Review of Movie Music at Blue Strawberry

    On Wednesdays this month, the Midnight Company is presenting two new shows at Blue Strawberry. The first, Movie Music, premiered on March 6 and will be repeated on March 20. The second, Jacey’s Jazz Joint, is scheduled for March 13 and 27. Both shows are collaborations between performer Eileen Engel and writer-director-performer Joe Hanrahan.

    Movie Music is a highly entertaining show that provides exactly what the title promises. Some of the movies are classics; some are now obscure. All the songs are Academy Award winners, but the script refrains from using that term or other trademarks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Academy has strict regulations about the use of its intellectual property in works such as Movie Music. The rules for editorial use (as in this review) are less strict.

    Hanrahan’s script includes fascinating background information about the songs, the movie and the process of making them. I was surprised to learn, for example, that Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that the role was offered to Shirley MacLaine and Kim Novak before it went to Audrey Hepburn. The part of Holly’s love interest, Paul, was offered to Steve McQueen and Jack Lemmon before it went to George Peppard.

    The selection of the songs reflects the performers’ own tastes and styles, but all the numbers are big songs that “that represented and symbolized the movies, and then received the recognition and honors they deserved.” In some cases, Engel and Hanrahan meticulously establish the original context of the song.

    The songs and the stories about them are a joy to hear. Engel has a lovely voice and endearing personal charm. Hanrahan has disarming enthusiasm and a convincing way with a song. Colin Healy is the ever-supportive musical director on piano and guitar. The following table lists the songs, the films, and the singers.

    Moon RiverBreakfast at Tiffany’sEileen
    All the WayThe Joker Is WildEileen
    High HopesA Hole in the HeadEileen
    Buttons and BowsPalefaceEileen and Joe
    Raindrops Keep Falling on My HeadButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidEileen
    The Shadow of Your SmileThe SandpiperEileen
    Sooner or LaterDick TracyEileen
    Remember MeCocoEileen
    Colors of the WindPocahontasEileen
    The Way You Look TonightSwing TimeEileen
    I’m EasyNashvilleJoe
    City of StarsLa La LandEileen and Joe
    The Way We WereThe Way We WereEileen

    For more information about future performances, call Blue Strawberry at 314-256-1745 or go to

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Todd Davis