Charlie Chaplin comes the The Clarion at Brazosport College
There's no better way to experience the art of Charlie Chaplin than the way his original audiences did — on the big screen, with live musical accompaniment. And there's no better person to introduce his artistry than Dan Kamin, who trained Robert Downey, Jr. for his Oscar-nominated performance in “Chaplin” and created Johnny Depp’s comedy moves for “Benny and Joon.”
“Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony,” presented by The Clarion at Brazosport College and the Brazosport Symphony Orchestra, promises to be an uproarious evening of comedy and music for the whole family. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. on October 8 at the Clarion.
The fun begins with Kamin as “The Classical Clown,” an annoying mime who battles conductor John Ricarte for control of the Brazosport Symphony. By the time it’s over the mime conducts, the conductor turns into a mime, and even the usually serious musicians get into the act. Then the mime unmasks to introduce two great Chaplin comedies, “Easy Street” and “The Immigrant,” accompanied by terrific new symphonic scores by Grant Cooper. You’ll be amazed by how timely the films are, with their unflinching look at poverty, despair, homelessness and urban violence — not to mention the connection with the current worldwide immigrant crisis. Yet despite their dark themes the films are hilariously funny and deeply optimistic, presenting a joyous vision of the world not only as it is, but as it might be.
Asked about his movie work, Kamin says, “Classic movies inspired me, and I came full circle by adding classic visual comedy to modern films. I taught Johnny Depp how to roll the coin around his fingers the way he does at the end of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ But does he call? Never.”
In addition to working with Depp and Downey, Kamin played the wooden Indian that comes to life in the cult classic "Creepshow 2" and created Martian movement for Tim Burton's horror spoof "Mars Attacks!”
His “Comedy Concertos,” which blend comedy with classical music, have become popular with symphonies around the world, including Cleveland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Singapore, Shanghai and Malaysia. In addition to “Charlie Chaplin at the Symphony” they include “The Haunted Orchestra,” “The Lost Elephant” and "The Horrible History of Music.”
Despite his impressive stage and screen credits, Kamin's artistic beginnings were humble. At age 12 he began his performing career as a boy magician.
“I struggled in vain to entertain hordes of hyperkinetic, sugar-crazed, children at birthday parties,” he said.
He attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to study industrial design, but when he saw his first Charlie Chaplin film he immediately decided to become a silent comedian. But Hollywood wasn’t making silent films anymore, so how could he do that?
He found the answer when he saw the eye-popping movement illusions practiced by master mime Jewel Walker, then teaching in the school’s famed drama department. Walker taught him the secrets of the craft, and, before long, Kamin was touring the country with his first original show, “Silent Comedy...Live!” Undeterred by the fact that vaudeville was long dead, he cobbled a new vaudeville circuit out of colleges, theatres, symphonies and corporations, for whom Kamin often appears as a keynote speaker who falls apart.
“I applied my industrial design skills to building a collapsing lectern,” he said
Kamin returned to his comedy roots to write “Charlie Chaplin's One-Man Show,” revealing the secrets of Chaplin's comic art. Hailed as a breakthrough work, the book boasted a preface by another Chaplin fan, Marcel Marceau. His new book, “The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin: Artistry in Motion,” updates his earlier work and features an account of how he trained Downey for his Oscar-nominated performance.
For tickets and information call The Clarion box office at (979) 230-3156 or visit www.brazosport.edu/clarion.