The City of Issaquah’s Arts Commission will proudly present their First Annual Issaquah Film Festival, A History of Musicals, from Friday, September 14 through Sunday, September 16 in downtown Issaquah. The festival will take place at First Stage Theatre, 120 Front St. North, Issaquah, WA 98038.

Highlighting each decade in Hollywood, this weekend filled with musicals includes everything from Busby Berkeley’s Footlight Parade to the ‘70s disco/comedy Can’t Stop the Music (a pseudo-biography of the Village People). The festival ends with The Beatles’ groundbreaking A Hard Day’s Night.

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Here’s the festival schedule:

Friday, September 14
4:00pm – Footlight Parade (1933)
7:30pm – Stormy Weather (1943)

Saturday, September 15
4:00pm – American in Paris (1951)
7:30pm – Can’t Stop the Music (1980)

Sunday, September 16
4:00pm – Festival VIP Reception
6:00pm – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Tickets are $10/night or $25/all three nights. For tickets and information, visit Advance tickets are also available online or at the door the night of event (subject to availability).

The VIP Reception will include wine available for purchase from local winery Twin Cedars, guest speaker author Howard A. Dewitt and music by Undercover.

About the author:

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Howard A. DeWitt is Professor Emeritus at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA. He has written 21 books including “The Beatles: Untold Tales,” “Paul McCartney: From Liverpool to Let It Be” and “Beatle Poems.” He is currently working on a book called “The Beatles 1963: The Making of a Legend” and has an upcoming eBook on “Hard Day’s Night” that will be released in early 2013. Local cover band extraordinaire Undercover will play Beatles music from Hard Day’s Night and the 60’s starting at 4:00pm. Howard will speak starting at 6:00pm, followed by the movie “A Hard Day’s Night.”

About the films:

“Footlight Parade” (1933) spotlights James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. It was choreographed by the infamous American director/choreographer Busby Berkeley, and features two of the greatest and most spectacular dance scenes in movie history — “Shanghai ‘Lil” and “The Waterfall.” Berkeley was the first choreographer to realize that music for movies should be pre-recorded, thus allowing several cameras at once to be placed above, below and all over the set. He also pioneered the use of hundreds of dancers and chorus girls in every dance scene (in addition to brilliantly lighted sets and floats), giving a sense of splendor and majesty never seen in musicals before — or since! In the film, Jimmy Cagney struggles against time, romance and a rival’s spy to produce spectacular live “prologues” for movie houses — but this movie is really about the biggest, grandest musical dance scenes you will ever see on screen!

“Stormy Weather” (1943) is based upon the life and times of its star, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Robinson plays “Bill Williamson,” a talented, born dancer who returns home in 1918 after fighting in World War I and approaches a beautiful singer named Selina Rogers, played the young Lena Horne, who sings “Stormy Monday,” which became her signature song. Dooley “As Time Goes By” Wilson co-stars as Bill’s perpetually broke friend. Also, look for Cab Calloway and Fats Waller (both appearing as themselves). Despite a running time of only 77 minutes, the film features some 20 musical numbers. This was Robinson’s final film (he died in 1949). Waller died only a few months after its release.

“An American in Paris” is a 1951 MGM musical film inspired by the 1928 orchestral composition by George Gershwin. Starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the film is set in Paris, and was directed by Vincente Minnelli from a script by Alan Jay Lerner. The music is by George Gershwin, with lyrics by his brother Ira, and Gershwin’s music is interspersed with the greatest dance numbers ever filmed. Songs include “I Got Rhythm,” “I’ll Build A Stairway to Paradise”, “‘S Wonderful”, and “Our Love is Here to Stay.” The climax of the film is “The American in Paris” ballet, a 16 minute dance featuring Kelly and Caron set to Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The ballet alone cost more than $500,000 (and that was 61 years ago!).

“Can’t Stop the Music” is a 1980 musical comedy film directed by TV comedienne Nancy Walker. It is a pseudo-biography of disco’s Village People (“YMCA” and “Macho Man”) who rose to worldwide fame and notoriety in the late 1970s. It bears only a vague resemblance to the actual story of the group’s formation (whatever that story really was!). Besides the Village People putatively playing themselves (“The Cowboy;” “The Construction Worker;” etc.), “Can’t Stop the Music” features the one of the most delightfully outlandish and oddball casts of all-time, including: Valerie Perrine; Olympic Decathlon winner, Bruce Jenner; Tammy Grimes; and June Havoc (sister of Seattle’s own Gypsy Rose Lee). The film is also notorious for being the first winner of the Worst Picture “Razzie,” as it was a double feature of this and Xanadu that inspired John J.B. Wilson to start the Razzies. Sadly, by the time of the release of “Can’t Stop the Music,” The Village People were already history! It’s still great fun, and really, you can’t stop the music! Get out your bell-bottoms and leisure suits for an evening of campy disco fun!

“A Hard Day’s Night” is a 1964 British black-and-white comedy film directed by Richard Lester and starring The Beatles, at the height of Beatlemania. Written by Alun Owen (who also wrote “Help”), the film is a mockumentary, deftly employing quick cutting from scene-to-scene to illustrate a couple of days in the lives of the group. It was a financial and critical success and was rated by Time magazine as one of the all-time great 100 films. British critic Leslie Halliwell described it as a “comic fantasia with music; an enormous commercial success with the director trying every cinematic gag in the book.” “Night” is also credited with having influenced 1960s spy films; The Monkees’ television show; and modern pop music videos, with critic Andrew Sarris, calling it “The “Citizen Kane” of jukebox musicals.”

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The Downtown Issaquah Film Festival is presented by the City of Issaquah Arts Commission with support from 4Culture.