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"I just got out of my theatre class and the teacher (Sara Morsey) went into a half hour lecture on how the Satellite is the best source for finding out about what was going on in town. She read parts of Shamrock McShane's article (The Play About the Baby – see: newmoonrising.com) and went on to say that Mr. McShane is a journalistic hero who makes his readers actually think instead of spoon feeding them their news and reviews. She strongly recommended that all her students pick it up this and every month."

– Denise Hank

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Updated: December 25, 2011

Cinema Verite Hogtown Style

August 2007
Satellite Magazine
By Shamrock McShane

This is our town, Gainesville, Florida, in the summer of 2007.

The camera takes us from the Dark Wood that surrounds us and draws us inexorably down, down toward the Center of the Universe. We have given it an earthly name. We call it, the Devil¹s Millhopper. This is where the Devil was said to have funneled creatures to be devoured.

Turns out — it's true. Never know what you might find down here.

Frog.

As Dante had his Virgil… This is Tom Miller, our guide to the underworld.

We enter the labyrinth and emerge somehow at Leonardos on the Avenue.

I got the idea for our movie You Are Not Frank Sinatra a couple years ago when I was in Sarasota and I met up again with Bob Mowry, who was acting then at Florida Studio Theatre. Mowry and I had first met during what is now fondly called the golden age of Chicago theater in the 1970s.

As leading man for The Truck, the Chicago troupe that played to raucous and appreciative audiences throughout the school system, Mowry found himself one day taking singing lessons to handle the opera scenes that were being added to the Truck¹s fare.

Epiphany. Mowry took on the role of opera singer like any other part, and acted it perfectly. Pretending to sing, he discovered, can be indistinguishable from singing.

That night in Sarasota, Mowry and I hit a karaoke bar. After the usual "Brown–eyed Girl" and "Freebird" renditions by the yokels, Mowry let the cat out of the bag. And he was the cat. Mowry belted out a Sinatra song like nobody's business.

Last fall Mowry and I were in San Francisco, acting together at the Exit Theater in a play by Greg DeGraf, when we popped into a yuppie bar outside of Chinatown. It was karaoke night and the place was packed.

You Are Not Frank Sinatra

Screenplay by Shamrock Mchane
Directed by: Mike McShane
Son of Sham
Gainesville, Florida
Premiered May, 2009

Same thing happened. Conversation stopped, the bar noise seemed to drop away, and all eyes cut to the microphone to see who is that?

I started to wonder what it might be like to try to use Sinatra songs and a guy who could really sing them to tell a story.

I put together a screenplay, most of which went out the window after the second or third day of shooting, but that's another story.

Tom Miller put together a piece of music as only Tom Miller can do and entitled it Not Frank Sinatra. It's a woozy, sumptuous, big band, melodic, schizophrenic rat pack thrill ride.

We started shooting B–Roll material around Gainesville for our movie You Are Not Frank Sinatra in late May.

It is Night Town, and we follow the "scene" as it snakes down University Avenue toward Main Street, wriggling off here to Common Grounds and there to the Sidebar and Market Street, slithering to the Top, up the alley, and in the back door of the University Club.

Location shooting began on the steps of the Hippodrome and next door at Maude's on June 7.

At night, at the now dearly departed Shamrock Pub, we gathered together our Rat Pack, some of the best musical–comedy talent in town: Tom Miller, Scot Davis, and Gregg Jones.

On June 9 Bob Mowry arrived from Sarasota. His business card reads "Let's Be Frank". But Bob Mowry is not Frank Sinatra; he just sings, like Sinatra. Like Sinatra, Mowry sings. The difference is, Frank Sinatra is dead, and Bob Mowry is not … Frank Sinatra.

That Saturday Night we filmed the karaoke set at Market Street Pub when Mowry hit the usual country–western, pop–rock crowd with a couple of the lesser–known Sinatra songs of which he is so enamored: "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" and "What Are You Afraid Of".

Afterward, the ultimate compliment from Tom Miller to Bob Mowry: "You may not be Frank Sinatra, but you¹ll do until the real thing comes along."

As the Shamrock Pub headed into its final days and hours, the cameras rolled. The shooting style was cinema–verite, with a nod to John Cassevetes and Haskell Wexler. The real events of the closing of the Shamrock, a Gainesville institution, lo, throughout this third millennium, meshed with the fictional characters portrayed by our ensemble.

Mixing with the drinkers and smokers inside and out were the acting teams of Adam Lishawa and Ashley Gregg, Casey Stern and Robyn Berg, and Heather Bruneau and Jake Seymour, playing out metaphysical conceits against a backdrop of street scenes and revelry.

We coaxed cameo appearances out of Edan Archer and George O¹Brien, and even a couple of tunes from the Shamrock family, Ciaran and his pop, Paul Brophy, the proud owner of The Dubliner Irish Restaurant and Pub, which opens this month downtown.

Now, in post–production, the idea is to make sense of it all, to take all 23 tapes of footage, sift through the 61 performances of 49 different songs, and assemble a story with a beginning, middle, and end — not necessarily in that order.

There's only one thing we know for sure: You are not Frank Sinatra.