Archive for the ‘Theatre and movie reviews’ Category



By Paul Goldfinger MD, Editor @ Blogfinger.net.  Re-posted.

Barry Levinson (b. 1942) is a film director known for his work featuring the city of Baltimore. I’ve always loved his movies, especially “Diner” and “Avalon. ” He also directed “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Rain Man.”

In 1987 he made the third in his Baltimore series—“Tin Men” starring Danny DeVito (a Jersey guy born in Neptune Township,) Richard Dreyfuss, and Barbara Hershey.

Danny DeVito on the Asbury beach July 29, 2002 during the Springsteen launch of "the Rising" Paul Goldfinger photo

Danny DeVito on the Asbury beach July 29, 2002 during the Springsteen launch of “The Rising.” Paul Goldfinger photo. © Blogfinger.net

The film, set in 1962, is about the con-men who sell aluminum siding door-to-door in Baltimore. The characters and dialogue are wonderful including several scenes with the guys sitting in a diner discussing television, gambling, women, money and their adventures as tin men. It features a soundtrack from the 1960’s including our song below by the Nat King Cole Trio, recorded in 1940.

“Sweet Lorraine” is a jazz classic written in 1928. There have been several hit versions, and the  Cole Trio rendition is the one featured in “Tin Men.”

Here it is:

I think that “Sweet Lorraine” is one of the best musical tributes written as a paean to a woman with a particular name. I found a list of 200 songs that contain a woman’s name in the title. These are the ones that have Sweet——: Lorraine, Mary, Melissa, Annette, Caroline, Virginia and Adeline.

But here is my list of favorite songs with a woman’s name in the title: (feel free to add your favorites:)

1. Judy is a Punk

2. Jennie From the Block

3. Wake Up Little Susie

4. Song for Myla Goldberg

5. Patricia the Stripper

6. Help Me Rhonda

7. Long Tall Sally

8. Lonesome Suzie

9. Christine Sixteen

10. Believe Me, Natalie

11.Run Around Sue

12. Donna and Blitzen

13. Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter

14. And finally my favorite: Don’t Walk Away Eileen

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By Paul Goldfinger, BF foreign correspondent

In 1975, a British comedy group called Monty Python made a hilarious movie called  Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In 2005, Eric Idle, one of the original Pythons, “ripped off” the 1975 version and made a musical comedy for Broadway called Spamalot . It became a winner of 3 Tonys including best musical.

The Broadway production gave 1500 performances and since then has been traveling around the world.  We saw it in Florida, and it was a riot.  If you get a chance to see it, be sure to go, especially if you like slapstick, zany humor.

Scene from Spamalot

Scene from Spamalot

The story is based loosely on King Arthur and his roundtable in medieval England.  Arthur gathers up some knights and goes on a search for the Holy Grail, which is the chalice that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.  In one of the opening scenes, three monks in dreary hooded robes march on stage chanting and then hitting themselves in the forehead.  They are followed by some men who  are pulling a cart around town gathering up bodies—victims  of the plague.   They toss one of the bodies onto the pile, but he shocks everyone when he springs to life and sings this song. Then mayhem ensues.  Finally the new knights get to dance and sing. (when you hear instrumental lines, the dancers are on stage–what a treat!)

In this show they make fun of everyone:  English manners, lewd Frenchmen, Can Can girls, Broadway shows, chorus girls, insipid show tunes, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Gays, Jews and Christians. The scene where Arthur’s men lay seige to a French castle is one of the the funniest.   The Frenchmen on the parapets regale the proper Englishmen with all sorts of bawdy insults.  They even throw an entire cow over the edge to land on the Brits.  Another scene which I enjoyed was when Arthur and his men want to produce a Broadway show, but first they have to find some Jews to guarantee a success.  I wondered whether the Minnesotans in the audience would get that reference.

In this song and dance number, Sir Lancelot comes out of the closet:

If Spamalot is  not currently playing near you, at least rent the movie.

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The show's ensemble singing was top notch, and very moving. Photo by Mary Walton

By Charles Layton

The crowd at the Jersey Shore Arts Center on Saturday gave a warmly emotional reception to “Labor of Love,” JoAnn Robertozzi’s theatrical tribute to the 146 victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Quite a few people were wiping away tears during the musical finale, sung by actors playing some of the victims who, caught on the roof of the flaming building in lower Manhattan, were forced to jump to their deaths.

When one of the characters said, “I saw bodies flying from the building, like angels,” it was impossible not to be reminded of some of the most graphic photos of 9/11.

The bare-bones staging was helped a lot by photo images of the 1911 tragedy, projected on a screen. And even though the Arts Center’s acoustics are problematic, the singing was thrilling.

In the Q&A that followed the performance, the author, Robertozzi, told the audience she hoped to further develop “Labor of Love” into a fully staged play, to be entered in New York’s Fringe Festival. We wish her all good luck with that.

Because so many of the fire’s victims were Italian immigrant girls, a couple of the play’s songs were Italian standards from the period. Here is one of those songs, sung by Mario Lanza:

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By Mary Walton

This famous fire will be re-enacted on stage in Ocean Grove on Saturday evening

On March 25, 1911, a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan took the lives of 146 workers — mostly young, mostly women, almost all Jewish and Italian immigrants. Their deaths ignited a campaign for safer factory working conditions and sparked a unionization drive.

Two years ago, on Triangle’s 99th anniversary, JoAnn Robertozzi, an actress, composer and singer-songwriter from Bayville in Ocean County, staged a 15-minute drama at New York’s Judson Church based on the disaster. Three of the victims — a mother and two daughters — were related to former New York State Senator Serphin R. Maltese, who was in the audience. Maltese commissioned Robertozzi to develop a longer theater piece commemorating the fire.

Robertozzi had already made a name for herself in New York’s Italian-American community. She is founder and artistic director of Ti Piace, an organization dedicated to promoting a positive image of Italian-Americans through art, and also the “architect” of a girl group called “Tre Bella,” which performs popular music with strong harmonies in both Italian and English.

Writer/actress/director JoAnn Robertozzi

At first, Robertozzi told Blogfinger in a telephone interview, she felt obligated to Maltese, a strong supporter of the arts. As her research steeped her in the world of the Triangle workers, however, she became emotionally involved. Mostly from the Italian countryside, “they were horrified to live in tenement housing and work in sweatshops. It was natural for me to feel what my people felt.” The Triangle project became a “labor of love.”

And “Labor of Love” is the title of the staged reading with music that she and eight other performers — “all Italians,” she said — will present Saturday night at the Jersey Shore Arts Center. The play’s action takes place in a single day. “It’s a funny story,” Robertozzi said. “Yes, there’s a tragic ending, but also a lot of profound moments with humor.” The performance will be followed by a Q&A session with members of the cast.

Appearing with Robertozzi are the other members of Tre Bella. Sometimes called “the Italian-American Andrew Sisters,” they were at the Center just last month for a musical performance that benefitted the Culinary Center for the Blind, as will Labor of Love.

The play begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $10 for students, and are available at the door.

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