Book Reviews

Rooftop Films Presents a Sneak Preview Screening of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators

Rooftop Films Presents a Sneak Preview Screening of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creators

Curious George

On an early August evening, Rooftop Films blessing us all with a very special screening of Monkey Business: The Adventures of Curious George’s Creatorson the roof of the JCC in ManhattanWho knew that what we would be witnessing would be as spectacular and far more moving than the gorgeous night that we were blessed with.

Curious George

I didn’t really know much about Hans and Margaret Rey, the authors of the Curious George books. The books had played a large and memorable role in my childhood and helped create my spirit of adventure and curiosity in the world around me. But I had no clue that their story would be as dramatic and inspiring in both the worlds of worldly adventure and in love and devotion.  Both creators grew up in Germany in the same social and economic circle not very far apart from one another. Hans knew Margaret’s sister, Mary, and found himself one evening at the familial home to celebrate Mary’s 16th birthday. Margaret was introduced to the man who would end up becoming her husband and life partner when she slid down the railing of the staircase and landing at the feet of a startled Hans. A totally charming ‘meet-cute’ if there ever was one, and in filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s beautifully crafted documentary, this is just the beginning of a dramatic and dynamic story spanning decades and exciting travels. It is loving told with such care to detail utilizing and encompassing both Curious George‘s stories, insights into these two brave souls, and details of their miraculous journey through the dangerous world they existed in.

Curious George

It is a much more fascinating story than one can image. Their life journey spans two World Wars, three continents, and four countries.  They forged an escape from Paris on home-made bikes as the Nazis were descending on France. It’s a story that feels like it could be lifted straight out of a romantic war movie and probably should be made into one (hint hint). Hidden in with their few belongings stuffed in bike baskets, were the manuscript for the first book that starred that curious monkey.  Tears weld up at one point when the filmmaker describes the kindness and help that came from rural French strangers to these heavily accented German Jews on their journey out of France.  It’s a crazy compelling story and makes one wonder about the luck and driving spirit of these two. I love that Hans always spoke of this harrowing escape as an exciting adventure, and not one of fear and terror.  That knowledge, as it is with so many details, adds layers upon layers of subtext to the beautifully crafted children books these two created. This couple was so close to becoming another unknown causality in that terrible war, but they were survivors, never giving up their hope and optimism in the world that surrounded them.

Curious George

Sam Waterston narrates the tale along with numerous interviews from friends and grown-up children who knew the Rey’s from their northeastern summer cottage community.  The film does a wondrous job not sugar-coating either one of these complicated characters, as Margaret sounded like quite the opinionated character. The film sketches out their journey with exceptional animation and stunning story-telling, expanding on how these two souls created something that would eventually impact so many of our young hearts growing up. Monkey Business gives us so much more to chew on than just the optimistic Curious George and the story of his creation. It gives us something miraculous and inspirational to feast upon as well.

So for more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Book Reviews
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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