Monday, July 21, 2008
WE REMEMBER PAPA HEMMINGWAY
Julie Andrews as she appeared at the Hollywood Bowl July 19, 2008.
Today would have been the birthday of the most amazing American novelist of all time: the one and only Ernest Hemingway. I discovered with research today that Papa had actually been a Roman Catholic despite that famous "Our Nada Which Are In Nada" nonsense attributed to him. I found a picture of Hemingway as a young man-- boy, was he a handsome stud He had tried to commit suicide twice 1n 1961 and finally succeeded at that on July 2, 1961. But it was the effect of the treatment for his first attempt that led church leaders to declare him "not in right mind" and he was given a Church service burial. That would not have happened in 1961 unless the Church had given its blessings. On Saturday night, John Nugent and I attended a very nice concert that starred Julie Andrews called "The Gift of Music". Julie and her daughter Emma had written a children's story called "Simeon's Gift" about an impoverished young minstrel who loves a beautiful aristocratic woman named Sarrah. And now it had been musicalized and this was its tryout. That part of the show was the last hour. The first part was a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein. So of course the show begins with the overture to the Sound of Music played live by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra with snippets of Julie's childhood and early career included. And on the film she sings "The Sound of Music". The film cuts to the real Julie who welcomes us all and tells of that regrettable operation that she had twelve years ago. I hadn't expected Julie to sing at all except in chorus. But instead the amazing Julie Andrews tells us all "I may not be able to sing those high notes like I used to, but I can sure sing the hell out of "Old Man River". Well she didn't sing the Kern-Hammerstein classic, but she did sing to our amazement including "My Funny Valentine" and playing the Fairy Godmother in R&H'S Cinderella with "Impossible" and many others. It was a glorious night with all of us singing "Do-Re-Me" as an entire group. What fun! The musical was lovely but unfortunately you could not remember or whistle home a single song. Julie needs to remember just how catchy the Mary Poppins songs were and remain so to this day. The story was nice enough, but didn't carry or pass "The Who Cares Test"-- vital for any musical. There is one advantage of previewing something at Hollywood Bowl-- because of the stacked parking, nobody can leave early-- it's the original "captive audience" if there ever was one. John and I sent off materials for "The Traveling Companion" and "The Runaway Heart" to an open air amphitheatre that has shown real interest in both and of course we are hoping for that production in Vermont. The Hollywood Bowl concert by the way was a sell out.