Some Like It Hot Broadway Musical Review

In 1959, Some Like It Hot was released in theaters. Starring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Joe E. Brown, and Marilyn Monroe, the film followed two musicians (Curtis and Lemmon) who witness a gang murder in Chicago in 1933. Their only escape is to dress as women and join an all-female band.

Even though it is nearly 70 years old, it is as funny and subversive as it was during the original run. One falls for Sugar (Monroe) but is unable to tell her the truth. The other catches the eye of an eccentric millionaire, Osgood (Brown), who does not understand the word “no”.

The Broadway reimagining of the film opened earlier this year. Stepping into the roles of their iconic predecessors are Christian Borle as Joe/Josephine, J. Harrison Ghee as Jerry/Daphne, Adrianne Hicks as Sugar, and Kevin Del Aguila as Osgood.

In a nutshell, the narrative skeleton is the same. What has changed is that this production takes the themes of its big-screen counterpart and makes it feel relevant in 2023.

For starters, it is much more inclusive when it comes to casting and gender roles. One of the book writers is Amber Ruffin, giving Sugar and the other female characters a real-world voice and perspective deepens their humanity. One thing I really liked is that under the comedy, there is a reality when it comes to skin color and sex. I would love to say that this reality is in the past, but it isn’t.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. I just wish that the underground rebelliousness was a little more prevalent.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

Some Like It Hot is playing at the Shubert Theater in New York City. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.

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Wild Women and the Blues: A Fascinating and Innovative Novel of Historical Fiction Book Review

Ambition can take us to places that only exist in our wildest dreams. It can also open the door to unexpected danger.

Wild Women and the Blues: A Fascinating and Innovative Novel of Historical Fiction, by Denny S. Bryce was published in 2021.

In 1925 in Chicago, Honoree Dalcour is a dancer at the Dreamland Café. With dreams of reaching Broadway, she relishes the experience of working at the fanciest black and tan club in the city. Her job gives her access to the era’s most respected and admired artists and creators. But it also has darker connections that threaten to drown her before she can reach the top.

90 years later, Sawyer Hayes is almost done with this thesis. He needs the now 110-year-old Honoree to fill in the blanks about the early black filmmaker Oscar Micheaux. Reeling from a deeply personal and heartbreaking loss, he goes in looking for nothing more than the missing details to finish his work. Sawyer has no idea that Honoree is much more than a research subject.

I enjoyed this book. Both Honoree and Sawyer are compelling in their ways. When they are in the same room, their chemistry sizzles. I felt for both and was completely sucked in by the story. My only sticking point is that it took a few minutes to understand the twist.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Call Jane Movie Review

Though it seems as Roe was settled law (that is until this past June) forever, the truth is that it was just a hair’s breadth away from the half-century mark.

The new movie, Call Jane, is based on a true story. It takes place in 1968 in Chicago. Joy (Elizabeth Banks) is a middle-aged, happily married homemaker with one child and another on the way. During a visit to the doctor, she is told that her pregnancy is endangering her life. She has two choices: end the pregnancy or take a chance that both she and the fetus survive.

Naturally, the procedure is denied by the hospital board. Taking the underground route, fate leads Joy to the Janes. Among them are Virginia (Sigourney Weaver) and Gwen (Wunmi Mosaku). The Janes are a collective of women whose goal is to provide safe (and illegal) abortions.

Joy quickly gets involved with the Janes, causing her husband, daughter, and neighbor/bestie Lana (Kate Mara) to wonder what she is up to. The question is, when will Joy fess up and will she have to be bailed out of jail?

I hate to say it, but I have mixed feelings about this film.

What’s good about the movie is that it is not about politics, but the story of an average woman having to make an incredibly difficult decision. Then, as now, it points out the obvious: those who have money will have the ability to end the pregnancy safely. Those who don’t will have to resort to dangerous and life-threatening methods.

What’s bad about it is the lack of tension and the slow pacing. I wanted to feel Joy’s anxiety and apprehension about what she was getting involved in, but I didn’t. I also wanted to feel like the police were forever on their heels and the Janes had to be one step ahead of them.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Call Jane is presently in theaters.

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Women of the Movement Review

There is no stronger love than a mother for their child. There is also no stronger force when said mother believes that her child has been wronged.

Women of the Movement is a six-episode miniseries that aired on ABC before moving to Hulu. It tells the story of the murder of Emmett Till (Cedric Joe) in 1955 and his mother’s, Mamie Till (Adrienne Warren) fight for justice. In August of that year, Emmet is spending part of his vacation with family in Mississippi. Raised in Chicago, he is unaware of the unofficial rules of the Jim Crow South. He supposedly makes a lewd comment at a White woman. Two days later, Emmet is taken in the middle of the night, tortured, and killed.

Upon hearing that her son (and only child) will be returning home in a box, Mamie funnels her grief and anger into ensuring that the men who slaughtered Emmett will spend the rest of their days in prison.

OMG. I was hooked the entire time. At its heart, it is a love story between a parent and their child. If Mamie had laid in bed the entire time, relying on food, alcohol, or another outside source to dull her sorrow, it would be completely understood. Instead, she stood up for Emmet. In doing so, she opened another door to the Civil Rights movement and broke the glass ceiling for both women and Americans of color.

The thing that struck me was that Till was not the first and is certainly not the last young man killed for their skin color. It is almost seventy years since this boy’s life was taken. There is no doubt that the hard work of multiple generations has paid off. But there is still a long road ahead of us.

It would be a shame if Warren does not receive any sort of nomination for this role. It is her performance that held me by the proverbial throat and kept me hoping that justice would prevail, even when history tells us otherwise.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Women of the Movement is available for streaming on Hulu.

Much Ado About You Book Review

When life throws us a curveball, we generally have two choices. The first is to curl in a ball and let the grief take over. The second is to take a chance and try something entirely new.

Samantha Young‘s novel, Much Ado About You, was published at the beggining of the year. Chicago area thirty-something Evangeline “Evie” Starling has had it. After working for the same company for a decade, the promotion she has been hoping and praying for is given to someone else. Then the guy she has been seeing stands her up. Needing a change, she replies to an advertisement for an opportunity to temporarily run a bookstore in a small town in the northern English county of Northumberland. The package also comes with an apartment above the store. Entitled Much Ado About Books ( a play on the Shakesperean play Much Ado About Nothing), this lifelong fan of the bard leaves the US for a much-needed break.

What she finds is a new career opportunity, new friends, and an attraction to  Roane Robson, a local farmer who seems equally interested in her. But Evie is not looking for romance and tries to resist, knowing that giving in will result in another broken heart. But the more she tries to ignore the feeling, the more it grows until she finally has no choice but to give in.

What I appreciated about this book was the diversity of some of the characters and the subtle nods to some of Shakespeare‘s most famous and beloved plays. But ultamitely, the narrative is nothing more than a few notches above a Hallmark Channel movie. I have nothing against these films, but they are just a little too simple and predictable for me. The problem I have is mainly with Roane. He is a little too perfect. I needed him to be just a little more human and less cut from a generic romance novel.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

WTF is Happening to this Country? Adam Toledo and the Indianapolis Shooting

There is a Chinese curse which says, “May he live in interesting times.” Interesting times is one way to explain what is happening in the United States.

Last week, a 13 year old boy was shot and killed by police in Chicago. His name was Adam Toledo. He was murdered because the officers believed that he had a gun. Adding salt to the wound was the reference by Fox News host and all around asshole Sean Hannity that this child was a fully grown man. I see two issues with this story.

  1. The blood of this young man is not just on the hands of the police officers who killed him. It is on everyone who played their part to get this supposed weapon into young Mr. Toledo’s hands.
  2. Our local and national law enforcement department must be able to do their jobs. But they have to get it into their heads and their training materials that they are not avenging angels. The police are just one link in the chain of the justice system.

May the memory of this boy be a blessing and finally get us off our asses to stop police brutality against Americans of color.

On Friday morning, a former employee of a FedEx facility in Indianapolis killed eight people. According to his mother, the man who was responsible for the murders had mental health issues.

In response to the umpteenth mass shooting in the United States since March, President Biden referred to this new wave as a national embarrassment. I can’t think of a better description of this unnecessary slaughter of innocent civilians. We can fix this problem, it doesn’t take a genius to put together a national law to prevent future events of this nature. The problem is that some Republican lawmakers are blind to the idea that any national gun control legislation does not infringe on the rights of gun owners who are of sound mind and followed the laws. It is a measure that desperately needed (and has been needed for more than two decades) to save lives.

I don’t know what it will take to wake this country up, but something has to be done.

Happy Sunday.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

If nothing else, history is cyclical. The experience of one generation is often repeated time and again.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 premiered last weekend on Netflix. The movie tells the story of seven men who are accused of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Among the defendants are Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). One of the lawyers they hired to represent them is William Kunstler (Mark Rylance).

On the other side is Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a lawyer for the government whose job is to ensure that a guilty verdict is obtained. On the judge’s bench is Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). Judge Hoffman is more than eager to see the men thrown in jail.

Though the movie takes place in the late 1960’s, the comparisons to 2020 are too obvious to ignore. The cultural and political divisions back then were as rigid as they are today. If nothing else, it is reminder that there are some things in this world that are constant. The details may change, but the basic frame is unchanged.

Narratively speaking, the tension goes a bit slack in the middle of the film. But other than that, the movie is well done and worth watching.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Thoughts On the Virtual JASNA AGM

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Covid-19 has flipped our world upside down.

Last weekend was supposed to be the 2020 JASNA AGM. Hosted by the Ohio North Coast region, Janeites would have met in Cleveland. But the virus demanded a change of plans.

Instead of being held in person, the AGM was held virtually. 1400 JASNA members attended via their devices. The plus side was the number of participants nearly doubled compared to previous AGMS. The downside was that like everything that had to transfer to the internet, there were glitches.

Overall, I was pleased with the AGM. It had the look and feel of an AGM without being there in person. Hopefully, we will be able reconvene next year in Chicago, even with the restrictions created by Covid-19.

Thoughts On The Latest News from the Jussie Smollett Case

Earlier this week, all of the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett were dropped.

I am to be honest, not thrilled that the charges were dropped. As an American, I am bothered that Mr. Smollett used the justice system and cried wolf simply to get a raise.

To be specific, there are four reasons why I am bothered by this case:

  1. The Chicago Police department, like every other police department in every other city has limited resources. He wasted what amounts to $130,000 of time, man power and financial resources of the police when there are real cases that were put on hold. From my perspective, he could at least pay the department back for their efforts.
  2. Among the many that work and dream of performing for a living, only a small handful ever see that dream become a reality. His false claims of a hate crime spit in the face of everyone who has tried and failed to make it as an actor.
  3. I don’t know much about the inner workings of Hollywood, but I do know that actors usually sign a contract that states the details of their employment after they are hired for a job. There have been many actors over the years who have renegotiated their contracts or bargained to change the terms of their contracts before re-signing. There are other ways to change the terms of one’s employment without getting the police involved.
  4.  Hate crimes are real. Too many are attacked because of their skin color, their religion, sexuality, etc. If someone is attacked for who they are, they may think twice about going to the police, allowing the perpetrator to remain free. The police, for their part, may question if the attack was real or if it was made up by the “victim”.

Only time will tell how the fans and Hollywood react. But karma has a way of getting us all back, one way or another.

 

 

New Randy Rainbow Video-The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody

It’s no secret that this current Presidential administration is unprecedented for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is that a good number of you know whose associates and advisers have either been accused of a crime or have been found guilty of a crime.

The newest Randy Rainbow video is entitled “The Donald Trump CELL BLOCK TANGO (Part One) – Randy Rainbow Song Parody”. Based on the song “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago, the song is absolute genius.

It’s not exactly a secret that truth and politics doesn’t always go hand in hand. However, that doesn’t mean that one should bend the rules or use less than ethical means to gain power or stay in power. By revealing and prosecuting the underhanded, immoral and illegal methods one may use to gain power or stay in power, it strengthens our democracy and reminds the voters that their voice and their vote counts.

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