The Weekend

May. 2nd, 2014 11:33 am
ceebeegee: (Default)
So the concert actually went quite well. N**** came over Friday night and we drilled the living hell out of her shaky parts--we drilled so long I was worried I wouldn't have a voice the next day. Girl just does not read music and isn't really that musical (like she does not have the instincts of a singer. Some of this is knowledge and some you're just born with). I figured out at one point she was adding counts because she thought that the fragmented measure that accompanies a cautionary key change (when there's a new system and the key changes, the composer will add a key change at the end of the previous system to alert whoever's playing/singing that the key is about to change, like this:



She thought that was its own measure and was adding counts. Anyway so I worked her through this and DRILLED. (I found out from Donna the next day that she'd basically told Donna she could read music and work on her own which obviously was not the truth. Donna was pretty annoyed.) She sounded okay on Saturday--still a little shaky (from nerves more than anything) but she didn't blow it. I felt very good about my music even though I'd kind of risked it since I'd been unable to turn down a soccer game that morning (although I forced myself not to yell). (And oh my God! I brought some oatmeal and ate it on the train and stuff the container in my bag which of course overturned on the way to the game and vomited oatmeal ALL OVER my stuff. Nice.) But it all went well and Donna was telling me that she'd heard some nice reactions to my soli. (I will admit, I know how to nail Come Away Death and The Willow Song.)

And my aunt was in town! One of my Dad's four younger sisters, my aunt Clarissa--and she's my godmother as well. After my game I ran over to Penn Station and picked her up and we took the train up to Inwood for the performance. So she got to hear me sing! Afterward she treated me to a Broadway show and we decided to see The Bridges of Madison County. I haven't read the book or seen the movie and dozed off *several* times during the first act. So perhaps some of this escaped me but I had a hard time figuring out why she had this affair when she wasn't really unhappy in her marriage. Clarissa explained some of it to me but I think perhaps the movie would do a better job--I think movies are better for communicating intimacy. I don't know. The score was certainly gorgeous and the guy who played Kincaid was terrific (and he was the standby! I think he went up on the lyrics during his last number but he was still great). Kelli O'Hara has an absolutely lovely voice but I did think she was a little mannered portraying an Italian (the hands).

Criss also gave me some family artifacts like--this is wild--my Dad's teddy bear from CHILDHOOD. Daddy gave it to her when he went off to boarding school and asked her to keep it safe for him--she has kept it all these years and now gave it to me. It is now thoroughly battered and well-loved. I put him next to Paddington and they can be friends. She said I could either return it to Daddy or keep it--I think the latter, I'm worried he won't take it from her (my Dad and his brothers are in the middle of a huge feud with my aunts. They haven't communicated in years).

Annie

Nov. 19th, 2012 07:03 pm
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
So I saw the revival of Annie last week with Michael--I thought it was pretty good, although it wasn't quite a home-run.  Annie and the other girls were good, although I had a hard time understanding some of the orphans.  Daddy Warbucks was terrific, as was Rooster. Grace seemed a little grim, frankly!  And Kate Finneran...really didn't do such a good job as Miss Hannigan, sadly--I'm not sure what she was going for but it was kind of a mess.  The show in general was smaller, more scaled-down--one area where that did not quite work was "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile."  The choreography for that number was much more naturalistic than in the original--the girls were playing dress-up with various Miss Hannigan items of clothing (basically an extended joke about being "dressed").  Okay, not a bad idea in theory, and I sympathize with the struggle against such iconic staging--it can be frustrating when you're up against that kind of legacy.  But Smile isn't about naturalism, or character growth/exploration--it just isn't that kind of number.  It's just not.  It's a showstopper--it is designed to showcase the kids and bring a smile to YOUR face as you watch them.  Watch the original number (you can YouTube it, they performed it for the 1977 Tonys)--the audience breaks into applause at LEAST 3 times during the number.  Molly alone gets at least two applause breaks!  They are complete bosses, absolute professionals and the number is just....they're amazing, I literally get chills down my spine watching it because they're SO GOOD, every one of them.  You can't really scale down those kinds of expectations with some kind of naturalistic character piece when we hardly get any time with the orphans as it is, and they don't really stand out to us.  Dude, why fight it?  Don't think too much, just serve up some moppet shtick and and let 'em have their moment ;)

I don't really dislike the movie but I was VERY disappointed that they cut all my favorite songs!  Herbert Hoover, New Deal for Christmas?  Waaaaah!!!!  I love the sarcasm of HH, and New Deal is just so darn cute.  "The snowflakes are frightened of falling/And oh, what a fix! No peppermint sticks!"  SO CUTE.  And my absolute favorite, NYC--what the hell were they thinking, to cut that?  Come on, guys--any director should WANT to stage that number.  It's a crackerjack, with that lilting, bouncy beat and the key changes.  And those lyrics!  My favorite:  "You make 'em all postcards!"  Such a great song!  The other night I was walking uptown to visit Lori and I was playing that on my phone--I started staging it in my head.  So I'm already one up on John Huston ;)  Also--why on EARTH did they cut TOMORROW??  What were they thinking?  You swapped out Tomorrow for such gems as We Got Annie and Dumb Dog? *shaking my head*

I will say about the movie--I think it's disgusting that a bunch of loser fanboys decided to crap on a little kid by "awarding" her a Razzie for that movie.  Does it make you feel better about your pathetic lives that you picked on a 10-year-old girl?
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
I've been telling the cast they really should watch The Pirate Movie (and we're planning a viewing party! Thanks to Chris, I own the DVD :) I checked out the imdb entry--you have to love a message board posting whose subject reads ARE YOU PEOPLE HIGH??? (Clearly I'm not the only fan!) I also checked out the "external reviews" section and found this hilarious entry on the site cinemademerde.com.

In the dream we’re back in the 1880s and Kristy is the rich daughter of the major general. The pirates lurk just offshore, a dancin’ and a singin’ like pirates apparently do. This movie was shot at the time, 1982, where if you needed pirates for your movie you just put a flyer up at the local gym, which turns out to yield unexpected benefits for viewers of my persuasion. Yes, the pirates are all muscle guys with mustaches and developed arms and chests, wearing shirts open to their waists, if they wear a shirt at all. This led to a great deal of pause-button use on my DVD remote, all of which was amply rewarded. This is all accompanied by a mildly homo vibe [pirates, hello], and lots of attention to male crotches, noticeable in the bejeweled codpiece of the pirate king.

Ah, the Pirate King's codpiece. I'm getting all happy just thinking about that silliness again. And Fredric's diaper/loincloth...

If you're treadin' water and romance is on the line
Don't you know you have to swallow
Something' more than water
It's your pride!

Ah ha, a-huff and puff
Just to keep love goin'
Ah ha, I've had enough
Of pumpin' and a-blowin'...
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
As I mentioned last month, TTC is remounting The Pirates of Penzance--we're doing it waterside at Frank Sinatra Park. We had auditions right after Memorial Day and are now in the full swing of rehearsals. Interestingly, even though we had fewer people come out this time, the cast is stronger. Our Frederic is TERRIFIC--although not *quite* as strong an actor as Marvin (though still great), he has an amazing voice, absolutely lovely. I cast the same Mabel as before, Jen Connor, who is terrific as always--gorgeous voice and marvelous comic instincts. Dave and I had decided we would open up all the roles (i.e., not automatically offer people their old role)--there were a couple of reasons for this. Mainly because when Dave first wanted to remount it last summer, he got a brushoff vibe--and then when he did a little research, apparently there was annoying backstage drama with some cast members. So whatever, we had open auditions and Jen was 1 of 4 potential Mabels--we had a lot of strong Mabels come out, more than last time. Jen probably had a slight edge since she knew what kind of Mabel I wanted, but still I gave a detailed breakdown of the kind of comedy I was doing, and what I was looking for, and she was definitely the strongest actress. So good for her, she rewon her role! But even better, we have FIVE, count 'em, FIVE pirates, including Paul (who was Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show last fall, total sweetie) and Dylan, (who did tech in Christmas Carol).

Dave is the music director and he ran the early rehearsals; the cast sounds pretty good so far, and of course Dave is so much better than that terrible MD we had last time (he taught them almost nothing--half the cast hardly knew the score after a week). Now we are blocking and teaching dance. Rehearsals are going VERY WELL--we staged "Pour O Pour" and "O Better Far" and they are going to look GREAT. I'm using a lot of the same staging as last time but improving it since I now have much more space and more performers. It is a lot of fun "building" a show with actors--you pre-stage as much of it as you can, but then you have to be open to new possibilites and suggestions. One of our pirates, a guy named Mike Wolff, wants to do a random Russian accent--I immediately said YES and you must also sing in the accent. I said the one person in the audience who will be close enough to pick you out will find that hilarious.

I've been leading the cast in the Pirates mantra--We are not proud. We will throw anything against the wall to see what sticks. As before, I talked to the cast about the two tone-inspirations for my version--Airplane! and The Pirate Movie. About the latter, I said yeah, it's definitely a guilty pleasures--I mean come on, the movie has a song about BLOW JOBS. But still, they will throw anything out there to make you laugh. Crotch jokes? Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark references? A food fight? Whatever works, man. I have to admire that kind of sunny willingness to debase oneself in the service of comedy!

Working with the daughters tonight--they're learning "Climbing Over Rocky Mountain" and "O Is There Not One Maiden Breast?" I just love this score so much. I really have to do my all-female version so I can sing the Pirate King!

Miscellany

Feb. 9th, 2012 03:57 pm
ceebeegee: (soccer)

This makes me ridiculously happy.  I don't even LIKE McDonald's (unless I'm in Spain for nine months--I frequently indulged in a McChicken during my cruise ship contract) and I almost never go in there.  But Shamrock Shakes!  They make me happy because they taste good and they're about St. Patrick's Day!

Bart called me this morning--he has tickets for Merrily We Roll Along for this Saturday afternoon, but sadly I can't go with him.  VERY sad, I love that show!  What a fantastic, inventive score--I LOVE "Our Time" and the lead-in to the reprise of "The Hills of Tomorrow":

It is the obligation we have been given.
It is to NOT turn out the same.
It is to grow, to accomplish--
To change the world.


Bart told me that 1) his partner Walter knows Lonnie Price (the original Charlie Kringas) and 2) Lonnie Price was the obnoxious hotel heir in Dirty Dancing!  "He said 'What does he have that I don't have?' And she said 'Two hotels.'"

I went to the doctor Tuesday and they referred me to a cardiologist.  They didn't seem too worried, though--guess I'm not about to have a heart attack!  The nurse was taking my information--I filled one of these out when I first started going there but I guess they were updating everyone's info.  All the questions about cancer, thyroid, etc.  I was like no, no, no.  Heart disease?  Oh yes.  Ohhhhhhh yes--my father's side of the family is riddled with heart disease.  My grandfather (heart attack, then later died of a coronary), my uncle (several heart attacks), my father (angioplasty), my brother had some kind of scare, a couple of my aunts.  OH yes.  So it's--weird to feel my heart beating, a little sobering.

I have put the Meetup soccer games on the back burner for now for a couple of reasons.  No. 1), they're hard to get to, 2) the style of play is VERY intense.  3 30 minute games with NO substitutions is a lot for me--I'm just not in that kind of shape.  But I want to be and I will--those games are something to work towards.  So I researched and found another league, the New York Social Sports Club.  The style of play is less intense (2-18 minute halves WITH substitutions) and they emphasize the social aspect quite a bit.  The league sets up a relationship with a nearby bar and we're encouraged to hang out there after the game, we get discounts on pitchers, etc.  In theory this is a cute idea.  But this bar's set up kind of blows.  Instead of hanging out on the bottom floor which has cute small bar tables and dim lighting, they open up the 2nd floor which has super-bright flourescent lights and tacky long plastic tables.  And the discounted pitchers?  For BUD.  And BUD LITE.  Guh-ross.  Not worth the calories!  Still though, the other people on the team are cool.

 



How adorbs are we!  This was after our first game which we lost--but we won the next two.  The kids on it are a fun group but they are KIDS--I am Grandma next to them!  It is frustrating too that my skills haven't come back yet--I seem to have lost the ability to kick left-footed.  I'm doing okay but have not scored a goal yet.  We have practices on Saturdays but now that rehearsals for The Vagina Monologues have started, it's difficult for me to attend. 

Yes, I'm directing The Vagina Monologues for TTC.  We're nearly a week into rehearsals; it's going pretty well so far, although there has been DRAMMER.  I can't talk about it, obviously.  Let's just say doing a show with this many amateurs has its challenges!

ceebeegee: (Default)
The Lambeth Goosestep, all about the very first mashup (musical theater and history)! Read, comment, click, forward!
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Note--try to buy tickets early as Dave is expecting them to sell out.  Currently the most sold is tomorrow night's 8pm showing--there are more tickets for tonight's and the late Friday show.

The show just keeps getting better and better. We moved into the space Monday night--the actual floor on the stage takes a little getting used to. It is a little gritty and rough, and so is great for most of the dance we do but NOT so great for tapping! But I've been working on it as much as possible. Last night's runthrough was the best, both for tap and everything else. Especially for the tap, I was enjoying it, I was in the moment, I heard what people were saying *and* hearing the music. It makes me want to do a bigger tap role! Maybe Joan in Dames at Sea or something...

We had several people there, including Billy who directed the last one and also played Frank. (During my solo, Billy yelled "I'd tap that" which made me laugh.) Tonight we will have an ACTUAL audience, yippee!

I actually got to the theater quite late--I try to get there around 7:00 so I can pre-set everything and have lots of time to warm up but that didn't happen thanks to the ever-competent and customer-friendly NJ Transit. I got to Port Authority at 6:30 where I cooled my heels on line for FIFTEEN MINUTES. Seriously, the line did not move for fifteen minutes. The line next to us, the one that runs along the same route for much of the time, moved, but not us. Did anyone explain anything to us? Make an announcement? Apologize? Of course not. It's the New Jersey Transit, and they don't give a flying fuck what we go through. AWFUL agency--they're as bad as the MTA. So I got the theater at 7:30 and had to FLY through makeup, hair and costume and warm up super-fast. This seems to have worked, as I did fine on the solo.

The next few days will be packed--we get out of the show around 10 tonight and tomorrow around 1 am. Yikes! Then we meet at 10:30 Saturday morning at Port Authority to make the trek dwon to Lakewood. Really hope I can sleep on the bus!

Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Great Pumpkin patch)
So I've been reading about how badly Irene hit upstate New York, so I definitely want to plan an apple-picking/pumpkin-patching trip sometime soon, so we can give them our money! Gotta look after our agrarian brothers and sisters...

Rocky Horror Show auditions--as I mentioned, I heard a couple of weeks ago that they'd be bringing it back, minus a few cast members. I told Dave I would be very interested in auditioning for Columbia--I said I could tap some, but my weakness was picking up choreography quickly. This is because of my training--I'm hyperliterate (started reading at a very young age and read voraciously), and as an actor and as a classically trained singer, I've been taught to look at the page first. But dancers don't learn this way--they learn with their feet. Even with my athletic background, it's not as easy for me--there's a whole extra step in the learning process for me that trained dancers don't have, which really slows me down at auditions. When I was in rehearsal for my ship contract, we ran up against this with our choreographer when Aly and I were taught the Land of a Thousand Dances combination. One of the easiest combinations ever--just the dance steps that are outlined in the song (Pony, Chicken, Mashed Potato, etc.)--but we didn't know some of those steps and after an already exhausting day, not much was sinking in and it took us forever to learn the sequence. I was begging the choreography (Stacy?) to just STOP and let me write down the steps--I kept trying to explain to her that singers learn differently. But she didn't understand and just kept drilling us.

I make up for this lack by working my ASS off in rehearsal. No one who sees me dance in a show will ever see anything less than the most polished performance I can give. Susan can tell you, when she and I did shows together, I was constantly pulling her aside and making her breakdown sequences for me. Since I'm not nearly as strong a dancer as I am a singer, I can't get away with anything--I have to work TWICE as hard. At any rate, Dave seemed interested...then the following week I saw the audition notice go up on Facebook. Columbia was not listed, so I thought gee, I guess the other girl is coming back, and I emailed Dave. He said no, I was still in the running and Robert needed to see me tap.

So I did my homework. I hadn't tapped in over ten years, so I took a couple of classes at Steps on Broadway. They have Basic Tap on Saturday and Sunday mornings. (I cannot get over how inexpensive dance classes are--$17 a class! Susan thinks it's a ripoff but I'm comparing it to voice lessons which are easily $80 and up in NYC.) The one on Saturday was with an older black woman and there was just me and on other dancer in the class, so it was almost like a private session. She certainly knew her stuff but it was very, very detailed, small, micro-teaching, focused on technique. We didn't learn any combinations. The class the next day was more like a traditional tap class, with a lot more people (at least 25) and a guy at the front showing us the steps, breaking them down, and then combining them together. He went kind of fast but I'm proud to say I was able to keep up, although I was fudging some of those steps at the end! (Although it helped that I already knew how to do a time-step.) I really enjoyed the Sunday class and found it more helpful--what I need most is to build my tap repertoire and learn steps like back essences and the waltz clog.

The next day I called Susan and asked if she could help me--originally I asked her to make up a tap combination and teach it to me quickly, under audition conditions, so I could get back into that mode. This evolved into my learning Columbia's combination from the movie. I found a breakdown of the steps online and then we compared it with the few clips of the combo that are on YouTube. (Richard O'Brien obviously polices his show quite thoroughly! Clips of RHPS are not easy to find online.) I learned it and was even able to do it a tempo after a couple of days--it wasn't pretty but I did learn it! Most of it looked fine but the chaine turns--turns are NOT my forte! I don't spot very well...

Robert has been sick at last week but was finally better for the weekend and we set up an audition appointment at his place, for Sunday evening. Saturday was my first volunteer shift for RightRides which was fun but EXHAUSTING. I did not get into bed until 5:30 am! So rehearsal for the reading of The Empress of Sex was not easy, because I was trying VERY hard not to fall asleep. After rehearsal I went over to Susan's apartment and tarted myself up good with fishnets, dance shorts and lots of glittuh eye makeup. And I did my hair in messy ponytails--I was going for the "kid who's stayed a little too long at the rave" look for my Columbia. I warmed up at Susan's place and on the train (which naturally took forever). When I got to Robert's place (his apartment is adorable, nice little restored ground floor place in the Heights), he got right to work and tested me on a battery of steps, including double-time steps, back flaps, and various shuffle and ball-change mini-combinations. At one point he asked me "can you do [ describes lunge-shuffle step]" I said "do you mean maxies? Sure." *execute right and left maxies* He asked if I could do wings--I said No! He asked if I could fake them--I hesitated and then, figuring the fake would be most convincing the closer my feet were to the ground, relaxed my legs from the knees down and then whipped out a fake wing. He said, good! Can you do two in a row? Sure. *does so, then does 3 in a row* He said to me in amazement, who knew you could tap?! I said well, I haven't done it in a while but yes, I have tapped in several shows. I was trying to remember them all--I started with Me and My Girl, then The Boyfriend ("Perfect Young Ladies" which technically was not tap as I did not have on tap shoes for that number since I was in the preceding scene but the technique was all tap and the other dancers, when they entered, all had on tap shoes. I *still* remember that combination!), Lucky Stiff ("Welcome back, Mr. Witherspoon!" *stomp, STOMP* "MIS-ter WITH-er-spoon...we always knew you'd be...BACK..." *stomp, shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, stomp, ball-CHANGE*). I know I did another tap show as well but it's escaping me right now. ANYWAY, Robert said you've got the part. YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!

So so excited!!! I love it that this is a DANCE role, my very first one! (That is, my very first dance principal.) I mean, it's not Anita or anything but it's a by-God DANCE role. And I wanted it and I worked for it and I got it!

Robert told me where to find a rehearsal video of the combination so I looked it up--other than the wings, it'll be easy!

RHS

Sep. 25th, 2011 11:32 pm
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Who's going to be playing Columbia in the upcoming remount of Rocky Horror Show at TTC this October?

I am! That's who!

Saturday

Sep. 13th, 2011 06:10 pm
ceebeegee: (Default)
Saturday night I went to the TTC Season Announcement Cabaret. Dave had spoken to me earlier about directing The Vagina Monologues and remounting Pirates again next summer in Frank Sinatra Park. At the cabaret I found out that they were also bringing back Rocky Horror, which they'd done last winter and which was awesome and hilariously fun. And I found out that the actress who played Columbia isn't coming back (I guess she's on tour)--I would loooove to audition. I talked to Dave about it who seemed interested--I will pull my tap shoes out tonight and see about picking up a class at BDC (and of course rent the movie). I can tap a little, though I need time to get the choreography down. No wings though! Rocky Horror is such a damn fun show, I hope I give a decent audition.

Earlier on Saturday we had a rehearsal for Patrick and Lisa's Wedding, which I am remounting for Duncan (we did it first back in '08, for TTC when it was still DeBaun). At this point we are MORE than ready to go up, it's just tweaking and finetuning and shirring the edges to make it more real, less stage-y. All three of my actresses are great. Ashley is reprising her role as Heidi, but I recast the other two roles. Originally I'd asked back Courtney as the flakey bride Lisa but she bailed at the last minute for no really good reason which, frankly, really pissed me off and I will probably not use her again. But her replacement is actually better--Danielle is a naturally comic actor whereas Courtney, while talented, is more likeable on stage than actually funny. As for the third actor, I'd always intended to replace Francesca who has a certain amount of raw talent but whom I just could not get much out of. She never grew in the role, and really lacked energy. So I asked Anya to play Maggie, and she's doing a pretty good job so far, I'm very pleased. She has a harder time with the whininess at the top of the play (but who wouldn't, whininess is difficult to pull off) but does great with the interactions with Heidi and at the end. So, very proud of all my actors.
ceebeegee: (Viola pity)
Last night the current President of Sweet Briar appeared at a cocktail party hosted by an alum in her Park Avenue apartment. All NYC-area alums were invited so I showed up to schmooze a bit--Christian told me that the SBC President is really into theater, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to meet her and make a good impression, all for Project Thyme. Nice party--LOTS of smoked salmon and other nibblies, and everyone was very friendly. (Sooooo nice to hear some Southern accents.) Schmoozing accomplished.

Lots of theater coming up--Anya and I are going to see the campus production of The Wedding Singer tomorrow night--I want to meet with some of them if I can and possibly find out how to put in a bid to direct. Can't hurt to build up some on-campus credits. And then Ashley is performing in The HMS Pinafore the next two weeks, so I have to catch that as well. Also Michael Clay (Marley in Xmas Carol '07, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Scrooge in Xmas Carol '09) is doing Twelfth Night (LOVE that poster!) in Midtown--haven't seen that in a while, must see! Here's the thing, though--I get a little antsy at having to see Ashley in Pinafore because it's not a cheap ticket--the least expensive is $25--and Ashley's only in the chorus. If she were Josephine of course I'd love to see it--but spending that much money to see her in chorus? Argh. I'm so poor right now. But I want to support Ashley and I know she loves working with this group. Here's hoping this production isn't focused on the music at the expense of the comedy. I just wish I could get a student rate--they nail you bigtime for service fees, $4 no matter what (phone, credit card, mail) if you buy it in advance.

Oh, and I saw Sleep No More Tuesday night. Very interesting--it's kind of a haunted house/theme park version of Mackers (i.e., immersive, environmental, non-linear) if Stanley Kubrick had directed it. I kept thinking of two Kubrick pieces in particular--The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut. It's interesting but it's a LOT of money for kind of an incomplete experience. But I did like it very much.

Softball tomorrow--first game of the season! Can't wait!
ceebeegee: (Macbeth)
A couple of exciting projects coming up. First off, a few weeks ago Andrew Rothkin asked me to be a part of a production of Macbeth that he's directing. It goes up in March at the Wings Theater. He didn't specify a function, just wanted me to be involved somehow, so I said I'd love to be the dramaturg. Then as it turned out he kind of did have a function--he also wants me to be the assistant-director, which is fine as long as I don't have to come to a whole ton of rehearsals. Also, since it looks as though we're teching during spring midterms, I said that's got to be my priority and he was fine with that. The producer is a woman named Christine Seisler, and she's also playing Lady M. She seems very cool. We've had a couple of meetings so far and I like how things are going.

The other project--as most of you know, this past season has been a transitional one for TTC. Dave et al. have been trying to find a permanent space for awhile now and like a week ago I remember thinking "at this time last year they had the benefit, I wonder what's happening?" Well, last Thursday I got two emails from Dave. One was sent to about 10-15 of us, telling how TTC had signed a lease for the new space. It's located at the Monroe Center, where they did Rent last winter. So yay! Very happy that's been settled. The second email was addressed just to me, telling me the season lineup--and asking if I would be interested in directing the inaugural production, The Pirates of Penzance. I wrote back "I would love to! I love that show, it's my favorite G&S and I've done it twice already. I even have the DVD of The Pirate Movie [thank you, Chris] !!!" Am completely thrilled and can't wait to start conferencing about this. God, I love that show. My dream version would be an all-female version set in a boarding school--like, these girls in the school put on their own subversive version (and of course I'd play the Pirate King!)--but this will be more conventional :) Oooh, such a busy fall!
ceebeegee: (The Opposite of War Isn't Peace)
Why were the accents so off in the original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd? Mrs. Lovett is consistently Cockney but the Beggar Woman goes back and forth between Cockney and not (alms, alms...), although I think she's fairly consistently Cockney in her spoken lines--and Sweeney himself has an American accent! And Anthony's accent seems awfully posh for a common sailor. Confusing...

Plautus

Feb. 16th, 2010 03:59 pm
ceebeegee: (Rome)
I was on fiyuh today in class. My method of note-taking is paying off--constant synthesis of all this stuff. (And plus the fact that the Punic Wars are infinitely more interesting than the Italic Wars--elephants crossing the Alps, cool! Endless wars with the Samnites, booooo-ring.) The professor was talking about the cultural shifts that started in the 2nd century BC and referred to "political precedents that had already been compromised. He asked if we knew who he meant--I thought it was Scipio Africanus but I didn't say anything and he said (yup) "Scipio Africanus. Can anyone tell me why?" My hand shot up, he called on me, and I Hermione'd "Because of his success in Spain during the 2nd Punic Wars, he was appointed to Consul before having been elected praetor or questor, plus his term was extended indefinitely." Aw yeah! Then later he was talking about the cultural Hellenization that happened in Rome following Rome's imperialism in the eastern Mediterranean--this included things like coinage, the beginning of Roman history (i.e., Romans writing their own narrative) and the introduction and adaptation of Greek theater. He said something like "Plow-oooh-tus, does anyone know who that is?" No one said anything and as he started to write it on the board I realized who it was and I blurted out "I know who he is!" He pointed to me and I said "Plautus was a Roman playwright who wrote comedies which were known for their use of stock characters like the scheming slave, the lovers, the doddering old fool..." I thought, but didn't say, "he may be more familiar to modern-day musical comedies through A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum which is based on his plays." Although it occurred to me later--the script of Forum says that it takes place "200 years before the birth of Christ, a day in Spring." (I've done that show twice, and that setting always amused me.) But slavery wasn't really introduced in Rome until a little later (sometime after the Macedonian Wars when the Roman economy asploded). However Plautus didn't really compose original works--he adapted Greek plays to Roman tastes. Hence the anachronism.
ceebeegee: (oz)
So I finished Wicked a few days ago. Um...hmmm. Color me somewhat underwhelmed. I love the premise, and the weird, carnival-mirror version of Oz is a great idea and fun to explore. But I do not find Elphaba a satisfactory protagonist. It took me a little while to figure out why and it's this--she doesn't do that much, and what little she does do is never carried to its dramatic conclusion. In college she carries on Dr. Dillamond's research--does this go anywhere? Other than teaching Chister how to mimic, not really. In the Emerald City she does one fully realized thing--she has the affair with Fyero (I guess you could say she falls in love, allows herself to be vulnerable). But the dramatic conclusion to that, the apology to Sarima--piddles off into nowhere. She lives there for years and never apologizes and makes her own peace with what she did--yes, I realize that Sarima wouldn't let her but you have to develop that, you have to raise the stakes. If she couldn't do the thing that brought her to the Vinkus, why did she live there for so many years then? Did her feelings change then, did she somehow come to terms with what she did? You can't just have her plop down and then not raise the tension, develop it further. Getting back to her time in the Emerald City, she most noticeably doesn't do something--she fails to kill Madame Morrible. Of course later on she does--or does she? He tries to make it a big mystery--did she or didn't she kill Morrible at the end--but her pathetically bragging about it, while still unsure of what she actually did, just undermined the whole thing and I didn't care in the end. I shouldn't feel that way about the protagonist confronting a major villain.

She really doesn't do much magic at all, and doesn't seem very devoted to or even interested in its practice or study. In fact other than Animal rights, I'm not sure what she stood for.

The lack of decisive action is really noticeable when Dorothy enters the picture. All she does is track her and wait for her! She doesn't do SHIT to confront her, stop her, talk to her--that whole subplot was a major disappointment. I found myself much more interested in Dorothy than in Elphaba. (I will say, I thought the whole section where she sends the dogs, the crows and the bees gripping--like her destiny was inevitably approaching. Of course this was helped by everyone's knowing how the Witch ends up.)

She's really not a terribly likable or admirable character, IMO. Maguire's elliptical writing style doesn't help that much--sure, Baum was WAY in the other direction as a writer (but of course he wrote for kids), rarely did Baum write anything particularly witty or clever. But Maguire seems to be opaque for the sake of being opaque. It's kind of annoying, there's no payoff. Why did Morrible enchant the three girls and why didn't they end up carrying out her plans? What was the point of the Philosophy Club sequence and how did it affect the participants? Why did her friendship with Glinda peter out? And why am I supposed to care about Sarima and her sisters and the children?

Although reading the synopsis of the musical--wow. They really DID change a lot! It's interesting, at first I thought "why the hell did Maguire allow that?" then I thought "well, they aren't his characters to begin with!" I did think the aftermath of the Witch's murder was beautifully depicted, and it's a shame that was changed.
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
I was reading on ATC about the musical Silk Stockings, Cole Porter's last musical. It's considered problematical to revive, even though it has a terrific score, because it takes place during the Cold War (it's based on the movie Ninotchka) and the plot (and jokes) are seen as pretty dated. The same thing is said about Chess, a great favorite of mine--fantastic score but the plot is said to date it.

Now here is something to ponder--South Pacific came out a few years after World War II had ended. Why hasn't that show ever been seen as dated? After World War II ended, American culture went full-bore ahead--expansion into the suburbs, the rise of consumerist culture, the highly structured couture designs on the post-War era, the baby boom--it seems they wanted to put the past behind them and not remember this truly terrible war that had decimated their youth. (Although America, the psychological toll of Pearl Harbor notwithstanding, wasn't hit nearly as hard as Europe, especially Russia. Russia was SLAMMED. Read about the sieges of Stalingrad and Leningrad sometime--Leningrad went on for over TWO YEARS. And the pathetic death of little Tanya Savicheva--"only Tanya is left." Russia was hit so hard.) Anway, you'd think America would want to forget World War II--so why was South Pacific so successful? Why has it never been considered dated?

I wonder if it has something to do with our too-soon involvement in the Korea War--such a dreary war, not even a war, a police action, with none of the romance of World War II, the "Good War," where we clearly understood what we were fighting and why. We were conspicuously triumphant in Word War II, whereas the Cold War just sort of collapsed.

New Music

Nov. 19th, 2009 07:13 pm
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Saw Ragtime last night with Michael. This is a new scaled-down production--you might even call it stripped down. I didn't see the original production on Broadway, only the first national tour--I didn't have a problem with that set but apparently it attracted some criticism for being too much--too big, too bulky, whatever. Bearing that in mind, I think this set goes a little too far in the other direction--it looks like scaffolding up there. As a means of showing off the cast, as a structural piece that helps advance the action, I think it works--I just think it looks ugly and colorless. There's a middle ground, just add some more movable set pieces. They do this well enough in the New Rochelle WASP household, they need to do it more for the other settings as well. And have more of a car up there! Someone on ATC said it very well, "Fred Flintstone wants his car back!" The car is a symbol of Coalhouse's material success, we really should see more than an outline.

The performances are a little uneven but generally pretty good. The two strongest, IMO, are Stephanie Umoh as Sarah and Bobby Steggart as Mother's Younger Brother. The latter is incredibly intense, completely in the moment all the way through and manages somehow to be both scary and touching. He also sounds great. Stephanie Umoh doesn't always sound flawless (I think she's covering a little too much) but she does a pretty good job and she's so incredibly sweet and likeable as Sarah. I suppose you could argue that you kind of HAVE to like Sarah, she's written that way but you can't write charm, the performer has to bring that. Furthermore she's absolutely gorgeous, she looks like a radiant fawn up there.

Father and Mother were good but didn't particularly excite--I thought Mother was a slightly more interesting actor than singer. The kid playing Edgar is terrific, and I want to adopt the Little Girl. Tateh was--again, okay, but I thought he was missing something, he seemed to take himself SO SERIOUSLY, a little humor helps with that role and makes your eventual breakdown in the tenement neighborhood more impactful. Coalhouse acted the role quite well but I don't think he's supporting very well, I wasn't that thrilled with his singing.

Loved Donna Migliaccio (Washington DC actors represent! Everyone knows her down there) as Emma Goldman and am grumpy that one poster on ATC wrote her and the guy who played Booker T. Washington off as caricatures. I thought they both gave believable, fully realized performances. I also liked Harry Houdini and Henry Ford--yeah, they're not huge roles but I still liked them.

And--Evelyn. I always get cranky when I see Evelyns. I've never seen one that seemed to be anything much but a caricature. This one was waaaay too brash, grinning nonstop, with a really unattractive red wig* and just--trying too hard. Brash is not sexy. Cheap is not sexy. Subtle is sexy. Evelyn Nesbit was neither brash nor cheap--yes, she's written as a chorine milking her notoriety but you can make her more interesting and self-aware than that, you can have her winking (figuratively speaking) at the audience, especially on lines like "ruined at the age of 15!" She wrote two autobiographies for God's sake, she wasn't stupid. And frankly she was a hell of a lot more sympathetic than she's portrayed in the show--she really was a victim of her own beauty. Stanford White was nothing more than a proto-Roman Polanski, although he had a much more longstanding relationship with Evelyn and took care of her for a long time.

They also cut the second verse of "Crime of the Century"--well, they didn't exactly cut it but she mouthes the words to underscoring while Edgar or someone else gives us more exposition. O-kay, I can see the wisdom of that change, I just don't like it because I love that song!

*I'm so mortified. I've seen many pictures of Evelyn Nesbit but they're all in black and white--I had no idea she was a redhead. I've been grumbling about the fact that the original EN in 1998 was a blonde, because of all the characters whose appearance you need to get right, it's hers since that's orignally what made her famous! Anyway, she was a redhead.

Such a beautiful score. Man, do I love that score. Just to hear that live...

I sort of know Mark Aldrich, who played Willy Conklin. He's also from DC, and back in the '90s he was friends with a friend of mine, Charles. Charles and Amy (his GF) were sort of trying to set me up with Mark at one point--I think Charles and Mark were both doing A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theater (while Amy and I were doing Fiddler on the Roof at one of the dinner theaters) and we all hung out after their show one night at Sweet Georgia Brown's or one of those Southern restaurants that sprang up in DC after Clinton became President. I doubt he even remembers it :)

It strikes me as odd that Tateh is able to sell his "movie book" for a dollar--a whole dollar, really? A dollar was quite a bit of money back then, it would be at least $20 nowadays, I should think.
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Proposition:

The Lion King definitely deserved the Tony for Best Musical that year, since (IMO) it was the better-directed, tighter, more theatrically overwhelming piece of musical theater. (When the audience started applauding during the "Circle of Life" number, I knew right then which show would win. That number works beautifully, I wept when I finally saw the show.)

However, Ragtime should've won the Pulitzer, since it's a great example of American playwriting and tells its story better (better score, better book) than TLK. (I have no idea what won the Pulitzer that year, just saying I think Ragtime should've gotten that award instead of the Tony).

Thoughts?
ceebeegee: (Puck)
Saw Bye Bye Birdie last night.

W. O. W.

This *may* surpass The Civil War as the worst Broadway show I've ever seen. I came close to walking out of CW at intermission, after that dreadful, self-indulgent number "How Many Devils?" but since someone had given me the ticket, I figured I owed it to them to stay.

BBB's big main, overriding flaw is the direction--including staging, casting, and the diection of the actors. Gina Gershon, who is gorgeous and who played Sally Bowles for the Rundabout to great acclaim, is egregiously miscast as Rosie. She is really terrible--not only can't she hit the notes, she can't project at all and does this weird, swooping thing on the notes. I can't describe it but she's pretty bad. Her dancing is non-existent, but worst of all is her performance. She just doesn't get the specific style, the energy of Rosie and the show. Her actions and staging is muddled and unclear--she seems like she's apologizing. She doesn't pop.

Stamos is a little better--he at least has a nice voice--but he is just. Not. The Albert type. At all. He doesn't have that nerdy, gangly energy that Albert should, and so he's just not that interesting in the role. Again, he doesn't pop. The girl who plays Kim has a lovely voice and is very sweet, but also doesn't get the role or the show. Kim is supposed to be so wide-eyed, she's ridiculous; "How Lovely to Be a Woman" is supposed to be simultaneously hilarious and adorable, because she's singing about how she's a woman and she's 15 and she's just so darn excited about those "simply beautiful clothes!" This girl sang it as though it were a thoughtful, introspective ingenue anthem--obviously the director didn't go through which phrases to lean on slightly, to make it more comic, like "the wait was well worthwhile," "...a woman's smile" and at the same time, revel in being able to "...stay out after ten!"

But all of this pales to the travesty that was Bill Irwin's performance as Mr. MacAfee. He should not be allowed anywhere near musical theater ever again. His performance of "Kids"--a slam-dunk number, an hilarious, character-based comic number, "this crazy kids, they'll be the death of me"--was THE worst, most self-indulgent, masturbatory performance I've ever seen on Broadway. He moaned and squeaked his way through the lyrics--it literally sounded as though he were having a bowel movement, the way he moaned "Keeeeeeedsuh!" My face was right out of the movie of The Producers--I was truly embarrassed for him. Honestly at this point I never want to see him in any show again, I hated his performance that much.

On the dimly bright side--the teenagers were completely adorable. Ridiculously adorable. I don't know how they directed themselves but they were all terrific, and GOT the show, they nailed the energy. I liked the Birdie too--he's not perfectly cast (a little too young, IMO) but still very good, and sounded nice. The sets are kind of minimal but I did like them, especially the MacAfee's living room--I really want that couch and those pillows! Music direction is only a'ight, I wanted to hear the kids more. Choreography is almost non-existent until "Lot of Living" when it finally picks up (the Shriner's Ballet and another dance number of Rosie's are cut).

Edited to add:



As I said, the teenagers are the best, second-best, and third-best thing about the show. They all give terrific performances. Just look at those adorable faces!

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