By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—It was a cornucopia of legendary celebrities and rising stars on the red carpet Thursday, March 26, at the opening night of the TCM Classic Film Festival, beginning this year with a special presentation of the Academy Award winning “The Sound of Music” at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.
Stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer were on hand to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the big screen version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical at the festival, along with a handful of other cast members (Heather Menzies-Urich, who played Louisa and Kym Karath, who played the youngest Von Trapp Gretl, who responded to a question in Greek, before being corralled into the packed 932-seat theater.)
Although a half-century has passed since their performance as the offspring of an Austrian captain, who meets and falls in love their music-loving governess, a would-be nun just before World War II, Menzies-Urich, Karath and the other actresses from the film attending the gala event were still fondly referred to as “the children” on the carpet.
The Opening Night Gala drew other actors, filmmakers and industry experts who are part of the four-day classic film festival here in the heart of Hollywood.
Christine Ebersole, who stars on TBS’ “Sullivan & Son” strolled the red carpet as did Keith Carradine (slated to speak about his father’s film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”), noted Hollywood editor Anne V. Coates, on hand to share two films she edited: “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Out of Sight,” as well as Peter Fonda, who despite warnings from publicists that he was going to be “late” to enter the theater, stopped to speak to the press from around the world about the festival’s showing of “My Darling Clementine,” which stars his father, the late great Henry Fonda.
Four members from the cast of the movie “Grease,” were on hand (Barry Pearl, Jamie Donnelly, Michael Tucci and Kelly Ward), looking like no time had passed since they starred as high schoolers in the 1978 musical. And the stars of Turner shows including Lindsay Booth from “The Librarians,” Michael Paul Chan from “Major Crimes” and Colin Cunningham from “Falling Skies” were also happy to have an opportunity to be sharing the limelight with seasoned movie stars.
Ebersole, looking lovely in white, recalled seeing “The Sound of Music” the first time as a 10-year-old with her neighbors, traveling from their suburban Chicago home to the Windy City.
“It was in this big palace of a theater,” she recalled. “They had an overture and an intermission, and it was very special to me.”
Asked whether that 1965 film inspired her to follow a course into musical theater, she responded, “Of course. Absolutely.”
Naomi Grossman, who plays Pepper on FX’s “American Horror Story,” revealed that she is a big “Sound of Music” fan.
“I’ve seen it a million times,” said the Denver native. “I’ve even audition for it when I was a wee one. I didn’t get the part, though.”
Then she broke into the first few lines of “So Long, Farewell,” and didn’t rule out that her “AHS” character may do some singing in the future.
“I’d love that,” she said, “although there’s been a lot. It is (creator/producer) Ryan Murphy, of course.”
Zach Galligan, who co-stars with Grossman in the upcoming horror movie, “The Chair,” remembered working with the night’s big honoree Christopher Plummer on the 1984 TV miniseries “Crossings.” He called the Canadian born Oscar-winning actor (“Beginners”) “a master craftsman and an amazing actor.”
“When he gets his hands and footprints in cement tomorrow (in front of the Chinese Theatre), he’s going to deserve it,” said Galligan, who is slated to introduce one of his early films, 1984’s “Nothing Lasts Forever,” at the festival.
As the star of the classic fantasy adventure “Gremlins,” and its sequel, “Gremlins 2,” Galligan revealed that he still gets recognized for his role in that nearly every day.
“I was picking up a newspaper one day and this person driving past rolled down the window down, stuck their head out and yelled, ‘Bright light! Bright light!’ as they went by,” he recalled. “I was wondering how did they even see me and have time to roll down the window at 50 mph and yell that out. I couldn’t understand it. It’s insane. It never goes away.”
Jonathan Del Arco, who plays Dr. Morales on the TNT drama series “Major Crimes,” said he was honored to be walking the red carpet with “The Sound of Music” cast.
“It’s my favorite movie,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
He saw Julie Andrews on the red carpet but was “too shy” to say anything to her, he said, adding, “she makes me a little weak in the knees.”
Many of the actors walking the red carpet considered themselves fans of the classic film.
“I don’t remember a time in my life when I hadn’t seen ‘The Sound of Music’,” said Lindsay Booth, who stars on the TNT series “The Librarians.” “I used to dress up and pretend I was Maria or Captain Von Trapp—whoever had the bigger part.”
Her favorite scene from the musical? “The Lonely Goatherd,” she said.
“It always cracks me up,” the redhead recalled.
“I always thought it was so fun and so weird and so wonderful,” she said, before being whisked away into the theater, where the audience was treated to a Q&A with “The Sound of Music” stars, hosted by TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz.