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About Rich Copley & Copious Notes

  • Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. It’s a pretty broad beat, but Rich delights in finding influences of the past in the present and showing fine arts fans the value of pop culture, and vice versa. ~ Copious Notes is a blog covering that broad spectrum. If you want to read about specific areas of interest, such as theater or opera, click on one of the categories to the right and you will be whisked away to all posts in that category. Also, look around the blog for links; multimedia items such as photo albums, videos, and interviews with artists; and other nuggets. Have fun, and thanks for dropping in. The header for this blog was designed by Danny Kelly and the illustration was drawn by Camille Weber.

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June 22, 2008


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Jan & Noel Desiato

Hello Ed well quess what I married an actress and she's currently doing a one women show "Tea at Five" as Katherine Hepburn and is touring,email me back. Jan Desiato

Will Murphy

Mr Copley,
It is about time someone took note of this fine "old School" actor in our midst.

Think! If he had gone with Gleason to Florida Lexington would not have Barrymore (or his equivalent)

Too bad I am not near to cheer.
But Cheers to you for the article.


Charles Edward Pogue

I agree with Ed Desiato that an actor has only his own physical tools to limn a character. And more, can only utilize his own intellect, point-of-view, and emotional make-up and/or baggage to create the character. As Spencer Tracy used to say: "This is Spencer Tracy as a judge, This Spencer Tracy as a priest, this is Spencer Tracy as a reporter."

No actor can crawl inside the head of another human being and become them. Any time you meet an actor who tells you, "I WAS the character", lock 'im up...he's either delusional or psychotic.

Still and all, actors can often give a very good, emotionally complex impersonation of a real-life figure.

I was fortunate to see Christopher Plummer's Tony Award-winning performance of BARRYMORE and he was doing a bit more than just "playing himself". Being a Barrymore aficianado and collector (I prize my Haymarket Hamlet program), I felt Plummer more than passed my litmus test and gave an uncanny portrayal of a legendary figure I absolutely recognized.

I have fond memories of Errol Flynn's turn as Barrymore in the film TOO MUCH TOO SOON. Flynn, who had been an intimate of Barrymore in his declining days, had several eerie moments where he evoked the original.

Jack Cassidy, an actor with Barrymore's over-the-top panache, gave a respectible turn as The Great Profile in W.C. FIELDS & ME, if memory serves.

I've actually seen a stage protrayal of Barrymore where the actor was more interested in "playing himself" than in trying to capture the essence of Barrymore. It was a one-man show called JACK and starred Nicol Williamson as Barrymore in one of the sloppiest, most undisciplined, contempt-for-the-audience performances I've ever seen. It was quite apparent Mr. Williamson was far more enamoured of himself than Barrymore. There was no attempt to even remotely look like Barrymore, let alone capture him onstage. I think it might be the only time I've booed in a theatre. And booed loudly.

Mr. Plummer's performance, however, was was a night in the theatre I'll long remember and was a chance to see two artists onstage that I had long admired -- Christopher Plummer AND John Barrymore.

Although we unfortunately have no record of Barrymore in his prime onstage, below are some films that can give one a glimpse of the flickering flame that was his:

BELOVED ROGUE - Barrymore as swashbuckling poet Francois Villion. Silent movie.

DON JUAN - silent movie with the first syncronized music soundtrack.

COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW - terrific dramatic performance in screen version of Elmer Rice's play.

GRAND HOTEL - Barrymore with Garbo

DINNER AT EIGHT - Barrymore playing a washed-up actor in a role getting a little too close to home.

TWENTIETH CENTURY - Barrymore with Lombard, in a great comedy performance.

MIDNIGHT - Barrymore giving another droll comedy performance.

Books on Barrymore:



THE BARRYMORES by James Kotdilibas-Davis (a noted scholar on the Barrymore family)

JOHN BARRYMORE, SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR by Michael A. Morrison (a very detailed critical study of Barrymore's forays into the Bard...particularly his iconic performances of RICHARD III and HAMLET).

CONESSIONS OF AN ACTOR, a 1926 memoir by Barrymore himself.

Robert Parks Johnson

I will never forget the first night I saw Ed Desiato on stage. From his first step into the lights it was clear we were watching a man of the theatre playing among children.

When I have had the chance to work with him, I found him to be smart, insightful, funny, and brutally honest. He may not be a Barrymore, but he is the caliber of artist I could only dream of being. Ed is a treasure to our community and we are blessed to have a chance to see him play this troubled genius, even for three nights.

Break a leg, you old S.O.B.

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Twitter Notes

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    Questapalooza 2008

    • Twilight
      In it's third edition, Questapalooza attracted 6,500 people to Quest Community Church in Lexington, Ky., on Aug. 31, 2008. The music lineup was Kirk Franklin, Kutless and needtobreathe. In addition to the tunes, festival goers enjoyed carnival attractions, contests, heard a sermon and witnessed baptisms.

    Ichthus 2008

    • Casting Crowns - Mark, 'Praise You in this Storm'
      The 2008 Ichthus Festival was a roller coaster ride. The week started with the first project by Ichthus Ministries' environmental initiative: ECOS (Earth Commission, Operation Simplify). Then there was the severe thunderstorm June 9 that leveled 14 out of 19 tents at the festival site, with only two days left to open. And it did open, earlier than ever with a Thursday morning battle of the bands. That was followed by one of the hottest Ichthus days ever, and we aren't just talking about Skillet's set the night of June 12. The next day was Friday the 13th, and it turned out to be unlucky for the fest, with thunderstorms scuttling the evening lineup. But as it often has, Ichthus rallied with a fun and worshipful Saturday. The Herald-Leader crew was out there all week. Here's our photo album.

    UK Wind Ensemble goes to China

    • UK-China
      May 19 to 29, 2008, the University of Kentucky Wind Ensemble is taking a trip to China, where it is scheduled to play six concerts and visit seven cities. The tour finds China eagerly anticipating the 2008 Summer Olympics while also mourning the loss of tens of thousands of its citizens to a devastating earthquake on May 12. This photo album begins with images taken by the Herald-Leader's Whitney Waters at event's leading up to the ensemble's departure.

    Actors Guild of Lexington

    • Valentine
      Actors Guild of Lexington's early spring production is Tom Stoppard's brainy drama, Arcadia. The show is a mystery over several centuries involving math, science and literature. Here's a look at some images from the show, which runs through April 6 at the Downtown Arts Center, by Herald-Leader photographer Charles Bertram. The photos are copyrighted by the Herald-Leader.

    Winter Jam 2008 - Rupp Arena

    • MercyMe
      After years of going to -- excuse us while we clear our throats -- Louisville, Winter Jam finally came to Kentucky's true big house, Rupp Arena, March 6, 2008. That gave Lexington a heaping helping of MercyMe, BarlowGirl and Skillet, as well as others. This is a little record of the event.

    UK Opera Theatre

    • 'Hansel and Gretel' - The Witch and Hansel
      The University of Kentucky Opera Theatre is presenting its production of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" through March 8, 2008 at the Lexington Opera House. To give more students a shot at the stage, and for the sake of the singers' voices, two casts were fielded for this production. University of Kentucky photographer Tim Collins shot both casts. Here's a selection of those images.

    Amber Rhodes

    • Amber Rhodes live
      Lexington Native Amber Rhodes is a budding country star, shopping a hit independent release around the country, hoping to land a recording contract with a major label. To take a peek into the life of an aspiring country star, and to see how much work it is, I went down to Nashville to spend a day with Amber, as she works to get her name out there. Here are some pictures from that trip. All photos are copyrighted by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

    Summer Theatre 2007

    • Beauty & the Beast: The village
      Between June 21 and Aug. 2, eight new plays or musicals opened in the immediate Lexington area. That was an extraordinary number of shows for a summer in the Bluegrass State. Here, we offer a photo album from behind the scenes and on stage.

    Ichthus 2007

    • Switchfoot - Tim Foreman
      Ichthus 2007 took place June 14-16 at Ichthus Farm in Wilmore, Ky. Among the featured performers were Switchfoot, Relient K, Newsboys, Third Day and Phil Keaggy (photo, above).

    Laura Bell Bundy

    • Take It From the Top
      On April 29, 2007, Lexington native Laura Bell Bundy realized her dream of creating a role in a Broadway musical when she took the stage of New York's Palace Theatre playing Elle Woods in 'Legally Blonde.' It's a goal she'd been working toward since age 10, when she played monstrous child star Tina Denmark in the Off Broadway hit 'Ruthless.' Her 'Legally Blonde' performance earned Bundy a Tony Award nomination for best leading actress in a musical. Over the years, Herald-Leader photographers have chronicled Bundy's career. These are some of their best shots, along with a few other photos.

    Superchick's Generation Rising Tour in Winchester

    • Group 1 Crew
      Superchick's Generation Rising Tour came to Winchester's Central Baptist Church, May 11, 2007. Joining them were DecembeRadio, Krystal Meyers, Nevertheless and Group 1 Crew. Photos by Rich Copley.

    Stephanie Pistello

    • 'The Diviners,' 2002
      Stephanie Pistello graduated from Lafayette High School and Transylvania University. She went to New York to pursue an acting career, but returned in August 2006 with her New Mummer Group to present Tennessee Williams' "Candles to the Sun" at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

    The Shakespeare portraits

    • 2003: Brandon Jones as Othello
      Since 1999, the Herald-Leader has previewed the Lexington Shakespeare Festival with profiles and environmental portraits of the actors or directors involved in each show. This is a gallery of those fantastic images.

    October 2008

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