On Monday evening September 3, 2007, BC/EFA hosted an exclusive screening of the upcoming Julie Taymor movie musical ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. In attendance at the plush Manhattan SONY screening room were Jennifer Newman, Josh Tower and Ron Kunene (The Lion King), Curtis Holbrook (Xanadu), Peter Gregus (Jersey Boys), Denis Jones and Tony® Award- winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde), Drama Desk-winner Dana Ivey and 80 other BC/EFA VIPs and major donors. Following the screening, the audience was treated to a rare “talk back” and reception with director Julie Taymor who explained the metamorphosis of the project while signing copies of JULIE TAYMOR: “Playing with Fire” – an updated and expanded publication of Eileen Blumenthal’s gorgeously conceived career-odyssey from Abrams, with over 200 illustrations and an introductory essay by Italian film critic Antonio Monda.
At once gritty, whimsical and highly theatrical, Revolution Studios’ ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is a groundbreaking movie musical, springing from the creative genius of Julie Taymor, one the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the performing arts whose film Frida won two Academy Awards following the Tony® Award winning triumph of Broadway’s smash hit musical The Lion King – celebrating its 10th sold-out year on Broadway in November 2007.
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is a love story set against the backdrop of the 1960’s amid turbulent years of anti-war protest, mind exploration and rock n’ roll from the docks of Liverpool to the stirred up psychedelics of the Lower East Side. Star crossed lovers, Jude (Jim Sturgis) and Lucy (Rachel Evan Wood) are swept up in a tale of generational tide featuring over 30 songs of The Beatles; ballads, anthems, and pop hits that came to define an era, including: “Hey Jude,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “I Am the Walrus,” “If I Gave My Love to You”, “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “All You Need is Love.” Special guest appearances by Bono, Eddie Izzard and Selma Hayek, as well as dozens of Broadway’s best and most expressive dancers all conspire in a mystery tour of epic proportions.
“We began with over 200 songs written by the Beatles, but finally chose 33 that we felt told the story of a generation and a time,” Taymor told the screening audience. “I wanted the film to investigate the ‘60’s, so it had to penetrate all levels of the Beatles songs. From the love songs to the political songs, the music and the film would not just reflect the characters experience but also represent the events that are happening in the world.”
“The film is an original musical,” Taymor continued. “It has an original story – one you’ve never seen before, inspired by Beatles music in a way you haven’t heard before.”
The response to the film at the BC/EFRA screening was markedly positive, ringing with a long stream of applause following Ms. Taylor as she took her seat down front to field questions and comments from the audience.
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE has the “best visual styling of a film musical since ‘Moulin Rouge’”, noted original Lion King cast member Ron Kunene, who added that the message of the film was “the embodiment of the unity of all humanity.
“It’s one of the greatest film love stories I’ve ever seen,” raved Jerry Mitchell adding that “nobody alive can match Julie Taymor’s gift for story telling.”
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE will debut September 10th at a gala screening at the Toronto Film Festival; it is slated to open in NYC on September 14th and nationwide on September 21st. For more information on the film and a sneak peek of the trailer, visit www.acrosstheuniverse.com .
Special thanks to Columbia Tristar’s executive vice president of publicity Gigi Semone, publicity manager Seth Fradkoff and director of publicity Sabrina Laufer for making this intimate and exciting evening possible.
All Photos: Jay Brady Photography