Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Princess Bride Reunion

Did you see THE PRINCESS BRIDE reunion on line Sunday? It was a fundraiser for Democrats in Wisconsin. I hope they took in $30,000,000. Most of the original cast did essentially a Zoom reading.

It was great fun to see them again. Most were terrific. Billy Crystal was funny again. Robin Wright still looked Buttercuppy after 37 years. Mandy Patinkin ate up all the scenery even though he was in a little box. (He acted like a caged animal.)

You appreciate William Goldman’s brilliant script even more just hearing the words. There was also a Q&A after that was fun.

I’ve had a few Zoom readings of my plays over the last couple of months (face it, that IS theatre this year) and have always been very happy with the performances but annoyed at the technical glitches.

What I found heartening about THE PRINCESS BRIDE reunion was that they had just as many or more technical glitches than my modest readings. And theirs was very high profile. But there were sound problems. Actors popping on when they weren’t supposed to. I’m sure if the actors rehearsed it for a week and it was pre-recorded and edited together it would have been more polished, but only to a certain degree. Depending on the lighting, background, bandwidth, etc. the actors’ boxes would still vary in quality. Sound levels would still be low or echoey, or distorted in places. Robin Wright held her earbud microphone, Mandy attempted to upstage anyone he was on stage with – and the point is, I still enjoyed it.

So perhaps the people watching my Zoom readings also forgave the hiccups and enjoyed them just the same. I’ll never know for sure because I couldn’t hear any laughter (a big problem when trying to judge the success of a comedy), but I was sitting at the breakfast table watching a laptop and laughing out loud at Billy Crystal and Carol Kane so maybe laughs do come through despite the lack of an audience.

I hope so because like I said, for now this is the only theatre there is.


Craig Gustafson said...

Yes. I was SO happy that the professionals had just as many technical problems as I have. I loved Mandy Patinkin. He was trying to bust through the monitor. Here's what I posted that night:

Just watched the Zoom performance, which had just as many glitches as any community production. Some people gave it more effort than others. Here are my grades:

A+ - Mandy Patinkin - Holy shit. He gave a transcendent performance. He was SO into it.

A - Rob Reiner - Played the Grandfather. Does a great Peter Falk.
Chris Sarandon - Film worthy. Just below Mandy Patinkin in delivering a performance rather than just a reading.
Carol Kane - She was racing around the room without leaving her chair.

B - Cary Elwes - Excellent performance, but not up to the A list.
Robin Wright - Same.
Josh Gad - Fezzik - Very good Andre the Giant impression.
Wallace Shawn - Started out slow, gained energy.
Billy Crystal - Technical problem - there was a delay when he was listening to Mandy Patinkin - it affected the timing.
Jason Reitman - Narrator.

D - Finn Wolfhard - The Boy/Yezzick. Just not a good reader.
Christopher Guest - He did not prepare for this as much as some of the others did. Didn't bother to do the Henry Daniell impression he did in the movie. Also - technical problems. He was funnier in the post-show Q&A, where he explained that he was cast because he could finally use his sixth finger.
Shawn Ross (sp?) - Albino. Rarely did his microphone work. Unfortunate.
Whoopie Goldberg - Mom/Boooo Lady. Lackluster. Margie was funnier as the Boooo Lady when we were in a reading.
Eric Idle - Impressive Clergyman. Unimpressive.

More about "The Princess Bride".

1. Rob Reiner's intro - "We have *every living actor* for this! *None* of the dead ones are appearing tonight!"

2. ... Except Fred Savage. It was a Democratic fund-raiser and apparently Mr. Savage is a Republican.

3. After the show:
CARY ELWES: Carol, what kind of a president is President Trump?

4. Margie and I took part in a reading of "The Princess Bride" a couple of years ago. I played Vizzini.
VIZZINI: Let me put it this way: have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates?
VIZZINI: Morons.
It was the biggest, most explosive laugh I've ever gotten in my life. I will always remember that.

And yes, hearing William Goldman's stage directions was wonderful. "There is a huge crowd gathered in the courtyard"? Not Goldman: "... and my god, you've never seen so many people."

Buttermilk Sky said...

Just before Carl Reiner died there was a video of him putting Rob to bed like the grandfather in TPB. I cried.

I'm sure we'll all get much better at the technical side of Zoom before the trumpandemic is under control. Unfortunately.

Brian said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: I believe that I read here that James L. Brooks would laugh loudly at moments when a character would say or do something "in character", whether it was meant to be a joke or not.

What are some of your favorite "in-character" moments/scenes?

For me, one of them is in Taxi. Louie has been fired for sexual harassment and Elaine is trying to make him understand how humiliating it is to be objectified. He then tells a (apparently fact-based) story about having to buy his clothes in the Boys sections of department stores. He apologizes, cries, they hug and...Louie grabs her butt.

Troy McClure said...

I wonder what zoom reading Trump supporting celebrities can do to raise funds for their fascist candidates? Well, now that it's been reported that the pro life party (ho ho) has been mass sterilizing women held in their ICE camps, perhaps Scott Baio, Kristy Swanson, Jon Voight and James Woods can get together for a reading of Triumph of the Will.

Troy McClure said...

I apologize to Ken for posting comments of a political nature, as he probably gets a ton of comments from angry Trumptards afterwards that he has to delete, but when I see the US sinking further and further into fascism every single day, these things need to be said. Maybe it might even give the Republicans who read the blog pause for thought that, perhaps, mass hysterectomies have, you know, a whiff of the Third Reich about them. You know, for a party that calls itself pro life.

Oh, who am I kidding. Even if there was a video of Trump punching a baby, Republicans would say it's an anchor baby who got what it deserved.

VincentS said...

Thirty-THREE years ago, Ken. Easy. We'll get to our final curtains soon enough.

Aaron said...

Fred Savage was not involved as it was his little brother Ben Savage's 40th birthday and they were celebrating. (In case anybody was wondering.)

bmfc1 said...

Why did you say that Mandy Patinkin was trying to "upstage" everyone else? I loved his level of commitment to the character and the event. Was Billy Crystal upstaging as well because he wore a hat from the movie? Perhaps you've had a bad experience with Mandy Patinkin but I guarantee that you were the only viewer that wasn't delighted with his performance.

maxdebryn said...

Mandy Patinkin has the voice of an angel.Like Dennis Day - He is a terrific singer !

MikeN said...

I was surprised to find out the Homeland Guy was also the star of Chicago Hope. I was really surprised to find out he is also Inigo Montoya. This was more shocking than that dumb guy from Signs playing the emperor.

maxdebryn said...

MikeN - The Homeland Guy was also the star of Criminal Minds, co-starring with that other guy from Chicago Hope. They both moved on to browner pastures, though.

Lorimartian said...

The Homeland Guy is also a Tony award winner for his portrayal of Che in
in the musical "Evita."

OT: Alex Trebek just announced on tonight's "Jeopardy" broadcast that Ken Jennings is joining the staff. Will Jennings be Trebek's eventual successor??? "Jeopardy" fans want to know! (If true and it's common knowledge, I must be the last to know...once again. Sigh.)

maxdebryn said...

Lorimartian - As an old person, I have always prefered Art Fleming. I am also a Canadian, so I have loved Alex Trebek since his "Reach for the Top Days."