Pleasure Guild’s excellent production of” Peter Pan” provokes memories and thoughts!


Peter Pan 1915 cover 2

Peter Pan 1915 cover 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pleasure Guild sponsored an excellent production of “Peter Pan.”  This is a group that raises money for Children’s Hospital in Columbus. One way they do this is to produce a play.  The play was an amateur production, but seemed professional to me.  I loved it so much I put a few dollars in the Children’s Hospital’s  bucket after the show was over.

All of the actors are amateurs who did a terrific job. The choreography was fantastic. The main characters are all actors who’ve been in productions before, but there were children, who couldn’t have had much experience. The acting and singing were just perfect. They didn’t miss a step or a note!

Emily Cipfiani  who played Peter Pan was convincing.  She had a tremendous voice. (I’d read in The Columbus Dispatch that she suffered from juvenile arthritis. You would never know it by her flying and dancing.)

The actors who played Captain Hook (Doug Joseph)  and Wendy (Kelly Hogan) were particularly talented. They had those characters down perfectly.

I was impressed with everything: scenery, costumes, flying and music.

Thoughts the production provoked

This is a very old story. The first time I watched this I was a little girl. I know I liked it then, but for different reasons. I wanted to be like Wendy and fly. “Never Never Land” seemed appealing to me at the time.  I liked the amusing conflicts between the pirates, Indians and Captain Hook.  Peter Pan made a great hero. I truly believed in Tinkerbell. The music charmed me, just like it did in this production!

Now, that I am getting older, the play hit different chords. Do I wish I could go back to childhood and never grow up? (Maybe just for a day)   Can I even remember what it was like to be a child?  Hardly, but those good memories are ones I treasure.

At the end of the play, the grownups were bemoaning the fact that their children were gone. That touched a nerve. Your children eventually grow up and you and  go barely remember their childhoods. They leave one way or the other. We all want them to grow up, but it is a little sad, just the same.

There’s nothing like a good play to touch your heart.

Good job Pleasure Guild!

Did you see the play? What is your opinion?  What memories does “Peter Pan” evoke for you?

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The Million Dollar Quartet: Spending some time with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis


The million Dollar Quartet. L to R: Jerry Lee ...

The million Dollar Quartet. L to R: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if you could spend a couple of hours with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Peggy Lee? Would you want to do that? Peggy Lee wasn’t well-known yet. She was just hanging around Elvis.

If you can recall that era of music, or listen to it, you’re going to enjoy “The Million Dollar Quartet.’

I saw a version of this play at the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It takes place on December 4, 1956. Sam Phillips ( Vince Nappo) who ran Sun Recording Studios made all these legends stars. On one historic night, he got them all together for a jam session. The play is based upon this meeting. There is a recording and a picture to prove it really happened.

The actors did unbelievable impressions of these music legends. Each of the stars played  their instruments with expertise and wild abandon.  There is a band onstage that is just as professional. And you could hear all the words!

Elvis ( Cody Slaughter) was so good that you forgot he really wasn’t Elvis. Johnny Cash’s (David Elkins) songs were also done to perfection. I can’t say how well the actor did with Carl Perkins since I don’t remember him.

My favorite impression was of Jerry Lee Lewis ( Ben Goddard)   who is portrayed as being a cocky country boy with a big talent. The musician portraying him was just fantastic on the piano. I do remember Jerry Lee Lewis, and he was something extraordinary. The actor portrayed him as an annoying star with a big ego, but still appealing.

A special surprise happened after the play was over when the actors put on sparkling jackets and performed some songs.   They also involved the audience who knew all the words.

We asked some kids when they were leaving if they liked it and they gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. So, you don’t have to be from that era, or familiar with the music, to enjoy this show.

It’s sad to know that all these music legends are gone now. What lasts is their music. And they were good! When the play comes back next, year remember that it’s well-worth the money.

If you like this music, and the play comes to your town, go to it!  It will take you back and make you happy, for a while!

“Parental Guidance”: Movie Review” Nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal!


Do you think Billy Crystal is hilarious? Then, go see Parental Guidance. I both laughed and cried during this movie. But, nobody makes me laugh like Billy Crystal. He plays Arte Decker, an over-the-hill baseball announcer, who has been fired for being old and out of touch with the newest generation.  There were some poignant moments in this movie interspersed with all the laughs.

I laughed a lot more than I cried. Bette Midler plays Crystal’s adoring put-together wife (Diane) who sees the chance to babysit their three grandchildren as another opportunity to win their grandchildren’s love. Currently, their photo is pushed aside on the mantle because the “other grandparents” take center stage.

Alice Simmons (Marisa Tomei) is  their only daughter  who is married to Phil Simmons (Tom Everett Scott) he’s handsome, understanding and smart.  He’s a gadget computer guy who’s completely made their house user friendly.  Crystal’s awkwardness around all this stuff felt familiar to me.

Alice and Phil direct the parents on their modern child rearing methods. Use positive reinforcement and don’t ever say no. “We let them ‘use their words and make choices.” says Tomei.

The three kids are adorable, but they have their problems. The oldest girl, Harper, (Bailee Madison)  is too serious,  the middle child, Turner, (Joshua Rush)  has a stutter, and the littlest guy, Barker (Kyle Harrison Breikopf)   has an imaginary friend. They all play straight guys to Billy Crystal. He’s great with them, especially Barker, but there is a moment in the film when Turner steals the movie.
There are a few slap-stick gags that are old, familiar and predictable, but they still work.

Crystal does one scene by himself that I found particularly touching. You’ll have to see the movie because I don’t want to ruin it.

What I was glad to see were all the kids, mostly preteens or early teens,  in the movie theater. A clean-cut movie with no monsters, guns and violence. They seemed to be enjoying it too.

If you’re looking for depth, there isn’t a whole lot in this movie. But, if you’re looking for laughter, you’ll find it here.  And if you’re trying to reconcile your place in the universe, it’s reassuring to know you’re in the same age category as Midler and Crystal.

Do you agree with my review? Comments are welcomed.

 

Downton Abbey makes an American splash in newest series debut: A review


I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so I tuned into Downton Abbey on PBS. This British series actually held my attention. It was a combination of the good acting, intrigue and fantastic costumes.

The show is about the interplay between the aristocracy and their servants. The family is the Crawley Family. According to Wikipedia , “ The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the Edwardian and post-Edwardian era — with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy.

In the opening episode of Season 2,  they were all really worried that their huge old mansion would have to be sold because  Lord Grantham, owner of the estate, made a bad investment in a railroad.  The time is now 1920.

Despite the fact that Lord Grantham is about to lose everything, he throws a huge audacious wedding for his daughter and fiance.   She drove to the church in a horse-driven  carriage.  To make matters worse, her soon-to-be husband has suddenly inherited a pile of money that he refuses to use to salvage her family’s mansion.

Maggie Smith, a seasoned British actress, plays the main English grandmamma Violet Crawley. On this episode, she clashed with the American grandmamma, Martha Levinson, played by  Shirley MacLaine. They couldn’t find better actresses to play these parts. Smith was properly snobby, and MacLaine played an inappropriate loud American who says what’s on her mind. Maclaine is finally showing her age despite her obvious plastic surgery. Smith has let herself age. I think she looks more real.( They’re both the same age in real life, 78.)

Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine in English series, Downton Abbey.

Maggie Smith and Shirley Maclaine in English series, Downton Abbey.

The servants live downstairs, and help the aristocracy dress and feed themselves. (They put the food on their plates). The higher class has to get dressed for dinner, and the servants also have to wear proper servant’s attire. There is all kinds of drama going on between the servants.  In this episode one of  daughters brought home her Irish husband who used to be the chauffeur.

I also liked seeing Elizabeth McGovern, mother, Cora Crawley,  who I haven’t see since she played a teenager in Ordinary People in 1980. Luckily, she still looks pretty good . She’s not that old.

The acting was so good that I will catch up on it next week on Sunday night on PBS at 9:00.

According to Reuters,  I’m not the only one who tuned in because it scored a record 7.9 million viewers for public broadcasting.  This quadrupled the average ratings for a premiere episode. The show is also nominated for some Golden Globe awards.

It just goes to show you, that Americans love gossip about the English, even if it’s make-believe. Besides, we all like to see filthy rich people squirm. (Unless your filthy rich too).

Did you watch the opening show of this season?  What did you think? Did you stay tuned the whole time? Why do you think this show is so popular with American audiences?

Les Miserable : Review A+ The movie lives up to expectations


Sometimes, it’s really worth your time, money and energy to attend the movies. If you want to see something you’ll really enjoy, go see Les Miserable.

Although nothing can trump seeing the live musical, this comes close. Unlike the play, you can see some unbelievable  scenery and powerful  camera shots.   The costumes are realistic, and the makeup makes everyone look pretty miserable (the pathetic crowd).  Since the movie is so up close, you get a better idea of the characters and their relationships to each other. You get to see the nuances of expression, and  feel the characters emotions.  I could lose myself in this movie, and I was unaware of the time it took to watch. (It is over 2 hours).

There’s been much made out of the fact that the director made the actors actually sing their parts instead of using recorded soundtracks. He also uses a lot of closeups. . You can actually see every mark on their faces, and some of their neglected looking teeth. I liked the fact that they were really singing when it was filmed.

Anne Hathaway plays Fantine  to perfection, and her singing doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t take her long to turn into a prostitute. It’s almost painful to watch her go through her misery. Although she isn’t on screen that long, her part leaves a lasting impression.

Hugh Jackman  makes a good  Jean Valjean, our hero and makes  a good transformation from a convict (stealing bread) to a moral person. He certainly looks pathetic in the beginning of the movie, and looks like a dashing hero for the rest of it.  His voice is fairly strong, and his acting is excellent.  If he doesn’t deserve an Oscar, I don’t know who does.

Russell Crowe has the least powerful voice in the production, but I think it’s adequate.( It seems hard to believe the director couldn’t find someone with a bigger voice to play the role.)  He plays the villain, Javert convincingly I had heard he was inadequate in the part, so I was pleasantly surprised. I managed to hate him during the movie.

I think Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as the slimy innkeepers steal the show when they’re on screen. They both have a lot of charisma that comes through even though their characters are unsympathetic.  All the children in the production also do a terrific job, especially the little boy who plays a rebel.

My favorite female in this production was Samantha Brooks as Eponine. When she sings “On My own” in the rain, I loved it. She’s beautiful and has the voice we’ve come to expect when we see a live production of this show.

Amanda Seyfried as the adult Cosette was very believable. She looks the part and her voice is sweet.

If you’re looking for the biggest voices you’ve  ever heard in this production, you might be disappointed, but the group choral numbers are quite strong, and Eddie Redmay as Marius lives up to expectations.   If you’re looking for a moving story, fantastic scenery, a great reprieve, and something that will bring a tear to your eye, go see this movie.

I would give this production an A!

Having fun at the Harmony Project holiday event: December 19 — a biased review


When I started with the Harmony Project there were around 125 people. Now, there are 200. I didn’t really think I’d ever like singing with such a big choir, but I was wrong. We sing with one voice, and without music. It’s so much fun. We clap and rock it out too. There’s no shortage of baby boomers in the choir, but there are also people of all ages, all sexual orientations and all religions. Nobody cares about who believes what. We are all there to sing and share.

Today was our holiday concert at The Southern Theater. Almost every seat was taken. It was a rejuvenating experience.

The South High Harmony choir did a fantastic job singing for the audience. They’re kids from a high school that needed a little boost. They should be so proud of themselves. They did “We Will Rock You” with energy and heart.  It was terrific.

The Unison Project sang “You’ve got a friend” with confidence and bravado.

The audience was excellent.  They stood up more than once, and they rocked out with us. We were all one giant group.

The bike lady, got up and said how great it is that 155 teenagers is foster care will now have bikes. Members of the choir raised money in a social event in one day. It was a new idea and it worked.

What a band we have to back us up. They are all professional musicians of the highest caliber and they are good! Tonight we added strings and a mandolin. I have to say our soloists did an outstanding job.

It was fortunate that David Brown decided Columbus was the place to launch The Harmony Project. We’ve done a lot for the community. There’s so much to do.

David  talked about looking for good signs tonight. I think the audience giving us a standing ovation was a pretty good sign!

If you’re coming tomorrow, you will have a terrific time. It’s  guaranteed!

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The Harmony Project Pays it Back Today : another Harmony Project Post


Teenagers sharing with People from the Unison Project and Harmony Project

Today the teenage group from South High School met with the Unison Project (people who live at the Commons of Buckingham) and the Harmony Project members.

I approached the building, and saw all the teenagers congregated outside. A Unison Project member was outside with them. “I wanted to feel all that energy,” she said. I know what she meant. If you haven’t been around kids for a while , it’s nice to feel their enthusiasm.

City Year, a college group that  works with the students, was in attendance.  They explained that they are assigned schools, and help out the kids with mentoring, tutoring, and all those good things.

David Brown, our director, ushered us inside where all the adults were congregated.The kids had a couple of pieces of Donato’s Pizza. (Some things never change, kids and pizza is one of them.) They came up in an orderly fashion, and were extremely polite.

The kids made a circle around us, and sang the song they are singing in our concerts December 19, and 20th. There is nothing like the sound of kids singing in harmony. Take my word for it, you won’t want to miss them at The Southern Theater. I think they are going to bring the house down.

A few of the kids explained what they were doing at South High School to prepare for the concert. The ones who spoke were very poised.  It includes singing and talking about the same things that Harmony Project talks about. Sharing with each other, and giving back  These might be old ideas, but they work.  David Brown, had them repeat “we’re paying back.”

The rest of us sang our song to them. They gave us a rousing reception.

David asked some of the members of the Unison Project to talk to the kids.One person told them not to give up, and that education is so important.  Another member told them not to let anyone tell them “they can’t do anything, and to reach for the stars.” Member of the Unison Project are people who have worked their way out of homelessness or very tough circumstances. That is a true testament of people who aren’t afraid to make new lives for themselves and want to pass on their knowledge to the younger
generation.

He had the kids come up to all of the adults, and introduce themselves. They all followed directions, and were so friendly and engaging.

All in all it was a very inspiring afternoon. Going and singing with the Unison Project is one of my favorite things to do.

All the adults left, and the kids went on to decorate Buckingham Commons, where a great Thanksgiving Celebration is going to take place on Thanksgiving Day. All the members of the Harmony Project want to help, and there will be no shortage of servers or guests.

Everyone starts feeling charitable this time of year. I am proud that The Harmony Project does it all year round.

You can still get tickets for our performance December 19 and 20. Don’t miss a great show! You can get tickets through Capa or me!