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 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 5:32 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kinsinger:
Well, I have always had a deep desire to play Dickinson! In my view, "Cool, Considerate Men" is the most powerful song in the play, and I'd give (almost) anything to perform it on stage! And besides, Dickinson is not only a fellow Pennsylvanian, but he's one of the best-written villians EVER!

Wow! Oh, me, TOO! I had my sights set on the part when the original director got orders back to the States. Our theater group was made up of military people and their family members in Naples, Italy. No one wanted to take on the play. Since it was 1976, I volunteered to direct 'cause I loved it and I thought it was meant to be. In a community like that, there's always somebody unable to make every rehearsal. Every time my John Dickinson was out, I stepped up and filled in...I even choreographed half of "Cool, Cool Considerate Men."

quote:
Oooooh, how I love to chew scenery! (Except for yours, Ron... http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif">

Our military theater had a good reputation in the local community. Many Italians came to see us, plus we had a NATO community of international military -- Brits, Turks, Greeks, Italians -- who participated. We could always find someone who knew someone who could get us something we needed. Not only did we supplement our orchestra from local conservatories, but I was approached by a design student at a local conservatory who wanted to do my sets. He was American, was living in Naples, and needed a project for a grade. I took him at his word, told him that his role was more than design, that he had to coordinate the building of the set but that we'd have plenty of hands to do everything he needed doing. He gave me a list of supplies, he later offered up some watercolor sketches...I was jazzed. We set up our first set-construction date...and he didn't show up. Three more dates came and went and nothing. I could not reach him at his telephone number. I had no talent for sets...except appreciation for good ones. Some of us rigged multi-level platforms, we decided a cyclorama would be our backdrop and we used different color lighting on it. We even suspended a few things to add different touches. But the scale wasn't great, the stage was shallow and none of the flats from previous shows worked with the "open stage" concept that we had agreed on.

On opening night, the play, its music, our costumes and the performances made it all come together. The set sucked.

We gave six SRO performances. It filled our theater group's treasury. I was even asked by a U.S. Embassy rep in Naples if we'd consider taking the show to Rome for Embassy personnel and their guests. I abstained, "courteously." We had done well getting six performances out of our multinational, multi-service cast. We'd have been compensated well had we been able to travel, but there were a slew of people who had put their lives on hold for those six dates (two weekends).

So, there was little scenery you could have chewed!

Funny thing you said about your LD player in a previous post. I just bought one for $250 on eBay because I don't have the heart to get rid of some special LDs. My original player died several years ago. I tarried until it was too late to get a new one for under $800. I just wasn't paying attention when they were being sold new for under $200 in clearance sales. I don't have "1776" -- only a VHS dub of it. Ditto "Oliver!" (thanks to Joe Caps, for that LD release, too, I believe).

I checked eBay today...there's an LD of "1776" going for over $100 at last look.

I PRAY for the day it's released on DVD.

I don't want to upset anyone, especially Eric, but you, too, Chris.....after seeing the work print version of the filmed number "Cool, Cool Considerate Men," I think it would have seriously slowed the film down. It was clunky and badly choreographed. The song was done beautifully, IMO, but I hated the choreography.

I know, I know, MUST I keep talking???

Bye



[This message has been edited by Ron Pulliam (edited 05 May 2001).]

 
 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 6:11 AM   
 By:   Chris Kinsinger   (Member)

"...the play, its music, our costumes and the performances made it all come together. The set sucked. We gave six SRO performances."

Well now, doesn't that tell a story?

With the rare exception of the 1978 Broadway production of Dracula, I have never seen a stage production in which the sets were anything more than icing on the cake. From what you have said, Ron, it sounds like your 1776 was hugely successful...and I'd be willing to bet that very few complained that the set "sucked".

 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 6:32 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Kinsinger:
Ron, it sounds like your "1776" was hugely successful...and I'd be willing to bet that very few complained that the set "sucked".


Well...one of the cast members I was close to expressed disgust with it. He didn't blame me, but I WAS the director. What hurt was that I was close friends with his entire family. His wife was my Abigail and his teenage son, Rick, was my Thomas Jefferson.

IN FACT, Rick has made a career out of performing at Colonial Williamsburg!!! He currently portrays Patrick Henry, Jr.! His name is Rick Schumann. His mother and father live in Williamsburg and are active in the little theater there. We remain friends, by the way....it was just that "Al's" comments hurt because I thought I couldn't possibly feel worse about the sets until he said something.

[This message has been edited by Ron Pulliam (edited 05 May 2001).]

 
 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 6:55 AM   
 By:   Chris Kinsinger   (Member)

"one of the cast members I was close to expressed disgust with it"

Isn't it interesting that despite tremendous numbers of theatre-goers enjoying your show, this ONE single comment has shaped your overall (negative) opinion of it?

He was wrong!

But his comment has dominated your memory of that entire episode of your life!

He was wrong!

THAT is the TRUTH!

Your production of 1776 was an incredible success, except for one small item...a mediocre set...SO WHAT? WHO GOES TO THE THEATRE TO LOOK AT SETS???

Ron, my friend...DUMP that one faulty byte of memory from your hard drive (BRAIN), OK?

The dude was just plain mistaken...

 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 7:01 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

Chris, thank you for the catharsis. I have never written about that for anyone.

I made much more of it than I even thought there was to be made of it.

Truly, my memory of the show is very, very good! The end result and its success justified everything in the end.

Still.....sigh....I'd have liked a nice set!

: )


 
 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 7:20 AM   
 By:   Chris Kinsinger   (Member)

Ron, I completely understand your heart's desire that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to produce a stage show of 1776 included a magnificent set of the Continental Congress!

So...your set designer abandoned the show!

Are YOU to blame for that?

NO! OF COURSE NOT!

Ron...your frame of reference on this production included a perfect set.
Naturally.
However, the frame of reference of the many theatre-goers who paid to see your show probably never even THOUGHT about the stage set...they wanted to see the show!

And YOU gave it to them!!!

YEAH!

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif">

(to hell with the sets...)

 
 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 7:40 AM   
 By:   Joe Caps   (Member)

You are right about Peter Hunt. He was being VERY diplomatic as to why he did NOT hire Betty Buckley.
BTW - Miss Danner, contrary to popular opinion, did her own singing.

 
 Posted:   May 5, 2001 - 7:56 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

LOL, I guess Peter realized that no explanation of why he was convinced Blythe Danner would be better would ever sit well with the legion of Buckley fans. Not that Danner did bad, but missing the opportunity to have seen one of Buckley's Broadway roles preserved on film is really something to kick oneself in hindsight over in light of her subsequent Broadway career. I have never heard a stronger ovation for someone than the time I saw her in "Gypsy" at Paper Mill.

 
 
 Posted:   May 6, 2001 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

Ron, I violently take isssue with your entire Cool Men appraisal. What kind of choreography were you expecting, this wasn't the Rockettes meeting George M for goshsakes! The dance was not a production number, it was a dance that grew out of the story and clearly was characteristic of the era. In short, it was members of the Continental Congress engaging in dance, not dancers doing the Continental!! I also believe the roving camera accompanying Thompson's reading of the new dispatch was highly dramatic and gave the whole context cinematic ethereal richness.

 
 Posted:   May 6, 2001 - 1:20 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by Howard L:
Ron, I violently take isssue with your entire Cool Men appraisal. What kind of choreography were you expecting, this wasn't the Rockettes meeting George M for goshsakes! The dance was not a production number, it was a dance that grew out of the story and clearly was characteristic of the era. In short, it was members of the Continental Congress engaging in dance, not dancers doing the Continental!! I also believe the roving camera accompanying Thompson's reading of the new dispatch was highly dramatic and gave the whole context cinematic ethereal richness.

Surely violence isn't necessary. I didn't like it. What more need I say? I thought it wisely excised as it was clunky. The marching out of the building was silly, IMO. I was grateful to have seen how the number looked but disappointed at the lack of imagination put into it.

 
 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 9:50 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

"The marching out of the building was silly, IMO."

THAT part I can agree with. Anyway, I'm in the midst of watching the LD again and am enjoying all the exterior shots Mr. Warner yanked out. And ultra-shame on him for removing the marvelous dialogue between Adams & Rutledge about who would be ruling over South Carolina in this new nation of theirs.

 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

I think of all the scenes cut the one that served no point at all was the Fire Wagon bit prior to Lee's return.

 
 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 12:11 AM   
 By:   Chris Kinsinger   (Member)

I defend the "Fire Wagon!" moment based simply upon period color. That's exactly what people did back then when they heard the fire wagon coming by. Within the context of the story, it is utterly pointless. But it adds a touch of period realism that I really appreciate. PLUS it's one more moment that gets the camera outside of the Congressional chambers, which is something that every successful stage-to-film production endeavors to do.

 
 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 1:12 AM   
 By:   Joe E.   (Member)

*sigh* This is yet another one I've long wanted to see but never have. I did catch a few brief snippets of it on television once, perhaps 17 or 18 years (more than half my lifetime) ago. I remember being taken with the very idea of a musical about the American Revolution, but all I can remember right now are the lines: "... in the middle of the day?" and (while dancing) "We still do some things in Boston, John!" Hehehe... I'm looking forward to the whole thing; sadly, I think I'll be waiting a long time...

- JE

------------------
“There it stuck fast, and would move no more...”

 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 3:04 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

quote:
Originally posted by Joe Esrey:
*sigh* This is yet another one I've long wanted to see but never have. I did catch a few brief snippets of it on television once, perhaps 17 or 18 years (more than half my lifetime) ago. I remember being taken with the very idea of a musical about the American Revolution, but all I can remember right now are the lines: "... in the middle of the day?" and (while dancing) "We still do some things in Boston, John!" Hehehe... I'm looking forward to the whole thing; sadly, I think I'll be waiting a long time...

- JE


Joe...Gainesville isn't exactly the middle of nowhere, as I recall. There must be some decent video stores there. The theatrical version of the film was released on home video and should be "findable"....of course, we're all into the LD which restored much of the material cut from the film...material that was truly essential to what made the Broadway show truly great. That is probably somewhere in Gainesville, too, although an LD player IS essential.

 
 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 3:20 AM   
 By:   Luscious Lazlo   (Member)

Thompson was right, of course. The US of A is a dumb-ass name for a country. It's overlong & vague & crappadelic. As long as they were naming it after Amerigo Vespucci, they should have called it---you guessed it---POOCHYLAND!

McNair says: "I'll close your eyes, my Billy. Them eyes that cannot see. And I'll bury ye, my Billy. Beneath the maple tree."...These words take on a whole new ethereal dimension when you consider the fact that McNair looks like an extra from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

[This message has been edited by Luscious Lazlo (edited 07 May 2001).]

 
 
 Posted:   May 7, 2001 - 3:39 AM   
 By:   Chris Kinsinger   (Member)

I was wondering how long it would take Lazlo to show up.
I wonder, Laz...are you wearing your Twinkletoes Shirt from The Raymond Burr Collection?

http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/biggrin.gif">

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2001 - 3:45 AM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

And perhaps he might give credit where it is due; it was McNair, not Thompson who objected to US of A. But I suppose it was just a literary license... http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/wink.gif">

 
 
 Posted:   May 8, 2001 - 3:15 AM   
 By:   moog   (Member)

I

[This message has been edited by moog (edited 18 July 2001).]

 
 Posted:   May 8, 2001 - 3:33 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

I seem to recall "1776" being a late 1972 release...I saw it in a theater in Indianapolis in early January 1973, but it had been playing larger cities earlier.

 
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