Friday, 10 July 2009 12:08

Pourin' on the Sunscreen at the Fort Harrison Hotel 2009 Featured

Written by  David Ziff
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Joanie Sigal and Tom Godfrey performing at the Sunscreen Film Festival Fundraiser ConcertThe lights lowered on the audience, all eyes riveted on the bright stage when, suddenly, from the back of the Fort Harrison Auditorium, a familiar voice swelled, putting nearly 200 heads on a swivel. Eyes stayed glued as Paul Wilson, singer extraordinaire, weaved his way through the crowd to mount the stage singing, “Luck Be a Lady,” followed by “New York, New York.” It was in this spectacular fashion that the Sunscreen Film Festival Concert began on the evening of June 20th, 2009 at the recently refurbished hotel at 210 S. Fort Harrison Avenue in downtown Clearwater.

The pace of the evening didn’t slacken. Two remarkable short films were next on the program, the first of which was “Struck,” winner of 12 film awards and an official selection at the Cannes Online Film Festival. Starring Bodhi Elfman (Collateral and Gone in Sixty Seconds) and directed by Taron Lexton, “Struck” is a hilarious satire on the theme of Cupid and love. One attendee confessed that he hadn’t laughed as hard since seeing Chaplain’s “Gold Rush” as a kid.

“Struck” was followed by an equally brilliant film entitled, “Validation,” the story of a parking lot attendant who transforms the lives of everyone he meets. Humorous and inspiring, the film offers a fascinating take on the human capacity to change. One member of the audience professed that, “It’s not only the lives of the film’s characters that get changed, minSinger and Actor Paul Wilson Sings at the Ft. Harrison Hotele was too.” “Validation” is directed by Kurt Kuenne, named one of the Top 25 New Faces of Indie Film by Filmmaker Magazine.

No sooner had the buzz from these two short films died down when the well-known group, “Broadway & Beyond” walked out into the bright lights to present the evening’s concert, “Songs of Stage and Screen.” It was a vocal feast to remember: the voices of headliners, Joanie Sigal and Tom Godfrey, supported by the virtuosity of their long-time accompanist, Jim Nelson, and backed by the dulcet and rhythmic tones of the Fort Harrison Band.

Patty LuPone herself would be hard put to top Ms. Sigal’s moving rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” Mr. Godfrey’s resonant tenor voice was on full display with “On The Street Where You Live” from Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.” Sigal and Godfrey also shined in such duets as “Anything You Can Do,” “Tonight,” “Time To Say Goodbye” and “All I Ask Of You.” Later Ms. Sigal was joined by Paul Wilson to sing, “Somewhere Out There.”

Ms. Sigal, after the performance, warmed to the enthusiastic response of the audience: “Jim, Tom and I were ecstatic to work with the Fort Harrison Band and Paul Wilson. The atmosphere at the Fort Harrison—the beautiful auditorium, the state of the art lights and sound systems—added a new aesthetic dimension to the show and took it to a whole new level.”

A Good Time Was Had by All Who Attended the EventThe audience, which wasn’t stingy in doling out standing ovations, included well-known figures such as state representative Ed Hooper, and Richard “Dick” Greco, former Tampa mayor. Sponsors of the evening’s entertainment included Sal Belch, Clearwater Academy, Clearwater Downtown Partnership, The Fort Harrison, Joy and Sam Gendusa and K&K Photography.

Now in its fourth year, the mission of the Sunscreen Film Festival consists of hosting innovative independent films as well as delivering educational forums and workshops to rising new industry talents. Sunscreen also reaches out to young people with its Summer 2009 Camp for Young Movie-Makers, scheduled from Monday July 6th to Friday July 17th. Those seeking more information on the Sunscreen Film Festival can go to their website: http://www.sunscreenfilmfestival.com/

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