Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Dumbwaiter - Today at Arts on the Lake

News That Matters
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Good Morning Folks,

This is a short, special edition of News That Matters for the sole purpose of getting you out of your house this afternoon and over to Arts on the Lake for the last performance of Harold Pinter's "The Dumbwaiter" at 3PM this afternoon.

Let's be honest: it's a crappy day. You could stay at home and veg, bemoaning the weather and watch re-runs of F Troop and I Love Lucy or you could go to the mall and run up your credit card debt or you could finally get to cleaning out the basement. So, since those options are not really options, get your butts off the couch and get yourselves to the old firehouse on Route 52 (just south of the Route 311 causeway) and see some live theater.

Pinter's 1960 short play (or a long one-act, if you like) sets two hitmen in a dingy basement wondering about their next job and who their victim might be. Here's the full (edited) release from Friday's Things To Do Edition of News That Matters:
Arts on the Lake is partnering with the Liberty Free (NY) Theatre to present Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's play The Dumb Waiter at the Lake Carmel Cultural Center, 640 Route 52.

The Liberty Free Theatre returns with the play that established Pinter as a master of "comedy of menace." The Dumbwaiter is about two hit men, played by Michael Frizalone and Paul Jannicola, holed-up in a dingy basement waiting to be sent out on their next job. The play is one of the first that established Pinter as a master of what would become known a "comedy of menace."

English playwright, screenwriter, actor, director and political activist Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. Beginning with his first play, Pinter's writing career spanned over 50 years and produced 29 original stage plays, 27 screenplays, many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays, poetry, one novel, short fiction, essays, speeches, and letters. His best-known plays include The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Homecoming, and Betrayal, each of which he adapted to film. His screenplay adaptations of others' works include The Trial and Sleuth.  He directed almost 50 stage, television, and film productions and acted extensively in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works.

Mike Frizalone is an actor/writer/singer who has performed on stage and film from Bangor, Maine to New York City.  He recently played in a new film by Peking Productions that was shot in Sullivan County.  His work at the Liberty Free Theatre includes Goods and Guns, Off The Wall, and last season’s Kinfolks and Mountain Music.

Paul Jannicola is a singer/songwriter and multi instrument musician.  His compositions have been featured in the award-winning animated short, Hardly Workin', the acclaimed episodic web series, Tra5hTa1k and MTV's comedic Life in the Virtual Hills. Paul and Director Kerria Seabrooke won Best Machinima Series for the Grid Review in the Machinima Film Festival 2007 in Leicester, UK. In addition to music, Paul is an animation cinematographer whose work has been seen on the Jumbotron at 1 Times Square.

Director Paul Austin's many TV appearances include Law and Order and West Wing. Recent films include Tune in Tomorrow and Sommersby.
(Photo Credit: Ted Waddell)
The play follows Paul Austin's evocation and updated interpretation of "The Nazz", Lord Buckley's version of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. And just who is this Lord Buckley?
        Lord Richard Buckley, the hipster’s hipster, was, arguably, the most original American comedian of the 20th Century. Tall, tuxedoed and mock elegant, his appearance, behavior and intellect belied the facts of his humble California Gold Country beginnings.

        Dick Buckley grew up in the idyllic settings of California's Mother Lode country. He was a natural mimic and by the age of three his mother had to admonish him not to imitate the neighbors when they came for a visit.

        Entering show business rather by accident in the late 1920’s Buckley cut his teeth as an MC for countless Midwest dance marathons. It is possible that he also worked some of the last of the medicine shows in the Midwest. Eventually settling in Chicago, he worked in Vaudeville and Burlesque as well as Leo Seltzer's Walkathons at the Chicago Coliseum, and a number of gangster owned nightclubs. Mobster Al Capone loved Buckley's ability to handle hecklers and was quoted as saying “He’s the only guy who ever made me laugh.” Capone even bankrolled a short lived nightclub for Buckley called “Chez Buckley.”

        In 1930’s Chicago, Dick Buckley, as he called himself, lived the high life hanging out with the hippest of Chi Town’s black and white jazz musicians. With his uncanny ear for dialect he picked up on the sounds, and the rhythms and the cultural nuances of what was then called “hep” or “jive” talk And, at the same time, began to develop the persona of Lord Buckley, a strange but intriguing mix of a proper English peer of the realm and a street corner jive hipster. Though he still called himself Dick Buckley his manner and antics began to resemble those most closely associated with his final incarnation as The Lord.

        Through the ‘30s and ’40s he continued perfecting a stage act that included hilarious gymnastic routines and a mad ventriloquist routine called “The Four Chairs” with selected audience members. During WW II he did countless USO hospital Shows with Ed Sullivan who became a life long friend and patron.

        By wars end Vaudeville was on the ropes, atomic bombs had radically changed political and culturally assumptions and television was about to pounce. Dick Buckley, always hip and always ready to explore change, finally declared himself “Lord Buckley”.

        Casting around for a new act, Buckley, at the urging of Lady Elizabeth, his sixth wife, began offering his audiences beautifully reimagined stories from history, literature and The Bible delivered in a black jazz patois. Originally these stories were used to entertain dressing room guests. But soon Jesus, Gandhi, Einstein, Nero and the Marquis D’ Sade found their way on stage with him. He called Jesus “The Nazz”, Gandhi “The Hip Gahn”, Einstein “The Hip Einie” and D’Sade “The Mark”.

        From 1947 on, Buckley, like a hipster preacher, worked small jazz clubs and coffeehouses, with occasional gigs on TV. He appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show eight times. He also appeared on The Tonight Show, You Bet Your Life, House Party and a number of other local and network programs. But for all this exposure his new and brilliant work was not bringing much financial reward. He did his best work for his worst money.
And what of his works? Here's a short-take from The Nazz:

"Now the fame of The Nazz is jumpin'! The grapevine is shootin' off sparks forty feet long and they talkin' about what he said and how he stood up to all these big bad cats and dug all that bad jazz and put 'em all down, and what he said he gonna do and where he's gonna be and how he's gonna be until the grapevine is jumpin' so bad there is now sixteen thousand of these studs and kitties in the Nazz's little home town where the cat live, lookin' to get straight. Well...the Nazz know he can't straighten them all there - it's too small a place, don't want to hang everybody up, nobody can make it. So The Nazz look out at these sixteen thousand studs and kiddies and he say to them "Come on, babies. Let's cut on out down the road."

"There went The Nazz, swingin' away ahead of all these studs and kiddies, and sixteen thousand stompin' up a big - oh! - big swingin' beat behind him. And a great necklace of love is superchargin' and chargin' to 'em and - oh! -it's brother to brother and sister to sister and The Nazz is stompin' on a sweet swingin' beat goin' down the road, Nazz talkin' about how pretty the flowers, how pretty the hours, how pretty me, how pretty you, how pretty he, how pretty she..."

Three PM. Reservations are not necessary. Twelve Dollars or Ten if you've joined Arts on the Lake.
And when you get there, tell them News That Matters sent you.
Be there, cats! Or you lords and kitties will be just settin' and lookin' at them hubcabs go round and round on the black and jivin' on the wonder of where your life went.


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