Prevented last year due to the health crisis, the Festival de Cannes inaugurates this new decade with an outstanding President of the Jury, one of the greatest directors of his generation, as well as a screenwriter, actor, editor and producer. For 30 years, the tireless Spike Lee has been an astute chronicler of the questionnings of his time, with a resolutely contemporary approach that’s never without a dash of levity and entertainment.
“Throughout the months of uncertainty we’ve just been through, Spike Lee has never stopped encouraging us. This support is finally coming to fruition and we could not have hoped for a more powerful personality to chart our troubled times“, says Pierre Lescure, President of the Festival.
“His enthusiasm and passion for cinema has given us a huge boost of energy to prepare the great Festival that everybody has been awaiting for. The party will be great, we simply can’t wait! “says Thierry Frémaux, General Delegate.
From July 6 to 17, 2021 on the Croisette, these 12 summer days will be a celebration of art and creativity, and full of long-awaited reunions. Preparations are in full swing with a large numbers of films are being viewed by the selection committee.The Festival will have the opportunity to outline in more details the 74th edition, in the coming weeks.
The Official Selection and the composition of the Jury will be unveiled in early June.
Surrounded by the members of his Jury, Spike Lee will award the Palme d’Or at the closing ceremony on Saturday, July 17.
My View: It’s Today! It’s Tonight! Marilyn Maye Rehearses For Her New York Pops Carnegie Hall Debut
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself at the opportunities you are presented with. TODAY would be one of those. Or as Marilyn Maye might sing to you, “It’s Today.”
This afternoon I had the privilege of witnessing the 95 year old star, rehearsing on the stage of Carnegie Hall, under the baton of Maestro Steven Reineke, in front of the mighty New York Pops Orchestra. It all happens tonight and has been a lifetime in the making. As if The New York Times piece, bylined by Melissa Errico, wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for what is sure to be a historic evening, maybe these photos will help get you even more excited. Thank you to all who made this happen for me, to present to you….Humbly Yours, Stephen
Parade: A Musical That Asks Us Do We Have The Eyes And Ears To See.
Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt Photo by Joan Marcus
I have always loved Jason Robert Brown’s score for Parade. “You Don’t Know This Man,” “This Is Not Over Yet” and the wonderfully romantic “All the Wasted Time” are just the tip of the iceberg for music that stirs your soul and tells a tale of heartbreak. There is a reason this score won the Tony Award in 1999.
The musical now playing on Broadway dramatizes the 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank (Ben Platt), who was accused and convicted of raping and murdering a thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan (Erin Rose Doyle). The trial was sensationalized by the media, newspaper reporter Britt Craig (Jay Armstrong Johnson) and Tom Watson (Manoel Feliciano), an extremist right-wing newspaper aroused antisemitic tensions in Atlanta and the U.S. state of Georgia. When Frank’s death sentence is commuted to life in prison thanks to his wife Lucille (Micaela Diamond), Leo was transferred to a prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, where a lynching party seized and kidnapped him. Frank was taken to Phagan’s hometown of Marietta, Georgia, and he was hanged from an oak tree.
The telling of this horrid true tale begins with the lush ode to the South in “The Old Red Hills of Home.” Leo has just moved from Brooklyn to in Marietta, where his wife is from and he has been given the job as as a manager at the National Pencil Co. He feels out of place as he sings “I thought that Jews were Jews, but I was wrong!” On Confederate Memorial Day as Lucille plans a picnic, Leo goes to work. In the meantime Mary goes to collect her pay from the pencil factory. The next day Leo is arrested on suspicion of killing Mary, whose body is found in the building. The police also suspect Newt Lee (Eddie Cooper), the African-American night watchman who discovered the body, but he inadvertently directs Starnes’ suspicion to Leo.
Across town, reporter Britt Craig see this story as (“Big News”). Mary’s suitor Frankie Epps (Jake Pederson), swears revenge on Mary’s killer, as does the reporter Watson. Governor John Slaton (Sean Allan Krill) pressures the local prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (the terrific smarmy Paul Alexander Nolan) to get to the bottom of the whole affair. Dorsey, an ambitious politician sees Leo as he ticket to being the Governor and though there are other suspects, he willfully ignores them and goes after Leo.
The trial of Leo Frank is presided over by Judge Roan (Howard McMillan). A series of witnesses, give trumped up evidence which was clearly is fed to them by Dorsey. Frankie testifies, falsely, that Mary said Leo “looks at her funny.” Her three teenage co-workers, Lola, Essie and Monteen (Sophia Manicone, Emily Rose DeMartino, Ashlyn Maddox), collaborate hauntingly as they harmonize their testimony (“The Factory Girls”). In a fantasy sequence, Leo becomes the lecherous seducer (“Come Up to My Office”). Testimony is heard from Mary’s mother (Kelli Barrett ) (“My Child Will Forgive Me”) and Minnie McKnight (Danielle Lee Greaves)before the prosecution’s star witness, Jim Conley (Alex Joseph Grayson ), takes the stand. He claims that he witnessed the murder and helped Leo conceal the crime (“That’s What He Said”). Leo is given the opportunity to deliver a statement (“It’s Hard to Speak My Heart”), but it is not enough. He is found guilty and sentenced to hang. The crowd breaks out into a jubilant circus.
Act 1, is not as strong as it should have been. I have attended three different incarnations, the last being with Jeremy Jordan as Leo and Joshua Henry as Jim in 2015. Part of the problem is Michael Arden’s direction. Instead of allowing his performers to act, he has them pantomime, as the solo goes forth. “Come Up to My Office” was not as haunting as in past productions. The same can be said of “That’s What He Said”. Who’s stands out in the first act is Jake Pederson as Frankie and Charlie Webb as the Young Soldier who sings “The Old Red Hills of Home.”
In Act 2, Lucille finds Governor Slaton at a party (the hypnotic “Pretty Music” sung wonderfully by Krill) and advocates for Leo. Watson approaches Dorsey and tells him he will support his bid for governor, as Judge Roan also offers his support. The governor agrees to re-open the case, as Leo and Lucille find hope. Slaton realizes what we all knew that the witnesses were coerced and lied and that Dorsey is at the helm. He agrees to commute Leo’s sentence to life in prison in Milledgeville, Georgia, which ends his political career. The citizens of Marietta, led by Dorsey and Watson, are enraged and riot. Leo is transferred to a prison work-farm. Lucille visits, and he realizes his deep love for his wife and how much he has underestimated her (“All the Wasted Time”). With hope in full blaze Lucille leaves as a party masked men kidnap Leo and take him to Marietta. They demand he confess and hang him from an oak tree.
In Act Two Parade comes together with heart and soul. Diamond, who shines brightly through out the piece is radiant, and her duets with Platt are romantic and devastating. Platt comes into his own and his huge following is thrilled to be seeing him live. Alex Joseph Grayson’s also nails his Second Act songs.
Dane Laffrey’s set works well with the lighting by Heather Gilbert.
Frank’s case was reopened in 2019 and is still ongoing.
Parade has multiple messages and the question is will audiences absorb it. I am so glad this show is on Broadway, making us think and see. This is a must see.
The Glorious Corner
TODD’S AWATS — (from World Cafe) Fifty years ago, Todd Rundgren released his album A Wizard, a True Star, and it sounded like nothing else. World Cafe correspondent John Morrison says Rundgren was pushing boundaries, both in the technical creation of the music but also on a higher level. “Really, the entire approach to sound in this record is exploration of the mind, the spirit, the nature of sound itself,” Morrison says. “Like, the whole album is a trip.” In this session, Morrison takes us on a journey through Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, exploring what the album meant when it came out and how its influence continues to reverberate.
Currently he’s touring with Daryl Hall and there’s a bunch of sessions with Hall that are on Daryl’s House. The way their two voices blend is simply amazing. One of my all-time favorite albums is War Babies, from Hall & Oates in 1974. Just amazing songs and the production, courtesy of Todd, is equally compelling. Stunning!
SHORT TAKES — Joe Pantoliano (Joey Pants) is essaying Morris Levy in the forthcoming play Rock & Roll Man about Alan Freed. Freed is played by Constantine Maroulis. Also coming is the movie Spinning Gold; the story of record exec-Neil Bogart. Both should be something to see … Am reading and reading nothing but rave reviews of Sunday’s Succession on HBO; the first of ten episodes which will wrap up the story. In all the reviews, the writing emerges the star. Jesse Armstrong, a genius for sure. Can’t wait. Check out Roger Friedman’s take from his Showbiz 411: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/03/22/succession-returns-for-finale-season-sit-down-have-a-drink-or-two-its-intense-as-ever … 79 year old Top Gun: Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer: “Don Simpson (Bruckheimer’s late-producing partner) used to say we’re in the transportation business: we transport you from one place to another” …
Terrific Accused episode this week, starring Jason Ritter in Jack’s Story. Jason, John Ritter’s son was just excellent; the show was just renewed by Fox … Steve Miller, out on the road, has some interesting openers for his upcoming tour: Dave Mason and Joe Bonamassa. Mason’s book (Only You Know and I Know) is out in May … Dennis Scott hosted a special invitation-only Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers event in Nashville for media, TV, radio and music industry professionals, with support from ASCAP, this past Monday.
The event featured special musical performances given by country singer-songwriter Teea Goans, singer-songwriter & guitar virtuoso Parker Hastings, who put a Chet Atkins-like spin on the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and studio vocalist Gary Janney. Here’s the cake prepared for the event … Happy Bday William Shatner ; Chaka Khan; Reese Witherspoon; and Anthony Pomes!
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Parade: Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, 242 W 45th Street.