Saturday, July 31, 2010

Joanne Lessner's "Pandora's Bottle"

Joanne Lessner is a singer, actor, and writer. Her play, Critical Mass, was named the winner of the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition and will receive its New York premiere at the Lion Theatre on Theatre Row in October 2010. She has written the book and lyrics to several musicals with her husband, composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum, including the cult hit Fermat's Last Tango, which received its Off-Broadway premiere at the York Theatre Company in November 2000. The original cast recording became a bestseller, and the DVD has been screened at festivals from New Jersey to New Zealand.

Here she develops some casting ideas for an adaptation of her new novel, Pandora’s Bottle:
It seems that whenever I tell people about Pandora's Bottle, their immediate response is: “Wow – that would make a great movie!” From their mouths to Hollywood’s ears! Casting could go any number of ways, but here are some of my current thoughts:

Sy Hampton: my lonely, middle-aged financier, a dreamer led astray by excess and hubris. Tom Hanks is probably my first choice, but isn’t he everyone’s for everything? I can also see Paul Reiser. But it could almost be anyone from Dennis Quaid to Kevin Costner to Robert Downey, Jr. to Alfred Molina.

Valentina D’Ambrosio: Aphrodite to Sy’s Bacchus. She needs to be all delicious femininity and curves, while sounding like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. A beautiful, but earthy innocent. Jamie-Lynn Sigler is kind of perfect. But I’d also thought of Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis. Twenty years ago I’d have said Sherilyn Fenn.

Annette Lecocq: ambitious, but ultimately vulnerable restaurateur. I’d love to see Cynthia Nixon in the role. The character is French-Canadian, though, so perhaps it should be Juliette Binoche or even Kristin Scott Thomas who conducts half her career in French these days.

Tripp Macgregor: charming, handsome waiter who is a terrific dancer. Cheyenne Jackson.

Antony Farrell: suave but unscrupulous British auctioneer. Mr. Branagh? Pick up your phone, that’s me calling.

MaryLou Sampson: Annette’s mentor, a black female restaurateur in Atlanta with a magnetic personality. Another easy one: Queen Latifah.

Vito Scarparelli: my favorite character in the book. Flamboyantly gay, but happily married and very Italian oenophile, with a hint of Mafia. John Travolta twenty years ago. Maybe Michael Imperioli.

Jessica Whitbank: chipper but clueless PR flack. Sorry folks, that one’s got my name on it. After 20 years scraping a living in PR, I’m looking forward to the opportunity of sending myself up!
Visit Joanne Sydney Lessner's website.

Writers Read: Joanne Lessner.

The Page 69 Test: Pandora's Bottle.

--Marshal Zeringue