“Beaches” Sing And Cry Along To Be Held At NY’s Y In Tribeca Jan 28th

New York Times
JANUARY 20, 2012, 7:00 AM
The Wind Beneath My Weeping: Bring Tissues to ”˜Beaches’ Cry-Along

Behavior that normally would get an audience member kicked out of a screening is welcome at movie sing-alongs. Throwing rice at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Hand-jiving at “Grease.” Twirling in a dirndl at “The Sound of Music.”

But later this month something even more unusual than chucking food will be encouraged at a movie sing-along: sobbing. On Jan. 28 the 92nd Street Y TriBeCa will host a “Beaches” Sing and Cry-Along, where patrons, according to the Y’s Web site, will “experience this tearjerker in an environment where shameless weeping is encouraged.” Tissues will be available.

“Beaches,” directed by Garry Marshall and released in 1988, stars Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey as lifelong friends whose relationship is tested by a love triangle, failed marriages, single parenthood and – enter the tears – a fatal illness. Many critics were lukewarm to the film’s sentimental blend of light comedy and melodrama. Janet Maslin described it as “strictly a 40’s saga, complete with bitter feuds, tearful recriminations, loving affirmations and, of course, the kind of fatal illness that can drag on endlessly without altering the afflicted’s good looks.”

But in the decades since its release, “Beaches” and its waterworks wizardry still resonate. “Wind Beneath My Wings,” a hit ballad from the movie sung by Ms. Midler, has become a staple at weddings and funerals, and was parodied, with Ms. Midler’s help, on an episode of “The Simpsons.” The movie popped up in the 1997 comedy “In & Out,” where, in a film within the film, a solider is outed and kicked out of the military for having an autographed copy of “Beaches” in his footlocker. On a recent episode of “Glee” Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) comforts a distraught Becky (Lauren Potter) by offering to eat ice cream and watch “Beaches” together. The pop culture nods extend off the screen too: Iris Rainer Dart, the author of the 1985 novel the movie is based on, is working on a musical adaptation that has its sights on Broadway.

Cristina Cacioppo, the film programmer at the 92nd Street Y TriBeCa, said “Beaches” and its cult-like following made it the perfect fit for her as-yet untested teary twist on the sing-along formula.

“”˜Beaches’ has songs and and it has emotions,” she said. “I think that’s a good way for me to test out the idea of a cry-along.”

Ms. Cacioppo recently spoke with ArtsBeat about crying at “Beaches” as a child, feminist moviegoing and what other films may be in the cry-along pipeline. Following are excerpts from the conversation.

What’s your personal relationship with “Beaches”? Is it a movie you know well?

When I was a kid I watched the movie a lot. It came out in 1988, and I was 10. I remember always crying over it. It was one of those movies that you watch as a kid and you somehow have it memorized. I hadn’t really revisited it since then. I watched it again recently, and I was very easily seduced by it. I was thinking it wouldn’t affect me, but everything came back to me. It seemed like an obvious choice for a cry-along, one that would be great to see with other people.

You’ve been hosting sing-alongs at the 92 Street Y Tribeca for a while now. But this is different.

The sing-alongs we’ve been doing have been successful. We’ve done sing-alongs for “Labyrinth” and “Team America: World Police,” which was a sing-and-curse-along, because there’s so much profanity in it. We’ve also done “Grease 2”³ and “Teen Witch,” a lot of things from the ’80s. “Rocky Horror” and “The Sound of Music” have done it before, but I wanted to take it into the next generation. I wanted to think about other ways to have that experience that wasn’t about musicals. That’s when I started thinking about crying, and the catharsis of that.

I’ve never heard of a cry-along. Where did the idea come from?

When my friend Miriam Bale started an online feminist journal called Joan’s Digest, one of the first pieces that someone contributed was about characters crying in movies. At a screening she did for the launch of the journal, she showed this video from YouTube of a girl pointing a camera at the screen while the movie “Ghost” is playing, and she’s just hysterically crying and blabbering about what’s going on in the movie.

The idea started to sink in that there could be this interesting thing to do with getting people in a room together to cry. But it wouldn’t be sad. It would be fun. If we gave people the opportunity to let it all out, it would reach this level of, you’re crying so much that you’re laughing.

Who do you think will come to the cry-along?

This kind of event would be geared toward women, not that anybody would be shut out. Men have their guilty pleasures, like horror movies and horror movie marathons. But I don’t think women have had the same kind of theater experience. Women haven’t gotten the opportunity to get together, in a public space, and experience these kinds of guilty pleasures.

Some people might think crying along to “Beaches” is a camp experience. Do you think the feelings behind this event are more genuine? Or is it meant to be campy?

I don’t read it as camp. That’s the funny thing about sing-alongs. People will say, oh they’re just into it because it’s ironic. But when you’re in the room and see how excited people are, and how they get teary-eyed at certain moments, you realize it’s not about camp or irony. People might want to protect themselves and frame it that way, instead of saying they genuinely like it.

There are plenty of movies to make fun of, and we do that sometimes too. But in this case it’s about feeling those feelings you felt the first time you watched it.

What are some of the scenes that you think will really turn on the tears?

I think there are a few spots. There’s a fight scene between Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey. There’s the scene where Barbara Hershey is dying. That’s really going to be a huge one.

Do you think there will be other cry-alongs in the future?

I think so. “Steel Magnolias.” “Terms of Endearment.” Everybody has their own idea of what the crying movies are.

The “Beaches” Sing and Cry Along will be held Jan. 28 at 9:30 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y’s TriBeCa branch at 200 Hudson Street. More information is at the organization’s Web site.

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3 thoughts on ““Beaches” Sing And Cry Along To Be Held At NY’s Y In Tribeca Jan 28th

  1. It’s amazing how many Bette films have become “classics” or “cult classics” without having the ever-mentioned sequel or broadway adaptation. I think Bette deserves a franchise. She performs with such emotional impact, it only makes sense. C’mon Hollywood…..[speaking of the cry-along, though, here’s hopng you’re at peace, Etta James, at last]

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