"It's You I Like"- Mr. Rogers
I don’t blog near as often as I’d like to. I realized it’s not necessary to speak if I don’t have anything to say. However, I just got back from an incredible movie and need to share the joy, nostalgia and beauty.
I eagerly anticipated the release of “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood” with Tom Hanks. I grew up watching some quality PBS! Sesame Street (back in the day when Mr. Hooper died, “oh, and it wasn’t on HBO”), Lamb Chop’s Play-Along, Arthur, Wishbone, Reading Rainbow, and of course-- though not on PBS but still a massive staple in my life and career, Sharon Lois & Bram’s The Elephant Show on Nickelodeon.
I still have the newspaper clippings of when Mr. Fred Rogers, Shari Lewis, and Lois Lilienstein all passed away from different types of cancer. This movie brought up some insane emotions I wasn’t personally ready for. It brought up nostalgia and brought back memories I had long forgotten or hadn’t yet attacked in my life.
Without giving anything away, this movie, based on a true story, took us on a journey through realization, healing acceptance and with the help of Tom Hanks playing the iconic Mister Rogers, it taught us how to deal with our feelings. Release them. Let them go. Attack them head on. Just like a real life episode of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”.
Many people over the years have wondered what’s the big deal with Mr. Rogers? While others have called it hokey and unrealistic, this movie has proved otherwise. It goes to show how impactful Mr. Rogers was then and in his resurgence, posthumously. I firmly believe that he’s looking down very proud of this product.
As my insanely talented friend Ben and I, entered the theatre for our 10:30pm showing......well past my bedtime, the theatre was not very full. Slowly but surely, as the credits started wrapping up and the lights dimmed, people of all age groups, ethnicities, and backgrounds filled the theatre. That alone should show the impact Mr. Rogers has had on families and individuals.
I want to tell you everything and give you a play by play however I can’t stress getting out and seeing this movie for yourselves. There was laughter, quiet whispers of “awe”, clapping, affirming responses, as well as the occasional “wow”. “Wow” is one phrase I just kept saying over and over.
Having lost both sets of grandparents, two mentors in the same year, friends due to terminal illness, chronic illness or suicide, and then over the past 5 years working hard to repair, build, and rebuild a strong and beautiful relationship with my own father, this movie was the ticket- pun intended!
This movie gave you pause, made you rethink, made you cry and want you to text a loved one that you still had the privilege of having on this earth and letting them know, “It’s You I Like”.
Tom Hanks, though not a singer, sang a few of Fred Rogers’ standards and then the credits rolled with, of course, a familiar, friendly, sweet, and genuine voice of Fred Rogers himself. There was some true Broadway representation with Tony nominee, Carmen Cusack from Broadway's Bright Star, and a cameo from one of my favorite movies “Sister Act,” none other than the sister herself, Sister Mary Robert -- Wendy Makkena.
Everyone in the movie did a fantastic job. There were some amazing hat tips to the original series, in which the original opener was in stop motion. That feature appeared throughout as a sort of theatrical scene change. The writers, producers, directors and creators of this movie took their time. They allowed their own nostalgia to ring through, as well as their appreciation for their friendship, be it in person or through our television screens with Fred Rogers and his legacy.
With all of that being said, I want to thank Ben for inviting me to something I was not interested in being a part of to begin with. Not that I didn’t want to spend time with my friend, but teaching from 9am-6pm and being up since 6am was daunting. Thank you to my mentors on this earth and those who’ve left. Thank you to my parents, especially to my dad who, as a kid was very difficult --go figure......as an adult was so difficult --also go figure, but his resilience in loving his very creative, scatterbrained theatre kid dreamer son always did and still does shine through as he loves his family fiercely and prays for us daily.
Thank you finally to both Tom Hanks and the legend himself Mr. Fred Rogers. You’ve taught us some incredible lessons. Through this movie, you’ve brought those lessons to the forefront in a time where our world and country is very polarized. If we take time to be a friend, listen, hear one another, and validate even the most different of opinions, maybe, just maybe, we can all come together to make the world a brighter place. One person at a time.
Thank you Mr. Rogers for being my neighbor. Thank you for letting me know it’s okay to not be okay. Thank you for letting me know that it’s me you like and I’m wonderful just the way I am.
A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood is now playing in theatres! There's also a soundtrack available to download, stream or purchase.
PRODUCTION INFORMAITON LISTED BELOW.
Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Micah Fitzerman-Blue...(written by)
Noah Harpster...(written by)
Cast (in credits order)
Tom Hanks...Fred Rogers
Matthew Rhys...Lloyd Vogel
Chris Cooper...Jerry Vogel
Susan Kelechi Watson...Andrea Vogel
Maryann Plunkett...Joanne Rogers
Enrico Colantoni...Bill Isler
Kelley Davis...First AD
Maddie Corman...Lady Aberlin
Daniel Krell...Mr. McFeely
Jon L Peacock...Sound Technician
Gavin Borders...Young Boy
Mark August...Young Boy's Dad
Tressa Glover...Young Boy's Mom
Jessica Hecht...Lila Vogel
Diane Monroe...Uptown String Quartet
Maxine Roach...Uptown String Quartet (as Maxine L. Roach)
Lesa Terry...Uptown String Quartet
Tahirah Whittington...Uptown String Quartet
Nigel Swinson...Subway Singer
Kayla Fan...Subway Singer
Alexander Ment...Subway Singer
Madeline Ment...Subway Singer
Olivia Irene Ruiz...Subway Singer
Kiesse Yengo-Passy...Subway Singer
Marcel Kottmann...Subway Singer
John Castagliola...Subway Singer
Preston Lopez...Subway Singer (as Jimmy Preston Lopez)
Reginald Bannerman...Subway Singer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mike Ancas...WQED Grip (uncredited)
Tom Bonello...WQED Grip and Electric (uncredited)
Chris Breen...EMT (uncredited)
Gregory Bromfield...Awards Banquet Waiter (uncredited)
Francesca Calo...Train Passenger (uncredited)
William Caraballo...Port Authority Passenger (uncredited)
Lloyd Crago...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Kitty Crystal...Subway Punk (uncredited)
Amy Lyn Elliott...WQED Makeup Artist (uncredited)
Joe Fishel...Journalist (uncredited)
Jim Fitzgerald...Restaurant Diner (uncredited)
Heather Habura...Award Presenter (uncredited)
Robert Edward Healy III...Orderly (uncredited)
Josh Heileman...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Liz Higgins...Journalist (uncredited)
Lauren Hopkins...Wedding Guest (uncredited)
Matthew Iacono...Mister Rogers Fan (uncredited)
Kevin L. Johnson...Darin Scharf (uncredited)
Nathaniel Johnson...Waiter (uncredited)
William Kania...Orderly (uncredited)
Trudi Kennedy...Journalist (uncredited)
Rosie Koster...Esquire Employee (uncredited)
James Lloyd...Grip (uncredited)
Jack Marnoni...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Michael Masini...Richie (uncredited)
Scott Matheny...Journalist (uncredited)
Kirsten McCain...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Patrick McDade...Rick (uncredited)
Phil Nardozzi...Hospital Visitor (uncredited)
Mark Newara...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Jackson Nunn...Grip (uncredited)
Trevor Stevie Ray Ontiveros...New Yorker (uncredited)
Keith Otto...Gala Attendee (uncredited)
Alex Perez...Parent (uncredited)
Katrina E. Perkins...Mr. Rogers Superfan (uncredited)
Jivan Xander Ramesh...Mr. Rogers' Fan (uncredited)
Scott Rapp...Bartender (uncredited)
Jordan Rhone...WQED Production Assistant (uncredited)
Edlyn Sabrina...Gala Guest (uncredited)
Laurie Sheppard...School Teacher on Subway (uncredited)