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Tag Archives: Flash Pulp

My Review of Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, at Sea

24 Jun

June 24, 2015

It’s well-known that I wasn’t a big fan of the movie Saturday Night Fever. If you asked me about it, I’d go on a rant about what a complete idiot Tony was, and how John Travolta was the perfect idiot for the part. I hated everything about that movie and if you had the misfortune be near me when it came on TV, or if a Bee Gees song came on the radio, or even if you were a total stranger riding the bus and a guy wearing a white suit passed by on the street, you were likely to get an earful from me.

Well, all that changed some years ago. I’ve come to appreciate that movie and yes, I grudgingly admit that it is well-written. But Tony is still an idiot and Travolta still comes off like a jerk. (In real life. In the film he’s an idiot.)

Anyway, I live in the same area they filmed the movie, and if you want to read and hear me talk about it, check out this New York Minute and listen to me on the Flash Pulp podcast.

If you’ve been reading the last couple of Mr. Blog’s Tepid blogs, you’ve read about how I went on a Caribbean cruise and encountered no one but people from Brooklyn. (And some Caribbeans too, but that’s what you’d expect.) The cherry on top was the show they presented: Saturday Night Live, the Musical.

NightFeverMusical

I must point out that the play had the same ratio of speech to song as the movie, so either they are both musicals or they are both not musicals. Either the movie or the play needs to be renamed.

You might find it strange that a Broadway play was staged on a cruise ship. Don’t be. The cruise ship had a very complete Broadway-style stage in the theater, complete with raising and lowering sections of the floor, complex sets, and state-of-the-art lighting and other equipment. In fact, there were only two differences between the ship’s stage and a Broadway theater stage. 1- It was a little smaller 2- Most Broadway stages do not gently sway on the ocean waves

So there I was, watching my Brooklyn neighborhood recreated in the waters off St. Maarten. There was Lenny’s Pizza, where I had ordered a pie from just a week or so before. There was the Verrazano Bridge, which I see from my window every day. There was the dance studio that was turned into a Chinese discount store a few years back that I pass all the time and never go into.

It was weird. If they had recreated the bagel store that I buy coffee from I would have been right at home.

As for the play itself, well, I wasn’t impressed. For example, many of the iconic Bee Gees songs were merely played in the background, and even worse, many weren’t in the show at all. And even worse? Some that were in the play were cover versions! What’s up with that, I ask, in a Brooklyn accent?

A play can’t do what a movie can, so many scenes were cut, or changed, and some of the choices were odd, like giving Bobby C a bigger role than in the film, and giving the DJ at the disco an absolutely huge part that dwarfed Tony and was, in all honesty, the plum role. He had the best lines, had all the fun parts, and even performed to the best song in the whole show, Disco Duck. (NOTE TO BEE GEES FANS: Yes, I know that almost any random Bee Gees song is better than Disco Duck,  but given the shabby way the Bee Gees were treated in this play, Disco Duck was the best song,) And the guy who played Tony onstage was- and this is hard to believe but it’s true- even stupider than Travolta was in the movie. Either the guy deserves an award for his acting or he is the biggest idiot on the planet… or at least on the seas.

disco duck

If you are familiar with Stop the Planet of The Apes, I Want to Get Off, you know pretty much how this play stacked up against the movie.

It was Saturday Night Fever minus some songs, without Tony’s iconic dance (yes, the pointy disco move- not there), and tarted up for the stage. By the time the entire cast came out at the end in sparkly sequined cliché outfits, I was feeling sick, but not from the sea.

They even changed the best line in the film. “He’s the horniest guy in Bay Ridge” became “He’s the biggest hound in town.” OK, maybe that isn’t the best line in the film, but it makes me laugh every time.

Overall, the play lost any of the grit and real feelings the film had, and just hit the highlights and major plot points without any real depth. On the other hand, the bar kept the drinks flowing so the audience was ready to applaud for anything. It would be nitpicky and petty of me to complain too much about a show that I saw, for free, on a cruise in the Caribbean. It would be small and snarky of me when I should instead realize just what a blessing it was to be in that theater, on that amazing ship, in such a beautiful part of the world.

But I am nitpicky and petty, small and snarky, and so I say that the play sucked.

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Spotlight: Peter Church (2012)

2 Aug

August 2, 2012

You might remember Peter Church from his Spotlight last year. Here is what I wrote at the time:

Meet the Renaissance Man, Peter Church… Peter has spent the last six years as a repertory actor for The Classical Theatre Project (Toronto), logging thousands of performances in productions of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet, Othello and A Midsummer Night’s Dream…

He also, as you are about to read, does a whole lot more. As I said last year, he’s taken something I’ve long wanted to do and actually made a go of it. I’m jealous, but on the other hand I am not nearly as talented.

He’s been busy since the last time we checked in on him. And he has not given me one reason to let go of my jealousy in the recent months. As good a person in real life as you will ever find, (although I wonder about his choice of pets), read on and see what he’s up to now. This is a man who does not let time pass him by.

And oh yeah, he’s a darn good (and smart) writer as well.

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A few years ago I became enthralled with the term Pro Bono.  More accurately, I became enthralled with its Latin origin, Pro Bono Publico, translated as “For the Public Good”. 

Andrew Knowlton / Marie Jones in “The Man who Found Out” by Algernon Blackwood

For the Public Good… I like that.  I like the idea that some things are done simply because they are extremely good for Society.  This sentiment was a large driving force behind my partners and I when we created Radio Project X (www.radioprojectX.com).  After all, no one expects to turn a profit by producing radio plays fifty years after the death of the genre!  I suppose we do get other benefits from the process… like simply getting to write and perform radio plays!  That’s pretty rare and wonderful.  We also get to laugh and work with a number of tremendously talented artists and musicians – that’s pretty rewarding and inspiring.  And I guess it can also make us feel better about being “starving artists”.  That’s to say, if I were performing every month pro bono it’d sound to my parents like I was working for free and was a sucker, but if I’m performing every month “for the Public Good”, suddenly I’m working for a cause and I’m a philanthropist. 

from “The Evolution of Money” by Neil Jones

“The Public Domain”.  That’s another concept I love.  I’ll bet we have the notion of “Pro Bono Publico” to thank for the Public Domain as well!  It’s as though we’ve collectively agreed that if a story is told and re-told enough – when it’s been handed down through generations – then it belongs to all of us; it becomes part of us.  I know the issue of copyright is a complex and controversial one, but I love the sentiment behind the Public Domain, nonetheless.

There’s a wonderful free service in Toronto called ALAS. 

This hilariously appropriate acronym stands for “Artists’ Legal Advice Services”, and they do just that: provide free legal advice to professional artists.  They, understandably, tried very hard to advise us not to do recreations of radio plays or even short-story adaptations.  They dutifully explained that even though many of the old BROADCASTS are in the Public Domain, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the SCRIPTS are in the Public Domain.  To be certain of avoiding any “Imperial Entanglements” they suggested that I’d need to hunt down the writer of each script (or surviving family members) and confirm that they did not, in fact, happen to copyright the particular manuscript in question.  Sadly, the stinging reality around Old-Time-Radio is that many of the directors, writers and actors have had their names lost to Time.  Full series like “The Haunting Hour” (http://relicradio.com/otr/series/haunting-hour/) remain entirely un-credited.  Alas, ALAS maintained that the legal burden would be on us to uncover these missing identities in order to confirm that recreating their work would not be an infringement of copyright.

I told them that would be an impossible task.

They agreed.  And suggested we stick exclusively to writing original material.  Q.E.D.

Peter Church / John Fleming / Andrew Knowlton / Claire Armstrong / Scott Watkins in “Invasion of the Cheese Men!”

In a last-ditch filibuster, I ranted about OTR transcription discs, Shakespeare’s First Folio, World War Two, the history of Human Communication, the problem with modern entertainment, and of course… The Public Good.  ALAS eventually acknowledged that modern audio entertainment, like Radio Project X or our friends at www.flashpulp.com, is a vital part of keeping the old stories alive by introducing a modern audience to the tradition of “Sound Entertainment” to tune-in the power of Human Imagination.

As MP3 players become ubiquitous, people are becoming accustomed to listening to what they want, when they want.  The public’s aural horizons are broadening beyond the Top 40 and (thanks to the Internet) they’re able to try out new (or very old) listening material. It’s our hope that Radio Project X can bridge the gap between the modern podcast culture and the richness of classic radio drama.  

On our website, please keep an ear out for some of our hilarious original sketches and things like Algernon Blackwood’s chilling tale, “The Man who Found Out” or Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi story, “Beyond Lies the Wub”.

This month we not only have special musical guest, Katie MacTavish crooning for us, but we’re also very excited to have permission from the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Trust (http://www.theodoresturgeontrust.com/) to perform our adaptation of Sturgeon’s creepy story, “The Other Ceila”. We’ll also be performing some hilarious commercials and radio sketches, so if you’re near Toronto on August 14 or 21, come and experience what you can’t find anywhere else – it’s only ten bucks and besides… it’s for the Public Good!

“Good night and good luck!”

Peter Church
peter@radioprojectX.com
www.facebook.com/radioprojectX
www.twitter.com/radioprojectX

Radio Project X.  It’s Sound Entertainment.

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Hi, me again. I just want to say that all of his projects, links, etc, have nothing but good and fun, and sometimes good fun, associated with them, so click away and check them out.

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