ceebeegee: (Default)
 I directed a play for Elizabeth (a lil' 10-minute thing) and it went up today.  The venue was quite nice, in a library not too far from my place.  Vaulted ceilings and decent acoustics (for singing).

I've been thinking for a while now--I really want to get back into performing, especially voice.  I did two concerts for Donna last year and I'm wondering how I can expand on that.  Maybe do a concert at this venue (I chatted up the guy who was running things).  And I'd like--maybe, if I have the time--to start up Holla Holla again this summer, in a limited way, a reading of some kind (Shakespeare, of course) of the neighborhood.  My place is big enough, we could have rehearsals here.

I really love to be on stage.  I love to sing and I love to act.  And I need to get back to that.  It's part of what makes me me.
ceebeegee: (Spring!)

Lots going on right now!  A little too much actually--


  • A project for Tim's friend who is a playwright

  • Taxes (MUST force myself to get up early tomorrow to go to the tax prep's office, they've been ready to go for weeks)

  • Must take NYC tour guide test so I can become a tour guide for Amada

  • Have to get registered as a federal vendor (a huge pain in the ass--I first registered in OCTOBER and I'm still not showing up in the system)

  • I HAVE to write something in Cliopolitan but whennnn?

  • And a big, BIG thing which I'm not quite ready to announce at large just yet but which is very exciting (!).

So yeah, lots going on!  Now that spring is approaching I am looking forward to visiting DC to see the cherry blossoms--I'm going to stay with my brother and spend some time with the monsters.  I told Stuart I wanted to take the kids to some shows--specifically I'd like to start getting little William interested in Shakespeare, since we had such a lovely chat about it last Thanksgiving.  I looked around what would be playing in DC the weekend I'm planning to visit--so far I found a Voodoo Macbeth, a non-spoken-word, watery production of The Tempest and a puppet version of Peter Pan.  As I think a 7 year old is a *little* young for the violent nihilism of Macbeth (maybe when he's 10 ;) I am very tempted to take him to Tempest--its spectacle might be right up his alley, and they have a "Splash Zone" where we'll get wet :)  But the tickets aren't cheap :/ Luckily my SIL snagged a couple of tickets for my niece and me for Prokofiev's Cinderella at the Washington Ballet, which should be a blast!  Annika is a little tomboy but so was I at that age and I still loved ballet.  I can't wait. Things to look forward to:


  • St. Patrick's Day is in 2 weeks

  • I'm going to visit my brother's family in 3 weeks

  • Easter is in a month (and Game of Thrones!)

  • And in April beginneth The Tales of Caunterbury oops, I mean warm sunny weather and my big, BIG thing which I'm not quite ready to announce just yet.  (Oh, and Mickey's wedding!)

ceebeegee: (Red Heather)

I am a member of TRU (Theater Resources United), a group for theater producers and other professionals.  I haven't taken much advantage of the classes and workshops they offer, but I have sat in on their annual combined auditions several times, once or twice with Duncan and once for Julie.  That's the main draw for me, those auditions, and why I renew every year.

TRU sends out quite a few weekly emails, advertising their classes, etc. and many (if not all) are from one of the bigwigs, a guy named Bob Ost.  His emails can sometimes have a weird tone, a little too pleading and whatnot.  I wish I could cite examples, but just know that's a trend I've sensed--they sound slightly unprofessional and frankly kind of desperate sometimes.

Last week he sent out an email asking people to respond because they were "cleaning out their email list" or something like that.  This sort of pinged me--if you're getting bounce-backs, just delete them.  I forgot about it and didn't respond, so yesterday I get this email:

I recently sent an email to my entire directors list and asked everyone to email back to confirm receipt, and interest in the list. I never heard back from you, or perhaps I missed your email (I do this all manually - no techno-software to help right now). So if you want to remain on the list, email back to me. If you DON'T want occasional director emails, email back as well. And if you want to be removed entirely from all things TRU, let me know that as well (a merciful explanation of why would be appreciated).

I may also be doing a test through my Mailermailer email service to make sure I have everyone on this list also signed up as a director on THAT list. Eventually I would like to get rid of this one, and just depend on the Mailermailer list, but over a thousand people were subscribed before we started capturing their areas of interest (director, actor, etc.) I may be sending a director survey through that list, to gauge your interest in TRU programs.

Well, here's a test question: Did you get the recent TRU Update Valentine's Day issue? Are you actually signed up for the Mailermailer email service we use to mail to you?

Please be patient with me as I try to improve these lists, and do let me know whether to keep you on or remove you. There is no problem with keeping you on the list, even if you simply have idle curiosity as to what's happening now and then; but I'd like the list to be realistic.

I sent back a one-sentence reply:
Yes, please keep me on the mailing list.

And got THIS in reply:

Thanks Clara, but you haven't opened an email from TRU in seven months. Are we landing in spam? Check your spam folder for an email from Friday headed "Open up for a great big bouquet of TRU opportunities" - let's see if we can figure this out so I can get my mailings through to you in the future. Thanks!


We know each other through Maitely Weisman, don't we?

What. The. FUCK?  Are we dating or something?  Why the hell is he monitoring how often I open my emails--and why should that MATTER?  My dues are paid up, that's what matters.  Good God.  What a passive aggressive pathetic, unprofessional little missive.  "Thanks, but..."  Ugh!  Just ugh.  I don't particularly want to quit but I am very creeped out being challenged about my level of involvement.  Dude, I WORK as a director and an actor.  That's why I don't have time to read your constant emails, or take part in your constant workshops, the salient info of which is in the TITLE of the email so I know right away whether I can or want to do it.   Aren't we supposed to try to GET work?    Isn't that one of the goals of this organization?

And I have no idea who Maitely Weisman is.
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: (Beyond Poetry)
So I'm in Duncan's play, Sweeter Dreams, playing Roberta leFay, the film critic. We started off-book rehearsals last week which terrified me going in--Roberta has a CRAZY-long monologue that kicks off the play, 2+ pages. As well as 4 or so other monologues ranging from 1.5 pages to a paragraph. I have two scenes with dialogue but most of my performance is me monologuing. As I worked on it I realized the sound of the voice I'm giving her reminded me of Darren Nichols from Slings and Arrows--appropriate since the two characters share certain elemental personality traits. I built on that and now she definitely has her own distinct, weird voice, especially with the Rs. "That's grrret!"

I got through the first off-book rehearsal okay--not great but okay. I was terrified for the first, longest monologue--I literally sat there in one pose for pretty much the entire piece, just thinking ahead to the next phrase, the next thought. Every time I run them, my muscle memory retains a little bit more. That said, I kind of like Roberta being a little stiff in weird ways. You'll see what I mean when you come to the show, but I have this kind of Juliet Prowse on the bottom, Dawn Weiner on the top body language thing going on. Anyway every rehearsal is a little easier, even though I keep changing the pronunciations of certain words. Based on my analysis of the text, I decided that Roberta was very Baroque, and likes to complicate things. She also likes words, as evidenced by her LONG monologues and by her florid vocabulary, and likes to be very correct in her pronunciations of foreign phrases. So I add syllables, I enunciate words within an inch of their lives, I over-hit my Ds & Ts. It's fun. I've been cracking up Duncan and the cast which of course is great--I'm doing my job--but then *I* laugh as well. I'll be fine in performance, it's just in rehearsal I lose it. I've never played a character as over-the-top as this.

We had our dress rehearsal last night--I have INSANE amounts of costumes. All huge-ass power suits and dresses. My first outfit is basically a whole effing COW--heavy red leather top, heavy leather skirt. My heart sank when I looked at all the outfits lined up--it just seems like so much, so much clothes, so many scenes, SO MUCH VERBIAGE. But actually the runthrough went quite well--I'm on the other side, I'm not that nervous about performances anymore. And I made some of the cast members laugh during my interview of Brad. Yay for being funny!
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: (Ireland)
So Day 3 I had a full-ish day planned. I was going to a matinee at the Abbey Theatre at 2:00, but before that I was going to swing by Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and then either right before or after the Abbey, was going to try again to do the Guinness tour. It did not happen exactly like this, however ;) I left the hostel and found a place to grab a quick bite of something Irish and breakfast-y (coffee and soda bread--well, coffee is MODERN Irish, tea would've been more traditional but apparently coffee has been quite a hit there in the past few years). Left the breakfast place and within a block got caught up--quite literally--in a massive protest.



Hundreds--thousands--of Dubliners angry about the austerity cuts were descending on the General Post Office (GPO) to protest the cuts. I was rather quickly surrounded by them, including some very nice Irishmen who answered all my questions and were not only very well-informed about their own politics but had some thoughtful comments about American politics as well. One younger guy was telling me what I should tell Obama (I'm all "uh, sure"), that "he needs to use his position as President to push his platform more..." I started to utter a phrase to sum up what he meant, a quintessentially American phrase--and then HE said it, "he needs to make use of the bully pulpit." I was truly impressed that he knew that phrase--furthermore, I agreed with what he was saying! We had a chat about American politics and what was happening right in front of us (lots of slogans and placards, different speakers speaking). What makes this especially interesting is that the GPO is a powerful symbol of Irish history--the Easter Rising in 1916 took place there. Lots of parallels between past and present history--their economic collapse is also due to a property bubble.


Erin Go Bragh!



After this energizing experience, I extricated myself from the crowd and made my way to the Abbey. This is THE face of theater in Ireland, a legend--YEATS premiered a play there, for God's sake! I saw fascinating play called Freefall--interestingly they didn't have programs (I think that's a British thing) so I bought one which turned out to be the script. It was actually pretty confusing, so this helped quite a bit.

Right after the play I made my way as quickly as I could over to Trinity College to see my Must See for Dublin--the Book of Kells. This is an old, incredibly beautiful illuminated manuscript from the Dark Ages, created by Irish monks and preserved from the ravages of the Vikings. They had a terrific exhibit on it that explicated so much, including breaking breaking down exactly what they went through to produce a book at that time (obviously copied by hand, on calf vellum--they have it worked out to four anonymous scribed, by their handwriting). I was staring at the book, and thinking 12 hundred years ago this was written by some anonymous person--his hand touched these pages, his hand created this script. Whatever he was feeling or experiencing may have affected why this letter was written with this flourish, or why there was a mistake on that word. And before THAT--a calf was raised that would ultimately give its life for this page in this book. A farmer raised that calf, fed it, took care of it--if it had been fed differently, the page might've looked a different color.

I would've loved to have taken pictures but it wasn't allowed, understandably so. While I was in the exhibit I could hear, not-so-faintly, in the entrance area (in the Library bookstore) some American girl going on and on about "I just--this is my LIFE, my HERITAGE, don't you understand? My family...." and on in this vein. which--well, made me cringe. Look, I get that visiting Ireland is a moving experience but can you keep it down? This is a museum; we're all trying to take in this incredible thing in front of us.

Upon exiting from the Book exhibit, you then go through the Old Library Long Room--it's a long hall, which included an exhibit on the 1641 Depositions. As I was bending over to read the placards, I could hear American Girl again--she'd also gone through the Kells exhibit and now she was talking, loudly, with her boyfriend and some woman who obviously worked there and who therefore should've known better. American Girl was telling the woman, loudly, about her background and her Irish grandmother and red hair in her family and how her boyfriend (she called him a "ginger") and she were going to have red-haired kids and I don't know what all. She was LOUD. Oddly for all her talk about how Irish she was, she didn't look it at all--dark-complected with curly dark hair. Intensely annoying as this was, it gets worse--she pulled out a camera and took a picture. A museum worker, a man, BOLTED up the stairs and told her "I said NO PICTURES. You said you didn't have any more shots left." She said something and started to go exit down the stairs with BF and then, incredibly, took ANOTHER picture. Someone yelled up something from below stairs and she said airily "Sorry, thanks you guys, luv ya."

I felt very stabby. Like, it's not just that you're embarrassing me as a fellow American, it's not just that you're loud and rude and inappropriate. You're also ENDANGERING THESE TEXTS. They're old, and incredibly fragile. You want a picture? BUY A POSTCARD. Unbelievable.

After this I really--sadly--had no time for the Guinness tour. *Sadface* So I figured I'd go shopping--luckily Grafton Street (major shopping section) was very close by, so I made my way through there. I hit a Marks and Spencer (Christmas gifts for my Mom) and a couple of other shops, and found an adorable boutique where I put together a cute lil' twinset and had a lovely, long conversation with the two girls. It's always so interesting to get an insider's view--they think Dublin is small, that "everybody knows everybody." And when I told them about the Book of Kells they were all "Oh, I haven't seen that since the third grade." I recommended a few places in NYC for them to shop the next time they're here.



I walked back over the bridge to the hostel and got this lovely shot.
ceebeegee: (Candy pumpkins!)
Yesterday Anya and I made pumpkin pie ice cream--we have TONS left over, if anyone wants some please feel free to stop by and take some home. I made it with the old-fashioned recipe which uses eggs so it's really, really rich--we both could barely finish our bowls. As much as I love summer, I love autumn, and after the heat this summer, I am very much looking forward to a productive season. And on that note--

Today I start classes--yay!, can't wait to buckle down and get all academic and immerse myself in times and cultures past. I love school so much. All of you can expect to be treated to breathless updates of Eloise and Abelard's scandalous forbidden romance.

Tonight Dave and I have a meeting about Pirates. And hey! No one commented on that last week, by the way--

Attention! I'm directing The Pirates of Penzance for TTC's inaugural season at Monroe in Hoboken!

Maybe that'll get your attention ;) Anyway, am thrilled and going over the libretto now trying to figure out what I want to do with it. I have some ideas--I'm going to try to give it a slightly more updated, streamlined sensibility without it devolving into the mess that was The Pirate Movie. (I will restrain myself mightily and NOT include "Pumpin' and Blowin'." Although it IS tempting.) Fewer ruffles, more simple hotness, a more knowing quality without its being too campy or winky. More musical theater, less operetta. I just better have some decent actors coming out--you always get amazing vocal talent coming out for Pirates but as someone who's seen and done the show numerous times, I can attest you don't always get decent actors.

I'll post about the US Open later but it was fantastic as always.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
The Public is doing The Merchant of Venice and The Winter's Tale in rep this summer! I don't think I've ever seen Merchant on stage--yay! So excited to see me some free quality Shakespeare! I love summer in the city! As a follow up to the Lovestreet/Julie drammer--apparently Lori had also heard from Catherine a while ago that Julie wanted to fire me. She, like me, wasn't sure if Catherine had mixed me up with someone else but if that someone else wasn't Lori (who also had long blonde hair--she's the only person with whom Catherine might've confused me, there weren't that many women in the cast), I don't know who it could've been. Lori said she didn't tell me because she thought it was ludicrous but after I'd emailed her she began thinking of it again, saying "I think Julie was completely and utterly intimidated by you...While she was mucking up the role of Lady M, she was likely aware that you were aware of how badly she was mucking it up in rehearsals." Hmmm. The whole thing is literally inexplicable barring a conversation with Julie and frankly, I don't care that much. I certainly do feel as though I've dodged a bullet though! I can safely say that a good part of the cast would've walked if she'd tried to fire me for no reason. I mean--no reason! I still can't figure it out, I'd saved her ass so many times. Really, she's that insecure? What a weirdo!
ceebeegee: (Riding)
As Duncan mentioned, my alma mater Sweet Briar asked us to host a chat with current arts students. The students are all on Spring Break this week, and the woman in charge of this, Christian Carr, organized an arts-oriented trip to NYC for the week, for credit. They visited museums, saw shows, etc. Originally they were going to come to a Timon rehearsal but we had to change those plans when Timon was pushed back to the fall.

They're staying at the Gershwin Hotel--I've seen pictures of this place before but never visited there. It's gorgeous, very visually striking. We sat in the lobby and were served cheesecake and champagne, and talked to them about what producing actually entailed, the difference between producing outdoors and indoors, what difficulties came with the job, how my experience as a director/producer informed my acting, various playwriting questions for Duncan, all sorts of things. Most of the questions were more interesting and thoughtful than I expected--for example, I usually get asked how being an actor informs my experience as director, not the other way around. And Theatrical Girl asked me "if you had an unlimited budget, which two Shakespeare plays would you most like to do?" I thought about it and said "probably either The Tempest or the Scottish Play. You need something magical for Tempest, some kind of lovely special effects--you don't have to have them, but that's how I'd like it, it's a very spectacular show." And with the Scottish play--I said there are a lot of bad productions out there because 1) its nihilist message is difficult really to comprehend, it's an extremely dark play, and 2) everyone loves it so it gets done a lot. Hence, badly. But anyway, you need atmosphere to help with that nihilism. You need to do it in an enclosed space and take the audience on that journey.

I was talking to them about how Shakespeare straddled the medieval and Renaissance worlds like a Colossus--some of his themes emphasize the importance of social structure and how things go wrong when you challenge that (an essentially medieval value). But he was also the first humanist, the first writer to capture so much of humanity, of personality, in his writing. Every one of us knows someone like Mercutio, the too-smart-for-his-own-good mouthy teenager, or Othello, driven mad by jealousy. Everyone of us can identify to some extent with Macbeth, who starts the play as a good man and who is corrupted by his own ambition. Duncan and I also talked about The Thyme of the Season. Here's a thought, Duncan--maybe we could take that production down to SBC and perform it there. They do book-ins all the time at Babcock.

It was really a lot of fun. They were seated all around us, and at first they were a little shy--one girl, who had the most theatrical experience (albeit mostly technical), asked a lot of questions and then eventually the others started raising their hands as well. We talked for quite a while. Somebody said something about visiting campus and giving a talk there and I said that I'd thought about suggesting one, but wasn't sure if they'd want that. Theatrical Girl assured me, oh yes! They'd love it. The head of the department, Bill Kershner, had just started there when I was a junior--in fact he cast me as the Emcee in Cabaret. It'd be wild to go back with him still there! After the talk Christian was talking to us--Duncan and me--about both going down. Hey, as long as they're willing to pick up the tab for travel expenses (and of course they'd have to put us up but that's no biggie, they have an inn right on campus), I would LOVE to go back. I was talking it up to Duncan, saying what we could do, and I said "and we could hack! You ride, right? Bring your boots and your hardhat and we could go out for a hack!"

On another note--this is a tiny annoyance, but it is one nonetheless. When I sent out the Mardi Gras invitation, one person emailed me that she couldn't go but could she send me a check for Tipitina's? I said sure, thank you, gave her my address. After the party, I sent out a "thank you, we raised $X" message and she replied with another request for my address and a promise to contribute. Again, I gave her my address. Two weeks go by, still haven't heard. I email her again, asking if she'd gotten the emails since she hadn't responded either time (i.e., with a quick "got it, will send it out soon"). She said she was sorry, "life got in the way," but she'd send me a check. Two weeks later--still nothing. I give up. I'm sending the money in to Tipitina's.
ceebeegee: (digitized pumpkin)
I'm in the middle of a writing project of sorts right now. I met with Dave a few weeks ago to discuss how TTC is going to do Xmas Carol this season, and we also came up with another project, a fundraiser, Scary Stories Along the Waterfront. I have to write this one as well, and I've been doing a ton of research. It's harder to write a good ghost story than you think. Dave and the Hoboken Historical Museum (a co-sponsor) are fine with my using actual ghost stories, but the several books I have (DC ghosts, NYC ghosts, and Scottish ghosts) feature accounts of actual ghosts, not necessarily ghost stories. With an actual ghost, the thrill is imagining that it really happened, whereas with an openly acknowledged imaginary ghost, you have to have an actual story, with buildup and a twist and all. These are not easy!

The DC ghost book has some great stories, like the Three Sisters--3 Indian princesses along the Potomac tried to cross during a storm, were swept away, and cursed the river that nobody could ever cross it at that point again. After the curse, there appeared three little islands in the river and believe it or not, no one has ever been able to cross it there. The best example is the Three Sisters Bridge, which started construction and was halted by 1) Congress and the DC Council withdrawing funding, and 2) a hurricane, which swept away what little had been built. Great story, but what makes it great is the added bit about the bridge--even Congress couldn't break the curse! I'm trying to make the stories New York/New Jersey specific.

The NYC ghost book is pretty sucktastic. I bought it awhile ago, thinking it would be as good as the DC one--it ain't! The writing is pretty cringe-inducing--I've tried to get some ideas by reading it, but it's not that helpful. I have been able to use some particularly vivid details from the DC book to whip up a couple of stories--not great ones but they a'ight. They need work.

However the Scottish book may well be my saviour. This is an old book that my dad has when I was a kid and I read it to pieces. I found it later on Amazon. Some GREAT stories there, with murdered pedlars and Earl Beardie playing dice with the Devil and crazy Janet Dalrymple grinning insanely over the bloody corpse of her husband (inspiration for the opera Lucia di Lammermoor) and all. Trust the Celts to get the other worldly stuff right.
ceebeegee: (Viola in the water)
So I saw Twelfth Night at the Delacorte last night. I'd been planning to go with Griffin (my plan being to try to get tickets during previews, especially with what I expect will be a hot ticket like this one) but he forgot and had to work on Wednesday so I texted Lori to see if she wanted the other ticket. Yesterday was drizzling and quite grim in the morning and I almost decided not to go wait on line, but I figured I was up, I might as well. Waited on line for 3 and a half hours--I had to spread out my umbrella on the wet ground since I'd forgotten to bring a chair or blanket or something.

I'd brought a book, Connie Willis's Doomsday Book (which I'm rereading) and mostly passed time that way and checking Facebook. The Public is obviously trying to improve the line experience--they have a new food concessionaire which is also open during the day, so you can just walk up there to get something to eat. (It used to be that you could only get food by ordering from the cafes and delis near the theater.) The new concessionaire is MUCH better than the one they used to have, which was mostly ice cream novelties, brownies/cookies and sodas. This new one has really good coffee (Illy coffee, which is excellent), wine and beer, sandwiches, breakfast foods, salads, etc. For breakfast I decided to get coffee, a whoopie pie (what?), and "Market berries with sour cream and brown sugar." YUM. Not only is the food good, but you don't even have to walk up to the window--if you're willing to wait, eventually someone will come around and take your order while you're on line. And they even take credit cards! How awesome is that?!

So I scored my two tickets and danced away. I just love free summer theater, it's one of those things that makes city life so great. Lori met me after work and we went over together, getting a yummy little meal, including two glasses of prosecco, which we were allowed to eat at our seats.

This production of Twelfth Night looks as though it's going to be quite good--it was the first preview so it's settling into place still. Most of the principals are quite strong, with Hamish Linklater stealing the show completely as Sir Andrew. He is HILARIOUS, every time he opens his mouth people were dying of laughter. Anne Hathaway is good, but not yet great as Viola, but the basic work is there, she just needs to settle into the role. I do think she and Audra (also very good) missed some of the poignancy and sweet epiphanies of their first scene together ("The honorable lady of the house, which is she?")--the willow cabin speech was just sort of barreled through, and I didn't see much vulnerability there, nor did I see much of a transformation in Olivia during the scene, from cold-hearted lady of the house to a woman infatuated. However, again, I think they just need time.

Getting back to Viola, Anne is playing her as a much more believable male than I did (which is of course fine). She actually could pass as a guy. My thinking was that I'm kind of thrown into trying to pass as a male, and there's a learning curve. (At one point during rehearsals, Ben gave me the note that when I first run over to Orsino on "On your attendance, my lord; here," that I was running "like a girl." I gave him a LOOK and he laughed and said "I know you can kick my ass" and I replied "That's a choice! Believe me, I do NOT run like that normally!") I don't know that there's a need for Viola to be completely believable as a guy, because I think most people will believe what they're told until there's a very good reason to believe otherwise. And let's face it, Orsino is pretty oblivious. I also played Viola as much more--consciously light-hearted, as in I'm trying NOT to think about Sebastian and this grief that surrounds me, and as a result of this tension things strike me as much funnier. This came out the most in II, iv--I always loved that exchange between her and Orsino when she says "About your years, my lord" and "Of your complexion, my lord." I played it like I was about to burst out laughing--the lines are genuinely, of themselves, hilarious, and it's also my own private joke. Then the song "Come Away, Death" (in which they had first Orsino and then Viola join in--it was quite beautiful), and my mood changes completely, leading to the intense colloquy between O & V, culminating with

...she pined in thought,
And with a green and yellow melancholy
She sat like patience on a monument,
Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?


I didn't really see that intense undertone of I'm desperately hoping you will actually get what I'm really saying, and yet I'm afraid to disturb this delicate balance. It was played more for laughs than anything, and there's so much to mine there. And I think you do need to have that mood change in that scene--V & O actually have relatively little stage time together, so you have to compress their relationship. So something has to happen, has to change in that scene.

I was a little disappointed with her rapport with Orsino, I don't know that I really saw that intense bond they have, the bond that makes II, iv, that big scene, throb with subtext, the bond that explodes into violence in the last scene. I thought Esparza was quite good as Orsino, I just didn't quite see that chemistry between them; in fact, after Sebastian and Viola meet in the last scene, they go off and hang out together, instead of her going right back to Orsino, like "see, everything is explained--now will you let me off the hook?" (Because even after Sebastian is revealed, she still doesn't know that Orsino loves her.) However, this was a much more overtly comic Twelfth Night. I said to Lori--they've almost staged it as a fable, "once upon a time, in a land far away..." The whole feeling is pastoral and lyrical--the set is a bunch of grassy, green, waving hills that the characters slide down and dance across, and the Celtic, lilting music is very effectively and beautifully deployed (Anne sings several times, and sounds quite lovely). The whole feeling sort of distances you from the more adult, autumnal nuances of the text. This is of course completely appropriate, but I do love those nuances--I love the haunting qualities of this play, the undertone of melancholy and a pure love that is completely suppressed, and the mourning for a dead twin with that background of water, water. If you develop those qualities, it makes the ending truly joyous, rather than just a resolution.

I was disappointed in the Maria, I just don't think she brought much to the role. Toby was decent but not great. Again, I prefer a slightly more menacing Toby. Malvolio was also good but not great, IMO--frankly, I thought Tom was funnier. Frankly, though, I'm usually not that interested in the TN subplot--I'm always sort of twitching impatiently until we get back to Viola and Orsino and Olivia. But as I said, Sir Andrew was HI-LARIOUS. And I did like the Sebastian (he was dreaaaamy). I thought the fighting looked pretty good, but Lori (who trained at LAMDA) was more critical.
ceebeegee: (Puck)
So, the Tony noms were announced yesterday. So, SO thrilled about Shrek's 8 noms--they deserve every one. I saw the show again Sunday night, courtesy of Michael--my third time, this is the first Broadway show I've ever seen three times (and I finally got to see Leah Greenhaus in it!). Still hilarious, and I love the score. My favorite songs are "Story of My Life," "I Know It's Today," "Travel Song," "This is How a Dream Comes True," "Morning Person," "I Think I Got You Beat," "When Words Fail" and of course "Freak Flag." (I always want to start bopping around in the aisle during that song.) "I'm wood/I'm good/Get used to it!" John Tartaglia KILLS me as Pinocchio, with his gay Southern accent.

Anf the most exciting aspect of all the nominations? RYAN, my little Ryan, will be performing at the TONYS!!!!

I met Ryan backstage after the show. As I came inside the stage door, Leah Greenhaus was walking down the stairs and we chatted. I reminded her that we'd met at DeBaun about a year ago--she had that polite child actor smile, I don't think she quite remembered me but had perfect manners nonetheless! She reminds me so much of Mia at that age, so cute. I waited for Ryan for quite a lng time waiting in the wing--I saw Christopher Sieber go by and wanted to yelp "OMG, you're so hilarious!" but didn't quite dare. But he really IS awesome as Farquaad. Who knew the straight-man father on the Olsen Twins vehicle Two of a Kind would be such a success on Broadway?

I like this analysis (from ATC) about why Tony in West Side Story never seems to get a nomination:

That's because Tony is a hard-ass role to cast. )

This is so true! It's truly a thankless role. But I did like Matt Cavenaugh in it--I liked how he made it his own, both the book scenes and the phrasing (I didn't mind his back-phrasing but I do that as well). And he reads as straight up there. I think he's a *little* old for the role but *shrug.*

Nice to see that reasons to be pretty got some major noms--I hope it'll help their bottom line. And I'm guessing part of Raul's nom was for his challenge of maintaining the role against three different actors playing opposite him. I only wish they could've found a way to nominate William H. Macy just to screw it to Jeremy Piven. He got off scot-free for his unprofessional shenanigans.

I'm kind of hoping that the three Billys win. It's a weird way to nominate (these things only seem to happen in theater--Alice Ripley/Emily Skinner, the kids in the original Sound of Music all sharing a nom for Best Featured Actress (!--there were two boys in the family!), etc.). Billy is just such a difficult role, I'd really like to see them get something besides a nomination.

I'm gonna die if I can't get to see Hair soon.

Rehearsal

May. 1st, 2009 12:35 am
ceebeegee: (gold)
Had a good rehearsal tonight. We stumbled-through the second half and then worked-through the first (I get there later than the others due to my work schedule). I am more off-book, and more comfortable, than I thought, which is a huge load off my mind. During the first-half work-through, I don't have much to do until the fourth scene or so, but I'm still on stage, so I was working different character poses. I was actually the one who suggested this--I assumed any time we were on stage, we should take that time to establish our character, so I was trying different poses, keeping in mind: my personality and interests, my profession (model) and my comfort (it'll hurt my back if I stand too long). Laura stopped a lot to work on stuff and at one point looked over to make a face of apology to me--I waved it off, saying "hey, I'm using the time to work on these poses." I also use my down time to increase my flexibility in these yoga poses, especially in my quads and hamstrings, which have always been extremely tight. I'm very flexible in other ways (decent arabesque, 180 turnout, although I will say it's not from my hips, okay releve) but very weird, specific areas of weakness. I think it's due to my years of soccer--I have fairly muscular legs, and the hamstrings have always been very inflexible. Trying to get them to loosen up has always been a painful process--when I was a sophomore on college, my roommate wanted to try out a massage technique on me and massaged a tight quad. The next day, I am not kidding, my thigh was literally black and blue. It looked as though I'd been beaten. It wasn't painful but it looked AWFUL, the coach refused to practice me. So since I started playing Tara, I've been doing research on yoga, and practicing the poses--and although it's still painful, I'm stunned to see my quads and hamstrings are actually getting more flexible. I can touch my toes, and am getting closer to doing a decent downward dog.

But back to rehearsal--during the first half work through, I was doing a bit that Laura had suggested to me, and I guess doing it well, because she, our SM and our dramaturg were dying of laughter. I have to credit Bart (my older brother), I was completely channeling him for the bit. And I had an idea about my final scene, something that would clarify a lot for me and for Laura too--something that changes significantly how we've been conceiving the end of Tara's journey. When I mentioned it to her and how to stage it, her face lit up. She said "that's lovely! Can we talk about this tomorrow?" I love proving myself to my director.
ceebeegee: (CAWFEE)
Needing cawfee this morning. Exhausted from my schedule this week.

I saw Billy Elliot last night. The score is a little weak--some numbers are really bland, like the opening one (so bland I can't tell you the name or what it's really about) but I loved the final miners' song, the hymn-like number "Once We Were Kings." It's quite haunting, the way they stage it and how the number develops. I also liked the folk song the father sings at the top of the second act. I may even get this recording (not a huge fan of Elton John's scores, generally).

The kid who played Billy (David Alvarez last night) was really, really good. I find it incredible that a young kid can be that talented--he does ballet, taps, gymnastics, is a credible, touching actor, and even nails the accent. And somehow they've found three of these kids, and more including the London cast. The kid who plays Billy's friend Michael was also great--what a little scene-stealer! Absolutely infectious energy, and extremely believable in his scenes, especially his second act scene with Billy. I also loved the little ballet girls (and how sweet is it that Michael listed every one of the girls in his review! I bet they were thrilled to see their names mentioned).

Michael asked me last night what I thought about one of the staging bits, a number where Billy dances with his future self and at one point the younger Billy is hooked to a harness to fly around literally. Michael thought it was too gimmicky--I liked it but couldn't explain why, other than to say I liked the metaphor. Later I realized why--it makes me think of why I enjoy hacking on a horse--because that's the closest I can get to flying. When I'm on a horse by myself, cantering or galloping across a field, taking a fence--it feels like flying and that's why it's fun.

I also really enjoyed the very grounded, realistic backdrop (the miners' strike in Northern England in '84-'85) of Billy's story. There's an incredible number in the middle of the first act where Billy's progression as a dancer is juxtaposed with the increasingly brutal tactics the police are using to confront the striking miners. It's a dazzling number, very cleverly staged--a theatrically staged number.
ceebeegee: (Moody Scotland)
I saw Mary Stuart last night. Very interesting, although naturally I was pointing out historical errors/deviations to Michael at intermission. The main one, I guess, is the way Mary is presented, her dramatic character versus her historical character. She's very forthright, very strong and in your face and direct. But the real Mary, from all I've read, was much more...charming. Mary had an incredible ability to get people on her side, especially men--it's difficult to tell from her portraits but she was supposed to be quite beautiful and vivacious. In the movie Elizabeth, the Golden Age, Samantha Morton nails Mary--there's so much nuance and subtext in her interactions with the others, especially her jailer. She has one scene where she says to him "I pray for my cousin every day. Do you think she prays for me?" The way Morton looks at him sideways, with a very slight smile--she nailed the woman, a terrific performance. Since I love to speculate about the wider context, I wonder if that was a learned behavior or something innate. Mary grew up in the French court, with every advantage, as a favorite, and was then thrown to the wolves when she went back to Scotland as a young woman, surrounded by a lot of unruly male Scottish nobles who acted like complete thugs to her. It's easy to see how she might try to turn her disadvantage--her sex--into an advantage, by trying to charm those around her. However she WAS a Tudor by ancestry, and there was a strain of charm in many of them (from Edward IV, who was extremely personable both to men and women). Henry VIII and his younger sister Mary also had famously magnetic personalities. However this character trait skipped over Mary's Tudor grandmother, Margaret, completely--by all accounts, she did not have the gifts her younger siblings did!

At any rate, this play presents a different Mary than I've seen, and I think I can see why. It's trying to set up Mary as Elizabeth's antithesis--also strong, also a Queen, but since she's so constrained, is free to pursue one goal no matter the cost. I personally think the actual Mary is more dramatically interesting but I can see why they did it this way. The two actresses are terrific and really embrace the juicy theatricality of the script--Mary is especially riveting in her last couple of scenes. My favorite Elizabeth scene is when she gives the signed order for Mary's execution to Davison with no clear instructions on how to execute the document. The other actors are all pretty good too, although the young actor who plays Mortimer (a made up role, a fanatical Roman Catholic who's trying to free Mary) is Spitty McWetMouth. I felt bad for anyone who shared a scene with him, he really needs to swallow before he starts speaking.

VERY spare production values but there's an awesome special effect at the top of the second act that I won't spoil. Lovely though. I'm not too crazy about the design of "men in modern clothes, women in period clothes"--I think it's distracting--but it's an interesting idea.

I was talking to Michael about the Mary/Elizabeth historical dilemma, in that there IS no "right" side. Both characters really had to do what they did, and the fallout changed everything afterward. Whether or not Mary actually did plot against Elizabeth (the Babington Plot, etc.--I personally think she did), she certainly encouraged it, because deep down she felt she DID have a right to the throne (notwithstanding Henry VIII's Act of Succession which left his throne, after his son Edward, to his two daughters--both of whom he'd declared bastard. It's confusing). She had a inbred sense of herself as THE Queen, she was anointed and practically born Queen of Scotland, and was also Queen of France (for a time) by marriage, and she did not have an equal in the situation other than perhaps Elizabeth, and was therefore basically above English law. It's hard for us to see this argument, products of democracy as we are, but it wasn't just legal maneuvering, she really believed that--she believed her destiny was to reign, and if that didn't happen, then she would embrace martyrdom. And obviously Elizabeth HAD to do what she did--she had to eliminate this very real threat to her throne who refused to give up. And yet the step she was taking was HUGE--it wasn't just the loss of a life (her father had enemies executed all the time), she was killing a relative and most importantly, an anointed Queen. The construct of the Divine Right of Kings was being undermined--you could argue there's a direct line from Mary's execution, to the overthrow and execution of Charles I (Mary's grandson) some sixty years later.

Shrek

Dec. 19th, 2008 01:29 pm
ceebeegee: (Snow on the river)
Aw. DeBaun cancelled tonight's A Christmas Carol. But the snow looks beautiful!

So, Michael and I saw Shrek last night. I thought it was great! A very tight, colorful (LOVED the scenes with all the fairy tale characters in them--just dazzling), funny show. I thought especial standouts were the Donkey and Lord Faquaad--he KILLED me. (And he's hot too...) But everyone was great. My favorite numbers were "I Got You Beat," the number that the exiled fairy tale characters sang when they first arrived at the swamp, and the number about "Let Your Freak Flag Fly." "I'm wood/It's good/Get used to it!"

I was so, so thrilled to see Ryan--my Ryan, my little brother, roommate, castmate, dear friend and partner in crime for the past 18 years--up there on stage living our dream! It was unbelievable, just incredible. My Ryan, my Henry. Oh, I'm all verklempt. I screamed his name during the curtain call (we were sitting pretty close, I2 & 4 right on the aisle). Michael and I went around to the stage door where I called Ryan who texted and called me back to come in but for some reason my phone didn't ring. Annoying. Anyway he came out and greeted us--we chatted for a bit, then he said he and a couple of his castmates, and one of their husbands, would be going out to a wine bar in Hell's Kitchen. I decided to join them and Michael recused himself as a reviewer. We went to the wine bar and the husband joined us--it was Hunter Foster. I had drinks last night with Hunter Foster! God, I love New York!

The wine bar was this adorable new place on 51st St. called Xai Xai. It's beautiful, decorated in a South African theme--I loved it, so atmospheric. Ryan and I ordered a chocolate fondue dish with sparkling wine "shooters," served in the thinnest, smallest flutes I've ever seen! Naturally that wasn't enough for me so I ordered a glass of pink champagne. We kept grabbing each other's hands and squealing. I just can't believe he's on Broadway! We were joking about the first show we did together, Oklahoma! at the Lazy Susan, and how when he'd been cast, he called his mother from the payphone in the lobby and said "I, uh, won't be studying in the dorms as much this semester...you'll be able to find me at...the Lazy Susan!" It was so adorably dorky (the Susan was a dump but he didn't know that, he was still innocent!) and I love to tease him about it. His castmates were very nice--for the most part they talked among themselves but every now and then they'd turn to me and ask me something, or direct a remark to us. I can get very shy with people I don't know sometimes especially when they're, you know, BROADWAY STARS, so I appreciated their initiating conversation.
ceebeegee: (Xmas Tree)
So, my show opened Friday. I got there around 7:30 and hung out backstage. Several of the kids in the cast gave me little birthday gift bags, which was totally unexpected and adorable. I received three different candles, two boxes of dark chocolates, and a Christmas ornament. How sweet! I also gave a few last-minute notes and worked a slight change with Ignorance and Want. Eventually Shawna called 5 minutes, then I did my St. Crispin's Day speech to the ducklings. I said we've done all this work--we've rehearsed and done our research and now the fun part comes. Now you actually get to go out and BE these people--you get to go on a journey and take the audience with you. And that's why we become actors.

I watched the first part of the show from the balcony. It was all going fine until the Marley knocker effect didn't happen at which point I started to freak and then had to leave the balcony to chill. I would be a terrible Olympic parent, I simply can't watch when I'm not in control. I spent the rest of the show wandering in and out of the balcony, noticing at intermission that Jason, Alex and Don were there. From what I saw, the show went fairly well--not great, but well enough. I can never trust my own assessment of how well it went--I tend only to notice the mistakes, like Tess (Tiny Tim) singing "stood a lowly cattle shed/where a mother raised her baby" instead of "where a mother laid her baby." I've given her that note several times now--"Tess, you know, they did move out eventually! Joseph and Mary weren't *that* poor!" And Niki (Mrs. Cratchit) keeps messing up "and we haven't ate it all at last!" which she did again on Friday. Niki said after the first Cratchit scene (when both these flubs happened) she and Tess looked at each other and said "Clara's gonna kill us!" Which I did, after the show :)

Jason, Alex and Don came up to me in the lobby afterwards and said some very nice things. Jason said he could tell my directorial touches and he liked how my adaptation flowed. Don mentioned how interesting it was to watch it, as opposed to being in it. I was a little shaky (opening night with such a tech-heavy show is very stressful to me). The cast wanted to go somewhere where the entire cast (including the kids) could fit but there really isn't any such a place in Hoboken (especially on a Friday) so they went off to the Dubliner and I joined Dave for a quick drink at Court Street. The quick drink lasted longer than I thought and the cast kept texting and calling me, so finally I left Dave and walked along Court Street (all those cobblestones) to the Dubliner. The cast had gotten me a bouquet of flowers, a card and two Starbucks gift cards (they are all well aware of my coffee love). How sweet! I love my cast. They're all awesome. Someone bought me an Irish Car Bomb (my Xmas Carol drink--I discovered them last year at Court Street when Pia introduced me) and I mingled with various cast members, dissecting the show and the experience.

Niki said I was the best director she'd ever had--I said well, I love directing and I'm passionate about it. I love the work of directing--I love thinking about the blocking and the themes, I love bookwork and research.

Saturday after the show, we went to Benny Tudino's. Rebecca (Want/Fan) had gotten an illustrated version of CC as an opening night gift and she was marveling at how much of it was familiar. I said that's because I tried to make my script as authentic as possible. As it turned out, a couple sitting nearby had been at the performance and complimented us. One of the mothers said "tell her--she's the director and wrote the script." The woman of the couple said that she'd cried--I was all "excellent..."

Check us out!



Playgoers who enjoy having the Dickens scared out of them should find it worthwhile to make their way out to Hoboken this holiday season for the historic DeBaun Center for Performing Arts' production of A Christmas Carol. Adapter/director Clara Barton Green has taken great care to see that her text is accurate to both the spirit and letter of the great Charles Dickens novel and that includes an appreciation for its appeal as a good ol' fashioned ghost story.

But that doesn't mean it's not appropriate family entertainment and, quite frankly, with the way things are going these days ticket prices of $20 for adults, $15 for students & seniors and $10 for children seems pretty family friendly, too.

I've enjoyed DeBaun productions in the past, including last year's A Christmas Carol, so if you plan on taking that mere 15 minute bus ride from Port Authority to the theatre keep an eye out for me making a return trip. Just don't tell the driver my coffee cup is really filled with smoking bishop.


Thank you, Michael!

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