It’s A Wonderful Life, Indeed
New Year’s Greetings From The Boland Family
Every year The Boland Family kicks off the holiday season by watching Jimmy Stewart’s classic holiday film “It’s A Wonderful Life.” We love it so much that oftentimes we just keep it running on a loop. Its message of stressing and obsessing over what we don’t have and not appreciating what is right in front of you always grounds us as we reflect back on each year.
Never has there been a year where we needed to take this message to heart more than in 2020, a year in which so much was taken away from so many and we all found ourselves struggling to understand the reason behind it all. It was a year where we mourned not only the loss of loved ones but the loss of our lives as we know it. In March when the world came to a halt, like so many of our friends, we saw the industries we worked in come to a complete standstill due to the worldwide pandemic known as COVID19. Paul performed his last show in March and disembarked the cruise ship not knowing what was going to happen next. Juliette saw her senior year and all the milestones that go with it yanked out from underneath her. Marlise saw potential deals and opportunities put on the back burner. We were all blindsided and thrown into a new world of quarantine and safer-at-home, a socially distanced mask-wearing, hand-washing existence. We knew at the time that this pandemic was not something that would pass in a few weeks and so we all prepared, like the rest of the world, to hunker down.
Now here we are, nine months into the pandemic. As we look back on 2020 – despite the losses, the challenges and frustrations – we are able to point to the many blessings that made this year more than just something we wished would end.
In February – before the shutdown – we were able to honor Juliette at her Senior Recognition Ball for her volunteer group The Assisteens of South Bay. Juliette was presented at a beautiful black-tie event held at the historic Biltmore Hotel. Paul and Juliette spent weeks rehearsing and perfecting the ballroom dance that would be performed in front of more than 200 guests. They had so much fun during this amazing father/daughter bonding experience and the final results were beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. It is a memory we’ll always cherish. There was no way of knowing what lay ahead and how Juliette would be deprived of her Senior milestones such as Prom and Graduation so we feel incredibly blessed to have been able to experience this event honoring her achievements. Less than one month later – the world would shut down completely.
In March Paul was on board the Grandeur of the Seas sailing the Caribbean and bringing down the house, as per usual, with his amazing talents and entertaining show. When the world started to shut down the Grandeur suddenly found itself being turned away from every port it attempted to visit. His contract was extended to several weeks as no entertainer was allowed to disembark and no one allowed to join. That left all the entertainment on the shoulders of the entertainers that remained on board. Paul found himself pulling together every piece of material he had to entertain an audience who had signed on for quite the different cruise. Quoting the Grandeur cruise director, David Bradshawe, Paul “rose like a phoenix to take up the mantle and provide FIVE different performances with one show in particular providing mirth and merriment for years to come….” It’s not the first time Paul came to the rescue of a ship or show in trouble. His professionalism and creative instincts took over….always the first to rise to the occasion. The cruise ship finally found a port that allowed them to dock and disembark passengers. Paul said goodbye to his musical director and the incredibly talented musicians, many of whom have backed him up for years. There was a definite feeling of uncertainty in the air – not knowing when they would once again gather to entertain a live audience.
Paul arrived home safely to join quarantine with the rest of us in late March.
Juliette’s last in-person day at Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) was March 12th, where she said there was definitely an ominous feeling that they would not be returning after Spring break. That feeling came to pass when the school announced that they would not be returning to campus for the rest of the year and suddenly our nearly four years of driving over one hour each way to this unique and special school came to a screeching halt. We used to complain about the drive, the amount of time our lives were spent on the road, the traffic, the stress. And suddenly it was gone. We didn’t get to say our final goodbye to the school, have our final breakfast at our favorite morning greasy spoon, Pops Cafe. It was just all over. Juliette’s senior year at OCSA continued on the platform we are now all too familiar with: Zoom. A new experience for everyone – including the teachers – they all stumbled through this new reality as best they could. Our hearts ached for the Class of 2020 as they slowly saw the rest of their senior year milestone celebrations get cancelled. Milestone events that they would never get back again: Prom, Grad Night, and most importantly graduation – which at OCSA is quite the spectacular production. Thankfully Juliette had experienced a few Senior year highlights including Homecoming and appearing as Sarah in the musical, Quilters.
Like other seniors Juliette had no choice but to look to the future. As college acceptances began to pour in Juliette found herself considering offers with generous scholarships from: Pepperdine University, Pace University (NYC), Wagner College (NYC), Emerson College (Boston) and Chapman University’s Dodge Film School, to name a few.
But it was the University Of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts that won out (Go Trojans!) and Juliette suddenly found herself at the number one film school in the country. Fight On!
Despite having a movie in development, “Pride, Prejudice and Romance” on the verge of being greenlit and then put on back-burner due to the pandemic, Marlise continued to pitch scripts and new ideas with her writing partner, Robin Bernheim Burger, to high profile networks, streamers and production companies receiving interest from a few companies. It was a much easier, and actually an incredibly fun, process now that everything was on Zoom. This allowed for a little bit more creativity and props were introduced. Marlise and Robin had great fun pitching everything from proms to Royal Weddings to Jane Austen. While nothing can be announced just year, at least three projects are now in development.
Although The Anglophile Channel missed out on annual red carpets for Emmy, BAFTA Oscar awards season – we did fit in a few premieres before the lockdown including: Focus Feature’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s EMMA. and the Starz hit television series, OUTLANDER. TAC Team member Elyse Ashton did an amazing job representing us at the press junkets getting interviews that have garnered us many views and we had too much fun on the red carpet interviewing all the stars including, QUEEN’S GAMBIT star, Anya Taylor-Joy.
Paul continued to produce/direct/edit content for The Anglophile Channel including the original series, Kelly Montieth’s BBC Memories, which has Kelly sharing highlights from his six-seasons on the BBC in his self-titled show – all shot in the UK.
Paul directed Kelly to a Best Host nomination for the 2020 Los Angeles Press Club Southern California Journalism Award. The TAC team was also received nominations for Best Entertainment News Reporting for both Juliette (“An Evening of Wicked Fun: A Salute to Stephen Schwartz”) and Paul (Beatles 50th Anniversary of Abbey Road Album). Juliette – a four time LA Press Club/National Arts & Entertainment Award winner – continued to be the YOUNGEST nominee ever in the professional (and student) category!
In July Juliette’s high school OCSA decided on a drive-through graduation and we were finally able to honor Juliette who graduated with a 4.49 GPA, and multiple honors including Valedictorian, AP Scholar.
Juliette was honored with several scholarships leading up to graduation including Musical Theatre West’s Ken and Dottie Reiner Scholarship singing, “Will He Like Me” from the Broadway musical, She Loves Me, to win the scholarship. (Video to come soon!)
We were so happy that family could join us in celebrating Juliette’s high school achievements. Paul’s sister Patti from Massachusetts and Gail from North Carolina flew in especially for the week long festivities along with Auntie Mary from Murrieta.
A few days after graduation was Juliette’s 18th Birthday which we celebrated in new-world fashion – with masks on and socially distanced and a limited guest list.
As the holidays drew near Marlise continued offering freshly baked goodies through her company, Sense and SensibiliTeas. The holiday season saw record orders for her delicious scones and cookies. In 2021 Marlise plans to launch a re-branded business, Marlise Queen of Scones!
A holiday visit to North Carolina to see Paul’s sister and brother-in-law, Gail and Dwight, was just what the doctor ordered. Living on 300 acres of beautiful farmland in the country, we took in the beauty of God’s Country – wide open spaces and lots of time to appreciate our blessings this year and know that the most important thing is having your health and family. We will always cherish our visit to North Carolina where Gail was the consummate hostess, Juliette learned to drive thanks to Uncle Dwight, and Marlise was also able to spend her birthday with her father, Joe Ramos and his lifelong love Kathy Carpenter.
At the end of the year we know our blessings far outweigh any losses we experienced in work, opportunities or milestone events. For the first time in 20+ years we were together as a family – every single day, spending quality time together watching movies (mostly cinematic classics to prep Juliette for her first classes at USC), going on long walks and drives. We realize this is precious time that we would not have gotten in any other year. Paul would be traveling, and Juliette would have moved off to college. God gave us this time to grow closer as a family and create memories that we’ll remember and cherish for the rest of our lives.
Honestly, we wouldn’t trade 2020 for anything as we realize It’s A Wonderful Life, indeed!
Here’s wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2021!
LOVE, Marlise, Paul and Juliette