Yesterday I went to see the movie "A Prairie Home Companion" in which I was an "extra" during the filming in two of the audience scenes, and my review is: very, very entertaining! I was tapping my foot along with all of the songs, laughing at most of the jokes, and learning along with everyone else in the theater the story going on "back stage" during the final radio broadcast (which is a fictional story, I might add. The actual show which is broadcast on NPR on Saturday evenings is by no means ready to come to an end! Not to worry.).
Here are some of the things I loved about the movie: I loved that no "fake" buildings or backdrops were used. The famous Mickey's Diner in downtown St. Paul is the location used in the opening and in the closing scenes. The same little house with a front porch that one sees on the stage if attending a live broadcast is in its place. And most importantly, to me at least, is the use of the beautiful Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul, again - the location of most of the live broadcasts.
I was amazed at the singing ability of Meryl Streep- this was my first time hearing her. I looked forward to the few scenes of which I played a small part - (1) Garrison's opening of the live broadcast; (2) the death angel walking invisibly through the audience; (3) the singing of the song "Bad Jokes" by the singing cowboys, played by Woody Harrrelson and John C. Reilly; and (4) the scene with Tommy Lee Jones (the Axeman) conversing with Kevin Kline (Guy Noir) and Virginia Madsen (the death angel). It was really fun to see Garrison Keillor acting with such big name stars. During the couple of days that I witnessed the filming, Garrison pretty much stayed "in the shadows," often in the back of the theater within ear shot of the director Robert Altman, but NEVER interrupting him with suggestions or comments. Yesterday (in the film) I saw him singing and chatting with them. It was great!
I loved the way Robert Altman wove the story back and forth - from the "ON THE AIR" scenes to the sad reminiscing going on with the regulars who were in their dressing rooms or in the side-wings waiting to go on. Oh, and watching the "sound man" doing his "thing" during one of the numbers - well, you'll just have to go and see it for yourself!