Fans of “The Godfather” tend to watch the classic any time it pops up on TV. But the Tilles Center presents an offer they “can’t refuse.”
On Friday, May 19, the performing arts center at LIU Post in Brookville hosts “The Godfather in Concert,” presenting the film for its 45th anniversary on a 32-by-18-foot screen as the Long Island Concert Orchestra performs the score live.
“We are re-creating the music exactly as it is,” says conductor John Beal. “It’s a quiet film with a lovely score, which completely belies the violence of the characters.”
As the movie plays, Beal conducts with a TV monitor in front of his stand to keep pace with when the characters speak.
“The movie keeps going and we better be on time. It’s important to get out of the way so the audience can hear the dialogue,” says Beal. “This is entirely wild with just the orchestra following the conductor.”
There’s an intermission just after Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) goes to Italy.
Holders of VIP tickets ($200) get a preshow cocktail party where actor Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi in the film, will perform standards and tell stories.
“Who knew this film was going to be what it is now?” says Russo. “It has tremendous impact. Nothing is like ‘The Godfather.’ ”
Russo, who had never acted before, got his role in an unusual way.
“I shot a screen test with my own crew in Las Vegas. I did a scene for Michael [Corleone], for Sonny [Corleone] and for Carlo [Rizzi] and submitted it to producer Al Ruddy,” says Russo. “I got a letter turning me down, but I’m a very persistent person.”
His turncoat character, who attacks Connie Corleone (played by Talia Shire) and gets Sonny Corleone (played by James Caan) killed, is known for intense scenes like the one where he gets taken out.
“It looked really dramatic, like a fish on a hook,” Russo says. “But the harder one to film was the fight scene with Sonny. It was choreographed for two days. As a result, he chipped my elbow and broke my ribs.”
The things that Carol Rocco of Dix Hills holds dear are her husband, Tom, her sons, Thomas and Gregory — and her experience as an extra in “The Godfather.”
“For me to be part of one of the biggest films ever is amazing,” says Rocco, who works as the Coordinator of Veterans Affairs for the Town of Huntington. “It’s my little claim to fame.”
Her neighbor’s brother, who was an entertainment lawyer, got his mother a gig as an extra, so Rocco tagged along on the ride to Filmways Studios in Harlem.
“I asked at the desk if they needed any more extras. I said, ‘Ya know, I’m Italian,’ ” says Rocco, who is attending the Tilles performance. “I gave them my name and phone number. Six weeks later, I got a call.”
For four days back in April 1971, Rocco traveled from her home in Freeport to Staten Island, where director Francis Ford Coppola shot the film’s famous wedding scene.
“They built a Styrofoam wall to compound three houses at the end of a street,” says Rocco. “The first day they served wine, but everybody got a little too tipsy. After that they gave us grape juice.”
She even sneaked a camera to the set and got to meet and take pictures with all the actors.
“Robert Duvall [who played Tom Hagen] was a nice, sweet man. James Caan was quick-witted and funny. Marlon Brando [who played Don Vito Corleone] was more aloof,” says Rocco. “Each year I put a different picture on the back of my Christmas card.”
‘THE GODFATHER IN CONCERT’
WHEN | WHERE 7:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. for VIP), Friday, May 19, at Tilles Center, LIU Post in Brookville
INFO 516-299-3100, tillescenter.org
ADMISSION $55-$85 ($200 VIP includes cocktail hour and preshow concert)