“Playing to people’s fantasies of who THEY think you are . . .” STAGED. My first impressions

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Yes, my DVD arrived. Mr. Dennison has kindly give us several repeats of his short black & white film on this DVD so we don’t have to keep rewinding. I have now seen it at least five times and here it comes again.

Here is young Richard–pre-“Sparkhouse,” pre-“Cold Feet” and “North & South,” all the way back to the late 90s, the promise of his current gob-smacking beauty in that face, this big, rangy man who nonetheless moves with such agility.

And he’s good. The promise of the talent that will shine in future roles is there, too. Within the 15 minutes, we see anger, humiliation,  humor, wistfulness, predatory lust, tenderness . . . much of the emotion expressed in his face and body language.

RA plays an actor, Darryl Newman, who was on top before suffering the humiliation of his wife Lisa’s affair and films that bomb at the box office.  Now, battling confidence and trust issues, he’s trying to make a comeback with a stage performance alongside Lisa in London.  But it’s a bumpy ride.  (Please forgive the quality of these screencaps. They are literally photos I took of the TV screen with my trusty Olympus.)

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Darryl  recalls when the work stopped being fun as he found himself caught up in “playing to people’s fantasies of who THEY think you are . . .”  That line struck me because I thought of how RA has often said it’s the characters women are attracted to, not old boring Richard himself. And I wonder if doubts have plagued him from time to time–does this woman like me for me, or is it Thornton, or Guy, or Porter, et al she really wants?

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Darryl and Lisa about to engage in some anger sex. The poor actress has to wrestle with a half-naked Richard on top of her on the sofa. Tough job, but I suppose someone has to do it.

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Now for technical issues. Having some problems with sound. I have to run my air conditioner and even with the volume cranked up to full blast on my flat screen, still having trouble hearing some of the dialogue. I can’t seem to play it on the PC using Window Media and I never got around to installing VLC on this laptop (add to list of things to do) so I am a little frustrated in that department. After all, who wants to miss out on Mr. A’s gorgeous honeyed baritone?  Also helps if you can hear all the dialogue. 😉

I do like the black and white photography, as I have always been a fan of films and still photos in B&W. Depending on the lighting (and the scene), Richard’s features sometimes look a bit hard and “mean” and in other instances, boyish and sweet. But then, we are accustomed to that with our chameleon, aren’t we?

That being said–on a more shallow note–I am enjoying seeing shirtless RA with his broad shoulders and tempting chest. The smattering of chest hair–and suggestion of hair—down below? *gulp* Those strong arms in action. The familiar moles on his back.  I love those moles. *sigh*

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And the eyelashes, Oh my. Those lashes . . .

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Will be interested to hear what other people think.

About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

63 responses »

    • Had to turn mine cooler. The moles are divine. Have always loved them. Along with pretty much everything else about the man . . . just took some more screenshots. Still trying to capture one that is just so fleeting . . .

  1. Wow, that’s some range to pack into 15 minutes. Richard is so young here, and gorgeous, showing the promise of what is to come, The eyelashes, the shoulders, the arms, the glimpse of chest hair — even the man’s clavicle is tempting. I know he said in interviews that he thinks women fall for the characters he creates, not him, but perhaps at last he has figured out that it IS him, really. We admire his creations and we’re attracted, smitten, overcome, but it’s so much more than that…

    • It really is. But he manages to do it. And look gorgeous doing it, of course. RA himself is just so appealing and I hope some idea of that has finally sunk in . . . we love the characters, yes, but the man who brings them to us is the best of all.

    • Funny that – I always used to think it is more the other way around. I tend to watch film with certain actors, because I like them and I always like to think that something of the actor’s character shines through in the role?!
      Although I have to admit I like Guy’s hairstyle the most – not to speak of the medieval shirts – don’t start me on medieval shirts!!!!
      Thanks for the pics, I want to watch that, too!!!

      • I do think we see glimpses of the real Richard in many of his characters. Guy is, of course, MY FAVORITE RA character. And he knows it. 😉 Glad you enjoyed, working on some more screen shots right now.

  2. Goodness me- it’s just got awfully hot in here…

    Thanks Angie. I’m wishing I’d got organised and ordered a copy now. 😦

    Still, I can enjoy it vicariously.

  3. Your Olympus did a great job, especially on that last screencap :-).

    I’m on holiday and hope that my copy of Staged will be waiting for me when I get home this weekend. Thanks for the “warning” about sound quality, I will lower my expectations accordingly. I guess that technical issues may have contributed to the delays of this dvd.

  4. We now know what took so long. The DVD will not play with VLC player. It plays with PowerDVD Player but very badly, picture is bad, sound is bad. And DVD Decrypter failed (it has never failed before). They spent a lot of time figuring out how to get the DVD to only play on a DVD player.

    • Ah . . . well, I can’t say too much as we are looking into DVD encrypting software for our video production business. After spending the hours involved in shooting, editing and making the DVDS we really don’t relish someone making copies for friends and relatives as freebies.

  5. OMG. I started eating an ice cream cone just before I got here. I needed the whole da^^#ed gallon by the time I got to pix #4. What are you trying to do, Ang, give me another heart attack? Warning signs, we need warning signs. My first thought (for a fleeting moment was Thorin who?) hahahaha. I’m working on some new screen shots of hair-acting. whooo….Pix#8 is pure sex in a can. I hope my DVD comes tomorrow. At least I’m forewarned to have my nitroglycerin handy.

  6. VLC might not help you here. For me, it refused to play it – and that is not something that VLC does often.
    Richard is charming, and very boyish, to my surprise, though he is 28 there, not really *that* young. He did get more beautiful with age, and he obviously spent a lot of time in gyms since. And I thought some of his acting is very good, and very natural.
    But the play is actually only about 11 minutes. And I’m sorry, but I found the actress remarkably annoying…

    • Yes, he has only gotten better with age, there is not a doubt about that. 😀 Although he still looks pretty darned good here without his shirt, even lacking the six-pack! Not worrying about VLC since it plays fine in the DVD player. And my screenshots taken with my camera have turned out remarkably well, all things considered. I knew the film was short–it’s a student film, after all, so I have no arguments about the length. Maybe it’s just because I am so excited to see something “new” but I really have enjoyed it, and I have watched it lots of times. 😉

      My only real issue with Jennifer is her eye makeup. The heavily drawn-in eyebrows and cat’s-eye liner are jarring and distracting. Her performance was fine. Perhaps it was to make her look older? Since I have not seen her in anything else, don’t know if this was a typical “look” for her or not.

  7. Thanks for that, Angie. Really interesting to read about this early work. I mean, I had no doubt RA was going to convince anyone, anyway, but does the story also have meat? The caps are stunning, btw, and I have to say, I quite like the slightly less polished RA that is visible in them.

    • Yeah, I think so– you have this acting couple who are estranged–she cheated on him, betraying his trust in her, and for him, trust is everything. He gave all to her “body and soul” and feels she flung it back in his face. His once flourishing career, which started on the stage and then moved into films–is tanking and he’s anxious to get it kick-started. And so he’s returning to stage in a play with his wife. But he feels she doubts his ability. He obviously doubts himself . . . there’s still plenty of spark there between them, but also a lot of emotional baggage. There’s anger and a desire to punish and also tenderness and yearning for what they once had. “You always hurt the ones you love . . .” as the saying goes. Glad you liked the caps, there are more in next post I put up.

      Know what you mean about the less polished RA. He seems more accessible somehow, like a person I might actually know, if you get my drift. But still a lovely hunk of masculinity.

    • Looks like they will get to us in the US first as they were shipped from San Jose, Calif. The others who have received theirs have also been here in the US, I believe.

  8. Lovely screenshots, Angie! I was so mesmerized by Richard that I didn’t even think about capping. (And, for me, that’s highly unusual! LOL) I’ll try to catch a few the next time I watch. You know, like when I finish typing this. 😉 There is one particular moment that I do want to capture. I wonder if it’s the same “elusive” one you’re looking for. Hmmmm?

    I’m so surprised to read that folks are having issues with it playing, and with the quality of the video and the sound. I popped the DVD into our iMac and it started playing immediately, with a picture quality that I expected (after all, it was 1999, and a student project) and absolutely gorgeous sound quality. Richard’s voice came across perfectly. Hubby even remarked on it. 😉 Now y’all have me wondering if it will work in my DVD player. LOL

    I will admit that I was a bit amazed that I got so invested so quickly with the story of this struggling couple. Neither one of them is really likeable at the start … she’s a bit of a b*tch and he’s quite the self-centered b*st*rd. Richard really played the role of the older, disillusioned, frankly frightened for his career actor so well. Jennifer wasn’t too shabby, either, as the sharp-tongued cheating wife and co-star. Considering they were both still very young (late 20’s), that is quite the achievement.

    Hope everyone gets their copies very soon! 🙂

    • Maybe it’s that Mac magic. I certainly couldn’t get it to play here on my PC. 😉 And I am wondering now if the sound issue is in part this TV. I always seem to have to turn the volume up higher on it in comparison with Benny’s TV (but it’s got the bigger screen–the better to see Mr. A!) Also when I finally shut down the A/C and fan last night I was able to hear *most* of the dialogue but the stuff said in a lower tone of voice I still had trouble hearing. Or maybe, I am just going deaf?? This is a possibility, as it runs in my family.

      I agree, they weren’t particularly likeable in the beginning, either of them, but we see glimpses of the decent people underneath who really do care for each other as the story progresses. Often that registers not in what they say, but the expressions we see when they aren’t looking and sniping at each other. Their vulnerability shows . . . actually there is quite a lot packed into those few minutes, more than I’ve seen in some full-length movies by the time you take out the car chases, explosions and all the CGI. You could say it’s old-fashioned–a hint of Noel Coward in the battling co-stars–but I mean that as a good thing.

      • I did finally find an email address so I could contact them and see if there are any copies left–ut I guess, if worse comes to worse, at least I’ll have your gorgeous photo reproductions to sustain me. My favorite is still the one of the embrace–it’s to die for.

          • I still can’t believe that I missed the notice that this would be available, finally. I do remember back a while ago that he was supposed to be making the dvd’s, but then that’s the last I ever read about it.

            • It ended up being a somewhat long and drawn-out process, but I am so pleased he did do this–offer the DVDs for sale– and tweeted him on FB to that effect.

              • I’m thinking it must have been one of the periods when we were having such problems with the computer–one of them turned out to be several weeks long and I don’t think I ever completely caught up. Still no response to the emails I sent, so I may just be out of luck. I almost cringe to ask–what is the price?

              • When I think I spent $40 on that FAULT magazine this seemed like a real bargain to me. Sure, it’s short, but it’s another addition to my RA performance collection and I really do enjoy it. It’s a chance to see him early in his acting career. I wish we had videos of this quality of him performing in CATS readily available. Would definitely buy!

              • Still hoping I will hear back from them and they might have another copy lying around–was so thrilled at my birthday, a friend in England sent me a signed copy of the photo of Richard in the beautiful black suit and I already had the perfect frame for it. I was a very happy camper.

  9. Angie, keep snapping away with your Olympus! Seems that’s the only way we’re going to get any stills from this.

    *sigh* After a bit of time attempting to snap caps using the laptop (and the desktop), I’ve come to the conclusion that the capability to do so has been blocked on the DVD. Even when I attempt to do just a screencap of my desktop with the DVD window smaller, everything shows up, except for the blank space where the movie is playing. 😦

    If anyone figures out anything differently, share? Please? 🙂

    • Yeah, I am certain now they have put safeguards into place to prevent it. I couldn’t even get it to play on my laptop, much less make screencaps! However, necessity being the mother of invention and all that . . . a good camera does come in very handy. 😉

  10. Oh, I love your “shallow” notes and have always trusted your little movie chronicles to be accurate! 🙂
    Am happy to hear that he was v.good at that young age and with such a subject, more appropriate for an older actor.
    Is this actress currently married with the director, anyone knows?

    • I am glad you like my notes. 😉 I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to noticing all these things. I really do think he and Jennifer held their own in their performances. No, they are not married, but did work together on a recent film Darren directed, which is now in post production.

  11. I also like B&W film and photography, maybe because I’m a lover of classic films. I enjoy many things about STAGED, but especially seeing RA at the start of his career, and also in a two-character piece, so rare so far. Is it a perfect production? No, of course not – but for me that’s not the point. I agree we want more romance from him, don’t we?

    Thanks for the screen pics!

  12. It’s arrived…….. WOW……. loved it. When RA talks about losing himself in a role it rang so true. He’s become handsomer but the promise is all there. It’s been a privilege to glimpse his start on along hard road..

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