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the Pale

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The Palm of Peron

Brooker's Evita : Flashbulbs Glorified the Scene

Beverly Peyton is a long-time Procol fan and friend, living in Fort Lauderdale: fans will know of her New York hairdressing salon, 'Procol Hairum.' Here she presents some context to Gary Brooker's participation in the Alan Parker movie of Lloyd-Webber and Rice's Evita, in which Gary sings part of one track, Rainbow Tour. This is available on the double CD (only) of Evita the Motion Picture Soundtrack and he shares it with fellow-vocalists Antonio Banderas, Peter Polycarpou, Jonathan Pryce, John Gower and Madonna.

Santa brought a little extra joyous news in 1996. The card was from the Brookers and it said they were planning to arrive in Fort Lauderdale shortly after New Year's. They also mentioned Gary's upcoming rôle in Evita and to watch for its opening if I were so inclined.

If I were so inclined? Ha! Needless to say, this visit was to bring an extra bit of added excitement. My favourite performer was now a bona fide movie star! I would most definitely have to find some special way to honor the occasion and as usual the uncanny influences that brought us together from the start were magically weaving their ways once again.

Without much effort, a wonderful opportunity presented itself and before I could muster up the likes of even the slightest struggle in deciding what to do in light of Gary's new rôle, there in my hand was placed a replica of an Oscar. How perfect is this, I thought? Madonna had just been awarded the Golden Globe. Now Gary could have a little trinket to show off as well.

After their usual settling in, we met for dinner. Evita had not yet opened in Fort Lauderdale, so Gary was at a bit of a loss explaining his scenes, but found no problem mentioning that Alan Parker the director, who so fittingly saluted A Whiter Shade of Pale in the movie The Commitments, requested that Gary sing all four verses every day of his shoot. "Well! That's one sure fire way to hear your favourite song," I thought. "Hire the artist to play a part in your movie!"

One anecdote spoke of and showed just how down-to-earth the Brookers are. I might preface that by saying a good portion of their touring life had been spent riding around in limos and yet on this celebrated occasion and gala event evening their first consideration was to take a train. Further thought made them realize they'd be a bit too dressed for
those accommodations so then decided to drive. "Finally," they said, "we hired a car for fear of the parking crunch we might have encountered." No pretence here, Palers, just plain folks.

Opening night had obviously been a pretty exciting evening for them and not being accustomed to that particular type of limelight revealed more of a naivete than I expected. They continued to detail the sequence of events. Then Gary meekly stated that at some point during the party Mr Parker congratulated him and said, "You were brilliant!" I could see
the surprise of the compliment wash over him. Our Commander is a very modest man.

Naturally, I enjoyed seeing them delight in all of this, but the funniest remark unfolded when Gary explained what occurred during the haircuts on the set. Seems both Antonio Banderas and Gary showed up sporting ponytails at the time (Gary hadn't seen me in a while!) neither of which would be suitable for their rôles. Apparently many women began to hover the area as the tails were lopped off. Gary claims everyone ran for Antonio's hair while his just laid there. Franky and I laughed as his eyes smirked at his humor.

After dinner we retired to the piano bar. Gary didn't tickle the ivories for me that particular evening, but "Now," I announced, "it's my turn." In the brief time I had acquired Oscar, I managed to place two messages on it ... one side read: 'To The World's Greatest Performer', the other 'To The World's Greatest Couple'. I have never been one to short sight Franky and made that perfectly clear. Gary agreed and openly approved at which point I unwrapped Oscar and presented it to them. Gary's boyish grin took over as I heard him whisper almost to himself, "Is that Oscar?" I could see he was pleased with their fun-loving award.

Unbeknownst to me, they had been holding out. The next thing I knew Gary was signing a message on to the liner sheet of Within Our House and handing me this treasured copy stating, "I hope you enjoy this." Need I ask? Who do you think got the better trophy? <G>

In closing, I have finally seen Evita some half-a-dozen times. It is with sheer enjoyment that I watch Gary take to the screen so easily. Granted the film is very well done and all the rôles are remarkably played, but I must say Mr Parker was right. Gary IS brilliant in it and I hope someday someone will see fit to use his magnificent speaking voice and cast his equally handsome face in yet another rôle.

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