|Movie musical returns to Empire|
The modern backstage musical, “Music to My Ears,” which closed out the fifth annual Forx Film Fest last November, will have a big-screen return engagement at the Empire Arts Center this weekend. Show dates are Aug. 17-19, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee. Admission is $5 for all seats at all shows and profits help benefit the Empire. Preceding the feature will be a selection of preview trailers to other regionally-produced movies, including “Dangers from Within,” which was shot this summer in Grand Forks and is currently in post-production.
Made entirely in Grand Forks, “Music to My Ears” is an award-winning, feature-length movie musical that was co-produced by and shot largely at the Empire from summer of 2005 through winter 2006. It includes over a dozen popular songs and showtunes, showcasing local actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, as well as the historic theatre building itself. The movie took third place in the “Family Features” category at the Cleveland (Ohio) Indie Gathering film festival in the summer of 2006.
The plot of “Music to My Ears” closely follows the formula of the classic backstage movie musicals, combining comedy, drama, romance, songs, and dance. However, the movie is set in the present day and introduces a few new twists and variations, as well as a few plot elements loosely inspired by actual events in the Empire's history. And instead of a new musical score, the movie uses classic hit songs that fit the plot.
The script was written and produced by UND film lecturer Christopher P. Jacobs, Empire manager Mark Landa, and local dance instructor Jenny Morris, who also served as the movie's choreographer besides playing a leading role. Jacobs also directed the movie.
Other leading characters are played by Lori Barrett, Paul Kelly, Karly Anderson, Royce Blackburn, Louise Pinkerton, Chris Hargreaves, Gordon Dexheimer, Betty Gard, Marjorie Morris, Marc Arnason, Ashley Braxton, Patrick Pearson, Mike Harvey, and Lee Barnum. Actors in the musical numbers all did their own singing for the movie. Accompaniment was performed by local college and high school students, as well as such noted area musicians as Kathy Fiedler, Mike Blake, Bob Cary, Suellen Palya, Paul Boese, and others.
Many of the various song and dance numbers are designed to pay homage to the classic Hollywood movie musicals of the 1930s through the 1950s. Among the 18 different songs performed are such timeless classics as “You Made Me Love You,” “The St. Louis Blues,” “For Me and My Gal,” and “Take Your Girlie to the Movies.”
More information on “Music to My Ears,” along with photos, music files, and preview trailers can be found on the movie's web site by doing a web search on: "Music to My Ears" movie. DVDs of “Music to My Ears” and other local movies are available for sale at the Empire Arts Center's gift shop.