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‘Rock me, Amadeus’: Festival Stage presents screening of Oscar winner

by Mark Burger

Festival Stage of Winston-Salem will present a special screening of director Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning Amadeus at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Hanesbrand Theatre, 209 N. Spruce St., Winston-Salem.

Adapted from Peter Shaffer’s acclaimed play, which premiered in London in 1979 and won the 1981 Tony Award as Best Play, the story focuses on the festering rivalry between the composer Antonio Salieri (played in the film by F. Murray Abraham) and a gifted young upstart named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (played by UNCSA alumnus Tom Hulce).

The cast includes Elizabeth Berridge as Mozart’s wife Constanze, Roy Dotrice as his father Leopold, Simon Callow (who played Mozart in the original London production), Jeffrey Jones, Christine Ebersole and a young Cynthia Nixon Amadeus was the big winner at the 1984 Academy Awards, reaping a total of eight  statues: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Abraham), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Makeup, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Costume Design and Best Sound, with additional nominations for Best Actor (Hulce), Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Saul Zaentz — hey, I’ve interviewed him! — has the distinction of being the only producer to have won the Best Picture Oscar in three successive decades: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984) and The English Patient (1996).

Although the original 1984 cut of the film was rated PG, a longer, R-rated director’s cut was released to theaters in 2002. This unexpurgated version is the one that will be screened by Festival Stage.

Festival Stage is screening Amadeus to commemorate its upcoming production of the play 33 Variations, which runs Feb. 1-24 at Hanesbrand Theatre and is presented in association with the Wake Forest University Department of Theatre and Dance.

And, by sheer coincidence (or serendipity), the screening also falls only a few weeks before the 85th Academy Awards ceremony, which takes place Feb. 24.

Tickets for Amadeus are $10. For advance tickets or more information, call 336.841.2273 or check out the official Festival Stage website: www.Festival- Stage.org.

At the other end of the cinematic spectrum, Fathom Events will present a one-night-only screening of “The Best of Rifftrax Live: Plan 9 from Outer Space” this Thursday at Brassfield Cinema 10 (2101 New Garden Road, Greensboro) and Greensboro Grande Stadium 16, located in the Friendly Center (3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro).

Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, veterans of the long-running, award-winning “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” series, have reteamed for RiffTrax, offering off-color, off-screen commentary about the film they’re watching.

In this case, they’ll be razzing and riffing on Edward D. Wood Jr.’s 1959 science-fiction “classic” Plan 9 from Outer Space, widely and wildly hailed as perhaps the worst film in Hollywood history… although, take it from me, it’s got plenty of competition!

The low-budget film, which boasts stilted dialogue, bargain-basement special effects and wooden acting, depicts an alien invasion of Earth. The cast includes Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Vampira, Tom Keene, Lyle Talbot, Dudley Manlove, Paul Marco (in his signature role of Kelton the Cop) and Bela Lugosi in his final film. Lugosi had died in 1956 but Wood had some footage of him lying around, and reportedly tapped his wife’s chiropractor — who looked nothing at all like Lugosi — to emulate Lugosi’s moves behind a cape for the “reshoots.” The result is a film beloved by bad-movie mavens around the world, and one ripe for a “RiffTrax” parody.

Showtime is 7:30 pm. Tickets are $12.50 at Greensboro Grande; $11.50 (general admission), $10.50 (senior citizens) or $9.50 (children under 12) at Brassfield. For more information, including a complete schedule of upcoming Fathom Events, visit the official website: www.FathomEvents.com.

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