November 30, 2012

An Evening with Glenn Close

"I love the chemistry that can be created onstage between the actors and the audience. It's molecular even, the energies that can go back and forth. I started in theater. and when I first went into movies I felt that my energy was going to blow out the camera."
-Glenn Close

More often than not, I hear thespians with theatre backgrounds always prefer the intimacy and electiricty that comes from on-stage performance. Based on her statement above, actress Glenn Close falls into that category as well. And you wanna know something? She is absolutely right in that observation. If you've ever seen a performer mesmerize an audience from the stage, you know why. When performing for a camera, your energies are merely captured by a lens. But when one is on stage it's more than your voice booming out into the auditorium, it's your very soul. It cascades over the audiences washes them in the current of a performance, and their own reactions can ripple back like the rise and fall of a tide.

While I couldn't tell you if Glenn Close has actually blown up any cameras of the years, the caliber of her work and the range of characters she's played over her career indicates it may well still be possible. Regardless of the medium, her talents are apparent to all: Glenn Close is one of our generation's most versatile actors.

Here's a quick rundown of accolades: She's a six-time Oscar nominated actress, a British Academy Film Award nominee and a multiple-time Grammy nominee. Oh, and she's also won multiple Emmys, Golden Globes, a Screen Actors Guild award, an Off-Broadway award and three Tony awards.

Apropos of chemistry lingo, her roles are often combustible to behold on stage. And on film or television, like a strip of magnesium, she can set the screen ablaze. As a result, her performances have always breathed with a sense of vitality and electricity. Compared to most, she makes most everyone sharing the screen with her look like mere community theatre players. Yes, she is that damn good.

She began on the stage, and honed her craft early in her career. Glenn made her debut in 1974, and was nominated for her first Tony in 1980. Eventually, she went on to win Tonys for The Real Thing and Death and the Maiden and for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Sunset Boulevard. On stage, she has appeared in such works as Uncle Vanya, King Lear, Rules of the Game, The Real Thing, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, The Crucifer of Blood, The Member of the Wedding and The Rose Tattoo. Ten years ago, she even appeared in a London Royal National Theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire as Blanche DuBois.

Luckily for us, Close ventured beyond the stage and brought her talent to all avenues of media. Her transition to film was seamless segue to more kudos. Not many receive an Academy Award nomination for their first movie, but Close did for 1982 for her supporting role in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP. In the next few years she followed that up with more supporting nominations in 1983's THE BIG CHILL and 1984's THE NATURAL. Quite the start, wouldn't you say? In the years since, she has also received Best Actress nominations for 1988's DANGEROUS LIASIONS and 2011's ALBERT NOBBS.

But I think perhaps her signature role is one that struck cold fear down the spines of married men everywhere in the 1980s. Her role of Alex Forrest in Adrian Lyne's FATAL ATTRACTION is so warped yet believably terrifying that it seared itself into the national consciousness. In this 1987 film, happily married Michael Douglas has a weekend fling with Glenn Close, but soon find that this liaison will not slip quietly into the closet to buried like other skeletons. She has other plans, and the consequences of his affair jeopardizes his life in ways he never could have imagined. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned (Just ask the family's pet rabbit). From that moment, the term "fatal attraction" itself has come to identify tales of infidelity gone awry, and this film likely kept an entire culture of men scared straight. Now that's what I call leaving an impression.

In fact, every role that Glenn has breathed life into has been indelible in its own way, no matter how large or small. Whether as the sharp but vulnerable lawyer in JAGGED EDGE, the Barbara Bushian First Lady in Tim Burton's MARS ATTACKS!, the Vice President to Harrison Ford's ass-kicking chief executive in AIR FORCE ONE, the diabolical live-action Cruella DeVil in 101 DALMATIANS  or her literally haunting performance in REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, Close always manages to stamp the role with a signature that only she is able to provide.

Recently, Close just concluded the final season of "Damages," a television legal thriller that ran for five seasons. As the brilliant and ruthless lead character Patty Hewes, Glenn led the charge of awards bestowed on the program by winning two Emmys (for the first two seasons), a Satellite award, a Gracie Allen award and a Golden Globe. Prior to "Damages," Glenn also won acclaim for appearing in series like "The Shield," "The West Wing," "Will & Grace,""The Simpsons," as well as programs like "South Pacific," "Sarah Plain and Tall," and "The Lion in Winter."

And now, on our own stage in downtown Austin, we will get to hear insight from the woman behind the masks. Sharing stories and insight on her career, Glenn will once again will be a part of the magic chemistry between the audience and those on stage, but now in a whole new way. Prepare to still be entranced by her charm, grace and a chemistry that goes far beyond anything having to do with Mentos candies and Diet Coke.

Glenn Close graces the stage and shares her thoughts on Thursday, December 6th.

November 16, 2012

Last Call at The Oasis

"Water is the driving force of all nature."
 -Leonardo DaVinci

This season, The Paramount begins a new series to their lineup. The Beautiful World Series is a four film series this year brought to you in conjunction with The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. These events are designed to celebrate, preserve and protect our delicate planet.

The first film in this series, LAST CALL AT THE OASIS, emphasizes how water truly is the life blood to our world's well being. Directed by Academy Ward-winning documentary director Jennifer Yu, the film brings to light the perils and misconceptions we have about water's long-term sustainability. Developed by the same team that brought us awareness-raising documentaries as AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN and FOOD, INC., this film is an alarm clock that we cannot afford to snooze.

While the centerpiece will be the presentation of this film, the entire evening will be informative and captivating. Before the screening, the lobby will host booths by the Texas Rainwater Catchment Association, Austin Eco Network information and local farmers. After the show, a post-film panel will convene on stage to discuss this urgent topic. The panelists will include author Robert Glennon, Andy Sansom from the Texas Water Institute, Laura Huffman from The Nature Conservancy of Texas, and Marilu Hastings of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation.

Robert Glennon is a highly acclaimed author of environmental books such as Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters and Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It. He also has advocated on NPR, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, C-SPAN2’s Book TV, and many others.

Andy Sansom is a former executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and a founder of The Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas. Sansom also is the executive director of the Texas Nature Conservancy. A distinguished award winner for his efforts, he has been the recipient of numerous accolades from the likes of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The National Park Foundation and also the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Laura Huffman, director for The Nature Conservancy of Texas, leads and ordinated teams of scientists and conservation experts to help protect the Lone Star state. Locally, she has been instrumental in helping to secure the Edward’s Aquifer.

Marilu Hastings currently serves the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation as the Environment Program Director. She has focused efforts on climate change, water conservation, waste management, and development of recycled products.

Awareness and focus on such a pressing issue is the first step, and with the information provided at The Paramount perhaps we can all do our part to prevent the constant wasteful drip of our future's supply. Together, we can turn the thriftless faucet off, and save plenty of water for all of us on this precious oasis of life we know as our Earth.

The time to open our eyes is now. After all, it is not an issue of whether the glass is half empty or half full; it's a matter whether we're going to have any water in the glass to make such a judgment at all.

LAST CALL AT THE OASIS will quench your thirst for knowledge on Wednesday, November 28, 2012. Pre-show event at 6:30 p.m. with the screening at 7:30 p.m.

November 7, 2012

Richard Thomas Performs Tennessee Williams

"If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it."
-Tennessee Williams 

We've had lecturers, musical guests, comedians and speakers thus far during the season. Now, how about some acting? In the coming weeks, Emmy-winning actor Richard Thomas will be bringing to life some of the literary work of the legendary writer, Tennessee Williams.

As I'm sure you may know, Williams was one of the most highly acclaimed American playwrights in the 20th century. Widely acclaimed during the heyday of his career, he was a two-time Pulitzer prize winner for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on A  Hot Tin Roof, and also won a Tony award for The Rose Tattoo. Tennessee personally adapted many of his works into screenplays, but also penned essays, poetry, novels, prose and other short stories.

So, which of these selections is Thomas portraying? Well, Richard is not going to merely be interpreting selections from Williams' classics. Instead, Richard Thomas will be performing what is arguably Williams' most interesting and flawed role... which happens to be the author himself.

How is that, you ask?

You see, when Tennessee Williams passed away three decades ago, he left behind a treasure trove of personal letters. This, combined with a lifetime of memoirs helped paint a picture of the man behind the pen. Steve Lawson adapted these writings into a one-man play, a showcase that paints Tennessee with his own words. Not only is that a daunting task for an author, but for the thespian as well. After all, think about this for a moment. How much of you is embedded in your day to day writing? Decades from now, will someone be able to portray you based on your journal, your blogs, your emails, Facebook posts and Tweets?

It truly is a dream and a challenge to play such a distinguished yet complex and tortured persona, but Richard Thomas has a charm and sense of nuance to be able and pull it off.

Thomas is one of those actors you may recognize from his work, even if you may not remember his name. A veteran of stage and screen, chances are very good that you've seen him in several things over the years. To many, he will always be known as the aspiring writer John-Boy from the 1970s television show, "The Waltons." Richard won an Emmy for the role, and has received additional nominations over the years for Golden Globes and more Emmys.

It will definitely be interesting to see the portrayal of Williams as a young growing writer. Tennessee descended into an abyss of alcohol and drugs in later years, which likely effect his outlook on life and the human condition. Although I'm sure the portrayal will be subtle, I look forward to seeing this pay where we can see a transformation of the one man onstage from Richard Thomas to Tennessee Williams without any other actors to play off of. That, my friends, has the potential to be fascinating in this show that will be poignant and personal.

Tennessee Williams knew that the craft of writing was a never ending pursuit. Like life itself, it is where passions and emotions can intertwine with narrative to conjure weather that can effect even the sunniest disposition. At times a flamboyant and twisted genius, he embraced the darkness of the human condition, reflecting an inner turmoil that decades of self-abuse could not subside. I can't wait to see this evolution of the man and the artist in front of our eyes on the stage.

In the intimate quarters of the Stateside theater, it will be appropriate to see such a personal portrayal. This unique presentation is straight from the heart of Tennessee.

For one night, Richard Thomas brings Tennessee Williams back to life at Stateside. Wednesday, November 14th at 8:00 p.m.