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T O M   S O L A R I   P R O F E S S I O N A L   H I G H L I G H T S
Compiled by Jan Houston-Solari
 
 

 
Theatre

LaughWorks
 
Tom Solari and Hunter Dana Jackson


 

Film & Television


Award Winner
 
Solari & Carr


Background
 
 

Shows & Events
 
Corporate Productions   
  Scroll down or click on images for details  
International
 
Present & Future

 

 


 
  B A C K G R O U N D  
 
 


Tom Solari - 2006

 

W
hen Tom Solari was 10, his family moved from Boston to Los Angeles, where he and 3-year-old brother Jay-Jay were introduced to the world of entertainment.
 


Tom & Jay-Jay Solari

 

T
he brothers were soon performing as a song & dance duo and Jay-Jay, a phenomenal young tap dancer by age 8, landed a regular spot on Disney's hit television show, the Mickey Mouse Club.
 

 
 


Jay-Jay Solari & Fellow Disney Mousketeers

 
A
s Mousketeer Jay-Jay's official guardian on the set, Tom Solari enjoyed an invaluable behind-the-scenes look at day-to-day network TV production.

This experience, along with an Associate Degree in Theatre Arts from Los Angeles Valley College, served as a good beginning as Tom embarked on a career in show business.
 

SPC (Specialist) Solari
 
 

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  T H E A T R E  
 
 

After a period of Army Reserve active duty, Tom resettled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he owned and operated Cafe Solari, a popular "coffee house" restaurant.

Located in the heart of Old Town, Albuquerque's prime tourist district, Cafe Solari featured local entertainment and international cuisine.

 


Cafe Solari in Old Town, Albuquerque, 1961

 

It was here that Solari co-founded the Old Town Studio, transforming an old auto repair shop into the region's first avant-garde theatre.


     Old Town Studio, 1963

 
 

 
 


Tom Solari in a comic silent movie
sequence from A Happening

  It was the early 60's and Solari was hailed as the originator of a whole new style of theatre with his "Happenings."

According to a review in the Albuquerque Journal:

"
(A 'Happening' is) an ever-changing presentation designed to keep the audience asking 'What will happen next?'"
   
 

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  N E W   Y O R K  
 
  In 1965, Tom packed off to New York, where he worked as an assistant to Off-off Broadway theatre icon, Ellen Stewart, at her La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club.



     Ellen Stewart

 
 

A Mecca for new playwrights, countless plays and careers were launched from the stages and workshops of La MaMa, including works by Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, Jeff Weiss and Jean Claude Van Itallie.

T
he original workshop production of the hit musical Hair took place at La MaMa during the period when Solari was assisting there.

I
n 1967, Newsweek paid tribute to Ellen Stewart and Joe Cino (of Cafe Cino), the two theatre pioneers responsible for starting the Off-off Broadway movement.

 

 

Spotlighted in the Newsweek article were new playwrights Sam Shepard and Jean-Claude Van Itallie.

Sam Shepard would later make his mark as a popular Hollywood film actor.


 

 
 

 
  A L B U Q U E R Q U E  
 
 

Inspired by the La MaMa experience, Solari  brought several of these groundbreaking plays back to New Mexico for presentation by the Old Town Studio.  Included were one-acts Chicago by Sam Shepard and War by Jean-Claude Van Itallie.

"Both show off the excellent directing ability of Tom Solari, who brought the two one-act plays back from his stint at the La Mama Experimental Theatre in New York's Greenwich Village."
--Albuquerque Journal

 


Tom Solari - Director
Old Town Studio

 

 

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  S O L A R I   &   C A R R  
 
  One night, at the Old Town Studio, a burgundy velvet beret was tossed from the audience onto the stage as a suggestion for an improv.

The owner of the beret was Clark Carr, who later was invited by Solari to become part of the troupe.

Thus began the successful comedy collaboration known as Solari & Carr.
 


Tom Solari & Clark Carr - 1970

     
 

 
  The comedy duo was featured at top venues in New York and Los Angeles: The Bitter End, The Factory, The Now Grove, The Ice House, The Troubadour.  No one had seen anything quite like them.



"Two poets, Solari and Carr:  poetry through motion, mime -exciting.  Solari and Carr; poetry through song and dance, almost vaudevillian; poetry theatre, freer in style than I've ever seen, disarming, rape of tradition, honest and enlightening ...pure and simple, poetry in action."
--L.A. Weekly
  "Solari & Carr, regulars on the Ray Stevens summer-replacement vidshow, are visually brilliant via half-silent, half-talk interpretations that run the gamut from minipuppet takeoffs to 'Kicking the Smoking Habit.'  Their exclamations are articulate, movements lithe, overall impresh quite promising."
--Daily Variety

Highlighting the comedy portion of the show was Solari and Carr, who were featured on the Sonny and Cher Show last season.

Their routines are unusual, employing pantomime and lots of action - something different from the ordinary straight man-comedian teams."
--Pasadena Star News


 

"Theirs is different from the average comedy team in that it leans more toward drama.  You won't laugh at one-liners every second, because they don't tell jokes.

What they do is more in the skit category where you are amused and follow the humor stream to its logical or if such be the case, its illogical end."
--Valley News
 
 

 
  F I L M   &   T E L E V I S I O N  
 
 

Within a year of teaming up, Solari & Carr were appearing as cast regulars on major network TV shows including The Sonny & Cher show, The Andy Williams Show and The Ray Stevens Show with stints on The Merv Griffin Show and Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

Solari & Carr shared billing with such legendary performers as Donald O'Conner, Jimmy Durante, Burt Reynolds, Lulu, Mama Cass Eliot and an up-and-coming comic named Steve Martin.

Especially memorable among Solari & Carr creations were their endearing characters The Baggs, sometimes referred to as the "sacks."

The Baggs were featured weekly on The Ray Stevens Show on CBS and were loved by public and critics alike.

"Our favorites, 'The Sacks,' clump about in a soap opera chapter."
--Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

 

"Stevens did his eight shows ... with a 'family' of his own--Lulu, the scotch singer; Mama Cass, the balladeer turned comedienne; Steve Martin, a purposely unfunny comic, and a couple of characters in gunny sacks who, on the opening show, did a wonderfully funny bit satirizing soap opera."
--Los Angeles Times

The popularity of The Baggs led to the production of a children's film featuring the Bagg characters as heroes.

In the making of the film, the fearless burlap duo performed all of their own stunts!
 



 
 

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  C O R P O R A T E   P R O D U C T I O N S  
 
  Solari's talents in producing, writing and directing achieved a new level when he and his wife--author, educator and photographer, Cam Smith Solari (d. 1991)-- founded their own production company, Solari Communications, in 1974.

Over nearly two decades, Tom and Cam produced more than a hundred outstanding film, slide and video presentations for all types of organizations and on four continents.
 


Tom & Cam Solari - 1988











 

 
 

  "The 'Imaging from Space' display is outstanding.  Its appeal to both the technical and lay public is obvious to anyone watching their responses even briefly.  I want to express my gratitude and admiration. The show is excellently done and is even better than we had hoped. You did a masterful job."  

- Robert J. Mackin, Jr., Earth & Space Sciences Div
JET PROPULSION LAB
 

 
 

 

"We presented… the DC-9 Super 80 and McDonnell Douglas shows you prepared, and received high praise for an excellent program."

- Ralph Underdahl, Mgr. Travel Industry Affairs
McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION

 

 
 
 

 

"We at Calty Design want to thank you for producing a very successful presentation for us. The board of directors of Toyota Motor Corp. saw it at our annual presentation in Japan. It was a solid hit, just what we wanted."

- James Sherburne, Design Manager
CALTY DESIGN RESEARCH, INC. (Toyota Subsidiary)

 

 
 
 

 

"I want to thank you again for the outstanding video you produced for our spring sales meeting. You people are definitely "miracle workers."  It was a most impressive display of professionalism."

- William Spare, CARNATION COMPANY

 

 
 
 

Other Solari clients included Texaco, the University of Southern California, Walt Disney Education, Transamerica Corp., Knoll International (designer furniture), the Swedish American Line (cruise ship), Bentley Mills (commercial carpeting), Edelbrock (automotive) and Quaker State Oil, to name a few.

     
 

 
  I N T E R N A T I O N A L  
 
 

A highlight of Solari's international work was the production of an audio/visual welcoming presentation for the United Nations Round-Table Conference on the Mutual Responsibility of Arts and Industry for the Development of Culture.

 


Paris UNESCO Conference  (Photo by Cam Solari)

 

Held at UNESCO House in Paris, the Conference brought together 90 prominent artists and industrialists from 32 countries to discuss how they might help each other to improve the quality of life across the world.

 
 

 
 
Waikiki
 



Other work took them to Hawaii, the equatorial jungles of South America, and locations in the far east, including Hong Kong, Xian and Beijing, China.

(Photos by Cam Solari)

 


Kaieteur Fall, Guyana

 

 
 
Hong Kong Harbor
 
Xian, China
 
The Forbidden City
 
 

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  A W A R D   W I N N I N G   F I L M  
 
 

In 1983 Solari conceived, produced and directed the televised documentary film THE MEASURE OF AMERICA, winner of the Honor Certificate for Excellence from The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and, out of hundreds of entries, a selection as one of six Finalists at the American Film Festival.

 


Tom Solari receives the Freedoms Foundation
Award in a ceremony at Rockwell International.


 
 

The Freedoms Foundation National Awards Program is intended "...to focus attention on those whose words and deeds generate faith in America and respect for its ideals."

C
harles Champlin, LOS ANGELES TIMES Arts Editor says "...the refreshing value of (the) film is that it reaffirms that the American dream belongs to each of us--to pursue and also to defend."

AMERICA can now be seen in its entirety on YouTube.

AMERICA - Part 1
 
AMERICA - Part 2

AMERICA - Part 3

 

 

 

This moving patriotic film was re-released in November of 2001 under the new title, AMERICA!


Cam & Tom Solari with Director of Photography Eric Sherman, setting up shot for award-winning film.

 
 

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  L A U G H W O R K S  
 
 



LaughWorks
Group Circa 1995

(Left to right from top)
Clark Carr, Richard Stewart, Michael Norris, Wendy Gillotte, Fritz Turner,
Mark Mercury (Musical Director),
Tom Solari (Producer/Director)
Alexis Corey, Noelle North, Kari Shaw

 

In 1992 comedy veteran Tom Solari was approached by fellow writer, Richard Stewart, about the idea of starting a sketch comedy group.

That was the birth of LAUGHWORKS, with Tom producing and directing a stellar cast of writers and performers, including Clark Carr of Solari & Carr fame.

"I highly recommend a show called LaughWorks... very funny, talented ... professional comedians ... a riotous treat..."
---Pat Taylor, THE TOLUCAN

"... a witty and beguiling cast ... the laughs are almost guaranteed..."
Jason McClosky, DRAMA-LOGUE

"This is a polished, professional and enjoyable show... downright hilarious."
---Archie Rothman, NIGHT LIFE

"... no embarrassing sex talk, no drug references ... highly enjoyable ... quite funny.
---Tom Provenzano, LA WEEKLY

"Highly original... very funny ... a powerhouse (group) of talented comedians."
---Miluka Rivera, CANALES

 


Kari Shaw & Noelle North


Fritz Turner & Michael Norris


Richard Stewart

 
 
 


Noelle North



Alexis Corey

  Based in Hollywood, the group created ten original, full-length shows over a ten year period while also enjoying successful runs at L.A.'s popular comedy clubs including The Theatre at the Improv, The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory and The Ice House.

"Thank you for such a great time.  This show was beyond our imagination.  My wife had to ask me to stop laughing.  I could not control my emotion."  F.A.
 
 "Never have we seen a show more spellbinding than yours.  You drew laughter and a few tears."  A.W.

"The wonderful combination of brilliant writing, so professionally executed and directed, knocked me out... A joy to watch... Rich and Satisfying... Thank you for a wonderful evening." T.R.

With a large repertoire of audience-tested material, LaughWorks continues to perform contemporary, polished work that is funny, tasteful, often musical, sometimes poignant and always original and entertaining.
 


Richard Stewart & Michael Norris



Clark Carr & Wendy Gillotte

 
 

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  P R E S E N T   &   F U T U R E  
 
 
Jan Houston-Solari
  In 2002 TOM SOLARI and JAN HOUSTON-SOLARI partnered to form SOLARI CREATIVE SERVICES.

With her background as a professional actress, vocalist, recording artist, concert producer, poet, writer and literary editor, Jan adds considerable skill and aesthetic sensibility to the Solari Creative environment, which she serves as Marketing Executive, Production Coordinator and Video Editor.
 
Tom Solari & Jan Houston-Solari
 
 

 
HOME     GET A PRO     VIDEO PRODUCTION     SALES DVD     EXTRA MILE     DIRECTING     RECENT CLIENTS
PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS     WEB DESIGN     WEB CLIENT SUCCESS     JAN HOUSTON-SOLARI     AMERICA!
 

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