Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ella, Anne, Julie, and Lili

All right, I admit it, I'm a fan of the latest incarnation of teenie bopper movies, especially the ones with Anne Hathaway as a spunky girl snogging some cute male eye candy.

Lily gets home around 1:30 on Wednesdays and today, after she played Whiffle Ball at the playground with her dad for awhile -- I've got a mild version of the GI bug going around, and spent most of the day snoozing on the couch and reading over my pre-employment packet from Disney, which owns Wondertime -- we watched Ella Enchanted, based on the clever book by Gail Carson Levine. It stars, naturally, Anne Hathaway.

Levine's an inspiratin because apparently she wrote her book after taking an adult ed class at the New School in the Village on writing children's literature. She writes twisted fairy tales with fiesty spunky girls and women, modern takes in the classic setting. Not as intellectual as say, Georgory Maguire's retellings, the most famous of which is Wicked. Levine's books are meant for a younger audience, and Lily is at the perfect age for them.

I like both Levine and Maguire for different reasons; Maguire is making political and literary points with his adult novels, especially Wicked, which I really enjoyed. I also enjoyed Wicked the musical, which I've seen twice, even though, as with Ella Enchanted, the plot has significantly changed from the book. But the production values are extraordinary, the songs catchy, and Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth on the CD really belt 'em out.

Among the other teenie bopper movies Lily gets from Netflix -- did you know you can set up a separate list for members of your household? We are on the three-movie plan and we have our list and get two movies, and Lily maintains her own list, and gets one at a time -- I've also enjoyed Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries I and II, costarring the incomparable Julie Andrews. I mean, forget Barbra. Julie Andrews rocks. After her you can drop your voice, as my late dear friend Jean Kendall used to say.

Let's pause here and pay homage to the wonderful Julie Andrews. Just Cinderella, Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady, is enough to say wow. But she has a massive year career beyond that, as well as being a writer of children's books herself -- Lily's rereading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoddles again. Haven't read her but Lily likes this one.

Hathaway also starred as Lili in the 2002 Encores production at New York City Center of Carnival with the also incomparable Brian Stokes Mitchell. It's the theatrical version of the movie Lili, the story of the French girl and the puppets. Every spring the Encores series presents workshops four or five performances of 20th century American musicals. They are often quite obscure, but always well performed, with scripts in hand, some costumes, and fantastic dance numbers. This puppets in this production had scripts, too, which was pretty funny.

A separate musical, Carnival doesn't have the song Lili from the movie, though, which I rented when my Lily was first born. I played the song over and over so I could memorize it and sing it to my new baby. Everyone always sang me the first verse, which is very sad:

A song of love is a sad song, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
A song of love is a song of woe
Don't ask me how I know
A song of love is a sad song
For I have loved and it's so
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo.

But did you know it has a happier second verse, at least in the movie?

A song of love is a gay song, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo
A song of love is a song of joy, a waltz for girl and boy
A song of love is a gay song, for I'm in love and it's so
Hi-Lili, Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo

Sing to me, Mama, Lily said the other night when she had burned her tongue on hot chocolate so badly she couldn't sleep. I sang "Sweet Baby James" and a verse and a half of "Fire and Rain" but she stopped me and asked me to sing something else, it was too sad. So I sang our current favorite, the one about the island where the babies all live in trees. Next time I'll sing Lily "Lili."

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