The Greatest Showman Junket with Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya and many more

The Greatest Showman Junket with Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Zendaya and many more

Disclaimer: Accommodations provided by 20th Century Fox

If recommendations matter, then go see THE GREATEST SHOWMAN – Opening December 20 at a theater near you.  This original musical starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum and as his wife Michelle Williams, along with his partner Zac Efron and also Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.  The songs are by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul the writers of LaLaLand and Dear Evan Hansen.

This movie hits all the right notes not only in its song and dance but in the celebration of overcoming obstacles to create a life of making dreams come true.

This story is not necessarily the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth but it’s truth is to storytelling in a mesmerizing spectacle of color, love, and the path that we can take when we have that lust for life.

In meeting Hugh Jackman he said the movie, conceived on the night he emceed the Academy Awards nearly ten years ago, felt like a story he wanted to tell as he and the producers discussed how they could tell this story.  The essence of the movie, according to Jackman “if you follow your path and make yourself happy you will make  people around you happy.”  Zac Efron added, though he was not involved from the beginning, he’s been involved for several years, because of the movie’s message, “Love yourself exactly as you are!  It’s empowering and cool to be just you!”

Kelly Settle, who discussed her fears “I was so petrified because this is my first major motion picture in a role that I didn’t know was going to be what it is.  I had no idea.  It changed over the course of how it was created as we were creating, you know, in rehearsals and stuff like that before we started initial photography.  And the bigger that it got for me, the scarier that it got because I wanted to hide even more.  And I am still, even sitting here in front of you, fighting that right now.”

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul did the original music for The Greatest Showman. The musical features 10 original songs and I’m pretty sure they’ll win an award or two this season for their amazing ballads.

Set more than a century ago, it has messages that would be well served in the era we live in now, if only we can sing and dance and live on that higher plain of the passion for family, love and friendship overcoming bigotry, power and lust.

In a world where powerful people get what they want in the world, and bullies still get away with picking on kids in school this movie has attributes beyond the joy of the movie itself as the message that everyone should be loved and especially that everyone should love themselves no matter what they look like, where they were born or how far outside societal norms they may be.  While the set is magical the message is hopeful and if hopeful then we can make it real.  “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

I don’t want to get too deep because it is still a movie with singing, dancing, acting, music, color, costume and set design all of which can easily sweep the awards season.  Go see it and get the original cast recording so you can learn the words, then, as the new year begins, see it again and again.  It’s Showtime. The Greatest Showman is in theaters December 20th.

See the trailer:

Watch the Empire State Building’s lights dance alongside The Greatest Showman actress Keala Settle’s live performance of “This is Me”.

“The Greatest Showman” is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation. “The Greatest Showman” is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award® winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) and starring Academy Award nominee Hugh Jackman. Jackman is joined by Zac Efron, Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.

Genre: Musical

Directed By: Michael Gracey

Screenplay By: Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon

Story By: Jenny Bicks

Produced By: Laurence Mark, p.g.a, Peter Chernin, p.g.a, Jenno Topping, p.g.a

Songs By: Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Score By: John Debney & Joseph Trapanese

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya

Full disclosure: I was invited by 20th Century Fox to participate in this press junket. As always, opinions are my own.

Joined the Ringling Bros. for an Out of This World day!

Joined the Ringling Bros. for an Out of This World day!

R146_INT_WEBSITE_LOGO_1200x693_R1_NB-1024x591Ringling Bros the family that has given us family entertainment for generations offers the next generation of Circus.  #OUTOFTHISWORLD is art, experience, theatre, story, pathos, exhilaration and more.  Travel through the universe, bend time, and beyond entertainment, your senses will be awakened with performances in music, light, ice, and smoke and mirrors.

The theater goes dark, you sense a beat, streams of light, music begins, a spot finds a spacewalker floating and the planets, and it gets busier and more light and the spotlight finds moonwalkers, and they bow, the music builds as the telescopic light finds the stars, let the games begin.

We all go to the circus as a child or to watch the awe in our child.

Now it’s the awe in the child in Pops  that revels in the chills of the magic.

IMG_8462 The circus still has its lions and tigers who we met up front and personal with their lifetime companion, Alexander Lacey, who took over the role of big cat trainer from his father.  He speaks to us as he grooms one of the 1,000 lb. lions, who paws at him, the same way my 15 lb. dog paws at me, playfully, with love, with requests for me to play with him.  Watching them hang together, I saw the comparison, but then I saw the mouth open and those big teeth and I realized the difference.  But the love and companionship are the same.  They’ve known each other since the lion was born and they’ve worked together since the lion agreed to take on responsibilities at the circus.

Alexander then puts the lion back in his spacious cage and gets 4 tigers to come play with him.  It’s a beastly hot day on the west coast of Florida and when the tigers come out they are ready to play, but not necessarily with their trainer.  They play with each other, and frolic in the pool much as dogs in a water pool at the dog parks of New York City.  A big rubber ball floats in the pool and the tigers play with the ball, and the wakes they make and they splash themselves and each other, and they play, like six year olds in a kiddie pool.  Alexander and a couple of the tigers play with each other and he shows how he commands them with a stick that touches them like I might tickle my dog.  And the tiger sits, stands, lies down, and looks left and right as Alexander requests.  Alexander doesn’t push his friend and he lets him go play in the pool after just a moment, explaining to the audience of 10 or so, that “I only want to do with one of my friends what they want to do with me. “  If one of them is not ready for a show or a rehearsal he sits out.  There will be other days when she’ll be raring to go, but I only do what they want, it is never them doing what I want.  That’s the secret to being a big cat trainer.

We go into the thousands of square feet of rehearsal halls, and watch the unicyclists warming up with their Harlem Globetrotter routine.  Not all the players are performers some are just joining the troupe to acquire the skills to the level needed.  We learn that they will be unicycling on ice, a skill they have all just been learning since March, 2016, but they are ready to take this show on the road.

We meet the aerialists and the contortionists, and watch them warm up for the big performance.  It is explained in the former circus different performers had differing roles as controtionists and as aerialists, now each specialist has learned to do the other, so look in the sky when you get to the next circus, watch the ladies in glass spheres dance, spin and seemingly fall out of the high wire act, in unison with each other, hanging high above the stage.

IMG_8463Then the highlight.  We are shepherded into the big top rehearsal stage.  As big as any arena in the country, the stage is set and the lights go down and the musicians start the drama.  The actors present themselves and the audience is introduced to the plot of the circus.  It is not just performance for the sake of the act, it is now theater, produced with circus flair but with broadway music and characters who engage us with concern for their plight and overcoming their obstacles.  We weren’t able to watch the entire performance, so when the circus comes to an arena near you, which it will starting in California in July, 2016, maybe you’ll tell me how it ends.

We thought that was the best but as in every child’s mind when attending the circus, the best is yet to come.  We visit their monster truck factory.  Trucks as big as buildings line the immaculately clean workplace.  All phases of trucks from frames to almost perfect, they explain the life of trucks.  Cared for just as the animals and performers only doing what they want when they want.  A couple of the circuit drivers are working on their cars and stop to talk to us.  The winner of the last tournament has taken his car apart and is rewiring it to make it even better.  He works with his big truck as genteelly and friendly as Alexander Lacey worked with his big cats.

Super heroes are now performers as the Feld Organization has mixed the big truck show with theater to tell the story of heroes and out to protect the innocents that we all are.  I stand among them and feel my magical powers over take me as I become one of them.

IMG_8461But that is not the end of this tour.  I become one of them when I am taken to the costume shop, or should I call it the costume museum.  Any and every costume ever made resides in this many thousands of square feet of costumes hanging, classics and new.  Want to do a school production of Cinderella well the costumes of Disney on stand there, ready for the community to borrow for free or negligible fees as just another outreach by the generations of the Feld family, the family that brings family entertainment to America, and now the world.

IMG_8465So Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of all ages, the elephants may have retired and there is no more midway, but the show goes on with a new twist and new costumes and new props and mostly new technology adding speed and song and dance to the performances, but the thrill is still there.  This is Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, where all three rings are combined into one magnificent story with the cast of thousands all doing their circus thing while the good guys save the day and the evil queen is thwarted.  Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of all ages, the circus is in town and it’ll be in your town at some point in the next 18 months.  And while that show is on the road at the Feld Headquarters in Ellenton Florida the next show will be created and sent on the road.  And the next Disney on Ice and the next Hulk and Ironman show and the next Monster Truck winner and the next generation of circus performers and circus productions will all be created under one massive roof for the pleasure of the generations so parents take your kids and grandparents take your parents, this is entertainment for one and all.

Find tickets to the show when it rolls into your area here on the tour schedule page.

Disney’s The Jungle Book is a swinging good time!

Disney’s The Jungle Book is a swinging good time!

Go see Jungle Book as soon as you can. This live-action-CG hybrid, directed by Jon Favreau, makes the story of Mowgli, the surviving human boy, raised by wolves in the jungle, hunted by the meanest tiger, guided by the panther, finding the big bouncy bear, scared by the python and the giant ape, a real life adventure filled with our own fears, our own humor, and a couple of songs that we remember. Rudyard Kipling will be read again by a new generation who go to see this movie and want to see more of his stories.   Co-starring Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, and Lupita Nyong’o and starring Neel Sethi as Mowgli, and thousands of CG artists, this is a must see movie for one and all. The adventure of the boy who becomes a man, the family who loves, the competitors who know to live in peace, the respect for elephants and the ecology, and the evil that creates obstacles to the desires of the characters we follow, all create a story that once you see, you’ll want to see again. Disney, using it’s Jim Henson division, and technologies that keep improving makes this story the closest we’ve seen to cross live animation and live action.

I saw the movie in 3D, which I recommend, and Dolby surround sound which adds so much especially when the theater shakes when elephants walk by or when the surprise of the next scene comes from behind you, again technology and spectacular effects add to this movie but don’t define it. It is still defined by the story, the Rudyard Kipling classic story.

Welcome to the first summer blockbuster of the year. And next year, during Oscar time, I’m betting there will be a few awards, which will make me feel much better than all those awards that went to Mad Max this year.

Did I mention that I recommend that you go to see it? Take your kids; take your parents; make it a date night; and go to see it.

If you want a little entertainment for the kids – here is a Jungle Book Maze PDF


Let’s celebrate another Big Fat Greek Wedding!

Let’s celebrate another Big Fat Greek Wedding!

MBFGW2-Poster My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a movie about finding strength in who you are.  Opening to full national release on March 25, with a few selected theaters playing it now, we recommend this perfect family film for anyone who is a member of a family.   This sequel to the blockbuster of 15 years ago brings the Portokalos family forward to the next generation.  Nia Vardalos found the sparks for the next story from her own personal journey and the trials and tribulations that occur in life.

Starting with Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her husband Ian (John Corbett) dealing with their daughter, Paris, (Elena Kampouris) a high school senior waiting to hear from colleges.  Rebellious, trying to be independent, but still a product of her family environment, she works, begrudgingly at the family restaurant, should she go to a school near home or a thousand miles away.  Elena is a star to watch.  Her beautiful face, big bright eyes, and warm smile light up every scene she’s in especially as her character softens as she finds her own positivity which gives her an evolved strength in her own decisions.  Toula and Ian have their own problems as their busy lives have taken the spark out of their marriage.  Try though they may, it doesn’t come back to them as easily as they might want.  Her lesson in her own life, and in writing this script was that she needed to lose balance in her life to know what to look for to find balance.

Toula’s parents reprised by Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine, are perfectly paired as the couple that have been together for three generations and are in love not for any reason other than they are husband and wife.  But circumstances occur which tests that love and their marriage and it being a warm and fun movie it will be no spoiler to tell you they find their love renewed and restored.

Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) plays the strong leader of the family in every crisis.  She explains her guide was her own aunt who taught her to go head strong through any situation and don’t let anyone stop you.  She gives gratitude to her aunt not only for being the role model for Aunt Voula but for advice to her to get over her own insecurities to become an actor.   Joey Fatone, a long time stand up comic, who plays Nia’s brother, informs about a truth in acting, “the art of acting is how your character reacts to the line just handed to you.”  All the family members as unbearable as it seems are just totally loveable.

The rest of the family members have issues, which I won’t reveal and friends come by with other plot complications and twists.  In the end this is simply a story about family bonds, inner strength, and the importance of love no matter your age.  Go see it with or without your entire family, but go with someone you love, you might get lucky when you get home.

ARTHAMPTON 2015 – Another successful season

ARTHAMPTON 2015 – Another successful season

Moving it’s location to ScuttleHole Road and Lumber Lane and having the event on the 4th of July weekend served the community well. We walked the event and met with many gallerists and artists.

FullSizeRender (2)We spoke to gallery owners like Roy Seifert of Contempop Gallery of Tel Aviv, Rachel Teachout of Edgewater Gallery of New Jersey. Michael Joseph of Artblend spoke to us about the photos of a herd of white horses gracefully galloping in the Camargue, in the South of France.

FullSizeRenderWe interviewed artist Paul Gerben, who was represented by Chase Edwards Gallery of Bridgehampton, showing his iconic art of Elvis, Jimi, and coke bottles on surfboards to be hung in the homes of old and young.

All agreed the show was successful both in viewers passing by, excitement of all who came but most importantly to the galleries and artists were sales. Art is moving and all were happy to have been there. First year participants were ready to sign up early and those that have been at ArtHampton for eight years will be back again next year.

IMG_6448 The Evan Lurie Gallery represented the work of Cuban artist Alexi Torres. The oil on canvas piece entitled Lincoln Peace sought $36,000 and according to Mr. Lurie the piece was sold.

IMG_6458Alex G. Cao was represented by the Center Space Gallery of Allen Street, NYC. Alex’s American Flag was actually pixels of JFK and his family. Flag vs. JFK is not only patriotic and a centerpiece but a conversation piece that can take hours to inspect for the detail of each pixel.

FullSizeRender (3)We spent some time with Tom Gramegna of Gallery 270 of Englewood, New Jersey. What first caught our eye were the pieces of the Jersey shore before and after Sandy. The famous roller coaster in it’s glory and then underwater, shot from the same vantage point by Michael Massaia. The Boardwalk, pier and other images captured about 4 years apart showed the destruction Sandy wrought in a way that only art can capture.

FullSizeRender (1)He also represented Terri O’Neill who became a photographer of note based upon his photos of Frank Sinatra. Ask Tom about the note of introduction that Terri shared with Frank and how that note, bonded the two for a lifetime of friendship.