Thursday, October 14, 2010

Reflections on THE SMILE

It was quite an evening as the award-winning documentary SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS:THE UP WITH PEOPLE STORY debuted at Nashville's Belcourt Theatre with a Question & Answer session following, involving Director Lee Storey and former UWP cast member, Linda Blackmore Cates, who was interviewed for the film.

I would estimate there were about 60-70 people who came to see the show. Actually, I was a little low. The final attendance was 80 people according to officials at the Belcourt. Among the former Sing-Out South and UWP folks (who I saw there) were:

Pat Hankins Kemper
Ann Garrett Clay
Gene Nolan
Pat Nolan
Christy Marsh Haines
Linda Blackmore Cates
Bill Cates
Hazel Robinson
Jerry Baker
Dave Cannon
George Thomas
Ruth Hammontree Anstrey
Judy Engels

After I announced at the Question & Answer session that we are trying to organize a 45th Reunion for Sing-Out South in 2011, two other UWP alumni from the 1980s contacted me and want to be involved. I have added them to our list.

One of the fun parts of the documentary was watching all the historic footage (some never seen before) of the UWP casts performing over the years. Among the crowd of folks who appeared on screen (usually very briefly) included several former Sing-Out South folks, including, of course Linda Cates and her husband Bill, as well as Steve Hinton who I spotted running down an airport tarmac carrying some luggage. This footage was likely taken when he was with Cast C during their tour of Panama in 1967

There were also a couple of long shots of Wanda Ricks Harrell on screen while she was listening and singing on stage during a performance. Very nice footage of you, Wanda! You can see her below in the freeze frame of the video and about minute into this preview trailer of the documentary....

I also spotted Harriet Cates and I think Alfred Saffel in one of the shots of the cast, and then there was perhaps the most unexpected photo.

It is very brief snippet of...of all things... the original cast of SING-OUT SOUTH from an early show featuring Eddie Lunn and Don Johnson...

This is a photograph of the SOS performance that is shown briefly in the documentary. As you can see it was done before we had our uniforms selected and therefore occured prior to our premiere shows at Hillsboro High School March 25-26, 1966.

When I saw the film clip, I recognized this particular performance because of the somewhat unique curtain treatment at the top of the stage. This show was one we did at the old Seward Air Force in early March, 1966. Only a portion of the original cast was involved, designated as a "Task Force" to do the show.

I have found some newspaper clips about this which I will scan and research further, then try and put up more information soon here on the blog.

But the real questions are: How did a film of this SOS performance wind up in the vaults of Up With People? Why was it filmed? Does anyone who performed in that show remember a camera crew being there that night?

This is a very exciting find! This could be the ONLY remaining footage of SOS in performance! Yes, we did several TV shows, but the video tapes of those shows have been lost forever with only a couple of audio tapes surviving. This could be a one of kind thing!

I asked Lee Storey about that footage after the Q&A session. She was not completely sure but thought it was done in a 16mm format. I am going to try and keep in touch with her to see if we can get access to it, so we can make a copy to show at the Reunion. Wouldn't that be great!

I have more thoughts and reflections to share about the substance of the documentary itself. I have asked others to send me their thoughts and a few of them have done so. I will be posting those in the new few days.

In the meantime, Lee Storey says SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS will be available for sale on DVD next year. I hope we can get a copy of that as well to show on a large screen TV at the Reunion. That would another treat...and I know would generate quite a discussion, as you will see from some of the comments of those who saw the SMILE documentary Monday night.

I will be posting that next time.

1 comment:

  1. I am an old friend (ex-military) of Judy Engels from the D.C. area and would like to get in touch with her if possible. Can someone pass my interest along to her?