inspired by…

by kellie abrahamson
“There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.” -Bertrand Russell
Fulfill both motives and pick up the inspirations for these upcoming stage shows and films!

on stage

Annie (Alhambra Dinner Theatre, June 3 to July 26)
Inspired by: Little Orphan Annie comics by Harold Gray
Little Orphan Annie has been a comic staple since 1924. The bubblegum-sweet lass was originally drawn to appeal to children, but by the 30s and 40s Annie was having run-ins with ruthless gangsters and blowing up Nazi submarines. Hard knock life, indeed! To give you an idea of the comic’s popularity, Annie’s adventures as a “Junior Commando” during World War II prompted real kids to follow suit by starting their own groups to sell bonds, collect recyclables and do odd jobs to help the war effort. It’s estimated that Boston alone had over 20,000 JCs running around mere months after Gray introduced the group in his comics.
Over the years the beloved character has been the subject of a long-running radio program, at least five movies and a Broadway musical. First Coast theatre lovers will have the opportunity see said musical this month when Annie returns to the Alhambra Dinner Theatre.

Into the Woods (Theatre Jacksonville, June 12-27)
Inspired by: The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim, Brothers Grimm fairytales
A child psychologist, Bettelheim wrote The Uses of Enchantment to encourage parents to start reading fairytales to their children, including those considered too dark for wee ones. In the award-winning book, Bettelheim analyzes well-known stories, arguing that by exposing kids to tales of struggle and ultimate triumph parents are better equipping them to grow into healthy adults.
The Broadway musical Into the Woods takes the fairy tale analysis one step further by allowing the audience to see how the lives of various storybook characters interweave and how their actions will eventually affect themselves and those around them. Little Red Ridinghood, Jack (and his beanstalk), Rapunzel, Cinderella and others make an appearance in this hilarious fractured fairytale presented by Theatre Jacksonville.

on screen

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12)
Inspired by: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 by Morton Freedgood
Freedgood (aka John Godey) was well-known for his gripping crime novels, but it’s The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 that really put him on the map. The story centers on the hijacking of a New York subway train and a gruff police detective’s efforts to keep the passengers alive and bring the bad guys to justice. The book was adapted to film three times, most notably the 1974 hit starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 was also referenced in Reservoir Dogs and Beastie Boys song ‘Sure Shot.’ This month’s film version of Freedgood’s novel stars John Travolta and Denzel Washington and was directed by Tony Scott.

Food, Inc. (June 19)
Inspired by: Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
They say “You are what you eat,” but in a world of chemical additives, filthy factory farms and fast food restaurants serving up extremely high-calorie meals, it’s hard for the average American to know who they are. Schlosser and Pollan have both written books to help people realize the error of their McWays and the new film Food, Inc. hopes to do the same. The documentary will look at the environmental, ethical and financial impact of processed foods as well as how pesticides, genetic engineering and cloning are affecting the heath of people around the world.

My Sister’s Keeper (June 26)
Inspired by My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Picoult’s heart wrenching 2004 novel tells the story of Anna, a young girl born a genetic match for her sister Kate, who suffers from leukemia, for the specific purpose of being a “harvest child.” Anna has gone through countless blood and bone marrow transplants but seemingly draws the line when her parents insist she has a kidney transplant to save her sister’s life. The girl sues her parents for the right to make the choice for herself. The film version stars Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin.

Cheri (June 26)
Inspired by: Cheri by Colette
Famed French author Colette (pen name of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) knew how to shake things up. Three marriages, numerous affairs (including one with her stepson and several with women) and her controversial novels made Colette one of the most talked about authors of her time. Her book Cheri (1920) is what she’s best known for, second only to her novella-turned-musical Gigi. In Cheri Colette tells the story of the unconventional love affair between the flamboyant Cheri and his aging courtesan Lea. The tale has been brought to life multiple times, including twice as a feature film and twice as a TV movie. It’s also the subject of a ballet and an upcoming stage musical. The newest film version stars Michelle Phifer as Lea and Rupert Friend as the title role.