Sierra Madre Playhouse Screens Classic Movie Musicals Starting June 19
Sierra Madre Playhouse inaugurates a projected ongoing film series, Off the Screen @ SMP, in which we'll feature midweek screenings of films that are in some way related to our current live mainstage productions.
During the run of its live stage musical Dames at Sea, itself an homage to the optimistic movie musicals of the 1930s and 1940s, the Sierra Madre Playhouse will offer a series of screenings of classic movie musicals. The films will screen on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m. The series is curated by Rich Procter, an expert in the history of American cinema and a Sierra Madre Playhouse board member. Prior to each screening, Mr. Procter will comment on an aspect of this glorious film genre, the American musical of the 30s and 40s, and cast members of Dames at Sea will sing a live musical number. The films are as follows:
June 19: 42ND Street. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Written by Rian James and James Seymour. Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. From Warner Bros. (Black-and-white, 1933, USA, 89 minutes) Starring Ruby Keeler, Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Bebe Daniels, George Brent. Peggy's rise from showgirl to star is the stuff of show business dreams. 42nd Street is full of crowd-pleasing tap dances, popular musical theatre standards, and show-stopping ensemble production numbers.
June 26: Gold Diggers of 1933. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Written by James Seymour and Erwin S. Gelsey. Based on a play by Avery Hopwood. Produced by Jack L. Warner and Robert Lord. From Warner Bros. (Black-and-white, 1933, USA, 97 minutes) Starring Warren William, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers, Dick Powell, Aline MacMahon. Carol King, Trixie Lorraine and Polly Parker, three out-of-work showgirls living together in a cheap New York City apartment, are down to their last pair of stockings when rival Fay Fortune informs them that Broadway producer Barney Hopkins is putting on a show. Carol brings Barney to the apartment, where the girls have gathered their friends, including Polly's boyfriend, Brad Roberts, an aspiring songwriter, to audition. After Barney hears the songs, he admits that he has no backers, but Brad offers to put up the money on the condition that Polly is featured in the show. Trixie and Carol are sure that Brad is broke and fear that he has stolen the money when he refuses to appear on stage. On opening night, Brad is forced to replace the juvenile. The musical is a success, but Brad is recognized as Robert Treat Bradford, the heir to a prominent Boston family's fortune. When the news breaks, Brad's brother Lawrence and the family banker, Faneuil H. Peabody, come to New York to stop Brad's career and plans to marry Polly.
July 3: Yankee Doodle Dandy. Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph. Produced by Jack L. Warner and Hal B. Wallis. From Warner Bros. (Black-and-white, 1942, USA, 126 minutes) Starring James Cagney (Academy Award), Joan Leslie, Jeanne Cagney, Walter Huston, Rosemary DeCamp, Richard Whorf. Brought to the White House to receive a Congressional Gold Medal from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Broadway legend George M. Cohan (James Cagney) reflects on his life. Flashbacks trace Cohan's rise, from a childhood performing in his family's vaudeville act to his early days as a struggling Tin Pan Alley songwriter to his overwhelming success as an actor, writer, director and producer known for patriotic songs like "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There."
July 10: Footlight Parade. Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Written by James Seymour and Manuel Seff. Produced by Robert Lord. From Warner Bros. (Black-and-white, 1933, USA, 104 minutes) Starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Frank McHugh, Guy Kibbee. Motion pictures may have put Broadway director Chester Kent (James Cagney) out of a job, but he quickly finds a second career producing musical sequences for the movies. Unfortunately, a cutthroat competitor keeps stealing his ideas. That cannot happen on his next commission, a rush job for a big-time theater chain. If his work impresses, it'll lead to an exclusive contract. Chester has only three days, but with the help of his smitten secretary, Nan (Joan Blondell), he just might pull it off.
Admission is $10 for each film, or $30 for the package of four films. At Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, CA 91024. This is just east of Pasadena. Parking is available on the street or in free lots behind the Playhouse and across the street. Reservations: (626) 355-4318. Online ticketing: www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.
The live stage musical Dames at Sea runs from June 15 through July 21 (with a preview on June 15). For more information, go to www.sierramadreplayhouse.org or call (626) 355-4318.