Anyone old enough to remember the life and career of Judy Garland and the 1939 film classic "The Wizard of Oz" would have enjoyed this show at Silver Lake's MJ'S Bar, which was decorated for Halloween.
Cotton cobwebs were hung around the bartender's area, and plastic skeleton-framed sunglasses laid on the tables around the stage area, with bat decorations scattered from the ceiling. Cups of candy corn were placed here and there. There was even a large hourglass with red sand on top of the piano--a prop like the one Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West had in the film.
Dressed as the wicked witch, called "Miss West" by the show's host, Kevin Beaty, was David Pascucci. "Can you believe he stayed in makeup for 24 hours so he could help us out with this show?" said Beaty, who was dressed as the Cowardly Lion. Pascucci had won a costume contest the night before at Studio City's Oil Can Harry's and had remained in costume for the show the next day.
During Sunday's performance, Ron Snyder was at the piano, accompanying David Fortin as he played "I'm In The Mood for Love" on his trumpet, Julian Troup who sang "When I Fall in Love, and Miriam Birch, who belted out "I'm Still Here." Birch also told the audience: "I was going to come as a munchkin, but I'm almost 5' 10" so I didn't think anyone would buy that."
Tom Tucker of Silver Lake also came dressed as a priest named "Father Romeo" and sang "A House is Not a Home." And among the other acts was singer/actress Diane Pancal, dressed as Catherine Zeta-Jones' Velma Kelley "Chicago" character who sang "All That Jazz." And Amanda Able performed as Judy Garland, circa 1962.
Each week, Beaty and his group put together a show at MJ's called Another Side of MJs--Piano Sundays. And he explained recently to a writer the intent behind the shows they produce, since the piano bar ,The Other Side ,closed earlier this year after years of serving the neighborhood. He says he chose "The Wizard of Oz" theme for the Halloween show because of the parallels he saw with Dorothy's character in the film and those of the bar's customers who come each week.
"So many of us, young and young at heart , singers and lovers of live music ,could identify with the film's characters who all went through difficult, but rewarding journeys, but who found what they were looking for right in their own back yards of Oz." Indeed, in the film, Dorothy says , to paraphrase: "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire, I won't go any further than my own back yard. Because, if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with."
Beaty said it took him about a week to come up with the exact story line for the show, which is about Dorothy returning to OZ from 1962 and bringing the Scarecrow a live brain FedExed on dry ice, and also a FedExed live heart for the Tin Man. The cast members met the Wednesday before the show and did it the following Sunday.
He also explained the intent behind the shows and Piano Sundays in general at MJs. "People can just come in and leave their problems and reality outside the door, and just laugh play, sing and have fun. It's like a weekly party with new and old friends; where everyone is a star and accepted, whether they're gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, young, or young at heart.
"This club means so much to me , and the hours it takes each week are worth it because the people who come appreciate it so much. It's worth it to see the smiles and hear the laughter of the people who have made Piano Sundays an important part of their lives week in and week out. The patrons make the show and give me the energy to keep it going. And we are in our 19th week. Can you believe it?"
Piano Sundays at MJs are from 2 pm to 6 pm, at 2810 Hyperion Avenue, south of Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake.