Catholics in Hollywood

Last night, through a serendipitous reconnection with an old colleague, I was able to nab a ticket to a movie premiere.

Before I get into that, though, I’d like to offer a disclaimer of sorts. I rarely discuss politics or religion on this blog. These are topics that inevitably alienate people. However, I’d be lying if I said that my faith doesn’t inspire my creative work. Being Catholic is part of my identity, and as we know, the best pieces of art are ones that come from that innermost energy. But- back to last night.

The Sheen Center, a Catholic-fueled arts and culture center in the heart of NYC, was lucky enough to host the first full screening of The Star. This is a new animated picture that essentially tells the story of the 1st Christmas from the perspective of the animals. It is directed by Timothy Reckart, will be released in cinemas this November, and features an all-star roster of voice actors.

I made my way to the Sheen Center (it’s located on Bleecker Street) from Midtown Manhattan, arriving at about 6:15pm. As I waited in the lobby for the house to open, tea in hand, I noticed a nun on her smartphone. Welcome to 21-century Catholicism, folks. This event was invite-only, and yet the spread of people in attendance was remarkably diverse…it spanned many ages, races, and laypeople/clergy.

Once inside the theatre, I marveled at how nice the Sheen Center building was. It was polished, clean, and managed to be both classical and modern in its architecture. Behind the house- in another lobby- they had setup a little red carpet in front of a giant poster for The Star

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…so, of course, I couldn’t resist posing for a photo. This was also where I met Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. He was being swarmed, but the ten or so words I managed to say to him were still cool. He also gave some opening remarks before the film began.

The Star itself was really cute, and you could tell that everyone involved had a lot of heart. I think it will be a great tool for teaching this seminal story of faith to kids. It was nice that the filmmakers strove to be as Biblically accurate as possible while focusing on the animals’ journeys. I’ll admit it- I got a little misty-eyed at the end.

When the movie was over, its director (Oscar nominee Tim Reckart) was interviewed onstage. He discussed his experiences in Hollywood, his own faith, and how both of these things led to The Star‘s creation. I knew I wanted to talk to Mr. Reckart, too, so I found him in the crowd before I left. I said that I was a playwright, thanking him for making showbiz a little safer for Christian artists.

He then graciously agreed to autograph my postcard featuring the film’s artwork. So now I can say that I own a piece of Hollywood memorabilia. In a nutshell, my 1st experience at a Sheen Center event was certainly one that left me feeling good. I got to meet like-minded people, enjoy a festive film, and learn more about my craft as well as my faith. I hope the Sheen Center has a long and fruitful life as a part of NYC’s cultural fabric. After all, in these troubled times, we need places like that to shine a little light.

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Suddenly Surprise!

Good afternoon, my wonderful readers! I’m just writing a quick note to say that, because I have a special post planned for next week, today’s will consist of some favorite musical-themed GIFs. (None of these were created by me.)

We now return to your regularly-scheduled Puccini’s Chronicles programming.

The Villains are RESTLESS!

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Last night, my friend Erika and I attended the “Broadway Villains Party” at Feinstein’s/54 Below! I had a voucher for a free show and partial dinner cover, so a $100+ night wound up costing less than $25. And it was a blast. We finally got to watch Patrick Page sing Hunchback‘s “Hellfire” live, so now we can both die happy. Other highlights of the evening included “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, Tony winner Ruthie Ann Miles slaying “Mother Knows Best” from Tangled, and a drag queen Cruella de Vil. They even had a woman maniacally perform “The Confrontation” from Jekyll & Hyde. The whole roster was superb and the food was delicious. And look at how close we were to the stage!

At the Barricades of Freedom (aka the Hollywood premiere)

If You're Too Short You're in the Wrong Profession

Yes, my dear friends, that nutcase in the pink hat is me…standing along the barricades of the U.S. premiere of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This was only the second time I had “crashed” a Hollywood red carpet- the first was for the Meryl Streep flick Hope Springs a few years back. The key difference between that one and this experience was the weather…then, it was August and warm…here, it was March and cold. I did see Ben Affleck for like five seconds (the hordes of press blocked my vision) and get a free shirt with the movie’s logo. But at what cost? Nursing the flu for the past three days, that’s what. As a direct result of my convalescence, this little anecdote will be my post for the week. Sorry guys. Next week I’ll be writing something more substantial- promise!