Over on Mark Evanier's website, he has a video here of a song performed by Michelle Nicastro, and some nice words on her. As he points out, since most people won't likely recognize her name, she was a stage performer who passed away much-too-early a few years ago. And he's quite right, she sings the bejeepers out of the song here, from a little-known musical.
I actually had reason once to cross paths with her quite a while ago. There was a couple of years where I did some interviewing here in Los Angeles for Northwestern University -- the school would recruit alumni to volunteer to talk with local students who had applied to NU but couldn't make it to Evanston, Illinois, for an interview with the Admittance Department. One year, Michelle Nicastro and her husband (who was also an actor and is now a successful producer) were part of the Alumni group doing the interviewing, as well.
I wish I could remember much about the encounter, though I do recall them both -- in fact, they are the only two who I do remember from that period. It was pretty early in their careers. I think they'd only been out of school for a couple of years, and I remember being impressed that they wanted to "give back" so soon after graduating. Most of the other volunteers had been graduated much longer. What I also recall is how personable they were -- and how beautiful Michelle was. And then a few years later, I saw her again...but this time from the audience. I'd gone to see the touring company of Les Miserables, and when i opened the program, there she was in the cast. She played the role of Eponine and -- not surprisingly -- sang the bejeepers out of the soaring ballad, "One My Own." She was extremely talented, and appeared on Broadway, as well.
One other note about Michelle Castro. You probably have seen her work and even will be able to remember the role she played. If you've seen the movie, When Harry Met Sally, you'll recall at the very opening that the character of Harry is a student at Northwestern University, saying goodbye to his girlfiend for vacation break. As they kiss, her friend Sally drives by to pick Harry up to share the car ride cross-country. Michelle Nicastro played Harry's girlfiend. I always appreciated the whimsy that the scene took place at Northwestern. Now, whether that was pure chance, or if perhaps she was a student there at the time and got cast when they filmed there, I don't know. It would probably be easy to figure out, checking dates, but at the moment I'm happy to leave things as they are...
Check out her video on Mark's site. By the way, he notes that the song she sings was from the musical, Smile. You likely won't have heard of it, though it has a good pedigree. The music is by Marvin Hamlisch, and the book and lyrics by Howard Ashman -- who had written such productions as Little Shop of Horrors, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. But it only ran for 48 performances. Smile is based on a little known, but wonderful film of the same name, a wry, charming and bitingly-satirical story that takes place at the California Young American Miss beauty contest. The movie was written by Jerry Belson, who wrote a lot of episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show -- and it was directed by Michael Ritchie, which is notable for where it came in his body of work. He made it in 1975, right after he had directed the great film The Candidate and immediately before directing The Bad News Bears. So, clearly, this was his "wry, charming and bitingly-satirical" period. So, Smile is worth checking out, as well...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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