Saturday, June 13, 2015
“A TWIST OF LEMMON” A SWEET AND TANGY TREAT
What better way to celebrate Father’s Day than hearing an inspiring story of one dad by his devoted son, in this case actor Chris Lemmon speaking of and as his parent, beloved actor Jack Lemmon. Chris Lemmon is an actor, author and producer who considered playing piano professionally after graduation from the California Institute of the Arts. He had degrees in classical piano and composition as well as in the theater.
In 2006, on Father’s Day, he published a well received memoir of his relationship with his famous father in “A Twist of Lemmon.” On Saturday, June 20 at 8 p.m., he will share stories and anecdotes of his family life, bumps in the road and all, in “A Twist of Lemmon” for audiences at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, 300 Main Street, in Old Saybrook. For tickets ($35-38), call 860-510-0453 or 877-503-1286 or go online to www.katharinehepburntheater.org.
This written tribute to his dad whom he called his best friend was originally Chris’ recollections, an informal gathering of tales he wanted to remember. They shared “a wonderful relationship” and Chris wanted to tell about the real man who existed when the cameras stopped rolling. His jottings, which he initially intended for himself and his family, grew like Topsy into an acclaimed memoir. The terrible loss of his “pop” to cancer was the impetus but as he started recording the stories and adventures “I remembered more and more. I realized they could be a book, telling about the Golden Age of Hollywood with all these wonderful characters and how deeply tragic that we were torn apart for years but, thankfully, came back together against all odds.”
Audience members will have the opportunity to get up close and personal to see the authentic love that existed between father and son, one that was disturbed by a second marriage and a grand career. A gifted actor in his own right, with over 30 feature films spanning a career of four decades, Chris is in a unique position to evaluate his dad’s legacy. This distinctive one man show will feature his own musical compositions, Gershwin tunes, imitations of the various stars included in his dad’s life, scenes from his famous movies as well as his personal musings.
Who can forget Jack Lemmon in his tour de force roles as the disguised musician Jerry (as Daphne) running away from gangsters in ”Some Like It Hot,” as the reluctant Navy man Ensign Pulver in “Mister Roberts” and the alcoholic addict Joe Clay in “Days of Wine and Roses,” among his 60 memorable roles. The American Film Institute selected “Some Like It Hot” as the greatest comedy of all time. Jack Lemmon was equally at home in comedies and drama, “seamlessly intertwining a full spectrum of core themes that illustrated how they applied to life."
From son Chris, we may learn that Jack was born in a hospital elevator, that he knew he wanted to be an actor from the age of eight, that he played not only the piano but the harmonica, guitar, organ and double bass and that he was a mentor for a young and upcoming actor Kevin Spacey. Chris Lemmon has been working on this show in many reincarnations, trying to find the right blend of stories and songs. “It couldn’t be theater until I was playing the characters in my father’s voice.” Like American Pharaoh and his triple crown win, Chris feels “I’m off to the races. I start with a mission statement, of what it is like to be Jack Lemmon’s son which is the question I’m asked most often. I had tried many forms but something was always missing. Somewhere flying over Minnesota the concept gelled and I am now able to take the show to a new level.”
One regret Chris has is that the two shared so little screen time together, but one project was “That’s Life,” a family movie made with Blake Edwards and family. He and his dad often went on fishing trips and golf outings and it was his pop who gifted him with a love of music by teaching him how to play the piano when he was five. “I adored him.”
Come hear what Jack meant to Chris, how they reconnected and became best friends, with stories straight from the heart, filled with admiration and love. Chris never wants you to know you’re watching a play. He wants you to feel you’re having a cup of coffee with him and swapping tales. On the way home, he hopes you ask questions and discuss what you have just experienced. He wrote “A Twist of Lemmon” to let his grandchildren know their Grandpa Jack but it’s also for his legions of fans, to kept the memory of his pop alive and well.