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Archive for September 5th, 2011

by Sam Juliano

I first met the future Lucille Mancini Juliano in March of 1991, when she volunteered to assist me in directing a third grade play of Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a time when we both worked at the now razed English Neighborhood School in Fairview, New Jersey.  Now one of the district’s three school principals, the then 28 year-old teacher specialized in the neurologically impaired.  When she heard of my plans to feature students from my third-grade class, she readily came aboard as a stage line prompter, and later doubled as coordinator of scenery and props.  The late veteran instructor Marion D. “Mitzi” Steup made it a three-person creative team, imparting her considerable artistic skills by constructing the sets, with able assistance from ‘gifted and talented’ fifth graders.  It’s been upwards of twenty years now, but I am reminded of this adventure to this very day, and have a wonderful video of the production for posterity.  320 people crowded into the two story building’s second floor auditorium on a cool Saturday evening to attend the community event, and some had to squeeze into hallway entrances.  A smoke machine was utilized, an intricate sound system allowed the show’s music to blare, and colored lighting helped set the proper mood.  It was an event wrought with intense enthusiasm and devotion, and even included a contentious episode with the Borough’s Board Secretary, who attempted to cancel the show on the very day it was scheduled, because of the size of the crowd, and some concern over safety because of the school’s age (80 years) and a failed state report that concluded with pointed orders to the district to make immediate repairs or face a shut down.  But after I dispatched Mr. Caufield with an angry eviction notice on the staircase, and advised him to leave or I would “physically” remove him, I was publicly supported by the Board of Education’s then president, Mr. Frank Pizzichillo, who attended the production with bells on.  It was a huge success, and one that is fondly remembered by two now-married young men, Eddie Slodiska and Jason Romano, who played Charlie and Willy Wonka, respectively.  Perhaps most importantly, however, it was the fuel that ignited a romance that led to a July, 1995 wedding and a big family.  And all the credit goes to Roald Dahl.  Or does it? (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Labor Day 2011.  Normally the Monday Morning Diary is pushed to Tuesday in the instance of a holiday, but I decided to stay the course after I failed to state this in advance.  The past week featured a rare but fabulous movie and dinner get together of Wonders in the Dark alumni Maurizio Roca, Joel Bocko and Bob Clark, who met up with Lucille and I on Thursday evening to take in a 7:30 showing of Samuel Fuller’s House of Bamboo and dinner at The Dish on Eighth Avenue.  We’ve met Joel and Bob in the past, but it was great to partake in the wonderful discussion at dinner, and having the personable and delightful Maurizio there was quite a treat.  Tentative plans are underway to meet up with all three again this coming Wednesday night to see Godard’s Band of Outsiders at the Film Forum.

The musical countdown has been quite a resounding success to this point both in terms of comments and site hits, and in the exceeding quality of the essays from a variety of writers.  This coming Wednesday will provide for the first of three instances during the countdown when two (2) writers will present their own essays of the same film.  It’s actually a special treat, especially for fans of Howard Hawks.  The film of course is Gentleman Prefer Blondes, and both John Greco and Jim Clark have penned stellar appraisals, which examine the film from differents perspectives.  It is hoped that readers will address both reviews, time permitting.  Over the past week some illuminating discussion followed reviews of Nightmare Before Christmas, One Hour With You, A Nous La Liberte, Roman Scandals, Parsifal and The Young Girls of Rochefort.  As always the Fish Obscuro, Getting Over the Beatles, and continuing studies from Jim Clark and Bob Clark graced the site too.  On the sidebar, Dee Dee has worked miracles, and can never be thanked enough for all she has done here. (more…)

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