Rouses Point to host Astaire & Rogers show
by Robin Caudell
Press-Republican, Out & About, Jul 13, 2006
ROUSES POINT – Get dressed to a T, in black and white, for the “Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers Show” opening tonight at NORTE MAAR in Rouses Point.
“It’s a big formal evening with festive attire,” said Jason Andrew of NORTE MAAR. “Some people will wear white shirts and a black tie. Some people are going to be really dressing up. We will have a movie going. We will have three waiters running around.
“It’s taken a long time to get this photography exhibition and film series but the wait was worth it… I have loved Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers as a duo. A lot of people love that time period. It was such a great period in Hollywood with the black-and-white films and musicals.”
The timing was right for the show to coincide with Fete De Danse 7:30 p.m. on July 27.
“We wanted to pair the two together. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dancing together is a magical experience.”
The exhibition features 23 RKO Pictures still images starting with Astaire (Fred Ayres) and Roger’s (Honey Hale) first film “Flying Down to Rio.” The 1933 film was Roger’s 20th and Astaire’s second and launched their stardom as a duo. The exhibition includes stills from “Top Hat,” “Swing Time,” “Shall We Dance” and their last film, “The Barkleys of Broadway.”
“The images people will see at the show will trigger memories of seeing these images in newspapers and movie houses. It’s been quite a feat getting them together. Some are from private collections and from the British Film Archives.
“‘Top Hat’ was set in London. When it opened in London, they did a lot of advertising and press shots. A lot of these institutions collected the photography. You get to see the two slide, turn twist and laugh. It’s really terrific.”
The exhibition features memorabilia including original movie scores by Irving Berin and Avon porcelain statuettes depicting the pair tossing a cane between them.
Andrew has researched great stories that accompany the exhibition including the “Blue Dress Incident.” Bernard Newman, the famous Hollywood dress designer, met with Rogers to discuss the color and shapes of the various dresses she was to wear in “Top Hat” (1935).
“‘Tell me what kind of dress you want to wear and what color you’d like,’ he asked. Ginger replied, ‘I want a blue dress. A pure blue iwth no green in it at all. Like the blue you find in the paintings of Monet. I would love the dress to be made of satin with myriads of ostrich feathers, low in teh back and high in the front.’”
When the dress appeared, all the camera men, technicians, Astaire and the director, Mark Sandrich, tured their heads to watch the blue apparition go by.
“What is it? A bird? A plane? ‘No, it’s Ginger’s dress!’ ” Almost immediately there was a knock at Ginger’s dressing room door. Mark Sandrich wanted to speak to Ginger… alone. He told her the dress wasn’t right for the scene – many insist that Fred didn’t want to eat feathers. So Sandrich asked her to wear the white dress from a previous movie. ‘They won’t remember it, Ginger’ he said. This statement stunned Ginger. She was broken-hearted, disappointed and angry! They insisted that she wear another dress. ‘Why don’t you just get another girl,’ was Ginger’s reply. There was quiet on the set.”
The next day Astaire slipped her a note:
“Dear Feathers. I love ya!”
“She went on to wear the dress, and wore it for the famous scene where the couple danced ‘Cheek to Cheek.’ The dress was beautiful, flowy. It worked amazing with the shooting. And that’s how Ginger got her nickname Feathers.”
At today’s opening, boas, top hats and dress canes are welcome.
“We’ll see what happens,” Andrew said. “We do these things up here in Rouses Point. IT’s a long way to drive but we always do something fun and spontaneous, so it’s always worth it when you get here. We’re having the opening a little later because we want it to be a little darker out, more in the evening.”