Last night I attended the official opening night of a musical we made of my film "Two Family House", which I wrote and directed and which was released in 2000. We call our musical "Buddy's Tavern"--really I should have titled the film that but was stupidly talked out of it by...well, it doesn't really matter anymore, does it?
We've been working on this show since early 2002--seven years--and to see it finally staged (and very well staged at that) and begin to take real shape in front of our eyes is a wildly rewarding experience, not the least because putting on a musical is a feat that makes making an independent film look like playing in a sandbox. Why should this be? After all, eight actors and one set in a theater seating a couple of hundred people would appear to be a much more manageable task then spending six million dollars and traveling all over the tri-state area to tell a ninety minute story.
I should add that "we"--a term I'll be using quite a bit in the coming days--refers to my artistic collaborators on the show, the composer Kim Oler and the lyricist Alison Hubbard. These two massive talents are the real engines behind the creation of the show--it was their idea to musicalize the movie in the first place.
I won't go into why getting a show on is so hard--for the truth is, I don't really know the answer. I'm delighted, though, that a man named Brett Bernardini, who runs a wonderful theater in Norwich Connecticut called "The Spirit Of Broadway", fell in love with our show and took a chance on mounting its first production. (Norwich--I'd heard of Norwalk and Greenwich but never of Norwich. Turns out it's a fascinating little town that is in the midst of some heavy urban redevelopment--the hub of which appears to be Brett's fantastic theater--a former firehouse, if I'm not mistaken, that he lovingly converted into a beautiful black box theater).
"Buddy's Tavern" will play through June 14th of this year. I hope to hell this is only the beginning for our musical--as it truly is one of the things in life that I'm proudest of having accomplished. To celebrate the show's first production (and to ceaselessly promote it as well--natch! natch!) I hearby commence a BLOGATHON relating to the show and to the movie on which it's based. I will post every day (or as close to every day as possible) about the making of the movie and the history of getting the show up and running.
If you live anywhere near Connecticut and would like to see the show, click here to go to the Spirit Of Broadway's website.I urge you to do so. You won't be disappointed.
And if you'd like to read our very first piece of press--and a mighty nice piece of press (I almost wrote "ass" instead of press...hmm) it is, click here. And if for some reason clicking is beyond your endurance, I will egotistically reprint my favorite paragraphs. After waxing rhapsodic about the music and lyrics and the acting, the author enthuses:
To give all this talent something to work with in the first place is a first-rate libretto/book written by Raymond DeFelitta, based on his motion picture, “Two Family House.” It was shown at The Sundance Film Festival followed by release in New York City, Los Angeles and The Austin Film Festival. The same year, the film was honored with The Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and The National Board Of Review Special Recognition Award. Auspicious beginnings for an independent film.
DeFellitta is the writer/director of a merrie film comedy “City Island” starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies that was the cause of much buzz at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
His “Buddy’s Tavern” begins in present day and quickly flashes back to 1956 Staten Island, New York where Italian-American Buddy buys a rundown two family house, intending to convert it into a bar where he can sing for his customers. His wife, Estelle, is not pleased. Irish tenants who are living in the house refuse to vacate. The Irish woman, Mary, gives birth, and is abandoned by her husband. Buddy is forced to make some difficult choices. This new musical comedy about love and tolerance is “one in which two people discover that happily ever after can come from the most unlikely places.” It’s got the witty lyrics, hummable tunes and big laughs to keep ‘em rolling and humming in the aisles too.
Thanks, pal. I'll do the same for you some day. Tomorrow, I'll back up a good many years and begin the "Tremendous Tale Of Telling Two Family House"--which will morph, eventually, into the "Burgeoning Ballyhoo Behind Buddy's Tavern". Meanwhile, as we wind down the Benny Goodman b'day centennial, here's the theatrical trailer of "The Benny Goodman Story, with Steve Allen playing the King of Swing.