Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MEET VICTORIA D'ORAZI... and her inspiration

People have asked about the inspiration for our characters, but there is really only one that emanated from a real live person, or two people actually.

This story really revolves around Joan Everett, Helen's mother, the mother of the bride. It is her journey we see, and her back story is the catalyst for everything. At one point, I remembered my father telling me a story about my grandmother, about an old boyfriend that she remembered fondly and her "what could have been" reminiscing. And that is where Joan's past comes into play.

My main inspiration, however, is the lovely Ann Dennis. I love Ann because she's girlish, sophisticated, warm and playful, all in one. I've seen her other side too... the principled, strong-minded woman whose "right or wrong" take can cut you like a knife. I appreciate that about her. I have sat at many family dinners with Ann and some good bottles of wine. The Dennis family always likes to say that Ann "takes off"... "There she goes!" Don Dinsmore would say. It's sometimes surreal and always funny, because whatever she's saying is just the way it is.

So... with a little exaggeration, and Elizabeth Sundeen's memories thrown in for good measure, we arrived at the character of Joan.

So Joan, the star of this film, really came from a combination of different events and people. Our actor has to not only emulate them, but also capture the spirit of the character -- serious, warm, stern, funny, confused.

Needless to say, casting this part was huge. We saw more actresses for this part than any other. We even called back a couple to see what they could do. And we were so close to making an offer... then Vikki's submission magically appeared. (Actually, I confess here. It had been buried in my email.) I brought her in and had her read in my kitchen. (This was new for me, but since my favorite director recently did this with his leading lady, I thought it was okay.) She was good and seemed comfortable. Her look was perfect. And then we went out to view a tape she had brought, a little comedy persona/sketch she'd done for a friend. I laughed out loud, and hard. Just super.

So after months of frustration and fear and hope, we had our Joan. For this, I thank the movie gods, and Victoria D'Orazi. Despite the message and melancholy of the story, we will surely have a comedy on our hands.

Victoria D’Orazi: SAG - AFTRA - AEA

Received her dramatic training at the College of Marin performing in such productions as "West Side Story", "The Birds", "House of Atreus", and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream". In 1968 she played Lucy to Robin Williams’ Snoopy in "You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown". She then went on to perform in the San Francisco productions of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,""You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and in Noel Coward's "Hayfever." She also performed the voice of Betty Boop in the animated feature film "Hurrah for Betty Boop" with Tommy Smothers. Victoria ran for President of the United States in the 1980 election as Betty Boop and was featured on tv, radio and national news.

Many Marin families have seen Victoria in such Mountain Play performances as Peter in "Peter Pan", Annie in "Annie Get Your Gun", and Ado Annie in "Oklahoma". She has also performed comedy at the Improvisation Theatre in Los Angeles. Victoria performed in two original plays performed at The Corner Stone Church in San Franciso.

Most recently, she has been songwriting and performing music at local clubs with Robby Gordon. "Gordon & D'Orazi."

Thanks too to Ann for her inspiration. She's an interior designer with great flair. When she and her husband Bill redecorated their home, my daughter marveled, "It's a palace!" ... Ann was beaming. Nothing truer then the words of a child.

For a little more background, you can check out Ann Dennis's beautiful interior designs here. I will someday have a shop like that. I had a dream about it once.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story. I met Vicki years ago in some online dating service. We were not a match but we did share the exact same birthday, year and day, how odd is that? We have been close friends as we can be considering we live in different states. Vicki is my pal and I pray to see her accomplish things.

    Billy Barton aka Patterson Tweed