Monday, July 11, 2005

The Hills Were Alive With The Sound of Music - The Hollywood Hills That Is...

Ever been to see that infamous interactive cinematic delight otherwise known as the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Okay, good. Ever been to that other infamous interactive cinematic delight known to fans worldwide as The Sound of Music? No? Oh, c'mon now! Yes, it is a cinematic masterpiece. Yes, it is definitely a delight. And yes, for the last six years in a row the Hollywood Bowl has been producing the annual Sound of Music Sing-A-Long to sell-out audiences making this generational favorite much more than just mere film. In fact, I posit the Hollywood Bowl has helped rocket this film into its current status: interactive cinematic phenomena.

Let me preface the rest of this entry with one important fact: I love the Hollywood Bowl! As a native Angeleno, I've spent many a summer evening (for as long as memory serves) under the stars, nestled in the bosom of the golden Hollywood Hills, gazing at the historic bright Bowl shell, listening to the sweet sounds of the LA Philharmonic or the ever-so consistent Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, oftentimes combined with pyrotechnic wonders even Gandalf would be proud of. Summers at the Hollywood Bowl are a right of passage for any self-respecting Angeleno. Even if the symphony is not your thing, you can bask in the glow of many au courant performers such as Femi Kuti, Oasis or Dead Can Dance (I am definitely getting tix for this Lisa Gerard/Brendan Perry extravaganza - I know I am so 80's, early 90's, whatev-a).

Oh, almost forgot. Sacre bleu! Audience members are required to bring their picnic baskets loaded for bear accompanied by cases of wine and beer (well, we bring cases - hey, it's a long night) or hard liquor if that's your drug of choice. Just kidding...You're not required to join the leagues of picnickers and/or drinkers, but it IS tradition to bring your accoutrements to the Bowl or alternatively looking the looooooooser! And anyway, it's fun! So there.

The newly renovated Bowl shell:







The Bowl shell taken with my camera phone after having a few sips (yes, sips) of wine:















Sit back a moment and picture this: it's a beautifully cool summer evening under the stars, complete with good friends, laughter and a fabulous movie projected on a screen that rivals the one in Zeus' home theater on Mount Olympus. Oh yeah, and there's wine (just in case you've forgotten already). As I stated above, the vino was flowin', so much so that we ditched our Dixie cups in exchange for Slurpee straws. Ah, that's better. Anyone got an IV??? Anyway, there were cabernets and pinots, merlots and sauvignons, chardonnays and even some white zinfandels (charlatans). Now, combine two hours of pre-film drinking, eating, and blissful merriness, shaken not stirred. The result? A well lit crowd that sings, well, more like BELTS OUT, those beloved Rogers and Hammerstein tunes immediately recalling memories of days gone by where nuns sing incessantly and steal carburetors, children wear drapery, couples tryst in gazebos...oh, and Nazis abound. However, nothing chases away an evil Nazi faster than a Julie Andrews tune sung off key by the tone-deaf drunk in the seat next to you. You see, consuming several bottles of wine is a PUBLIC SERVICE. Bet ya didn't know that...thank you LadyLinoleum for showing us the way. Your very welcome.

Did I mention the props? OMG, I've forgotten about those. I am sufficiently detoxed. Really, I am. Anyway, upon entering the seating area at the Bowl, trying desperately to wheel our dolly of wine crates successfully through the crowd, we were handed our bags of props for use during the film. The flimsy, yet FREE, neon yellow plastic bags of goodness containing: (i) a card with a pic of Maria on one side and the erudite term, flibbertigibbit, on the other; (ii) a card with a large question mark on one side and pic of a will o'the wisp on the other side (we were told upon examination by our host for the evening, Reba star Melissa Peterman, that this image was in fact a will o'the wisp and thank God she enlightened us - believe me, it would have troubled me the entire evening, had she not shown us the way); (iii) an invitation to the ball given by that hottie Christopher Plummer and his soon-to-be-thrown-to-the-curb fiance, the Baroness; (iv) a little plastica champagne popper for use during the first kiss between Hottie and Maria; (v) a swatch of drapery; and (vi) a highly pertinent piece o'pvc edelweiss. Think G-Rated Rocky Horror people.

It's all about the props (yes, in addition to the wine).

In fact, my mother looked on in awe as I flawlessly rendered my card-flashing performance of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria. I was amazing. Knowing each and every instance when to flash each card, the correct side with the correct song lyric even. Okay, so I practiced. So what.

Other memorable moments:
  • the entire audience waving their lit cell-phones (new school version of waving cig lighters) in the air during a heart-wrenching version of Edelweiss;
  • hearing my 12 year old daughter yell (um, scream) YOU GO MARIA, when Julie Andrews tells Christopher Plummer that she will not answer to a whistle;
  • counting how many times someone in our group accidentally kicked an open bottle of wine thereby spilling the entire contents remaining in said bottle onto the concrete beneath our feet (hel-lo, this is why we bring ca-ses);
  • watching my mom laugh and have a spectacular time despite the tough year she's been having; and
  • feeling the warmth of my husband and daughter as they snuggled up next to me in the cooling evening.
It was an entire evening spent laughing, crying, reciting entire portions of film dialog (okay, so I'm a nerd), waiting for the perfect moment to run up the hill to the bathrooms (wine, have mercy on my bladder) and of course in song. For those of you not familiar with the lyrics to the ballads in the Sound of Music (shame on you) the wonderful Hollywood Bowl runs a version of the film with the lyrics shown at the bottom of the screen. For the Maria-loving veteran like myself, it's all about singing in your loudest operatic soprano, flashing your cards to the songs, waving your edelweiss in the air and loving the fact that you're hanging out with family and friends, indelibly etching the entire experience upon your memory for future recall because in a world filled with war, famine, disaster and suffering, sometimes the only ray of light shining through the mire is the memory of that evening you spent at the Hollywood Bowl, surrounded by loved ones, singing as loudly as you can, smiling beneath the stars...

23 comments:

Nancy said...

okay.. that is the first time I've actually WANTED to go to L.A.!!

Oh, I would SO be singing, without the wine...I don't need wine...just the song and a place to sing unabashedly...

Nancy

Jane said...

Excellent! I've always wanted to go to one of these. My sister is a veteran of Manchester screenings (filled with gay men dressed as the nuns) and she waves her piece of curtain fabric at the right time. She is word-perfect throughout the whole film. It's like having a transatlantic gap badly dubbed when we watch it with her as she is just that bit ahead of the dialogue in her excitement, and it's quite hysterical. But the Hollywood Bowl must be THE place to go to one of these!

Jessica said...

Heh. As a veteran Rocky Horror attendee, I don't know if I could do that much singing to a movie screen without men in garters and stockings... :)

But it sounds like fun and the wine certainly sounds great!

Kimberly said...

Awesome! I would soooooo love that! Combined with ever flowing wine (hopefully down the throat more than on the pavement) and it is utopia! I confess - I was a nut about this movie, and would be one of those dorks who knows almost every single word! The whole time I was reading your post I was singing "High on a hill was a lonely goatherd Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee hoo"

ladylinoleum said...

OMG Kimberly, THAT is my favorite song in the whole movie! I love to yodel...frightening I know.

ladylinoleum said...

Oh and Jane? I need to hang out with your sister...

rodentia said...

The goatherd song totally rocks! Oh wow, what an amazing experience you've described!

Also, kudos to you on the slurpee straws. My aunt makes some kick ass home made wine, and always serves it to me in Big Gulp cups upon arrival at her front door.

Heather said...

Sounds like a great time!

CraftyCritter said...

Wow.....I wanna go!

Hey I can sew so I can make drapery couture a la Maria!

I love the goatherder song but must admit that I LOVE....Do a deer a female deer, Re a drop of golden sun, mi a ...well you get the picture! I did the play in junior high and to this day when nervous sing do-re-mi....Okay welcome to my dorkdom!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Memories! 1stH and I went regularly from Pasadena on the special bus... you could drink on the bus (I think it was Beethoven's 1812 that snockered me after too much sangria), take your picnic... I always took my own "torta rustica" a sort of calzone with a lattice top... and because it was the 70's you could get stoned even if you didn'g smoke... then by the time you had to walk down the hill you were more or less sobered up, and had time for a nice nap on the trip back to Pasadena.

On our first date, his transmission fell out in front of the Hollywood Bowl. I married him anyway. Thanks for the blast to the past! and the new photos.

Vera said...

That sounds so awesome. When I was in the Air Force, I remember watching the movie in the t.v. room with a dozen others. We has a great time drinking and signing all of the songs.

Julie said...

Wow, I would love to do something like this. I think the family needs to watch Sound of Music tonight. Love the goatherder song, my favorite things, sixteen going on seventeen, and so long farewell. I loved the relationship between Liesl and Friedrich? Of course, I love any West Side Story relationship. I really liked Liesl as a name for my daughter at one point. Also, I had my high school graduation ceremony at the bowl. Thanks for the memories. Sorry I missed you at the WeHo SnB last week. Ellen and I think you'd be great for a book on crocheted food I'm lightly concepting. Who knows what will come of it.

Heather said...

Sounds like fun even if it was The Sound of Music *shiver*

Sara said...

*swoon* I wish I could have been there! DD and I would have loved it. Wonder if this tradition will migrate my way...

I am sooooo totally jealous!

Suse said...

I drive my family bonkers on a regular basis with "once was a girl in a pale pink coat, yodel-lay-odel-layee-odel-lay hay ho! etc etc.

My father was once in a revue that featured the Sound of Music, done in drinking songs. For example ... Edelweiss became "My only vice is scotch on ice ..." and then there was "I've had sixteen going on seventeen ..." and of course the beautiful heartrending "How about a glass of Tia Maria?"

Hilarious stuff.

Jana said...

great post regina!!! we have them here too but i have never gone, its sounds like a blast. i love that movie too. they also have a similar thing with GREASE (the greatest movie ever. a-thankyouverymuch)

Noo said...

I've just chanced upon your blog via a link from Yarnstorm. I love your work! Say hello to the citrus citizens (I like them a lot!).

moki said...

That sounds fabulous. I'm from a very musical so-cal family. I'm surprised I've never heard of this before. Is it relatively new? (I am jealous)

amanda lee said...

Thanks for the memories. I went to a SOM Sing-alonga in 2000 or '01. The Singa-alonga originated in London and then toured the U.S (Be afraid, they also mounted an Annie production). I gather the Bowl version was not a Sing-alonga but still a similar experience. I spent a drunken five minutes waving around plastic daisies from the goodie bag around and yelling, "This ain't no fing edelweiss!" The costume contest was fabulous. Many people dressed as a 'Favorite Thing'. I won, and drank, a door prize.

~drew emborsky~ said...

In case for some odd reason one hasn't attended Rocky Horror, one can rent the DVD and it has an alternate audio track where one can hear the, shall we say, "sing-a-long" version.

Not rated G, btw.

Thanks for sharing your experience Regina. If I go outside right now in Houston I would be totally drenched in sweat within ten minutes. C'mon winter!!!!

jessica said...

totally jealous! Weirdness too...as I was reading this blog thinking I must go, I must go even though you are on the other side of the United States...my kids were watching the dvd of what else? The Sound of Music. That sounds like the best time. Thanks for sharing.

MX said...

I just found you and you're making me so homesick!

I left L.A. (against my will) almost 3 years ago after living there for 26 years. In all that time, my most favorite thing was the Bowl and I've missed it so.

Thanks for sharing your lovely evening there!!

Rebecca said...

sounds like you had a wonderful time - shhh, i've never seen sound of music OR the rocky horror picture show

tragic, i know