This year’s Feast of San Gennaro was dedicated to Moms (Italian or otherwise). As they say in Italy, “una buona mamma vale centro maestre” (“A good mother is worth a hundred teachers”). We had the privilege of attending their Prima Notte celebration held at the Grove, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla. In case you didn’t know it, Kimmel’s ancestry is Italian/German. He said that his Mom was an excellent cook, and that her specialty was spaghetti and crabs. Unfortunately, there were no crabs at this event, but there certainly was a huge assortment of Italian delicacies from such venues as Rocco’s Pizza, Frankie’s on Melrose, Marino’s Catering, and Palermo’s Pastries
We enjoyed the delicious hoagies from Taste of Chicago in Burbank, owned by actor Joe Mantegna. Fellow Scorpio Mantegna, so compelling in the hit TV series, Joan of Arcadia, can currently be seen as Dalton Trumbo in the Falcon’s Theatre’s production about the blacklisted screenwriter. The theatre, founded by Gary Marshall, has scheduled an opening night celebration on October 28th. The play (which was a hit off Broadway starring Nathan Lane) will run through November 13th.
Others enjoying the entertainment of such artists as Johnny Angel, James Darren, Dom De Luise, Buddy Greco and Tony Orlando, included the very slim Dyan Cannon and the Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno and his son. This event benefited the San Gennaro Foundation, who work to help people in need. They also seek to perpetuate cultural identify within the Italian American community. We say Bravo to all concerned.
Ann Heche & Christian Slater
co-starring in "Casablanca"
We went directly from Italy to another exotic location, Casablanca, when The Actors Fund of America presented their one night all-star reading of this cinematic masterpiece. At the famed Ricks Café, we met Christian Slater (in the Humphrey Bogart role) and Ann Heche, who portrayed the Ingrid Bergman role. All we can say is that it was an extraordinary experience to see these popular performers recreate the classic film, without the benefit of extreme sets, costumes or locations. Admittedly, director Peter Hunt had a stellar cast to work with. We particularly loved Edward Herrmann, who portrayed Capt. Louis Renault; and opera singer, Suzanna Guzman who co-starred as the French chanteuse, Yvonne. She lead the ensemble in a rousing performance of “ La Marseillaise.”
Andre De Shields
"Play It Again Sam" in "Casablanca"
And while on the subject of music, we have never heard “As Time Goes By” performed more plaintively than by Andre De Shields. You can “Play it Again for Us Sam” any time you please. Other actors who donated their time and talents to this production included Bruce Davidson (Runaway Jury), Henry Gibson (Laugh In), and Thora Birch, who achieved critical acclaim for her performance in American Beauty.
The best news is that a huge sum was raised that evening to support the programs of the Actors Fund, which seeks to promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society on the Hollywood Beat.