Story: Fresh out of prison, Percy Talbott arrives in the middle of winter in the town of Gilead, Wisconsin in the 1990s, a place she selected based on a photo she saved from a travel book. Sheriff Joe Sutter meets her and, though puzzled why anyone would want to settle in the depressed hamlet, arranges for her to work at the Spitfire Grill, the only restaurant in town.
Story: Dorante is an elegant, upper-class cad. He’s journeyed to Paris in 1644 in search of a wife, unaware that his father already has decided his marital fate. While there, Dorante stumbles upon an amiable chap named Cliton, an impoverished but decent fellow who needs a steady job. Cliton convinces Dorante that he should be Dorante’s servant, which appeals to the gentleman’s vanity.
So, Frozen, Disney’s most recent animated offering, received an avalanche of critical acclaim. The film won two Academy Awards—Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song—and is being called the best animated feature film since…since what? What are the best animated movies of all time? Where are you failing in the parent (or grandparent) department, if you have deprived the little ones a viewing?
Show: The ninth annual St. Louis Cabaret Conference was held July 28 through August 1, allowing students to take lessons from a variety of artists adept in the stylistic art form. Founded by Tim Schall and Sharon Hunter in 2006, the conference was expanded in 2012 by producer Schall to include the St. Louis Cabaret Festival, a series of cabaret performances occurring while the conference is under way.
Anyone with children older than 10 has slowly come to terms with the fact that there is no summer. OK, that was an exaggeration. Of course, there’s a summer. According to the calendar, summer lasts about three months. Mentally, it lasts six weeks. Emotionally, summer is 16 reasonably pleasant days sandwiched in-between the end of school wrap-up and the back-to-school check-up.
Story: It’s 1961, and window washer J. Pierrepont Finch seems more absorbed in the book he’s reading than in cleaning the exterior of the World Wide Wicket building. He carries a self-help tome that describes in meticulous detail how an ambitious, enterprising young man (it is 1961) can rise to the top of the business world with nary an iota of talent.
Story: There’s hell to pay, which generally is OK with Morticia Addams, when she suspects that her beloved husband, Gomez, is keeping a secret from her. That’s not happened before in their boisterous, 25-year marriage, which generally has been a quarter-century of good times in their decrepit home hidden (somehow) within New York City’s fabled Central Park.
It seems that every year, the window that defines summer vacation closes ever so slightly: Cranky has a summer school class, Whiny needs to be back for sports, Punch has camp. Summer used to mean June, July and August—Memorial Day to Labor Day. Now, summer is a two-week span in mid-July. Nevertheless, I’m determined to make the most of it, so I pack the car, load the family and head north. No matter how demanding the family schedule, nothing can replace a northern Michigan getaway. And, of course, whether we go for two weeks or two months, one thing always remains consistent: the drive.
Story: The Old Testament story of Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, is told in a musical format, including Joseph’s betrayal by his 11 jealous brothers, who sell him into slavery. Later, Joseph’s uncanny ability to interpret dreams gains him the confidence of the Egyptian pharaoh when he tells the pharaoh what the ruler’s own troubling dreams mean in reality.
Story: In a comfortable, old-fashioned home, Frank Gianelli talks about “tengo famiglia.” That’s Italian for “I support a family,” but Frank says it means even more than that, it means that a man “is doing well for my woman and my children. I have a reason for being alive.”
As we head into the heat of July—and yet another summer of sequels, prequels and remakes—I was forced to remind myself that sometimes, it's not all that bad. OK, it’s usually pretty bad. I only need to take a quick peek at Caddyshack 2 on TBS to be reminded of that. So, either I truly am the eternal optimist or I have developed some bizarre, cinematic form of Stockholm syndrome because I keep going back, hoping that maybe this time, the sequel (or the prequel or the re-imagining) will be worth the price of a ticket.
Story: Four vignettes all are set in the suite of a London hotel overlooking Hyde Park. In Settling Accounts, successful Welsh novelist Brian is shocked to learn that he is suddenly bankrupt. As he pieces together what happened, he realizes that his financial advisor Billy has drained Brian's bank accounts. Before Billy can skip town, however, he finds himself at the business end of Brian’s revolver, attempting to ‘explain’ what has happened to the money.
Story: An American physician, an Irish journalist and an English academic find themselves unwillingly sharing the same tiny cell after each of them is captured by unseen terrorists and held hostage in Lebanon. With only a chair, a Bible and a Quran for diversions, the chained prisoners are left to conversations in which they can recount their lives as well as dream of better days ahead, hoping against reality for freedom from their private hell while clinging desperately to sanity.
I will be brief: On the one hand, I can appreciate the tongue-in-cheek references to big box-office sequels. We can almost chuckle at how the film beats a dead horse with constant quips about formula plots and increased production budgets…almost. Honestly, I really could have appreciated all the wink-and-a-smile,‘breaking-the-fourth-wall’ references if filmmakers had put an iota of thought into the script. It’s all well and good to joke about how sequels are more expensive, less amusing repeats of the original, but to then go ahead an actually be just that is mind-boggling. It would seem the joke is on us.
Story: Henry Saunders has big plans for the Cleveland Grand Opera Company. Although the company is struggling with everyone else in the Great Depression, its general manager Saunders has come up with a dazzling idea for a fund-raiser: Get renowned opera star Tito Morelli, aka Il Stupendo, to perform the title role in Verdi’s Otello with the Cleveland Grand Opera. When Morelli accepts the assignment, Henry’s hopes are raised even higher.
With school out, kids are roaming the house at all hours, shedding clothes like peanut shells at the ballpark. The demands for food, rides, cash, sleepovers, upgrades, apps, and—strangely—privacy are incessant. My reverence for the teaching profession is renewed. (Although I’m not sure how many kids interrupt their teacher at his or her desk to call their cell phone because they can’t find it—but still.) Suffice it to say, the house is bustling. I say this because it only emphasizes the stupidity of my idea.
Story: Young Oliver Twist survives on gruel and grit at a London orphanage workhouse in the mid-19th century. When he’s sold by overbearing beadle Mr. Bumble to the undertaker Mr. Sowerberry, Oliver is forced to sleep in a casket. After he gets into a fight with Sowerberry’s apprentice, he escapes into the streets of London.
Story: Ten down-on-their-luck contestants vie for the ownership of a new ‘hardbody’ pick-up truck being given away at a Nissan dealership in Longview, Texas. The trick is for a contestant to keep at least one hand on the vehicle at all times (apart from brief, infrequent breaks) until the other nine contestants drop out. It’s every man for himself, every woman for herself and everybody for the keys to a fresh start to their troubled lives.
So, school’s out. Cranky, Whiny and Punch are loose for the summer. It’s great—truly. No more grueling classes from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon. No more sports teams. No more homework. No more 'school-night' curfew. The problem is, those were the only things that simultaneously kept the kids accounted for and out of my hair.
Under the stars in Forest Park, the lights will soon go up on another memorable season of musicals created exclusively for The Muny’s storied stage. “There really is nothing like it in the world,” says Muny executive producer and artistic director Mike Isaacson.
On my way out the door to attend my first-ever Zumba class at the Webster Groves Recreation Complex, I scoffed at my boyfriend when he wished me luck. "It's just a dance class," I told him. "I've taken a dance class before—I think I can handle it."
So last week, Rolling Stone magazine came out with its readers’ poll, listing the 25 funniest films of all time. It’s an easy out for the magazine: When outraged fans post about missing movies or complaints about certain ones on the list, the editors can simply fall back on the 'readers’ poll' excuse. No going out on a limb there.
We all know Missourian Samuel Langhorne Clemens (better known to the world as Mark Twain) for his wit, humor and sarcasm; but as might be expected, the author had a very visual artistic side, as well.
Story: It’s been a while since Teddy’s been back to the modest home in North London where he grew up. His mother has passed away, but his father and two brothers still live there, along with his dad’s brother Sam.