Lastof the burly girls

Writers Guild of Canada Registered #S17-02487

Writers Guild of America Registered #I304995

© Copyright 2017 Screenplay by John Pisano-Thomsen

© Copyright 2018 Songs by John Pisano-Thomsen

WINNER! - best screenplay

2019 BEAUFORT INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Jean Ribaut Award)

WINNER! - best feature screenplay

2019 CORDILLERA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

finalist

THE FILM EMPIRE'S 2019 DIVERSITY MENTORSHIP (Top 4)

2019 DAVINCI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 

2018 WILLIFEST WILLIAMSBURG FILM FESTIVAL

2018 BYRON BAY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

2018 NEW RENAISSANCE LONDON FILM FESTIVAL

2018 INROADS SCREENWRITING FELLOWSHIP

2018 HOLLYWOOD INT'L SCREENWRITING COMPETITION (Spring)

semifinalist

2019 ACADEMY NICHOLL FELLOWSHIP (Top 2%)

2019 RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

2019 OMAHA FILM FESTIVAL

2018 SCREENCRAFT SCREENWRITING FELLOWSHIP

2018 ROADMAP WRITERS/ROUTE ONE ENTERTAINMENT CONTEST

2017 AMERICAN ZOETROPE SCREENPLAY CONTEST (Top 1%)

2017 CANNES GOLDEN PLUME INT'L SCREENWRITING COMP.

quarter finalist

2019 ROAD TO NEW REPUBLIC COMPETITION (Top 50)

2019 CREATIVE SCREENWRITING SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

2018 SCREENCRAFT DRAMA SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

2018 STORYPROS INTERNATIONAL SCREENPLAY COMPETITION

top 20%

2019 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL (2ND ROUNDER)

2018 ACADEMY NICHOLL FELLOWSHIP

official selection

SCRIPT SUMMIT 2 (2019)

2019 UK FILM FESTIVAL

2018 SWITZERLAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

synopsis

It's 1995 and 92-year-old Letty Kowalski Baxter has been recently moved into a rest home by her son, Earl, after discovering her incapacitated in her home with a broken hip.  When cleaning out her house, Earl's daughters discover a trunk in the attic full of racy memorabilia and unseen photographs from their grandmother's past.  They also discover a bizarre birth certificate for their father that does not list Letty as his biological mother.  When Letty's granddaughters secretly confront her on this, she has no choice but to reveal her life story up until the time she got married to her late husband, Bobby Baxter - a former burlesque comic.


From a child of a prostitute mother at the turn of the century, to an orphan in a Catholic Asylum, to a circus runway turned Hootchie Coochie girl, to a burlesque soubrette: Letty shares her life stories of innocence, loss, betrayal, romance, heartache, misogyny, backstage rivalry and family.  "Last of the Burly Girls" is a celebration of late 1930's New York burlesque at it's finest (before Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia shut it down) and the indomitable spirit of those fearless, independent women who graced the burlesque stage while surviving the Depression and a sexist world.

MUSICAL NUMBERS

Music & Lyrics by John Pisano-Thomsen

Arrangements by Joel Gonzalez & Yan Li

GIDDY UP!

AIN'T NO ORDINARY, AV'RAGE BURLY

TAKE ME

PAPA BEAR

NUTS ABOUT BANANAS 'N' NUTS

DOUBLE (GIRLESQUE X 2)

TIME TO SHUT THIS DOOR

YOU ARE MY MAIN ATTRACTION

Go to the MENU and click LISTEN to hear them!

NOTABLE CRITIQUES

 

THE BLACK LIST (july 2019)

"Few musical comedy screenplays nowadays deliver stories as fully realized and brimming with personality as LAST OF THE BURLY GIRLS, a script whose sheer confidence alone warrants serious recognition. Like CABARET or CHICAGO before it, this script expertly deploys its subject matter and historical context—in this case, the kaleidoscopic world of 1930s burlesque—as a resourceful justification for its musical numbers. Such sequences play out with a panache, visual ingenuity, and masterful attention to staging—especially the song that accompanies the "LETTY'S LIFE MEMORIES" montage—that makes this script come to life, from both a stylistic and a narrative perspective. It offers a vivacious portrait of female strength and independence in protagonists LETTY and ILONA, whose professional rivalry and personal struggles with both fame and misogyny, help to endow the story with a poignant emotional heartbeat. The cast of personalities around them—from the compassionate yet industrious EARL, to eccentrics like ZA'RA or YVES—help to build a mosaic of oddball characters that linger long in the memory after the final page. The fact that it also happens to breeze along at a nimble and engaging pace, while popping with consistently charming dialogue throughout, only strengthens what makes this script so vital and engrossing."

THE BLACK LIST (APRIL 2019)

"The strength of the script is its riotously funny, sharply characterized dialogue, and dazzling musical numbers which burst with witty lyrics... Letty's dynamic bravado, authenticity, and fearless sexuality leap off the page and give her role the chance to attract top talent. Ilona and Julien are two fine supporting roles that help balance the cast. The period setting is rendered with immersive authenticity and precise historical detail. The dialogue is also finely tuned to the setting... LAST OF THE BURLY GIRLS is a skillfully written script with a heady mix of singing, dancing, sex, drama, comedy and coming of age, along with some standout roles."

THE BLACK LIST (MARCH 2019)

"The story is visually compelling and masterfully guides audiences through the extraordinary life of Letty Kowalski, an incredibly charming and intriguing character. This unique coming-of-age story successfully combines drama, comedy and musical elements into an exciting, engaging, cinematic and fascinating experience; an excursion into the past and a life both exhilarating and incredibly tough. The music is fun and matches the conventions of the time perfectly. This story contains a lot of potential and builds a rich foundation for interesting and entertaining plot and action.  This is a solid and entertaining story with great potential to garner real interest...and has the potential to attract A-list talent. A theatrical release is definitely an option. This has the potential to be a visually stunning musical/ period drama."

2018 we screenplay feature contest (november 2018)

"The characters and relationships are a strong part of this story and it sets such a solid foundation for plot, which is the way it should be in a good script. There are lovely sentimental moments between Letty and her family. The characters feel like a genuine family the way they interact with each other. There’s a strong sense of a bond between them.  All characters support Letty, whether working for or against her and help drive the plot forward... The themes are so well explored, from trauma, to abuse, to love, to family, to following your dreams, this script is full of meaning. All aspects of the themes complement and support each other, Letty’s character and the story. This story has the opportunity to bring awareness to some serious issues in terms of women’s empowerment and awareness of sexual abuse... There are positive, meaningful messages at the end that we’re left with, that we’ve learnt along the journey with Letty’s character. Her hero’s journey. This is a well written script by a talented writer.  Overall the story is heartfelt, entertaining and uplifting."

the black list (november 2017)

"...a beautiful and heartfelt script that evokes a series of different emotional responses from the reader thanks to its well-crafted characters, strong use of musical numbers, and sense of place. The protagonist, Letty, is a likable character that the reader is able to invest in and root for over the course of her incredible journey. Her resiliency and courage are brought to life by the writer and make for a memorable character that drives the plot from start to finish. Beyond Letty, the script is replete with a series of different supporting characters that help bring Letty's world to life and are dynamic in their own respective ways. The writer's decision to write and include his own songs was brilliant and helps elevate the script beyond similar offerings in the genre. There's a perfect balance of different types of songs that complement their respective scenes and provide a nice change of pace from the dialogue. Another strong aspect of the script is the sense of place as the writer's ability to capture life in 1930s New York City only serves to heighten the reader's enthusiasm for the story. Overall, this is a highly original and creative script that is expertly woven together into a delightful story."

 

2018 screencraft fELLOWSHIp

"...a wildly original and intriguing story set in a world that has not been explored very much in film.  The script’s focus on 1930s burlesque introduces a profession that many readers may not know about, and it creates an immediate marketability for the concept. Behind the scenes of show business-type scripts are always going to draw an audience, and the fact that this script revolves around burlesque adds a fresh perspective on this premise... the script’s utilization of musical numbers adds a theatricality to the pages that helps balance the intense emotions and pathos of the script.... Additionally, character and dialogue are very strong elements here. Letty is an incredibly empathetic protagonist, and the script does a nice job detailing past traumas that influence and motivate her while showing how she changes and becomes the tough, strong woman at the end of her arc. What is really impressive are the different personalities attributed to the burlesque dancers, and the characters such as Zahara, Ilona and Yves all bring entirely unique perspectives, viewpoints and challenges to both Letty and the narrative. It also helps flesh out this world and make it feel much fuller, as does the very authentic dialogue utilized by the characters. The period-specific dialect adds authenticity to the pages, and the script does an excellent job developing character depth in the lines. Additionally, the voices of each character feels very distinct, and the script effectively has their personalities tinging their lines. It ultimately helps breathe personality into this already emotionally dense narrative."

2018 bluecat competition

"The writer does a great job with Letty’s character, where she has great character development throughout her life (and as the story continues). While we are saddened by Letty’s life tragedies, we constantly root for her, and smile as we see her grow into a young woman. We already know that Letty lived a great life, considering she tells the story as a 92-year-old reflecting on the past. However, watching it unfold in front of our eyes has so many entertaining and surprising twists and turns..."

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© 2018 by John Pisano-Thomsen.