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<<  -- 4 --  John Bell Young    A NEW 'ENOCH'

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Smitten by the potential of Enoch to become a multi-media event -- Michael and I are already exploring the possibility of showing Griffith's film in tandem with a live performance -- I spent five years in search of a record company to underwrite a new Enoch.

'Three children of three houses played ...' - a still from the 1915 film 'Enoch Arden' by D W Griffith and Christie Cabanne
'Three children of three houses played ...' - a still from the 1915 film 'Enoch Arden' by D W Griffith and Christie Cabanne

But as the producer, I had a larger problem: engaging a first class narrator. For me, it was only worth the effort if a great actor was willing to come on board.

At first I jotted down a short list of celebrated British actors. Michael York, who I knew to be a devotee of classical music, was at the top of that list. Of course, Enoch Arden is hardly immune to the artistic strengths of non-English thespians. I discovered as much when I performed it recently with the distinguished American actor, Reni Santoni (best known as Clint Eastwood's co-star in the Dirty Harry films, and for his recurring role as Poppy on Seinfeld). He delivered an extraordinarily eloquent and powerful reading. However, there remains something about Tennyson's idiosyncratic vocabulary that finds in his countrymen a sympathetic sensibility.

Enoch's devastation - a still from the 1915 film 'Enoch Arden'
Enoch's devastation - a still from the 1915 film 'Enoch Arden'

To explore possibilities, I got in touch with my old friend Leonard Finger, a casting director in New York. While intrigued with the idea, he was not especially optimistic. After all, only two years earlier Sir Anthony Hopkins turned me down when I approached him about recording his original compositions. So I braced myself for disappointment.

By chance I was on the phone one evening in April with Jacques Leiser, the renowned impresario. Suddenly he excused himself. An important call was coming in. It was Michael York. 'You know him?' I asked, hardly able to shake the feeling that the long, invisible finger of Providence had suddenly deigned to intervene. 'I'll call back in an hour!'

I proposed the project to Michael and was stunned, when a few days later, he sent his affirmative response. With Michael's consent it only took a few days to secure the underwriting, followed by a formal invitation from Americus Records, a sanctuary for unusual repertoire, to issue this new Enoch.

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Copyright © 23 September 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA

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