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To Dream On-Screen

By Youseline Aldajuste

After a long wait, Dream Supreme is hitting the big screen of Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way, Miami Beach.

The long-delayed independent film is set to premiere at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15. Dream Supreme has been in the making since 1996. Co-writer and producer Leo Casino, a Miami-based jazz musician and performer, is overwhelmed with enthusiasm.

“Making this film has always been a personal dream of mine,” said Casino, “but it wasn’t until I approached Jasmine Akash about doing a project together that the idea of making this film became clear to me.”

Akash, a former Miss Universe who was impersonating Marilyn Monroe at several local clubs then, started working with Casino on the concepts for the film and, soon after, the script.

“I wrote the part for John Coltrane and she wrote the part for Marilyn Monroe,” said Casino, “and we rehearsed at her apartment.”

Dream Supreme, which Casino describes as a “tearjerker,” is a musical that portrays a fantasy affair between actress Marilyn Monroe and jazz legend John Coltrane. Directed by Jane Carroll, the entire story takes place in Coltrane’s bedroom. As the seductive plot develops, Monroe (played by Akash) becomes spellbound by Coltrane’s riveting charisma.

Although he’s had several other film roles (including that of the late Miami Commissioner Art Teele) in his 20-plus-year career, Dream Supreme offered Casino his first love scene.

“Playing John Coltrane was easy,” said Casino. “However, I had a hard time doing the love scenes. But I think in my next film I’ll be a lot better, now that I’ve gotten the experience.”

Casino’s affinity for Coltrane’s character came from his years of admiring and following the artist. He was 13 when he first saw the saxophone icon at a local jazz club in his hometown. Because he was not old enough to enter the club, Casino snuck through the back door, which was near the stage, to see Trane perform his magic.

“I can still close my eyes and see him standing tall and playing,” remembers Casino. “He was a beautiful, intense person. He really didn’t talk that much, but you could look at him and hear him thinking.”

Casino’s jazz roots also helped with the role. A noted saxophonist himself, Casino plays some of Coltrane’s most popular tunes in the movie, including “A Love Supreme.” Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” also gets a rendition.

Despite all the effort and creativity he put into making Dream Supreme, Casino never intended to share it with the public, but, he says, a few of his close friends saw it and convinced him it deserved a wider audience.

“When I showed them the film, a lot of them said to me, ‘Man, this movie is comical. You have to try to put this thing out there and let people see it,’” said Casino.

After Wednesday’s screening, Casino will perform a live concert. His new CD, Just Leo, is scheduled to be released in a few months. Admission is $10. Call 305-673-4567.

Casino is now fulfilling a different realm of dreams, this time in the political arena. He’s running as a candidate on the Democratic ticket alongside senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the 2008 Presidential Elections but acknowledges he does not have the monetary support either of those candidates do. Still, he believes the possibility of becoming the next U.S. president is as great for him as for any other candidate. He is in the process of filming and releasing his presidential campaign speeches to the public to motivate young people to take interest and leadership roles in finding solutions to the issues ravaging South Florida’s neighborhoods.

Please click here to visit Leo's campaign website for more information.