Mario’s Xmas clip echoed in Manly

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - THE GROOVE - Madi­son Wil­liams

CO­ME­DIAN Phil Scott has been en­am­oured of Mario Lanza since a very young age.

It was the Metro cinema in Manly, NSW, that would in­tro­duce the young Phil to the world of en­ter­tain­ment.

A world that would one day be­come his life.

“The Metro only showed MGM films, and at Christ­mas the main fea­ture was pre­ceded by what to­day we would call a clip,” he rem­i­nisced.

“It starred one of MGM’s true su­per­stars of the 1950s, an Amer­i­can tenor named Mario Lanza.”

But it wasn’t un­til many years later that Blake Bow­den ap­proached him to do a the­atri­cal cabaret on his idol.

Since his youth Mr Scott has gone on to be­come a singer, ac­tor, pi­anist, writer and co­me­dian.

“We de­cided early on that Lanza’s life should be drama­tised,” he said.

“With this kind of show, the thing to avoid is turn­ing it into a lec­ture. To that end, while Blake plays Mario, I take on ten dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters, rang­ing from a fic­ti­tious New York singing teacher, to a US Army sergeant, through to Louis B. Mayer him­self.

“The trickiest char­ac­ter I es­say in this show is Mario’s Hol­ly­wood fit­ness trainer ... for ob­vi­ous rea­sons.

“Namely, I am un­fit for the role.

“To make up for the lack of fe­male char­ac­ters in the piece, we also de­cided to in­clude a promis­ing young op­er­atic so­prano. Re­lax, it’s not me. For­tu­nately, we find one sit­ting in the au­di­ence ev­ery night.

The death of a young Mario is clouded in ru­mour and sus­pi­cion, much like the death of another big name 50s su­per­star, Marilyn Monroe.

There were whis­pers that Mario’s death could have in­volved the Mafia, which 60 years later pre­sented a prob­lem for his con­tem­po­raries.

“We had two prob­lems with this. One: it’s a downer when your main char­ac­ter dies at the end of a show,” he said.

“In the TV se­ries ‘Smash’, con­cern­ing the mak­ing of a Broad­way mu­si­cal about Monroe, that’s the big hurdle they face. She dies. What else can you do? It hap­pened!

“Our sec­ond prob­lem was that the Mafia story has been thor­oughly ridiculed by an in­ter­na­tional Mario Lanza Ap­pre­ci­a­tion So­ci­ety, which is still ac­tive.

“In fact, the man who heads the or­gan­i­sa­tion lives in Mel­bourne. We have per­formed Mario in Syd­ney, Ade­laide and now Port Dou­glas ... but not in Mel­bourne. “Even so, if Lanza’s big­gest fan got wind of it, things could get ugly.

“Blake and I found a way to solve both th­ese prob­lems at once ... but you’ll have to see the show to find out how we do it.”

Blake Bow­den and Phil Scott in Mario

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