The Capitol and Accessibility

Recently, there has been quite a bit of buzz in the cinema community about the Department of Justice’s proposal for new closed captioning requirements. As we have been planning an accessibility-focused programming series over the past year, this news was very exciting for us.

For the Capitol, accessibility means more than simply complying with federal laws. We believe that the community is enhanced through a broader conceptualization of disability that calls for inclusion, integration, and equality. We recognize that with a strengthened focus on accessibility, diversity, and inclusion, the cultural experience is enriched not only for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, but for all who participate.

As we develop our accessibility-focused programming series, we will be working under the advisement of Diane Wiener, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., the Director of Syracuse University’s Disability Cultural Center. Drawing upon the DCC’s A Guide to Planning Inclusive Events, Seminars, and Activities at Syracuse University, and materials from the Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee, we will offer full-length films in ASL as well as captioned films and interpreted live theatrical events.

We are thrilled by the possibilities this program will offer the community at large, and are hopeful about the outcome of the DOJ’s proposal. For more information about the proposal, we recommend this handy Q&A. Additionally, Michael Schwartz’s “The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act: A Summary and an Argument for Going Beyond the Law” offers a comprehensive explanation of the importance of accessibility.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bidding adieu to a legend…

Last week, the world lost an icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Upon hearing the news of the passing of Lauren Bacall, we wanted to discuss the icon’s career and impact, but our writings seemed to fall short. A New York Times article came closer to doing Bacall justice, and we respectfully share it here: Lauren Bacall Dies at 89; in a Bygone Hollywood, She Purred Every Word.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We’re Cooking with Capitolfest

William Powell enjoying some ice cream. Photo courtesy dsata.blogspot.com.

As you can imagine, when you work at a theatre that does a lot of classic repertory, you also tend to have hobbies that you’ve acquired in that vein over the course of your work.

I work as Development Director at the Capitol, building relationships with our supporters and patrons to gather resources for the work that we do, but in my free time I love to collect recipes from Hollywood stars (among other things). If you like to cook, you may enjoy some of these gems—related to the stars, up-and-comers, and character actors of Capitolfest—both from my own collection and the research of others.

From William Powell, our featured star:

Vatrouskis

From Henry Armetta, featured in Steady Company (Universal, 1932):

The cover of the booklet from which this recipe is taken. Courtesy of the Kylie Pierce collection.

Veal Chops with Noodles

From A&P Menu: A Weekly Publication on Foods, Recipes, Menus and Kitchen Lore, week ending December 5, 1936

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 loin veal chops
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 green pepper, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 1 #2 can tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pkg. noodles, cooked

Melt butter, brown chops and onion, add pepper, celery, tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer for 40 minutes. Add noodles, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.

From Edward Arnold, featured in Roman Scandals (Goldwyn, 1933):

A letter of carving advice from Edward Arnold Shows you how to Carve, a publication of Ekco Products Company ©1948

The cover of the booklet from which this letter is taken. Courtesy of the Kylie Pierce collection.

Folks in different parts of our country sometimes use different names for the same cuts of meat—a club steak in Chicago, for instance, is a Delmonico in New York—but meat dealers and butchers everywhere usually know all the names, and you should have little trouble identifying them in Main, California, or points between.

When you are in doubt about how the grain of a piece of meat runs, follow the cut your butcher has made; he always makes his cuts across the grain.

It’s always wise to have an extra hot plate beside the plate on which the meat rests so that you can place the bones you remove out of the way, and, when you carve a large roast or bird, so you can place the slices on it as you carve them.

Some carvers prefer to serve each slice or cut of meat as they carve it. I do not. Slices piled on top of each other on a convenient hot plate retain heat much longer than the servings on plates of individuals politely waiting until all are served; and if the repast happens to be one of those large and informal family affairs where nobody waits for anybody else, the poor carver who serves as he slices is likely to starve to death, because the first serves will always be ready for more the minute the last served has been handed his portion.

Should the carver sit or stand while performing his task? In all cases, particularly where a large roast or bird is concerned, it is best for the carver to stand. Even small roasts, steaks and chickens are more easily carved in that manner. Only a very experienced carver who no longer needs to watch his own every action can carve effectively and gracefully while sitting.

One final word. In carving, as in almost everything else, experience is the best teacher of all. The more you carve, the more expert you will become—and the more you will enjoy your role. May you play it often and well.

Edward Arnold

From Lew Ayres, star of My Weakness (Fox, 1933):

Lew Ayres and Donna Reed have lunch at the M-G-M commissary. Photo courtesy ACertainCinema.com.

Lamb Chops with Oranges

From My Radio Chat with Lew Ayres by Louella Parsons, for “Sunkist Musical Cocktail,” April 29, 1931

  • 6 lamb chops
  • Melted butter
  • Sliced Sunkist Oranges
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika

Trim fat from thick chops and dip in melted butter. Oil broiler well and broil chops 8 minutes. Turn and place a thick slice of peeled orange on each chop. Broil 8 or 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle generously with the seasonings. Serve hot.

From the Executive Restaurant at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer:

California Tossed Salad

From Best Recipes from the Backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars by Ceil Dyer and Adrien Laurencelle, ©1982 by Galahad Books

Beautiful, just beautiful, is what I call this salad. First served many years ago in the executive restaurant of MGM Studios in Hollywood, it was adapted for a national ad by the Diamond® Walnut Company.

  • ½ cup large pieces Diamond® Walnuts
  • 1/3 cup salad oil
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 3 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. marjoram, crumbled
  • ¼ tsp. dill weed
  • 1 ½ quarts torn mixed salad greens
  • 6 ozs. cooked shrimp or prawns (or 1.5 oz. can drained)
  • 1 large tomato, cut in wedges
  • ¼ cup radish slices
  • ¼ cup ripe olive slices
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped chives or green onion
  • ¼ cup cheese cubes

Young married Lucy and Desi in the kitchen. Photo courtesy Lucy_Fan.

Toast walnuts lightly in small skillet over low heat with 1 tsp. oil, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle with ¼ tsp. seasoned salt. Cool. Beat together remaining oil, salt, lemon juice, sugar, marjoram and dill weed. In large bowl, combine greens, shrimp, tomato, radish, olives and chives. Stir dressing ; pour over salad. Toss until evenly coated. Add walnuts; toss again. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve at once. Makes 2 quarts salad, 4 large servings.

From Lucille Ball, featured in Roman Scandals (Goldwyn, 1933):

Chicken Sauté
Persimmon Cake
Sunday Night Goulash

From George Bancroft, star of Derelict (Paramount, 1930):

Orange Meringue Pie

From My Radio Chat with George Bancroft by Louella Parsons, for “Sunkist Musical Cocktail,” April 22, 1931

(Makes 1 pie)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Grated rind from 1 Sunkist Orange
  • 1 cup Sunkist Orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sunkist Lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten light
  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

Mix first four ingredients, add fruit juices and cook in double boiler 10 minutes, stirring until thickened. Add butter and egg yolks.

Cook 2 minutes longer. Cool and turn into baked pie shell. Cover with meringue made of stiffly beaten egg shites, 6 tablespoons sugar and baking powder.

Put into moderate oven for 10 minutes to brown.

From Lucey’s Restaurant (a Paramount Studios favorite):

Lucey's Restaurant, 5444 Melrose Ave., across from Paramount Studios.

Italian Melon Mold

From Eggs I Have Known by Corinne Griffith, ©1955 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc.

  • 1 4-pound honeydew
  • Milk to moisten
  • 3 small pieces crystallized ginger
  • 3 packages Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 3 large slices pineapple
  • ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts

Cut the end of the honeydew melon just to the seed cavity. Spoon out seeds and juice. When the very last seed has been removed, peel the rind from the melon. Set aside. Moisten cream cheese with enough milk to stand light and fluffy. Add pineapple slices cut in small pieces. Add ginger, chopped small. Add chopped pistachio nuts. Now fill melon with this mixture and place in refrigerator for at least three hours—overnight is better. Slice in inch-thick slices across the melon and serve on a base of dark green leaves—grape leaves if possible.

On the side put an adequate amount of mayonnaise, after it has been lightened with whipping cream. Garnish with three rose-colored oleander blossoms, as it was served at Lucey’s, or three small pink flowers, for the sheer beauty of it all.

From Eddie Cantor, star of Roman Scandals (Goldwyn, 1933):

Eddie Cantor and Deanna Durbin enjoy some ice cream in Toronto, 1952. Photo courtesy FormerDays.com.

Orange Avocado Canapé

From My Radio Chat with Eddie Cantor by Louella Parsons, for “Sunkist Musical Cocktail,” May 6, 1931

(Serves 1)

Peel large Sunkist Orange, cut in 1/3 inch slices. As base of each canapé, use slice of orange. In this heap whipped avocado made by beating avocado pulp with Sunkist Lemon juice and a dash of French mustard. Garnish, if desired, with slices of stuffed olive.

Many thanks to Stargayzing, Everything Lucy, and Silver Screen Suppers for the linked recipes and lots of fun narrative. Bon appetit!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book vs. Movie: JURASSIC PARK

Full disclosure: it’s been quite some time since I read Jurassic Park, but as the excitement builds around our August 2 showing of the film, I have been thinking back about that thrilling beach read.

There’s something about the summer where we allow ourselves to “slack off” a bit—read something you usually wouldn’t, watch a big summer blockbuster you would generally think less of. Several years ago, I picked up a couple of used paperback copies of Michael Chrichton novels before going away for a summer vacation. I’m not much of a “thriller” fan, but they captured my imagination with their quick pacing and use of popular science. While occasionally a little clichéd, in the way that genre fiction can be, Chrichton’s writing is enjoyable nonetheless.

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 picture (with a screenplay co-written by Chrichton) is a great summer thriller. Few films’ special effects hold up 20+ years later, but as A.A. Dowd wrote for The A.V. Club (Nov. 7, 2013), “Jurassic Park still feels like the quintessential special-effects movie. The pacing may feel more sluggish and the continuity errors may be more obvious in hindsight, but time has scarcely eroded the movie’s visual pleasures.” And while the big screen certainly adds to the thrill of the experience (the T. Rex is especially impressive on the Capitol’s giant screen!), Spielberg’s reigned-in moments are what truly build the tension—who knew deftly-timed vibrations in a glass of water could be so nerve-wracking?

While I will never advocate not reading a book, and I usually come down on the side of the book, I’m going to have to say this book vs. movie is a tie. Both film and text provide quintessential summer thrills, splashy and enjoyable entertainment.

See JURASSIC PARK at the Rome Capitol Theatre, Wednesday, August 6 at 7:00 pm. Tickets available online and at the box office.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A word from our intern…

This summer, we hosted Rome-native and SUNY Potsdam student Tiffany Smalls for an internship. As a SummerStage vet, Tiffany had a unique perspective on her internship with the Capitol, and brought her enthusiasm to the Capitol complex. We were lucky to have her! Here, Tiffany shares a bit about her experience this summer…

When I found out that I was going to do my internship at the Capitol Theatre, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Previously, my only experience with the theatre had been performing in the SummerStage musicals, so it was definitely interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes.

I quickly learned that there was a lot of preparation and teamwork that goes into making things run smoothly at the Capitol. Everyone has their job that contributes to the overall flow of things. With the aide of volunteers and a dedicated staff, I witnessed a sense comraderie that is perfect for a nonprofit organization. There’s a real love and appreciation for the art of film, drama, and for the theatre itself that I think resonates with the people who come through the doors.

Up until I started doing this internship, I hadn’t seen any of the movies that are shown at the Capitol. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. The quality of the film is a lot higher than I anticipated and they show a variety of different films. When they showed “The Goonies,” I was surprised by the amount of people who showed up. The theatre was packed and very much alive. Being on the stage, I know how fantastic it feels to breathe life back into the theatre with every show, and it was great to see that the Capitol can do the same, while sticking to its artistic roots.

I know that people might not think too much of an old theatre in a small town, but one of the best things I’ve learned thus far from this internship is that the Capitol Theatre really does a lot to give back to the community. I think it’s one of those hidden treasures that people tend to overlook, but can really appreciate if they give it a chance. From the people in charge, to the volunteers, to the people who support the arts, I can honestly say that the Capitol is a community of passion and support, within itself, and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to work there.

Don’t forget to say hi to Tiffany on her last day with the theatre– coincidentally, it’s the last day of SummerStage, too! She’ll be at SummerStage presents MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT on Saturday– the show starts at 7:30, get your tickets today!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The First Captain America of the Silver Screen

Captain America serial poster

Here in the 21st Century, Captain America has become big box office at the movies. The two movies produced since 2011 (Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Solder) were both substantial moneymakers. Introduced in late 1940 as a super-hero to help U.S. win the war (in which we were not even involved at the time), the character’s on-screen time during the war years was actually limited to a single movie, albeit a 15-chapter serial.

Republic’s serial was filmed entirely during the months of October and November of 1943, and was the most expensive chapter play the studio had produced to date. But the serial was not originally scripted to feature Captain America at all–it was conceived for another character, the identity of which historians have debated for decades. Whoever it was supposed to be, Captain America is who it was, and Dick Purcell was cast as the patriotic crime fighter, the alter-ego of crusading District Attorney Grant Gardner. As depicted in Joe Simon’s comic books, however, the hero was the physically puny Steve Rogers, rejected by the army and made into a superhero as the result of a scientist’s attempt to create a super-being to fight the Nazis. Some German-Americans protested Captain America’s violently antagonistic behavior towards Germany in this period just before the U.S. entered the war, but these objections faded away after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and our subsequent declarations of war on Germany and Japan.

Dick Purcell as Captain America

Ironically, this war-time Captain America serial did not involve Nazis in any way—instead, the hero is pitted against an arch criminal called “The Scarab,” who brings about the suicides of the members of Mayan expedition by means of a hypnotic chemical called “The Purple Death,” all in an attempt to acquire a pair of secret weapons that will allow him to dominate humanity. Timely (later Marvel) Comics, owners of the character, were not pleased that many of the elements of their Captain America were missing, including his sidekick, Bucky, the super-soldier serum, and even his iconic round shield—replaced by a standard revolver.

It turned out to be one of the last movies for the 35-year-old Dick Purcell, who died of a heart attack in April of 1944 after finishing 18 holes of golf.

In a rare switch from the norm, it is the newer (2011 film) that returned to the character’s origins, and finally gave the fans of the comic books what they considered to be the real Captain America.

Presented by Rome Memorial Hospital, see Captain America: The First Avenger at the Capitol Theatre Wednesday, July 23 at 7 PM– for just $1!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fly-Paper

Valentine’s Day may be February 14th, but if you’ve got a sweetheart, there’s not a more romantic film to take them to than The Fly, which we’re running as part of our Drive-In Double Feature, July 25 at 7:00.  No, I’m not putting you on—the tragic story of a scientist mutilated by atoms gone wild is actually one of the most heart-wrenching pictures in the science-fiction category.  Hollywood has a love affair with beauty-and-the-beast stories, but frequently the latter is beastly before beauty meets him. In The Fly—and I don’t want to give away too much to those of you who haven’t seen the picture—the beast that comes between Andre Delambre (Al—later David—Hedison) and his wife (Patricia Owens) is truly the thing of pathos.

The picture also stars Vincent Price in a surprisingly heroic part (one of his last—he’d soon be typecast as always the villain), and veteran Herbert Marshall puts in his usual best.  In CinemaScope and color on the Capitol screen, it’s an excellent filmic experience.  In addition to The Fly, we’ll also have a co-feature (title to be announced shortly) and the usual cavalcade of trailers and snipes from my collection.  Special drive-in concession stand products will be available courtesy of Brenda from Brenda’s Natural Foods.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shining a Light on Learning

As many of you know, the Capitol just celebrated our 85th anniversary in December of last year– we’re quite an institution around here! But while we value our historic standing, we are constantly striving for ways to expand our services to better serve the community.

Thus, we are in the early stages of developing a new dynamic, engaging arts education program focused on discovery and individual growth. The Capitol Theatre Complex education program will extend our commitment to enhancing the vibrancy of the community through arts education. It is our belief that exposure to live theatre ignites a student’s imagination, opening the door to a greater understanding of the world and a lifelong love of arts. The goal of the Capitol Arts Teaching Services program (or CATS, for short) is to reach children and adolescents in tandem with their schools to stimulate intellectual curiosity. The skills that students will learn during the program will build a foundation for a lifetime of learning and appreciation of the arts.

As of 2014, 27 states including New York define the arts as a “core” or “academic” subject. Despite this designation, arts funding has been increasingly cut for schools. In an effort to supplement this gap, and bolstered by the evidence that a holistic education should include visual and kinesthetic learning, we hope to grow this program into a staple of the Mohawk Valley education system.

We are still in the early wtages of developing our long-range education program goals, and we’d love your input! If you believe that the arts plays an integral role in educating the children of our community, if you want to bring a wider variety of arts programming to schools throughout the Mohawk Valley, or simply for more information about this new program, please contact kate@romecapitol.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Before THE WIZARD OF OZ

Mention “The Wizard of Oz” to just about anyone today and they all think of the same thing—the 1939 MGM film. But the story was extremely well known for years before anyone at MGM even thought of making their version. The book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was authored by L. Frank Baum and first published in 1900, and was a hit at once. A couple of years later Baum fashioned a libretto for a stage musical. The resulting show starred the musical comedy team of Dave Montgomery and Fred Stone, and was entitled The Wizard of Oz. This production further enhanced the show’s fame after a Broadway run of 464 performances and a national tour. (In this version Toto is replaced by Imogene, a pantomime cow.) The first film version, a one-reeler (about 12 minutes), followed in 1910. Baum himself got into the movie business in 1914 with the creation of the Oz Film Manufacturing Company. Several cheaply produced movies based on Oz books were released (based on various sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), but the venture proved unsuccessful.

Fred Stone & Dave Montgomery in THE WIZARD OF OZ

In 1925 comedian Larry Semon produced, directed, and starred in a feature film called The Wizard of Oz. Semon’s wife Dorothy Dwan played Dorothy, but this movie’s resemblance to the novel was slight, and the principals (which included Oliver Hardy) only briefly dressed up as the Oz characters. 1933 saw the release of an animated cartoon short of The Wizard of Oz (7 minutes), as well as a radio serial sponsored by Jell-O. The radio series used the book as a starting point, but also incorporated parts of other Oz books into the plot. 12-year-old Nancy Kelly, a future Hollywood leading lady, played Dorothy, with Bill Adams as the Scarecrow, Parker Fennelly as the Tin Woodman, and J. Scott Smart as the Cowardly Lion. The series ended in 1934.

By the time THE Wizard of Oz movie came out in August of 1939, the story was well known to millions. No one would have guessed it at the time, but the tale of Dorothy and Toto’s adventures the land of Oz would, if anything, be even better known 75 years later. No longer through L. Frank Baum’s literary creation, but through the celluloid masterpiece that has become the definitive version for several generations.

See the 1939 version at the Capitol this Friday, May 16, 7:00 pm and Saturday, May 17, 2:30 pm & 7:00 pm.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Book vs. Movie: “The Group”

For our newest recurring editorial, Capitol staff members are tackling the age old question—which is better, the book or the movie? These arguments can often grow heated, and while I’ll inevitably come down on the side of the book, there are a few notable exceptions.

This month’s selection was The Group by Mary McCarthy (1963) and the 1966 film of the same named, directed by Sidney Lumet. My interest in the story was originally piqued by a Vanity Fair article on McCarthy (“Vassar Unzipped,” by Laura Jacobs, July 2013), describing the book as McCarthy’s “Mount Olympus and her Achilles’ heel, a monster international success that brought world fame yet failed to impress the peers who mattered most.”

A scene from the 1966 film adaptation of The Group, directed by Sidney Lumet, with Jessica Walter as Libby, Joanna Pettet as Kay, and Shirley Knight as Polly. Inset, the book’s original, 1963 edition.

This critique is understandable—as a literary work, the novel fails to deliver. An insider’s look at the lives of eight Vassar graduates in the years leading up to World War II McCarthy’s writing is both catty and languid, sort of an “in” joke. Maybe it’s my modern perspective, but it felt purposefully “name-droppy,” to coin a term—appropriate, given the exclusivity of the eponymous group.

It was interesting, however, to see the ways in which the novel dealt with controversial subjects, including contraception, sexual assault, and homosexuality—all very ahead of its time. The film is a bit less explicit in its presentation of these matters, though felt very true to the spirit of the novel. My main objection with both the novel and the film was the excess of characters. With too few variations in characterization and storyline, I felt that a couple of the girls could have been excluded without the story suffering. Overall, the whole thing felt a bit like vintage “chick lit,” though it was enjoyable as such,

While the highlight of the film had to be the fantastic costumes by Anna Hill Johnstone (those hats!), I’m going to have to come out on the side of the book in this showdown.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment