Greeting…Welcome to Let’s Talk, a freewheeling column on movies, theater, television, books, educational practices, current events, and the Internet. If you are a first time visitor to the column, I recommend that you start with the About topic in the Index Bar at the top of the page. Follow About with the Let’s Talk column in archives. It was the first column of the new year. Proceed to Let’s Talk II and then work your way up to today’s column. These columns will introduce a plethora (a better word choice than myriad) of new ideas and old delights you may have missed. It will give you a foundation for some of the issues we are introducing and following up in newer columns.
Your comments are welcome. They are immediately placed on this page in the contributor’s comment section or are shared with the column’s readers on Sunday. You are welcome, also, to suggest topics for discussion or enlist help from the site’s family of readers. I am a compendium of useless information. Challenge me, please, with great theater, travel, history, books, movies, and educational issues that would interest a wide audience of readers. The “compendium comment” was stolen from Orson Bean. Bean used the quote many times on television talk show interviews. Please recommend my column to other lovers of discussion.
Theater…If you haven’t seen Les Miserables on stage or in your local theater with Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway, you are missing something 60 million people have enjoyed throughout the world. Amanda Seyfried from Allentown, Pennsylvania, was outstanding in Momma Mia with Pierce Brosnan. Catch the Momma Mia movie on your cable channel. Everyone was surprised at Hugh Jackman’s singing performance in the movie.
No one seemed to remember that Jackman won the (2004) Tony for his Broadway work in Boy From Oz. Boy From Oz is the story of Peter Allen the singer and dancer. I was living on Broadway for six months while working for Princeton Review in the Bronx. I saw every production big and small. This is the only show I could not get a ticket to see. Pleading, begging, and crying did not help at the discount booth in the middle of 46th and Broadway. I will continue to talk about this uniue stretch of eye-opening Broadway theater in future columns.
The set changes in the theater production of Les Miserables were amazing. The only better set changes that I have ever seen were in Aida. The opening of Aida, the Elton John/Tim Rice play, was in 2000. The original Broadway production starred Heather Headley. Hearing Headley sing in the play gave me goose bumps. Sarah Brightman’s voice in Cats did the same for me, though Memories wasn’t until the last scene in the first act and just a smidgen.
Aida starts in a museum of Egyptology. Many of the patrons are viewing an Egyptian princess in a standing display. The next thing you see is the stage scene turning over to a scene of the Nile River. The turnaround was amazing. Plots to murder the Pharaoh run amuck as bodies float down the Nile. The play has something in it for everyone. Maybe you will be lucky to catch a road performance? Visit the Egyptology Museum at the University of Pennsylvania’s campus on your next trip to Philadelphia. It is a well kept secret.
Likewise, if you have never experienced a performance by Heather Headley, the star of Aida, you can see Heather Headley on YouTube singing The Prayer with Andrea Bocelli. The versions of the The Prayer with Sarah Brightman (Cats), Celine Dion (Vegas), and Josh Groban (Ally McBeal) are featured, too. Andrea Bocelli is in Sunrise Florida on February 8th. Aida, the play (not Vinny’s girlfriend), is in Minneapolis this week.
Any song or play mentioned in my column can be seen on YouTube. Comparing your favorite song by three different singers is a hoot. Elvis Presley has version of everyone’s song, if you subscribe to XM radio and his Graceland station. Has he left the building, yet? The tour of his house in Memphis is very well done. He is buried in the back yard. I recommend the tour in August when 10,000 people celebrate his life.
Movies…Russell Crowe does a two-fer in moviedom this week. He stars in Broken City with Katherine Zeta-Jones and Mark Wahlberg; as it plays alongside of Les Miserables everywhere. The film opened Friday. It is the gritty story of a New York City Mayor’s race, crime, city issues, and lost loves. It has been done before. You will enjoy the plot twists, though. Alona Tal plays Mark Wahlberg’s Girl Friday. I hope she zooms to larger roles in her next movies. She, already, has had twenty bit parts on television shows. Katherine Zeta-Jones is the mayor’s unhappy wife. She has a number of new movies coming out this year. She is always good in ensemble pieces.
Books…Pictures of Hollis Woods, a Newbery runner-up book by Patricia Reilly Giff, is today’s book selection. A baby is named after the woods where she is found. She was thrown away without even a blanket around her body. Tossed from foster home to foster home, she is in search of her real parents. This pursuit sounds like The Great Gilly Hopkins written by Katherine Paterson and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, both multiple award winners. These books are two more great reads that you should add to your library. The last stop for Hollis has an aging Alzheimer’s foster parent (played by Sissy Spacek in the movie) giving her the love and the respect she needs. Will she have to move again when Josie’s mind fails? Do you think a new, endless stream of foster homes is to follow? Alzheimer’s issues are food for thought at the book’s conclusion.
Amelia Earhart…My 22nd book, an iBook titled Amelia Earhart, Once Again is stuck in the Apple Bookstore’s “soon to be published” repository. Help me someone please! They have had me on hold for three months. Amelia didn’t die in 1937. My story proves it. Is Apple afraid of the controversy started by a crazed writer? I drive the story with outstanding videos to bring home my point in print and video. This is the format of a true electronic book. While waiting for good news, I just met a member of the Ebell Club in California. The Ebell Club was established in 1894. Club members (women) were tired of living in a male dominated world. They organized! Their new digs were built in 1937 and Amelia Earhart’s last speech was given there just before her try for an around the world record. One of the family members of the person I just met (since gone) was at the speech. I am trying to get a copy of the speech and see if anything was different from Amelia’s standard woman and aviation presentation. Growing up, Amelia collected a file of newspaper articles of woman who dared. Amelia fit right in with club members. Girls in today’s classrooms should do this ‘collection activity and report out’ for a short term project.