Saturday, January 8, 2011

Souvenir Brochure: Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2

Various posters advertising the London production.
Souvenir Brochure cover.
With the DVD release of the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 scheduled for next month, one memory and resource on the history of the musical is also available. The souvenir brochure printed exclusively for the event can be purchased online.

The 13.5x9.5" softcover brochure is filled with 80 colorful pages. Besides the history of the musical and the cast list, there are pages devoted to the advertising the show through 25 years in London, a list of the various cast recordings, photos of the programs from the international productions and a look at the poster girl who has been re-dressed to befit the city where the musical was presented. For fans of the show, this is a definite commemorative item to add to your collection of 'Les Mis' souvenirs. It serves as a companion to the now out-of-print book by Edward Behr which documented the musical's early years in The Complete Book of Les Miserables published in both hardcover and softcover editions.

The brochure can be purchased from Dress Circle for £12 (US$18) or at Les Miserables website shop for £12.50. Other merchandise also available.

Read my review of the cinema presentation from November 2010. Click here for that post and a list of related 'Les Miserables' posts.

Main cast: Alfie Boe (Valjean), Norm Lewis (Javert), Matt Lucas &
Jenny Galloway (Thenardiers), Lea Salonga (Fantine), Samantha Banks
(Eponine), Nick Jonas (Marius), Katie Hall (Cosette) and Ramin Karimloo
The various incarnations of the 'Les Miserables' waif.
Program covers of the international productions.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Movies to Travel By: Summertime (1955)

Images from "Summertime" above and below. (photos credit: United Artists)

Venice never looked more splendid or inviting than in David Lean's "Summertime" starring Katherine Hepburn as Jane Hudson, a lonely woman on vacation unexpectedly falling in love with a married man (Rossano Brazzi).

Many movies would capture Venice in equally breathtaking images. But for the time of its release, the film brings a romance and city bookmarked in another time. Filled with friendly locals and popular visitor locations, it's the kind of idealized Venice many people dream about. St. Mark's Square, Camp San Barnaba and the Venice canals, bridges and lagoon are featured prominently.

The story of a woman having an affair with a married man was daring in the 1950s but the portrayal seems innocent in the film. Hepburn displays emotions of longing, lonely, joy and disappointment in the many scenes when is alone onscreen. The film opens with Jane arriving in Venice and ends with a bittersweet goodbye.

One of the highly romanticized scenes in the film .
The source material for the film is the 1952 Broadway play "The Time of the Cuckoo" which was later adapted into an unsuccessful 1965 Broadway musical "Do I Hear A Waltz?" with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The musical was revived and recorded by the Pasadena Playhouse in 2001.

"Summertime" received two Oscar nominations: Hepburn for Best Actress and Lean for Best Director.

View of Venice from Hepburn's hotel balcony.
Iconic scene where Hepburn's character falls into the canal.
One of multiple moments with St. Mark's Square on view.
The Venice lagoon.
One of the opening scene as Hepburn is rushed through Venice as she follows
her luggage carrier to the hotel.

Another scene from Hepburn's hotel balcony
Katherine Hepburn as Jane Hudson. Love the film camera.
Rossano Brazzi as Renato De Rozzi
The statue is part of the clock near St. Mark's Square.
The Venice lagoon in evening.
Hepburn upon entering her the Pensione Fiorini. The entire hotel
was a fabrication. The hotel's interior and exterior scenes were filmed
at various locations.
The outdoor cafe in the square makes more than one appearance and
sets the initial meeting between Hepburn and Brazzi's characters.
Even the simple shot of Jane's shoe was filmed beautifully.
One of the film's final moments as she waves goodbye to Venice.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nice to Dream: Hôtel Plaza Athénée, Paris

Once upon a time, the palace of tomorrow. So elegant, so glamorous, so Parisian. These brief words flow across the Hôtel Plaza AthénéeParis website to describe the fabled hotel.

Frommer's adds a little more detail:
The Plaza Athénée, an 1889 Art Nouveau marvel, is a landmark of discretion and style. About half the celebrities visiting Paris have been pampered here; in the old days, Mata Hari used to frequent the place. The Salon Gobelins (with tapestries against rich paneling) and the Salon Marie Antoinette, a richly paneled and grand room, are two public rooms that add to the ambience of this lavish hotel. There's also a calm, quiet interior courtyard draped with vines and dotted with geraniums. The quietest guest rooms overlook a courtyard with awnings and parasol-shaded tables; they have ample closet space. Some rooms overlooking avenue Montaigne have views of the Eiffel Tower. The hotel is also home to Restaurant Plaza Athénée, where Alain Ducasse presents an award-winning menu focusing on "rare and precious ingredients."

Sometimes it's nice to just dream. More info at (all images: Hôtel Plaza AthénéeParis)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Heard the Joke about the TSA Pin-Up Calendar?

This is a page from it. A Japanese tech company called EIZO is apparently making fun of the controversy about the full-body scans being installed in airports. The TSA continues to be unsexy. Click here to see the entire twelve months at
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