Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It Happened In Key West – A Praise-filled Peek at a Stunning New Musical

“How it feels to watch your love, as they slowly drift away. 
And to know that you can’t follow where they go.”

As a man of virtually no talents, (and truth be told, I might be grading on a curve with the self-serving inclusion of the word “virtually”) and a wannabe creative, who has initiated, attempted, then abandoned more unsuccessful, artistic endeavors than Trump has maturing mates, I’m fortunately favored with friends who have talent to spare and share, and do so graciously and generously; allowing those of us among the less-gifted general-population (sociological genus: “cubicle-dwellers") to experience and partake in events and opportunities that would normally only be things of daydream,  reverie and Turner Classic Movies: MGM marathons.  This recent, final weekend of August, pleasantly presented, again, one such entertaining, rewarding and even Poppins-esque “practically perfect in every way” pursuit and proceeding with the first fully-staged version of a musical in the making, “It Happened in Key West.”  Everything about those few days spent around  Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s historic Fulton Theatre, and the hours enjoyed with those who toiled, entertained  and enchanted there, was special, affecting and fulfilling; so take heed and warning, from this point thus, I will be gushing like a tween at her first Bobby Sherman concert (am I aging myself? Leif Garrett? David Cassidy? Russ Colombo? Who do the young people listen to on their Victrola’s now-a-days?)

I Generally Don’t Want to Cry This Much in Public

How to describe the plot of a show that stretches the old saw “truth is stranger than fiction” like a Stretch Armstrong doll with severe glandular problems (Mr. Fantastic with a second dose of cosmic radiation?) I suppose an option is to remain intentionally imprecise on story specifics and rather speak to the resulting effect on audiences, where sniffles and tears flowed like the mighty Niagara, and laughs bellowed that would render the Marx Brothers enviously green and the Pythons injudiciously jealous. This theatrical richness is delivered by a sumptuous score, at times, movingly exquisite, at other times, cleverly comical; always with engagingly imaginative and intelligent lyrical wordplay. George and Ira, and all Messrs. R and H – Richard, Lorenz and Oscar, are, no doubt, gazing down approvingly. Then there’s the book, which with extreme adeptness, inventiveness and ingenuity takes a potentially difficult true-life tale to tell, the story of Count Carl Von Cosel, Elena Hoyos and a love so deep that it extended beyond the boundaries of life itself and accepted societal norms and perhaps even decency; with factual elements of delusion, darkness, illness and mortality, but always over-riding and overwhelming genuine, ardent, aching and undying love - and spins it into a fertile, fulfilling theatrical tapestry of raucous comedy, profound sadness and above all – deep and authentic romance.

The real Carl
A Deserved Bow

“It Happened In Key West” was conceived and created by the talented trio of Jill Santoriello, Jason Huza and Jeremiah James, who, trust me, have not bribed, cajoled or forwarded a farthing to curry the writing of these favorable, flattering words and encouraging expressions (however, should they feel so moved, the email can be found, below.)  Ms. Santoriello, author of Broadway’s “A Tale of Two Cities,” only the second woman in history to ever write book, music and lyrics for a Broadway musical, continues along her triple-threat ways as composer, lyricist and co-book writer here (her considerate offer to also peddle ice cream cups during intermission was gratefully declined.) Jason Huza, a novelist, playwright, web-series writer/producer, a scribe so prolific Stephen King can only weep in admiration, wrote the book and additional lyrics. And finally, Jeremiah James, producer, writer, director, choreographer, author, actor, singer, recording artist, steamboat pilot, Renaissance painter and first man on the moon (although, I suspect I was misinformed about those last 3) the founder of the feast, the mind who first conceived this inimitable and unique concept, also serves as producer and book contributor. The engaging, gifted and multi-talented cast is led by Wade McCollum as Carl, the love-struck, brilliant, German scientist and doctor, with a heart of gold, and a mind under psychiatric evaluation; and Elena Ramos Pascullo, as Elena, the beautiful, sweet, much younger woman, the object of Carl’s ardor and affection and, unfortunately, also, his critically ill patient (get out your handkerchiefs.)  Completing the cast is an exceptionable group of actors, singers and dancers who expertly and appealingly cover a multitude of roles and characterizations and each deserves mention (by the way, you’ll never meet a friendlier, more welcoming bunch) - Roxanne Daneman, Anna DeBlasio, Dave Droxler, Michael Fisher, Casey Furlong, Ryan Neal Green, Conor McGiffin, Spenser Micetich, Courtney Warford and Anson J.H. Woodin. Accompaniment and musical direction was provided by the harmonious Kevin David Thomas, a man as nice and likeable, as he is talented (and reportedly, half of the cutest couple on Facebook.)

The real Elena
Quite appropriately, we will close with one of the wonderful songs from the show, “What More Can I Wish For,” by Jill Santoriello and Jason Huza. This was a musical in development, a production intended to gauge progress, status, to note needed changes and, very importantly, to get the feel and feedback of how it plays to an audience. I was in 4 audiences. I saw tears. I heard laughs. I witnessed hundreds rise as one to their feet. I experienced artistic accomplishment and success. Remember the title, “It Happened in Key West.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Brief Encounter: The Mooch and the Douche

The Douche and the Mooch, moments before Scaramucci's 
"accidental" airborne departure from Airforce 1, sans parachute.

 “Your baby doesn't love you anymore
Golden days before they end
Whisper secrets to the wind
Your baby won't be near you anymore” – Roy Orbison

In the madhouse known as the White House, “chaos” is Pee Wee’s secret word and news changes and breaks, not just daily, but almost by the minute. When truth is never uttered and lies are the current currency of choice, such is always going to be the case. Veracity is easy to verify, while prevarication and the constant corruption it represents, frequently requires the invention and presentation of an ever-shifting, colorful kaleidoscope of falsehoods, fibs and flagrant misinformation.  It’s an IMF level mission attempting to remain contemporary and newsworthy on presidential proceedings and impeachable events and, even more so, on the present employment status of White House personnel, who tend to come and go as quickly as the Flash with premature ejaculation issues. But, on occasion, one of these ships passing in the night is so unique, so sensationalist and so, well, vile, that irrespective of his or her fruit fly-like tenure in the People’s House, to quote Linda Loman, “attention must be paid!” And so, today, for one singular blog post, we recognize, acknowledge and, of course, ridicule, that offensive, cartoon, ethnic stereotype of a stereotype; a living, breathing, cursing insult to all Italian-Americans and every Italian immigrant who ever alit upon our democratic shores - Anthony Scaramucci, hatingly known as the Mooch.

The Mooch – a fantastically, fictional concoction,  born of an ugly amalgam of angrily rejected literary notions from Damon Runyan, Mario Puzo and a momentarily deranged, Erma Bombeck;  and physically constructed and animated with discarded tissue from Joe Pesci, Leo Gorcey and my Nana with the severe black dress and hair net, from the old country.

"They laugh alike, they talk alike, at times they even walk alike -
 you can lose your mind"
The Mooch and the Douche: A Love Story

Prior to Anthony “my Mother’s a Saint” Scaramucci, being so unceremoniously, ruthlessly and rapidly rubbed-out, leaving the hallowed halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to return to the cast of Broadway’s, “A Bronx Tale,” he and the Donald had quite the torrid, if temporary and tempestuous, political affaire de coeur - brief but blazing, and with the kind of “fire and fury” usually reserved for baseless, wrathful and reckless threats made toward other nuclear powers. Much like Lucy and Harpo on opposite sides of an empty frame, they saw in each other a mirror image – two wealthy, ignorant, unpleasant, belligerent, hateful, faux street toughs (as genuinely menacing and street as the Sharks and the Jets Fosse-ing through the playgrounds of Hell’s Kitchen), both with a philosophy of “me first, f..k everybody else” and it was loathsome lust at first sight; the next best thing to inexhaustible self-gratification. Consequently, like a farmer fragrantly fertilizing his back forty, the Mooch had many and myriad a far-fetched, complimentary accolade aimed in his 11 day bosses direction - so, with very little pride, and a substantial amount of nausea, we share but a taste of this distasteful and blatant bootlicking and brown-nosing - enormously humiliating and, inevitably, for naught - Smooches from the Mooch.
I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in history, if you think about it.”
“I mean, this president, is he something or is he something?
 “Okay? I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire.”
“I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on. He’s standing in the key; he’s hitting foul shots and swishing them, all right?”

"He sinks 30 foot putts."

"I love the president and I'm very, very loyal to the president and I love the mission that the president has.”
"I love the president."

Leave the gun, take the cannoli.
But surely, with such an inventive imagination and discernible flair for fervent flattery, there must be more unctuousness to uncover and impart (editor’s note: at this juncture, our legal team of Jacoby, Meyers, Cellino and Barnes insist on the revelation that the quotations to follow are not factual but fictional flights of fancy) – Smooches from the Mooch, part deux.

"He's never had a B.M. He finds it unseemly, so pays someone to do it for him."

"There will be no second coming of Christ since, God-wise, Donald kicks his scrawny, Middle Eastern, terrorist ass."

"Melania doesn't sleep in separate bedrooms (wings, floors, cities, countries, continents) than Donald because, as she puts it, "he's a revolting, repulsive, pig-man, who smells of the death of five thousand, diseased mole rats, I wish I was an escort again," it's because, otherwise, she would never be able to stop sexually ravaging him."

"You have to understand, when the President repeatedly talks about how hot his daughter is and how he'd like to "do" her, he's displaying the great regard and admiration he holds for all women. But, come on, marrone, that Ivanka is one spicy soprasseta. She can be my goomare any day... no disrespect."

"If President Trump asked, I would gladly abandon my wife and newborn baby for him." (editor's note: oh, sorry, this really happened.)

And, lastly, from the Mooch's resignation letter - "If I should stay, I'll only be in your way. So I'll go, but I know I'll think of you every step of the way. And I will always love you. I will always love you. You, my darling you. hmm."
The Mooch & the Douche in "Li'l Tuff Guys"
And so, with memories of Anthony “Jersey Shore reject” Scaramucci, the only individual to actually know Tony’s fate from “The Sopranos” finale, fading rapidly in our rear view mirrors, like the vagrant drifter we ran down in the darkness of the Catskill wilderness and left for dead, those many decades ago (editor’s note: Jacoby, Meyers, Cellino and Barnes stress that this is but a dark and crude jest, not an actual occurrence from a college road trip involving the consumption of far too many Genesee Ales) we bid him a substantially less than fond farewell  and leave you with the understanding, and empathetic lyrics of the legendary, Roy Orbison.

"God bless."
 “All the rainbows in the sky
Start to weep, then say goodbye
You won't be seeing rainbows any more
Setting suns before they fall, Echo to you that's all that's all
But you'll see lonely sunset after all

It's over It's over It's over It's over”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions?  Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.