Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Review of NJ Paper Mill's Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella: This Updated Version is Purely Magical and Simply Charming

By Beth Abramson Brier

Just Be Home By Midnight.

How do you describe a performance worthy of a prince? In a word: Charming!

Paper Mill Playhouse swaps its ruby slippers for glass slippers this holiday season. Following on the heels of Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz, the timeless fairy tale Cinderella takes the stage with all the romance and magic you could wish for. Mark S. Hoebee, Producing Artistic Director of Paper Mill, directs this classic Rogers and Hammerstein musical with a few modern twists courtesy of Douglas Carter Beane.

As the curtain rises to a story book set of woods and cottages, the ensemble announces that the prince is “coming of age”. Billy Harrigan Tighe takes on the role of Price Topher, not only a slayer of dragons and giants but, we learn, a recent university graduate. The wide-eyed prince returns home to hear rumblings of unrest among his subjects. The royal court, led by the Prince’s advisor Sebastian, knows just how to deal with these peasants – create a distraction. Sound familiar? Christopher Sieber plays this role for laughs and often, for a point. The palace decrees that there will be a ball so that Prince Topher may find a wife.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Film Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is What We All Need Now: Tom Hanks Shines as the Affable Fred Rogers

By Beth Abramson Brier

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is out in theaters.

Henrietta Pussycat is my doppelganger! This may explain why I was among just seven other people at the 10 AM showing on opening day of  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The other explanation is that I wanted to see right away if it lived up to the hype - and my hope. A simple answer for a complex film: Yes.*

Tom Hanks takes on the enormity of playing not only Mr. Rogers but also Fred Rogers. Although they are separate it is almost impossible not to conflate them. The New York Times praised Hanks’ performance in a three page spread in the Arts and Leisure section on Sunday, November 17. He is that good in this role. Matthew Rhys is Lloyd Vogel, a journalist charged with interviewing Fred Rogers for an article in Esquire about heroes. Together Hank and Rhys bring you into the co-existing worlds of both truth and make believe.

The film is gentle. Like Mr. Rogers himself it is unrushed – which is very different than slow. Something director Marielle Heller understood well. The pace is the very core of the enduring success of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks artfully recreates Mr. Rogers’ cadence and deliberate movements. I watched him remove his blazer and street shoes and put on his signature zip cardigan and blue sneakers, marveling that he finished just as the opening song concluded.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gina Avino's Artistic Design Stores Holds Holiday Open House to Benefit Ramapo Bergen Animal Shelter- Shop for a Cause, Free Medium and Tarot Card Readings

Start your holiday shopping early and benefit animals who need homes! Gina Avino's Artistic Design store in downtown Ramsey NJ will be running a Healthy Mind and Soul Event. Come by her store on November 21st to shop her line of Soulscents products for the body and mind, home decorative products and other items. Enjoy some free refreshments and perhaps try something new. There will be free tarot card readings, medium reading and crystal healings available. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the shelter. Donations of pet goods and food will also be accepted.The event runs from 6-9pm.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Event: Film Forum in New York City Presents a Retrospective of Actress, Filmmaker, Visionary Lee Grant with Special Appearances by Lee Grant

A celebration of the life of the iconic actress Lee Grant will be held from November 17, 2019 to February 12, 2020 at the Film Forum in New York City. There will be screenings of the movies she appeared in as well as made.

This legendary woman was not just an actress but also a groundbreaker. According to the press release, at 26, Grant won Cannes’ Best Actress award and was Oscar-nominated (for Detective Story); within the year, she was blacklisted for over a decade. Coming back strong, she won an Emmy for Peyton Place, then appeared in a series of modern movie classics, winning an Oscar for her brilliant comic performance in Shampoo. But a whole new career beckoned as the director of acclaimed documentaries (including a Best Documentary Oscar for Down and Out in America), both warm portraits of friends and cutting-edge films on women’s gender issues.

She made her film debut in William Wyler's Detective Story, starring with Kirk Douglas. Lee Grant is also known as being the first woman to win a DGA Award. Her stellar career spans decades, and she is still active, having a small role in a new film called Killian and the Comeback Kids, to be released in 2020.

In the Heat of the Night

Friday, November 15, 2019

Review of Bong Joon-Ho's Parasite: Unique, Relevant and Powerful, Perhaps the Best Movie of the Year

Review by Ashton Samson

 In 2019, the latest trend in Hollywood seems to be finding original opportunities to communicate creative and insightful storylines. It's almost as if our newest generation of directors, each of whom have proven that they are perfectly capable of filling the shoes of previous directors, united in a secret meeting and decided it was time to tell stories from a different perspective.

     Directors such as Robert Eggers, Taika Waititi, Todd Phillips and Vince Gilligan are all tired of seeing the same superheroes lunge across the screen, or the same jump-scare movie garbage. They want to produce something that will make a difference within the fabric of Hollywood and they all did just that with their new films in 2019. Bong Joon-Ho, the director of Parasite, not only continued the streak with his work, he also delivered the very best film of the year.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

New Filmmaker Series: Sing to Me by Scranton Films to Premiere in November - An Emotional Story of a Young Friendship

The premiere of a new short film, Sing to Me, produced by Scranton Films will take place at the Ritz Theater and Performing Arts enter in downtown Scranton, PA on November 16th at 6pm. Tickets are still available but seating is limited. This is a great movie for a family, it's a touching movie about the power and love of a friendship between two young girls having to deal with a loss at a young age. 

The film was made by Scranton Films, a company that uses local resources and talent to produce entertainment. I spoke to Luz Cabrales, producer and director of this emotional and pretty film.

What is this film about?

Luz Cabrales:  Sing to Me is about two friends who use the power of friendship to help cope with grief and loss. 

This film is a wonderful story written by Julian Santos, a long time friend and creative collaborator and it is directed, filmed and edited by Luz Cabrales.  We wanted to tell a story that focused on the experience children have when they lose someone important in their life, it is about coming to terms on the reality of a bad situation and using friendship to help with the process of healing. 

ChristmasCon 2019 Day 3 Photos: The Busiest Day of the Convention Celebrating the Busiest Time of the Year - Hallmark Movie Stars Shine throughout the Day

by Suzanne Ordas Curry

Day 3 of #ChristmasCon 2019 was the busiest of all! It was a convention hall full of Hallmark Christmas movie fans, all bustling about browsing the vendors, eating the foods, getting selfies and chatting with the stars, listening to panel discussions by the stars and the writers and taking lots and lots of pictures in front of the many gorgeous Christmas backdrops provided by Hallmark. Hallmark was an official sponsor of this event created by Thats4Entertainment.

Panel discussions for the day were: Danica McKellar and Rachel Boston with Bubbly Shesh, Creating Chrismas with the writers Julie Sherman Wolfe, Alys Murray and Joany Kane with Joanna Wilson, Gingerbread Wars (a contest hosted by Jonathan Bennett- there were about a dozen stunning entries), Panel with Eric Krakow, Paul Greene and Jack Wagner, and another panel with Ryan Paevey and Andrew Walker. In all the panels, convention-goers got to hear some behind-the-scenes stories about how their favorite Hallmark movies were made and other fun facts. Audience members also got to ask questions, many were about locations. There was enough trivia to keep the fans going until ChristmasCon2020!

View Video of Day 3 Here:

One of the points I was told by the organizer was that the actors were all happy to be together in one place, that it was like a reunion for them since the movies are shot at different times.

Here's some exclusive pictures from Day 3 of ChristmasCon2019.

Nikki DeLoach and Lacey Chabert on stage with Jonathan Bennett and a Gingerbread Baker

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Christmas Con 2019 - Exclusive Photos of Hallmark Christmas Movie Actors including Lacey Chabert, Paul Greene, Holly Robinson Peete, Alicia Witt, Nikki Deloach and More

Alicis Witt appeared at ChristmasCon 2019
Edison NJ - The first ever ChristmasCon came to the convention center in Edison NJ on a chilly weekend in November, but inside it was warm with the Christmas - or shall I say Hallmark - spirit in everyone there. ChristmasCon2019 was created by Thats4Entertainment, a company created by 4 ladies who love Hallmark Movies and conventions. (Come back to this site for my interview with the organizer.) And what an event it was!

This sold out event was an early Christmas present for any fan of Hallmark, complete with a bevy of Hallmark's favorite actors and plenty of photo opps with them, vendors with cupcakes and fudge and other goodies that looked straight out of a Hallmark movie, Hallmark Christmas backdrops perfect for your personal Christmas cards, fake snow, Christmas songs in the air, old-fashioned carolers, panel discussions with the stars, and well, lots of ugly sweaters. Let me rephrase that, there were lots of people walking around in "beautifully-adorned" sweaters with bows, trees, lights, you name it some of which were so outrageous you just had to stop and stare. But isn't that what a "con" is about?

Check Back with BehindtheScenezz all week long as our elves
are busy with more articles and videos of Christmas Con 2019!

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All the actors felt the excitement, and spoke about the power of the movies during the panel discussions.  I got to speak with Nikki Deloache, who said how grateful she was for the fans and how she just could feel the love. Here's some exclusive pics from ChristmasCon 2019. While viewing, see if you can name the movies these stars are in!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Netflix Christmas Movies: What's New for 2019 and What Classics You Can Find - New Netflix Originals Include Holiday in the Wild and Let It Snow But no New Prince Movies

by Suzanne Ordas Curry

Tis the Season for holiday movies! Netflix, coming off the success of its movies from previous years including The Christmas Prince (which frankly checked the box for every cheesy and twinkling detail we crave in a holiday movie) is providing us with yet even more this year. The number one movie I plan on seeing is Holiday in the Wild. Right off the bat the title does not conjure up snow and mistletoe, but it's got Kristin Davis (Sex and the City and Deck the Halls) and Rob Lowe (who needs no intro with that chiseled mug) in it, so that's a definite yes for me. I don't even have to know what it's about or even if it's filmed where there is no snow (it is), I'll watch it just because they are in it.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Event: Morphmom Conference in NJ Features Women to Inspire you to a New Path - Tickets Still Available

Sally Jesse Raphael spoke at
the last Morphmom Conference
If you've never been to a Morphmom event, you're in for a treat. For women of all ages, these quarterly events feature accomplished women willing to share there know-how and story for other women who dare to dream. Whether you just want to hear some inspiring stories, want to connect with like-minded women, or are looking for ideas for a new career, this event will provide you with that opportunity.

Visit for info and tix.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New Book Entitled American Boy: The Opioid Crisis and the Sister Left Behind Chronicles One Family's Fight Against the Opioid Crisis in America - Read what Mom Megan Megale Wants Every Mother to Know

by Suzanne Ordas Curry

Though in my time on this planet I have known many parents who lost children, losing one to addiction is one of the most difficult situations I have encountered. I try to choose my words and questions very carefully and often second-guess everything I say.

I had the pleasure and honor of being connected by a new friend to Megan Megale, whose son Matt died from a fentanyl/opioid overdose - in the bathroom of their home while she was in the next room watching TV. It was difficult to know what questions to ask this grieving and courageous mom, but i hope I have touched upon the main points so that anyone reading this can get a glimpse of the magnitude of her and her family's grief as well as the magnitude of the opioid crisis in this country.

The family has chronicled their events and emotions in a book written by Matt;s sister Shear, for all the world to see. Fortunately or coincidentally, Shea, who is wheelchair bound due a disease, was already a prolific writer who enjoyed putting her thoughts into words on a page.

The goals of the book are twofold. The family is bearing their souls for others to see what they went through, but they also want change to come from it. They want to change the way rehab in this country works and take the stigma away from addiction. They know they cannot change it all but hope that what they are doing makes some small change or makes someone, on any level, think differently. And, in speaking to Megan, I can safely say that one message they want out there is that this can happen to anyone - to any American boy.

BTS: Tell me what this book is about.