Celebs and suburbia mix in film version of ‘Stella Street’
Special to The Aspen Times
Though the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival has made a name for itself by showcasing up-and-coming performers, one of the highlights of this year’s Film Discovery Program is the latest work from a team of comedy legends.
“Monty Python” veterans John Sessions, Phil Cornwell and John Goldstone, as well as director Peter Richardson, have made the trek from England to Aspen to celebrate the world premiere of “Stella Street,” their new comedy feature. The film debuts today at 1 p.m. at the Isis Theatre and will also screen Friday at 2:15 p.m.
The film is based on a popular BBC2 television series of the same name that has aired for the past four years and become a cult favorite in England. “Stella Street” tells the story of what happens to a quiet suburban neighborhood when a slew of the world’s biggest celebrities move in.
Those celebrities ” including Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, among others ” are all portrayed by Sessions and Cornwell in a series of on-point impersonations.
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While the televised version of “Stella Street” consisted of a series of 15-minute stories, its feature film incarnation revolves around a single, 82-minute tale. The film also features a third cast member: Actress Ronni Ancona joined the team to bring to life Madonna, Posh Spice and Jerry Hall, among other female personalities.
Though Americans are not familiar with the series, Goldstone, the film’s executive producer, said he believes U.S. audiences will be quick to catch on to the concept.
“In my experience, American audiences are much more responsive generally to comedy than English audiences are,” he said. “I’ve tried this film out on some Americans, and they have really responded because our characters are all people that they know.
“Through my experience on the ‘Monty Python’ movies, I’ve found that English comedy only really works in America if the point of reference is something Americans can relate to.”
As for the celebrities parodied in the film, Goldstone said several are fans of the BBC series.
“John Sessions was approached by Keith Richards at an event, and he told him that he loved it,” said Goldstone. “And I know that David Bowie and Mick Jagger are also fans.”
He said he believes that the show has struck a chord with the celebrities in part because it does not try to attack them.
“It’s really more of a tribute to them, and it’s quite the opposite of mean-spirited parody,” he said. “It’s much more about them and how they interact with each other.”
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