Stories from Cary Elwes

chris hardwickWP_20150606_23_03_33_ProWell it turns out Cary Elwes is no Chris Hardwick in terms of the effect seeing him up close and personal had on me last night at The Fitzgerald Theater, but he was fantastic during the Wits season finale and dished on some great stories from his movie-making career. That’s not to downplay his influence on popular culture and in the world of film by any means, but I was just happy to watch his performance and how he acted in the wild meeting fans from afar. (Plus, understandably, he was signing only books after the show to avoid having to meet everyone in attendance. That wasn’t enough to stop one fan, however. Elwes’ crew nixed allowing fans to take selfies with him but one ambitious young fellow managed to interrupt the book signing–twice–to snap a picture with Elwes while holding a poster from “Saw.”)

Based on my experience meeting Chris Hardwick two years ago, I can relate to the fans who were likely having internal meltdowns about being face-to-face with Westley himself. But for me the whole Wits experience seeing Elwes and hearing his tales and character impersonations as well as music from Kat Edmonson in the company of friends made for the perfect night.

The guests talked with John Moe about their heroes and shocking facts about their lives and Elwes couldn’t stop telling more stories during what was supposed to be a lightning round of questions toward the show’s conclusion.

Elwes can do a mean impersonation of Mel Brooks and Marlon Brando and Andre the Giant. In fact, just about every story he told about actors he’s worked with was complete with voices of the different people involved. He could easily switch from his lovely British accent to the voices of Rob Reiner and Billy Crystal during stories about being on the set of “The Princess Bride.” And Elwes gladly introduced his appearance on the show, at the request of John Moe, with one “As You Wish” to avoid any risk of disappointing his fans.

It didn’t appear Elwes and Edmonson knew each other before doing the show together, but they were a good pairing for a night of music and storytelling. Edmonson performed from her new album “The Big Picture,” inspired by watching old movies as a kid and led a sing-along of Joe Jackson’s Is She Really Going Out With Him?

If you haven’t been to Wits before, I definitely recommend it. It probably doesn’t match the live experience but they also turn each show into a podcast. For that reason the guests must have to rehearse with the Wits crew in advance, but the live show didn’t seem staged at all. They allow for some improvisation and a little time spent off script. Or maybe that’s just what happens when Cary Elwes enters a room wearing a black leather coat, jeans and rocking a pair of red Converse and is giving a microphone.

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