had been trained to help invalids by fetching and carrying for them. The monkey turned out to be a part of another experiment, a darker experiment and started to read her master’s darkest thoughts and then carry them out.

The first Stephen King ever read as a child of that same age, Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew. I believe I picked it up thinking it was related to the Monkey shines story because of the cover.

Three of the short stories within this collection were my favorites at the time,  The Milkman, The Monkey and The Word Processor of the Gods (my favorite of the three).

Without giving much recap on these stories, I will say that the milkman bordered on the demented. The monkey made for a good re-telling in a slightly varied version of The “X-files”(Chinga about a doll which was cursed) years later. The Word Processor of the Gods gave a man a chance to re-write and delete parts of his life and became an episode for The Tales of the Darkside series in the mid 80’s.

Each of these stories heightened my sense of the macabre.

As I grew older, around 13, I read more of the dark authors, Poe ( All works), Nathaniel Hawethorne (House of Seven Gables), Henry James (Turn of the Screw), Bram Stoker (Dracula).

By age 16, M.R. James (Ghosts of an Antiquary), Peter Straub (In the Night Room)

and H.P. Lovecraft (The Dunwich Horror). Each of these would keep me up secretly reading, eyes wide in suspense of the end…. and by the biting of my thumbs, wicked dreams would become.

In the land of…..Memphis and Seeing Red

From The NY TIMES as reviewed by Charles Isherwood:

Sex and race and rock ’n’ roll made for a potent, at times inflammatory, combination in the 1950s, when the new musical “Memphis” is set. But there’s no need to fear that a conflagration will soon consume the Shubert Theater, where the show opened on Monday night. This slick but formulaic entertainment, written by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, barely generates enough heat to warp a vinyl record, despite the vigorous efforts of a talented, hard-charging cast. While the all-important music, by Mr. Bryan of Bon Jovi, competently simulates a wide range of period rock, gospel and rhythm and blues, the crucial ingredient — authentic soul — is missing in action. —- 

Dare I suggest that “Memphis” is the Michael Bolton of Broadway musicals? I do.”

To read the whole article on the reveiew: 

http://theater.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/theater/reviews/20memphis.html 

As of last Sunday, Memphis took home the 2010 Tony Award for best musical.

I am betting this will now be on the near future list for Sam Germany.

As for the Tony for the best play, that went to Red. It is a play by American writer John Logan about artist Mark Rothko first produced by the Donmar Warehouse, London in December 2009. The original production was directed by Michael Grandage and performed by Alfred Molina as Rothko and Eddie Redmayne as his assistant Ken.

The production, with its two leads, transferred to Broadway at the John Golden Theater for a limited engagement which began on March 11, 2010 and closed on June 27.  It was the 2010.

What was it all about?

“There is only one thing I fear in life, my friend… One day the black will swallow the red.”[2]

Mark Rothko is in his New York studio in 1958-9, painting a group of murals for the expensive and exclusive Four Seasons restaurant. He gives orders to his assistant, Ken, as he mixes the paints, makes the frames, and paints the canvases. Ken, however, brashly questions Rothko’s theories of art and his acceeding to work on such a commercial project.

Red - show photos - Alfred Molina Rothko ( Molina )

 Ken ( Redmayne )

Categories: Theater

“Is Everybody Happy?”

This week marks the anniverary of “Is Everybody Happy?” Day. This day celebrates the 1891 birthday of Ted Lewis, a vaudeville bandleader who was famous for asking his audiences the question, “Is everybody happy?” Take time out this week to make someone happy. ~~~

Today’s Inspirational Quote:

 “Our lives improve only when we take chances.”

~ Walter Anderson

For more information on Vaudville, read below:

American Vaudeville, more so than any other mass entertainment, grew out of the culture of incorporation that defined American life after the Civil War. The development of vaudeville marked the beginning of popular entertainment as big business, dependent on the organizational efforts of a growing number of white-collar workers and the increased leisure time, spending power, and changing tastes of an urban middle class audience. Business savvy showmen utilized improved transportation and communication technologies, creating and controlling vast networks of theatre circuits standardizing, professionalizing, and institutionalizing American popular entertainment.

Lavishly decorated, red carpeted, gaudily decked out theaters were just as much a part of the Vaudeville acts as the acts themselves and played to the posh societies’ need of being bedazzled. France had the Moulin Rouge. America had Vaudeville. After Pastor Tony caught on to its popularity with both genders, he created themes on a basis less sexual in nature.

 

 

From PBS:

There was usually a dozen or more acts in every vaudeville performance. Starting and ending with the weakest, the shows went on for hours. The performances ranged from the truly talented to the simply quirky. There were musicians, such as the piano player Eubie Blake, and the child star, Baby Rose Marie. There were great acts of physical talent; everything from contortionists, to tumblers to dancers such as the Nicholas Brothers. Actors performed plays, magicians put on shows, jugglers juggled, but the real focus of vaudeville was comedy. Great comic acts such as Witt and Berg and Burns and Allen brought in the biggest crowds.

Vaudeville’s attraction was more than simply a series of entertaining sketches. It was symbolic of the cultural diversity of early twentieth century America. Vaudeville was a fusion of centuries-old cultural traditions, including the English Music Hall, minstrel shows of antebellum America, and Yiddish theater. Though certainly not free from the prejudice of the times, vaudeville was the earliest entertainment form to cross racial and class boundaries. For many, vaudeville was the first exposure to the cultures of people living right down the street.

Some of the most famous vaudeville performers began at an early age. Like the Yiddish theater and the circus, vaudeville was a family affair — singing sisters, dancing brothers, and flying families. For many of these families, the travelling lifestyle was simply a continuation of the adventures that brought them to America. Their acts were a form of assimilation, in which they could become active parts of popular culture through representations of their heritage. Many made acts from the confusions of being a foreigner, while others displayed skills they had learned back in the old country.”

Above, Ted Lewis and his band

Above, June Havoc, a Vaudeville star recently deceased.

Above, Buster Keaton, from the Buster Keaton Family show,…better known for his roles in silent film, shown below.

And the ever famous Charlie Chapman below:

“Everything I know I learned in vaudeville.”
~James Cagney                                                                     

Bal Du Moulin Rouge!

The Moulin Rouge was a cabaret established in 1889 at Pigalle in Paris. It was what some would call the “spiritual” birthplace of the can-can, a dance performed by the, Chahuteuses ( unruly girls).

The Japonism , a movement of Far-East inspiration using influences from the Japanese style in French Art, was at its height. Toulouse-Lautrec, with his famous Japanese engravings, was one of the most famous disciples of that time. The atmosphere of Japonism fitted perfectly to the appearance of the first cabarets, such as the Moulin Rouge in 1889. Joy and vitality reigned in this extravagant theater, favouring artistic creativity and a full of fancy ­ atmosphere, which broke completely with the rigid classicism of that period.

In 1929, after the retirement of Mistinguett, one of the famous stage performers of that time, and under new ownership, the Moulin Rouge was depleted.

Six years after World War II, the Moulin Rouge was purchased and revived in June 1951 by a Georges France, alias Jo France, the founder of Balajo.

Today, a night at the Moulin Rouge remains pricey and well worth the entertainment. Courtesans still perform this seductive dance, the can-can, whilst the rich and the common people lose themselves in the dance, the music and the beauty that is the Moulin Rouge.

Categories: Art, Theater

Critic’s Review

The advertisement said it was to start at 6pm. Yet, it was 6 pm and things were still moving to get under way. Many more places were having to be produced to seat the arriving guests. It seemed even mention of the fact it was a “sold out” show, couldn’t keep the fans from coming in droves.
Why you ask?
The writer and director of the play, Dan Rogers, has the natural talent of any playwright you might come across in the big leagues. Yet, he brings the mastery of his talent to the local community college of Cedar Valley to inspire all students who aspire to greatness.
For this the students and staff have grown to love him in all sincerity. His dedication to his work goes above and beyond at most times. He proves this with another outstanding program.
Does this answer your question as to the droving fans?
Now, back to the play.
The introduction of each character, held it’s own. With humorous bantering and one liners, to overdone dramatics. There was no way any actor could fail to be remembered. It was priceless. Smiles and laughter could be heard throughout.
In a turn of events, the main character, the actress, Judith Cavanaugh, was pushed off the balcony of her apartment to her death. Or, was it suicide?
As the story had progressed, the tricky, sneaky details of the “whodunnit?” had begun to unfold. Clues were around the corners of each line. And just as it was starting to get better,… Dunh! Dunh! Dunh!…Intermission.
Around and around we go and what do the dinner guests suppose?
Pam Evans hadn’t formed any decisions, however she did say that she liked the play very well. Her husband, Dr. Evans chimed in as well, saying, “it’s all very mysterious”, pointing to the relationship of the character in the play of director and his, now deceased, leading lady. The director had been very passionate (yelling and bashing the table with his fist) about his dislike of his actress’s coming marriage to the screen writer, feeling he had been lead on and used. Then, Dr. Evans said it could be the obsessed fan who would go to any lengths for the actress.
You were right Dr. Evans, very mysterious.
Jotting over to see what the rest of the guests were pondering, I overheard Professor Pharr and his dinner date speaking highly of the performance of Judith Cavanaugh. Indeed.
So, what did Professor Rolling have to say to that? He seemed to be enjoying the crazed fan the most, so far.
Intermission was soon over and the dinner guests had been pampered with a feast from Macaroni Grill. Delish! On with the show!
Here was more of a chance to get to know a few of the other characters and their motives. There was the alcoholic, playboy, star, Geoff George, with an ego 10 miles high. Jealousy, was that his motive? He was quoted during intermission as having said about his co-star’s death and his taking of the award, “Naner, naner, naner”.  Next, we had the fired film crew member whose mother was not going to stand for her baby getting fired. Let me tell you, Antionette Hawkins’ character was one bad mama! You did not want to get on her list! But then, wait! What about the supposed jealous actress and her girlfriend who had “reportedly” met in Med school. Had they slipped poisoned tea to the actress before she fell to her demise? Or maybe it was the “so-called” police officer who had been seen playing the role of a cop in another film.

Just when you think you have an answer, The victim’s ever so troubled and heartbroken fiance whips out a gun and refuses to let anyone leave. Screams ensue. The characters are driven to face their accuser in the very place his love was killed…the balcony of Ms. Cavanaugh’s apartment. The excuses fly. The alibis leap from every tongue and,…..THE LIGHTS GO OUT! One character finds the flashlight, a little too quickly. It was time for another five minute break and the final guess for all.

In the end it boiled down to the whole thing being a set up to oust the real killer. The motive? Desperation, jealousy and blackmail, pushed things one time too far. The perfect end to a great murder mystery dinner.

Definitely more shows like this should be on the menu.

Afterwords, when asked what he thought about his crew, the true director, Dan Rogers, had this to say, “Awesome! They are a great bunch of students!” Yes, they were and the writer and director of the play did not fall below those same words.

Thanks to you all for a great time!

Categories: Theater