There's a new starring role for Ralph Adams, 92, of Clifton Springs, as a farmer turned "Grampire"
Ralph Adams has done a lot of living in his 92 years and has been many things. A veteran of World War II and Korea, with an Ambassador for Peace certificate from the Korean consulate. A two-time receipient of Rotary's distinguished Paul Harris recognition. A volunteer at St. Felix Food Cupboard in Clifton Springs. A homespun poet whose verses can be found at spots throughout his Clifton Springs hometown.
He's also, on occasion in recent years, been a zombie, a singer in a boy band, a sea captain battling a “Sharktapiranhapus” — and now, most recently, a vampire. Or, rather, "Grampire."
You know what this means: Your Funny Uncles Productions is at it again, producing another in a series of tongue-in-cheek short films poking fun at cinematic and other tropes in what's a full family affair featuring many of director/producer Gary Adams' family members — often with his "funny uncle" Ralph Adams in a starring role.
"I like making movies," Ralph said last week at his East Main Street home. "My wife, not so much."
Yet Mable Adams, Ralph's wife of 70-plus years, is right there with him in many of the films, including the newest, "Grampire," a 20-25-minute production which will be released on Vimeo shortly after getting a private screening for the cast Jan. 25. Ralph plays farmer Jeremiah Dogbone, transformed into a creature of the night by a pack of vampires (played by, among others, his grandchildren Craig Adams and Reese and Camryn Ford). But Jeremiah's wife Kitty (played by Mable) presents the new vampire with a dilemma.
"They made me a vampire — and made me go and make other people be vampires," Ralph said. But Jeremiah is reluctant to turn his wife — "so they said I wasn't a good vampire."
"Grampire," like the other Funny Uncles films, is the brainchild of Gary Adams and Charlie Mason — who calls himself "sort of an extended nephew" who consideres the Adams family his own, and who wrote and directed the new movie. Neither is part of the film industry, Mason said — this all started seven or so years ago with a personal project, a labor of love.
"It started when his (Gary's) dad was in the last days of his life, and we had an idea to do a music video set to 'We Are Family,'" Mason said. "We were really new at it, and the technology was really, really bad." The video didn't get done then, but Mason says it's still in the works, as their skills and equipment have improved. "We never give up on a project — sometimes it takes a really long time," he said.
But since they had the camera, Gary's then 5-year-old nephew Thomas Pane offered the idea of a movie about a creature that was part shark, part piranha and part octopus. Who could say no to that? And thus was born the "Jaws" spoof "Sharktapiranhapus," in which Ralph Adams was cast as Ol' Cap'n Squint, who runs afoul of the title varmint, and assorted family members were enlisted into the project.
"I think some of them were confused about what they were signing up for," Mason laughed. Not Ralph, though. "Ralph took right to it — he's a ham."
That got the ball rolling, and it hasn't stopped. There was the horror comedy "Zombie Farm," with Mable and her sister Ruth playing sisters who sell zombies to unwitting customers as living scarecrows. There was "Skittles," a collection of shorts, including spoofs of boy bands, James Bond-style spy flicks, "General Hospital"-type dramas and more. There was the music video for the British duo Spray's song "The 80s Never Died" that featured Ralph, Mable, Ruth and assorted grandchildren in assorted Eighties-era activities.
And more and more people got involved: For instance, after Gary's nephew Reese volunteered his friend Trevor Loney to play a patient in the soap opera spoof, Loney's been a frequent cast member and brought his mom and stepdad Traci and Shaun Passamonte into the mix.
The movies are shot entirely in Clifton Springs — "the green screen" is in Gary's mother's garage, and they've also shot in Ralph and Mable's home, at Warfield's restaurant and at various locations around the village, as will be seen in "Grampire."
It's been a purely amateur undertaking, which has added to its charm. Mason said they used to project some of the lines onto the wall for their "actors," who would noticeably have to lean and crane their necks to read them.
For Ralph, making the movies is just plain fun.
"The camaraderie with everybody — and it's just like one big family," Ralph said. "Some of the people in town are in it." He's been amused and sometimes surprised at the local celebrity the films have afforded him, like when he was asked for his autograph in Tops.
Mason says he and Gary hope to keep doing the films with the family as long as they're interested. He thinks it's something Ralph's grandchildren will appreciate having been a part of later, even if they grumble about it now. "I hope they don't hate it as much as they say they do," Mason said — though, in the videos and the "Grampire" trailer, they sure look like they're having fun.
And mostly, he loves putting Ralph and Mable in the spotlight, especially in the new film. He loved being able to write what was, all the vampire stuff aside, essentially a love story.
"Ralph and Mable are a great inspiration for couples everywhere," he said. "I've never seen a couple that's been married for so long who are so in love with each other."
Check out the "Grampire" trailer at https://youtu.be/XZR7O2IkCmA
Rival composers, rival soloists
Eastman Opera Theatre is continuing its season with a double bill featuring comic twists on a similar story by famed composer rivals Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Salieri's "Prima la musica e poi le parole" — an Italian opera with a libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti — and Mozart's "Der Schauspieldirektor" will be presented Jan. 25-26, Jan. 31, and Feb. 1-2 in the Black Box studio at Eastman Theatre, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester.
The two short operas — which premiered simultaneously in 1786 at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna as part of a competition — both deal with the auditions for a new opera. In Salieri's work, the Composer is commissioned to write a new opera but the Poet is suffering from writer's bloc and two sopranos battle over who gets to sing the opening aria. In Mozart's work, a whole troupe of actors and singers fight for their sot in the new company— performing pieces from the theatrical canon, including pieces from Shakespeare and Gilbert & Sullivan.
Tickets are $26 general admission ($10 students) and available at the Eastman Theatre box office, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester; by phone at 585-274-3000; or online at http://eastmantheatre.org.
Send in your plays
The Geneva Theatre Guild is now accepting proposals for its fall 2020 through summer 2021 season. Proposals are being accepted for November 2020 through August 2021. The guild is accepting adult show proposals and proposals for the Youth Theatre. For the proposal forms, go to genevatheatreguild.com.
The guild also is accepting submissions for its 2020 Playwrights Playreadings event showcasing new plays. Submission deadline is Feb. 23, and playwrights will be notified by March 15. After that, auditions will be held March 30-31 for the readings, to take place May 1-3. For more information, go to the website.