(ALLEN ON LEFT AND ME ON RIGHT DOING PUBLICITY FOR “ANNIE”)
There is pure joy coming into an unexpected perfect day and this was one of them.
I slept in a little later than usual, got up, did my usual look in the mirror and saying out loud, “You’re okay Martin!” and getting that smile on my face.
Had orange juice and coffee then checked my emails and posted a couple of blogs plus making a few draft posts to get ahead.
Around one o’clock, looking outside, I decided to take two of the many magazines piled up on my table and go seat outside and do some reading.
I wish I could describe the feeling that engulfed me when I walked out of the building towards the water. The warmth of the sun seemed to wrap around me while a breeze kept it from being too hot. My legs didn’t hurt, I didn’t have a care in the world and life just seemed to be glorious.
I sat on the bench and started to read one of the magazines but I couldn’t concentrate as the combination of the sun, the breeze, the blue water and sky, the large green tree and just the feeling of peace seemed top ask me to relax and just look around.
In addition to relaxing and looking around I took my camera and did a short video so that I would remember this day. This is the video–this is the day.
No matter what may happen this day, the rest of this month, the rest of 2014, I know I will carry this perfect day, Sunday, October 19, 2014, with me until the next perfect day comes a long and I know it will!
In “The Best Of Me” it is 1992 and Amanda (Liana Liberato) and Dawson (Luke Bracey–looking too old) become high school sweethearts. She comes from a wealthy Louisiana family while he is described as ‘poor white trash’ by his father (Sean Bridgers), with her father, Jon Tenney, trying to buy Dawson off, not succeeding. For unknown reasons Dawson leaves the town and Liana.
Twenty years later we meet Dawson (James Marsden) who is now an oil rig worker who just escaped death and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan) is married, has a son, lost a younger daughter to leukemia and whose husband (Sebastian Arcelus) is a drunkard.
Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, with the screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe and Will Fetters, we know true love won’t run smooth. Along the way we meet Dawson’s two redneck brothers played by Hunter Burke and Rob Mello, Gerald McRaney, as Tuck, his mentor and the reason for Amanda and Dawson getting together again all these years later. The writers throw in all the cliché twists and turns that good romance novels/films have hopefully in paying off with the audience in tears. There are two surprise twists that unfortunately are telegraphed before they happened.
The soundtrack tries to work on the heartstrings while Louisiana is photographed in all its hanging moss glory, skies with millions of stars, the actors looking their best and
A HUGE mistake, which might not have been as obvious had the movie not constantly shifted between 1992 and 2012, is the fact that the younger Dawson, not only looking too old, has no resemblance to the older Dawson plus none to his father and two brothers. At least the young and older Amanda both have long curled hair so there is some resemblance. All the actors do what is required of them and there is chemistry between the younger Amanda and Dawson along with the older pair.
“The Best Of Me” is not an unforgettable romance movie but gives the audience what it comes for, though logic has to be left at the door when walking in. Having to choose between this movie and “Fury” we made a good choice.
“Pride” is the very close to perfect movie that it seems only the English know how to make. It pulls at your heart strings, makes you smile and laugh, then ends making you want to cheer!
The movie is based on a true story about a group of Lesbians and Gays from London who go to Llandello, Wales, after collecting money to help the striking miners, showing solidarity between two groups who are marginalized, oppressed and shunned, especially by the government.
The film opens with the Gay Pride March in 1984 and ends with the Gay Pride March in 1985. In between we see the interaction between the Gays and miners, some of the latter accepting the former while some are against them. There is really only one villain as through various actions, conversations and incidents most come to accept each other.
Most of the characters are clichés from the boy on the verge of coming out to the man in the village who has lived his life in the closet but the actors make you forget what you know is going to happen. Each actor gets a ‘star’ turn and though some have bigger roles, such as Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Ben Schnetzer, Paddy Consindine, Andrew Scott, Dominic West and George MacKay than others all earn a well deserved acknowledgement so be sure to stay for the credits.
It is almost a perfect movie but the director, Matthew Warchus, and the screenwriter, Stephen Beresford, try to cover too many characters and don’t have, or take the time, to see them through while original music by Christopher Nightingale at times overcomes the scenes.
All in all this is definitely a movie to see and, on a personal note, I want to take the next flight to Llandello, Carmartheshire and Danwen in Wales, plus drive across that magnificent bridge. I did research but couldn’t find out the name of the bridge so if anyone knows please let me know!
“The Judge” is a 2 hour and 20 minute film, half family drama and half courtroom drama, at least 20 minutes too long. The acting, particularly by Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall elevate this film above all the clichés that you know are coming.
On the verge of divorce, after finding his wife has cheated on him, and his mother having died, Chicago lawyer Hank (Downey Jr.) returns to his small hometown in Indiana where his father (Duvall) has been a judge for 38 years and sober for 28. Hank’s older brother Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) had been a promising baseball player is now a married man with children who works in a tire store and a younger brother, Dale, (Jeremy Strong) who, due to mental disabilities, constantly has a camera in his hand recording everything.
In spite of two or three twists and turns there are all the familiar scenarios including a high school girlfriend Sam (Vera Farmiga) who has a fatherless daughter who was born 9 months after Hank left town, a hyper young waitress Carla (Leighton Meester), who comes on to Hank along with a only in Hollywood storyline that makes for Hank to take on the defense of the judge who is accused of murder. This brings in a country bumpkin lawyer, Dax Shepard, which makes it necessary to be helped by Hank, along with slick opposing prosecuting lawyer, Dwight (Billy Bob Thornton) is holding a grudge against Hank. There is a completely unnecessary story involving Hank’s far too precocious daughter Lauren (Emma Trembay) showing that both the judge and her father have a soft side.
Both Downey Jr. and Duvall bring their A game to the movie, especially in a scene that could have been a complete turn off, and Farmiga lights up the screen in her scenes with Downey Jr. Billy Bob Thornton brings gravitas to the film with another one of his fine performances and is getting better looking every year as he grows older.
The direction by David Dobkin, along with the screenplay by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque, follow a course we have seen many times before brought to a higher level by the acting. The director of photography Janusz Kaminski, brings a Hollywood image of small town perfection to the film with everything green and shining. There is a breathtaking scene looking out from a restaurant that is shown twice.
Last night 2,700 audience members at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale welcomed one of their own, from near by Davie, Florida, 9 year old Issie Swickle in the title role of the new touring company of ”Annie”. She has the advantage of being directed by the original director Martin Charnin, who also wrote the lyrics, with the music by Charles Strouse,, who has made this a classic musical since it first appeared on Broadway in 1977.
The young actress is on stage most of the time and not only has to sing such iconic songs as “Tomorrow”, “Maybe” but also interacts with 6 ‘orphans’ , 20 adults and Sandy, the dog. While very confident working with the other kids and Sandy, with less than a month in the role she is still tentative with the adults but another month or two on the tour that should change.
Lynn Andrews, as the mean Miss Hannigan, has fun with her role and singing “Little Girls” and brings down the house dancing and singing “Easy Street” with her conniving brother Rooster, played by Garrett Deagon, and his girlfriend Lily played by Lucy Werner.
Gilgamesh Taggett, as Oliver ‘Daddy” Warbucks, is commanding on stage with a strong voice, along with being gruff and tender when needed to be either. Cameron Mitchell Bell as Bert Healy sells “You Are Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile” while Allen Baker gets all his laughs playing President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The ensemble, in various roles, all come through for the show and the orphans played by Angelina Carballo, Adia Dant, LillyBea Ireland, Sydney Shuck, Lilly Mae Stewart and Isabell Wallach dance and sing as if they have been working together for years. Along with MIss Swickle they get the show off to a rousing start with “It’s The Hard Knock Life”.
The scenic design by Beowulf Boritt is imposing and moves in, out and around smoothly. The thirteen piece orchestra got off to a shaky start but recovered quickly.
Walking up the aisle after the curtain calls you could hear “Tomorrow” being sung, whistled and hummed by most of the audience and will be for days to come. It is not a bad philosophy to have in your head in today’s times!
The show opens at the prom of Springfield High in 1958 where, by default, the Marvelous Wonderettes quartet have been chosen to entertain their fellow seniors. We meet Suzy (Lindsey Corey) who is dating her classmate Ritchie, running the lights for the show. We learn that Cindy Lou (Ann Miller Brennan), who is best friends with Betty Jean (Julie Kleiner) has been cheating with the latter’s boyfriend Johnny. The last member of the group is Missy (Abby Perkins) who tells everyone at the prom, after singing “Secret Love”, that her secret love is Mr. Lee, the leader of the group. (Mr. Lee is an audience member picked at random and in this case Nate Sikes steals the show the few minutes he is brought up on stage.)
In the second act we meet the girls, now women, at their ten year union. Suzy is pregnant, married to Ritchie with problems in the marriage. After 10 years of courtship, and pizza, Mr. Lee proposes to Missy. Betty Jean has married Johnny, the guy who use to cheat on her with Cindy Lou, and is still a cheater. Cindy Lou tells about her moving to Hollywood to become an actress, failing, now back in Springfield and in love with Billy Ray Patton, the boy responsible for the Marvelous Wonderettes singing at the prom who had been suspended from school.
All the above is the reason for the girls to sing songs from the 1950s in the first act and the 1960s in the second, approximately 33 songs in all. This is a jukebox musical, written and created by Roger Bean, where the singers make the show and the 4 Marvelous Wonderettes all have their time in the spotlight and make good. Among the songs are “Secret Love”. “Mr. Sandman”, “Teacher’s Pet”, “It’s My Party”, “Respect”, “Leader of the Pack”, “Rescue Me”, “Sincerely” and “Hold Me, Thrill me, Kiss Me”. Of the four ladies Lindsey Corey has the strongest voice and the comedic chops to stand out but at all times they are in harmony.
The direction and choreography by Patrick Fitzwater keeps the movements flowing while the costumes by Rick Pena gives individuality to all the girls.
For an evening of nostalgia, and good singing performances by the quartet, “The Marvelous Wonderettes” offer an enjoyable time in the theatre.
“The Marvelous Wonderettes” will be presented in the Abdo New River Room in the Broward Performing Arts Center complex through November 23. Small plates and beverages are available before the show and during the intermission.
Nostalgia was served on a silver platter at the Adrienne Arsht Center For The Performing Arts in Miami when the touring company of “I Love Lucy Live On Stage” made their debut.
The show consists of two episodes from the 1950s as taped for broadcast showing including the original commercials, songs from the era, with the crew and cameramen doing their job in full sight of the audience.
For a show that can still be seen on a television set somewhere in the world every day since it made its debut 63 years ago on October 15, 1951, the first question regarding this live show is going to be about the actors playing the roles of icons loved by all.
Lori Hammel as Vivian Vance/Ethel Mertz doesn’t resemble the original actress at all but puts across being the foil for Lucy and her madcap antics. Kevin Remington as William Frawley/ Fred Mertz fades into the scenery. The Cuban born, Miami raised Euriamis Losada, plays Desi Arnaz/Ricky Ricardo with all the charm and the subtle eyes for the ladies that the original had. He belts out “Babalu”, does a mean job on the bongos and is the perfect straight man for Lucy, doing the rapid Spanish and destruction of the English language, as she drives him crazy.
Thea Brooks as Lucille Ball/Lucy Ricardo has the red hair, the flair for physical comedy, does all the whines, cries and off tune singing that the Hollywood actress brought to the small screen but there was only one Lucille Ball and Brooks doing her best does a good job yet lacks that ‘it’ the madcap actress had to bring the audience to tears with laughter.
The ensemble, whether doing the Alka Seltzer commercial or singing “Wheel of Fortune”, are a talented group but the real standout, stealing every scene she is in, from the opening playing a member of the audience exchanging quips with Mark Christopher Tracy as Maury Jasper the host and warm up man, to being a charwoman is Denise Moses.
Whether a child or adult, everybody loves Lucy.
The show runs 95 minutes without an intermission