Festival previews ‘Ricki and the Flash’

Festival previews ‘Ricki and the Flash’

Great Neck, Long Island’s own Bow Tie Squire Cinema was treated to an exclusive pre-release screening of “Ricki and the Flash,” a major TRISTAR Pictures/SONY movie with a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, Rick Springfield, Kevin Kline and Audra McDonald, as part of the Gold Coast International Film Festival.

The sell-out audience thoroughly enjoyed the film by Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (she won her award for “Juno,”), as well as the reception which followed next door at Lola restaurant, owned by award-winning Chef Michael Ginor.

In “Ricki and the Flash” Meryl Streep, the 3-time Academy-award winning actress famous for her transformations into distinctive characters, transforms into a hard-rocking singer/guitarist In an original and electrifying film loaded with live musical performances.

Streep plays Ricki Rendazzo, who made the fateful choice of abandoning her husband and three children to follow her dream of rock-and-roll stardom. A crisis with Ricki’s daughter, Julia, brings her back home to Indianapolis to reconnect with her adult children. The film is a study of families, of personal choices, and ultimately, acceptance.

The performances by Rick Springfield, as Flash’s lead guitar (he is amazing) in love with Ricki, Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband, Audra McDonald as Kline’s new wife, and Mamie Gummer, her real-life daughter who confronts her mother, are outstanding.

The movie is propelled by the live musical performances — Streep had to learn guitar for the part, and uses her exquisite voice to superb effect, while Springfield’s playing — and the entire band, is fantastic.

This is the first time Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer (“Newsroom”) have acted together, offering up some of the most dramatic scenes in the movie In interviews, both said they were instructed by director Jonathan Demme not to talk to each other about the parts, but Mamie said they ignored him.

Jonathan Demme, who is a Long Islander (born in Baldwin) is a director and producer, best known for “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991), “Philadelphia” (1993) and “The Manchurian Candidate” (2004).

Regina Gil, founder and executive director of the Gold Coast Arts Center and the film festival, related that Meryl invented the hairstyle and make-up for the character. Meryl Streep is renowned for her singing – most recently in “Into the Woods,” but for this role, she had to learn how to play guitar, and practiced eight hours a day for nine months before starting rehearsals for the 10 songs she performs in the movie.

Asked how the Gold Coast International Film Festival managed the coup of a pre-release screening, Gold Coast Arts Center Associate Director Erika Howard said, “We wanted Jonathan Demme to come to last year’s festival, but he couldn’t accept because he was in production with this film. We developed a relationship with Sony Pictures through the months, telling them about our festival, the community, and how the film would be a great fit. It took six months of discussions before they agreed.”

The film had its New York City premier just two days earlier, before the release on Friday, August 7.

“We’re very happy to be one of the first venues selected for a pre-release screening.”

Actually, pre-screenings of major films – as well as appearances with significant people associated with the film – is not new for the Gold Coast film festival. The festival had a July 29 pre-screening of “Best of Enemies,” a documentary about the on-air rivalry between conservative William Buckley Jr. and liberal Gore Vidal, with guest appearances (via Skype) and dialogue with the audience by Caryn Capotosto, co-producer, and film editor Eileen Meyer.

The film festival also introduces cinema buffs to films they would likely never encounter on their own, such as the recently screened, “Mr. Kaplan,” set in the Jewish community of Uruguay, a remarkably sensitive film which defies cliches, that tells an interesting story while exploring universal themes. The sxcreening featured a conversation with Frederico Zanatta, Business and Cultural Manager at Consulate General of Uruguay.

The GCIFF produces a year-round film series featuring an exciting slate of quality films and award-winning talent. This fall, the GCIFF will be celebrating its 5th Anniversary Festival November 9-15, and recently won first place in “The Best of the North Shore” competition as the “Best Attraction” within the region.

New Children’s Theater Classes

The GCIFF is just one of the many events and programs organized by the Gold Coast Arts Center, serving the North Hempstead/Nassau/Queens region. The arts center is now taking registrations for new “Introduction to Acting: Become a Musical Theatre Star” (Ages 7+), “Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre” (Ages 9-14), and “Broadway Bound Junior Children’s Theatre” (Ages 6-8) classes.

In “Introduction to Acting” (September 18-December 18), ages 7 and up will use various methods and techniques to help them tell a cohesive story as they sing Musical Theatre songs. Becoming acquainted with terms like “beats”, “tactics”, and “obstacles”, the children will demonstrate their skills in a showcase featuring ensemble numbers, solos, and duets. In “Broadway Bound Children’s Theatre” (September 22-December 22), ages 9-14 will get the “grand Broadway experience” while being taught advanced acting, singing, and dancing in a production of “King Midas and the Golden Touch” where King Midas is punished for his greed when being granted a wish for the Golden Touch. And in “Broadway Bound Junior Children’s Theatre” (September 16-December 23), an introduction into the Broadway experience will also teach acting, singing, and dancing to ages 6-8 in a fun-filled production of “Stone Soup”.

The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Founded more than 20 years ago, the center has brought the arts and arts in education experiences to tens of thousands of people throughout the region through its School for the Arts, which offers year-round classes in all visual and performing arts to students of all ages and abilities, free public art gallery, concert and lecture series, outreach programs, which each year bring artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher training workshops and parent-child workshops to students, senior citizens, teachers and others in underserved communities throughout our region, year-round film screening and discussion series as well as the Gold Coast International Film Festival. The Center also hosts “Your Big Break,” and Acoustic Cafe, giving showcase opportunities to young Long Island talent, The Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F Kennedy Center for the for the Performing Arts: Partners in Education Program and National Gallery of Art, both located in Washington DC.

Currently on view through September 8 in the center’s art gallery, is the center’s first-ever “Faculty and Staff Art Exhibition.”

Gold Coast Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021 (516) 829-2570, https://www.goldcoastarts.org, Twitter @goldcoastarts.

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