NOVEMBER 15 RETROSPECTIVE EVENT POSTPONED
Due to scheduling conflicts, the retrospective of Mr. Reynolds' 55-year career scheduled for November 15 at the Eissey Campus/Palm Beach State College has been postponed. Watch for updates. The event is expected to be back on the calendar in March of 2017. Please check our newsletters and website for more information as it becomes available.
ROSARIAN ACADEMY TO HOST BURT REYNOLDS INSTITUTE FUNDRAISER
Q&A WITH BURT REYNOLDS PRIOR TO SHOWING OF HIT FILM HOOPER
Rosarian Academy will welcome movie star and Florida’s favorite son Burt Reynolds to their stage at the Picotte Fine Arts Center on Saturday evening, October 15. Prior to a showing of Reynolds’ hit movie Hooper, there will be a 30 minute Q&A with questions submitted by the audience. In a recent interview, Reynolds, who is well-known for his quick wit and self-deprecating sense of humor, said that he appreciates these opportunities to connect directly with his fans. “I never know what questions will be asked. Sometimes I think my fans know more about my life than I do. Anticipation keeps me on my toes.”
Hooper, an action/comedy film released in 1978, was directed by Reynolds’ good friend, the late Hal Needham, and also stars Sally Field, Jan-Michael Vincent, Brian Keith, Robert Klein, James Best and Adam West. The film pays homage to stuntmen and stuntwomen who, at one time, were unrecognized and unappreciated in the movie industry.
In September 2015, Reynolds was honored with the Richard Farnsworth Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions supporting stuntman in the film industry. In his acceptance speech he said that “… being honored by my fellow stuntmen—the people I believe deserve much more credit than they have ever been given for making a good movie great—is one of the highlights of my life.”
Reynolds’ film career includes memorable performances as Lewis Medlock in the controversial film Deliverance and Bo “Bandit” Darville of Smokey and the Bandit fame. The Academy Award nominee and Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner has enjoyed enormous success not only as an actor but also as a producer and director in feature films, television and stage productions. Reynolds has been recognized as America's Favorite All Around Motion Picture Actor winning the People’s Choice Award a record six consecutive years. The National Association of Theatre Owners presented him with Star of the Year recognition and named him the Most Popular Star for five years running. He was also named the #1 Box Office Star for five years in a row—still an unmatched record.
Robert Sherman, the Director of Rosarian’s Theatre Arts Program, is also an instructor at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre. Having Reynolds, whom he considers a mentor and friend, appearing at Rosarian is a dream come true. “For many years, I’ve wanted to introduce Burt Reynolds to our students. Much of what I know as a teacher and a professional actor I learned from him. His movies are timeless, fun and a visual reminder that, if you love what you do for a living, it will show in your performance.”
The movie event will begin at 7:30 pm with the Q&A followed by the showing of Hooper at 8PM. Tickets are $35 and are available at: https://ra.booktix.com
HOW DO I SAY "THANK YOU"?
By Donna Carbone
Anticipation is a funny thing. While mostly a joyous experience, it can also be tinged with anxiety and fear. I am sure you can remember what it was like to be a child anxiously waiting for Santa Claus. We were so excited by the thought that Santa would be sliding down the chimney or coming through the front door with a sack full of presents that rewarded a year of good behavior. But wait… were we actually on our best behavior for twelve solid months? Naughty or nice – how would Santa judge our efforts. Even children know that perfection is unattainable no matter how hard they try.
That seesaw of joy and fear is one I rode for the five months leading up to the presentation of my play, Shell of a Man, on September 1. Christmas truly did come early for me this year, but the many weeks prior to the show were a mix of positive and negative emotions I have never before experienced. Shell of a Man was presented as a dinner theater production at Another Broken Egg Café (ABE) at Harbourside Place in Jupiter before a sold out crowd. It was a success – a far greater success than I ever could have imagined – and as jubilant as I am, that jubilance is tempered by the fact that I did not get there alone. Many people deserve to be acknowledged for helping me to jump the hurdles in my path and, eventually, to realize my dream.
Allow me to start with the man who made this play possible by sharing his life story with me and touching my heart so deeply that I am never able to forget his words. His name is Robert and, while I know his surname, I will never reveal it out of respect for his privacy. We have never met face to face. I hear his voice only through the emails we have exchanged for five years. Those emails were generated by two editorials I wrote in 2011 supporting better healthcare for our veterans, particularly those suffering with PTSD. Robert, a Vietnam veteran, wrote to me, expressing his thanks and beginning what was to become a much cherished and, often, painful friendship.
Robert shared details of his life that few others know. His words left me heavy hearted and longing to help. In a sense, he was the ultimate Santa Claus because the trust he put in me is the greatest gift I have ever received. Robert is black. He has tasted the prejudice of a Southern upbringing. He became a husband, father, soldier and law enforcement office. He rose to be a union president and “fell” into janitorial service. He saw death and wished to die. He survived.
The more Robert revealed to me about his life, the more I realized that, even being an educated person, I knew nothing about life in a culture I had never experienced. I wanted… I needed… to share his story with others and, with his permission, Shell of a Man was born in an attempt to bring awareness to the needs of our veterans and pay homage to the men and women who have made the privileged life we live possible. However, Robert’s story goes deeper. It is timely because now, while the media seems focused on convincing us that blacks and whites will never be friends, it proves that one small kind act from an unexpected source can influence a life forever.
But… writing Shell of a Man was just the first step. Once the play was completed, I began looking for venues open to the idea of presenting it. In April 2015, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) – one of the largest and most reputable black performing arts troupes in the country – selected Shell of a Man for their Spotlight on Playwrights series. TBAAL is housed within the Dallas Convention Center and that is where some very talented actors breathed life into my words for the first time. To write about that experience would require more space than this editorial provides. Suffice it to say that I learned we are much more alike than we are different and, again, Robert gave me a gift more valuable than gold.
After Dallas, I struggled to find another venue willing to showcase Robert’s story. I met one brick wall after another. The plight of our veterans, especially those suffering with PTSD, is a touchy subject. Many artistic directors told me that people don’t go to the theater to be reminded that other people are suffering. What was I to do?
Here is where fate comes into play. In April 2014, I hosted a grand opening for a new client and through that event I met the very wonderful people at Allied Capital and Development (ACD) – the company that manages Harbourside Place. That meeting led to a friendship which, eventually, led to an invitation to host a book signing for my first novel at Another Broken Egg Café. Beignets, Coffee and Conversation, the name we gave the event, was a hit and paved the way for Shell of a Man. Thanks to the support and encouragement of Connie Kartell, Sarah Lott and John Hamma of ACD’s management team and thanks to the warm welcome of managers and wait staff at Another Broken Egg Café, Shell of a Man found a home.
But… that was just the second step. Producing a play is a long, tedious, frustrating, high/low experience that can drain even the most determined individuals. The date for the play was set twice and cancelled twice. Finding someone qualified to portray Robert on stage was proving to be a nearly impossible task. Then, once again, fate stepped in when one Sunday morning a tall, handsome black man walked across a parking lot in my direction and said he wanted to take acting lessons. Since I am the Managing Director of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre, I welcomed him with open arms but not before asking, “Where have you been for the last six months!!” I had found my Robert. Now I needed two female actors. One was a slam dunk. I knew her talent and her beauty was exactly what I was looking for. The other was more difficult because she needed to not only be able to handle the role but she also needed to physically resemble the first actor. Again, I found my second beautiful and talented actor at the Institute. With deep gratitude I want to thank Ewan Leslie, Jeanne Tidwell and Lee Marlow for their passion, dedication and commitment to me, Robert and Shell of a Man.
We began rehearsals. While I was meeting with my actors three days a week, my husband Mike was designing and creating a stage upon which the play would be presented. The stage needed to be constructed to exact measurements so that it would fit into the space allotted at ABE Café, and it needed to be strong enough that a herd of elephants could tap dance on it without injury. I also needed to begin marketing the event. There were flyers to distribute, posters to design, programs to prepare, scenery and sets to gather, transportation requirements (that herd of elephants was cumbersome and heavy) to consider, menus to approve, tickets orders to track and a production team to put together. I was feeling overwhelmed. Did I mention that I wasn’t sleeping more than two or three hours a night? Anticipation can also keep you awake with thoughts of failure running through your mind.
And that’s when I learned the value of friendship. Another great talent from the Burt Reynolds Institute, Kevin Mayle, offered to design the poster for the show. Kevin also designs the covers for all of my books. He is a marvelous illustrator/artist. Writer/producer/director Gabe Tullier, owner of The Rising Creative, and Tracy Heard, sound engineer extraordinaire, quickly agreed to handle lights, sound and cameras. Patty Serrano, owner of Little Panther Prompting, joined us as teleprompter instructor/operator. My dear friends, Arlene Love, Gale Richards and Nadine Edery volunteered to be stage managers. And always at my side was my husband whispering words of encouragement. He truly is the wind beneath my wings.
All those months of preparation… all the frustrations and setbacks (including losing power at the restaurant on the afternoon of the show)… all the sleepless nights were forgotten as the lights came up on Robert Logan (Ewan Leslie) doing his opening monologue. I looked into the audience and saw people riveted at the edges of their seats. I saw women dabbing tears from their eyes, men fighting not to cry, and, perhaps most importantly, I saw a veteran of 28 years of military service – a man suffering with PTSD -- nodding his head over and over again in agreement with what was being revealed.
Nothing of value in life is ever achieved alone. This editorial is my heartfelt thank you note to all those who made Shell of a Man possible, including Brightman Brock of the Jupiter Courier, who graciously carried an article on the event and placed contact information in the paper’s weekly calendar. Word of the play has spread and I am receiving invitations to present it at other venues. Shell of a Man is truly the gift that keeps on giving, and I hope it continues to give for years to come… until PTSD is a thing of the past and our veterans receive the honor and care they deserve. I also hope the day comes when I meet the real Robert face to face. I’ve been itching to hug him for a very long time.
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ORDER YOUR COPY OF BURT'S MEMOIR
This memoir tells his story through the people he’s encountered on his amazing journey. In his words, he plans to “call out the assholes,” try to make amends for “being the asshole myself on too many occasions,” and pay homage to the many heroes he has come to love and respect.
But Enough About Me is a must read for each and every Burt Reynolds fan.
If you have not yet ordered your copy of Burt Reynolds’ memoir, But Enough About Me, orders can be placed at www.amazon.com/But-Enough-About-Me-Memoir/dp/0399173544.
If you prefer the audio version, you can purchase that online, too: www.audiobooksnow.com/audiobook/but-enough-about-me/1148600