In the 1950s, the scariest monster for me was Godzilla (followed by Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon). Godzilla, a prehistoric creature standing 200 feet high, weighed 60,000 tons — give or take a few tons, depending on if he was feeling bloated that day.
In a typical day, Godzilla stomped on people, cars and tall buildings (then took a nap). His deadliest power was his atomic breath, a heat ray of thermonuclear energy fired from his mouth. For all their transgressions, neither McCarthy nor Nixon had atomic breath. OK, maybe the boozer, McCarthy, did, as his breath was probably flammable.
Seemingly invulnerable, Godzilla had an unworldly tough hide and advanced healing powers (sounds eerily like Manny Ramirez and steroids). He was also proficient in martial arts! The gigantic gorillas, King Kong and Mighty Joe Young, were plenty scary but I don’t recall either having black belts in karate.
Godzilla’s enormous size and power came from his exposure to atomic radiation, following our nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eventually Godzilla traveled to the U.S. to get revenge (overlooking a little thing called Pearl Harbor).
The 1998 “Godzilla,” starring Matthew Broderick (co-starring, if you count Godzilla), featured the monster terrorizing NYC. Apparently he slipped past immigration. Maybe he breathed on them? Critics panned the film, but it grossed $380 million worldwide. As one reviewer wrote, “Godzilla puts fannies in the seats.”
After 28 movies (six more than James Bond) Godzilla has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award. (This begs the question: How does a fictional character get a Lifetime Achievement Award? On the other hand, at least there was no long-winded acceptance speech.)
I mention the big fellow because this Sunday “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas” will be performed as part of SMC’s Wind Ensemble’s Pops Concert. The venue is the spectacular 499-seat Broad Stage, built partially with funds raised by SMC alumnus, Dustin Hoffman. Appreciative, the college wanted to name the entire center after Hoffman, but, ever modest, he wanted only a backstage bathroom for the actors and crew. At the Broad, the expression “I’m going to the John,” may now be “I’m going to the Dustin.”
The concert’s conductor is the renowned Kevin McKeown (not the council member, an embarrassing mistake I made in numerous e-mails over two days). Born in Ireland, Kevin grew up in Santa Monica, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UCLA, my alma mater. (Go Bruins!)
Considering Vegas is in the title, it’s only fitting that the musicians will be dressed like Elvises (Elvi?) and will scream in terror, hopefully at the appropriate moments. There will also be a large screen PowerPoint presentation with QuickTime movie elements incorporated into the slides, designed by Santa Monica artist, Britt Ehringer.
Godzilla will unleash terrifying destruction, which given Las Vegas, might not be such a bad thing. No offense, but it’s not exactly the culture capital of the country, unless you consider Siegfried and Roy culture.
Speaking of the duo, in February they gave one final performance. Amazingly, Roy has recovered from his beastly injuries (no pun intended) sustained when Montacore, the tiger, nearly tore his head off.
According to Wikipedia, however, the video footage revealed that, just prior to the attack, a trap door had inadvertently smashed one of Montacore’s testicles. Hey, that could make anyone “testy.” (Pun intended.)
As he wreaks havoc on Las Vegas, Godzilla will apparently devour Wayne Newton, Liberace and Frank Sinatra. Given those egos, that could cause severe heartburn.
Eric Whitacre, “Godzilla’s” composer, took seven years to get a bachelor’s from UNLV, prompting his quote, “By the time I graduated I was ready to eat Las Vegas, myself.” I confess, as a writer, I’m rather curious about what Eric was smoking, I mean, thinking before composing “Godzilla Eats Las Vegas.” (And whatever it was, can I get some?)
Sunday’s program will include “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” by John Williams; “The Beatles: Love,” a medley from the Cirque du Soleil tribute to the Beatles; Disney at the Oscars — a medley of award winning Disney tunes; “There Will Never Be Another You” the 1942 jazz standard piece arranged by local arranger/composer, Bruce Baker; and “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin featuring piano soloist, Anne-lise Longuemare. (Gershwin died at 38, amazing given his extensive body of work.)
The concert begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the SMC Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th St., at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard. Tickets are $11 and are available at the door but you better hurry, as seating is limited. Unfortunately, theatergoers don’t get to use “the Dustin” but I’m told the public bathrooms are beautiful.
As for Montacore, he’s alive and well at the Mirage’s animal habitat. That said, I’ll bet he stays far away from trap doors.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.