1

LaChanze in The Color Purple.  Photo from Broadwayworld.com

Hello Gentle Reader,

Do you remember hearing your favorite vocalist for the first time? I remember the first time I ever heard the amazing voice of LaChanze.  Her voice was strong and clear as a bell. So much emotion behind it. And I fell in love with that voice. I mean, how could you NOT!?

The musical that introduced me to this stellar vocalist was an incredible show written by Ahrens and Flaherty.  This is the same team that brought other great shows like “Ragtime”, “Seussical”, “Lucky Stiff” and “Rocky: The Musical”  and are currently on Broadway with “Anastasia.”  The show that I am speaking of, Dear Reader, is none other than the wonderful and charming, “Once on This Island.”

A beautiful and uplifting story of “the power of love against the power of death”  set in a mythical island where racial tensions run high between the different classes of people. LaChanze played the character Ti Moune, an orphan saved from a devastating storm by a couple who found her in a tree. As she grows, she longs for something more than her simple life in the village. “And the Gods heard her prayers.”

As I watched this year’s Tony Awards, I was wondering to myself why there hasn’t been a revival done of “Once on This Island” yet. Little did I know that there were people already working on this very thing!

After 27 years away, it will be returning to Broadway THIS FALL!!!!!! Gentle Reader, if I could grab your hands and jump up and down with you, I TOTALLY WOULD!!!  What is even more amazing is that there is an international open casting call for the role of Ti Moune!!  In Haiti, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Atlanta at the beginning of April, YOU have a chance to be the next Ti Moune.  Check out this link for all the deets!

If you have dreams of playing this role, I encourage you to go and audition.  And break some legs, if you do!!!

What is your favorite song from OoTI?  Mine is easy. Check it out! Still gives me the chills to hear her sing this song.  Are you excited for this revival? Let me know in the comments below!!

Until next time, Gentle Reader…

0007656_seminar_300 Dear Gentle Reader,

Today I actually had an opportunity to go and watch a show at the Susan Hammer Theater.

Imagine my joy as I finally got to be in a theater but off stage!  So the show for today is “Seminar” by Theresa Rebeck.  What a phenomenal script! Witty, insightful, funny and powerful.

The synopsis: Four aspiring fiction writers (Kate, Martin, Douglas, Izzy) sign up for private classes with a renowned writer/editor (Leonard). They find that this hardened internationally known author isn’t just cruel in his criticisms of their work for pleasure.  Who makes it? Who gives up? Who breaks all the rules to get what they want? Inexperience is exposed to harsh reality.

The setting is a large New York apartment for almost 3/4 of the play.  A couch, two chairs, a cabinet, and a coffee table take up much of the stage while a very little used booze cart I was coveting was upstage right. There were two doorways.  One led to the kitchen and the other to bedrooms and the front door.  I don’t know why that bothered me so much, but logically to me, I don’t know of any homes where the front door would be closer to the bedrooms than the living room. But, Dear Reader, that did not diminish the feel of this set.  It did feel lavish in it’s color and size and textures of furniture. The kitchen was very well dressed even though you didn’t see inside it very much.  My friend, Kevin, would have been impressed.

Lights were pretty simple as it was mostly a single setting, so lights up and lights down. One thing I was curious about was that while it is a single setting there were a lot of blackouts that didn’t need to be as long as they were. But, Dear Reader, as with all reviews, that opinion is merely subjective.

The acting for the most part was good.  The cast called for is small; five people in total (3B, 2G). Because of this, you really get a chance to see what the people can do. This, however, can be a double edge sword.  If there is a nervous habit that one has, this become obvious to me.  There was one show, which I am not naming, that is an amazing show but the lead had a habit and I was ruined for the whole show. That being said, it is a strong cast with stand out performances offered by David Prete (Leonard) and Sarah Hass (Kate).  Prete, a guest artist, commands the stage from every point he lands on.  The moment we first meet Leonard, Prete draws you in. Excellent performance throughout and with two big moments toward the end of the show, it makes me want to add this role to my bucket list for plays! As Kate, Hass performs with the complexity of an old pro. Her delivery is well executed and strong. Kaythi Win (Izzy) and Matthew Kropschot (Douglas) are both likable and offer up great characterization.  One thing I noticed in Win’s  performance that gave me pause was her nearly juvenile portrayal of seduction.  I just didn’t believe this point of her performance.  Izzy is a character that strikes me as someone who has used sex to her advantage many times, so she should be more convincing.  In Kropschot’s performance, my only criticism was that there were some lines that he just seemed to throw away, as in they just faded out. So more projection all the way through the line.  I am sure Rebeck didn’t write some of these lines just to be mumbled. Now, Jacob Soss (Martin) arguably had the most difficult role.  He plays the defensive, insecure author that clearly loves the craft, but is too afraid to be judged by Leonard to offer any writings. Is it the fear of success he is afraid of? Maybe that insecurity is right and he truly is no good at writing? (Another role I am adding to my bucket list!) He is a good looking and likable enough actor, but his delivery of lines felt way too similar.  There wasn’t much variation in his lilt or volume.  He responds as though everything sounded incredulous to him. His hand gestures were almost too much. You know how if you are going to say “I don’t know” with just your hands, you would bring them up so that the elbows bend almost 90 degrees?  He did that for almost every single line.  It wasn’t always both hands.

The direction is probably the toughest thing for me.  I know there are times when it seems too static on stage so someone should move, but the crosses have to make sense.  The actors have to have a reason for the move, and several times they did not.  To me, that stuck out like a sore thumb. So there was that but also why not try and pull out that seduction level from the Izzy character? Don’t get me wrong, this is a solid show with great pacing and lasts just past the 2 hour mark but I just thought it could be tweaked a little bit.

Oh, Gentle Reader, who is your favorite fiction writer? Is it a man or a woman?  Have you never given this a thought? There is a moment in the script that does make you ponder on the difference in how women are respected in this genre of writing than men.

Let me know in the comments below, your thoughts. Maybe you saw the show and disagree with what I saw.  Let me know that too.

Until next time, Dear Reader…

 

 

large

Dear Gentle Reader,

As I was bounding back home to get to job #2 from an interview in Millbrae a few days ago, Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket” showed up in the shuffle line up. I realized that this is the perfect song to describe my life. 😀

First off I have to say, I love me some Alanis! Her Jagged Little Pill 📀 still gets a full spin in my car every now and again as does her Under Rug Swept.  I love her phrasing and her vocabulary.  C’mon “There’s an obvious attraction to the path of least resistance in your life/There’s an obvious aversion no amount of my insistence will make you try tonight” For me, it conjures up such great imagery. Yes, Ironic got her into a bit of a pickle, but I don’t care.

Now, Dear Reader, what I ❤️ about this song really comes into play when you actually take a look at the lyrics. She pairs a great descriptive word with nearly the exact opposite of how it should make her feel. Most lines have a negative first word and a positive second, but occasionally, she reverses this set up.

No one ever has good days every day, sad to say even me. However, just like those lyrics I may be broke, but I find ways to be happy. Even while I may be poor, I think it is imperative to still be kind.

Well, bad days come a-knocking every once in a while, like on my drive, as I stressed myself out about whether or not going to this interview was the right move as well as the thought that I may miss my shift if traffic was not my friend during this trip.  There was no guarantee that the potential offer would match what I am making now.  What if it wasn’t? Now all the time and energy put into this would have been for naught. 😞

It turns out that traffic, Gentle Reader, was on my side so I was not going to miss any work hours. BUT! Yes, there is a but, my friends, the same struggle of getting from one place to the next on time reared its big ugly head.  Can you believe it?  What are the odds that one job would affect the next twice in one day? Not only that, take a guess as to what song popped up on the rotation, again? Yup ⇪!

Here’s the thing, though.  This time I was supposed to be heading to an audition! 😳 The tough part was I was working on a project that needed to be completed in one shot.  I didn’t have the luxury to hold off on what wasn’t completed yet to make it to my audition. That alone began to put me in a tailspin as I worked as quickly as possible. I sent apologetic messages for my tardiness and I felt just awful. It’s bad enough that I don’t like auditions, but to walk in after they have already been there for over two hours?  I felt like a heel. Thankful that I still got the chance to read, but a heel nonetheless.

The great thing, Dear Reader, is that if that gamble of an interview pays off, not only with I have just 1 job to focus on along with ALL my theatre stuff, but it frees up a crap ton of time for MORE theatre stuff!! Well, except for the audition that I was late to.  I totally didn’t get that. Which is a total bummer, but I can’t have it all. (But I wants it all!  I needs it!)  That was a train wreck and it will never happen again. I hope.

So keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya? Let’s send out the good vibes that this interview will lead to a good enough single stream of income so that I can keep on keeping on. Even if it doesn’t happen though, just like Alanis says “everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine.”

What about you, Gentle Reader? Have you ever had a song sum up your life perfectly?  Whether it be a moment, a week, a month, or for your whole life so far, music is everyone’s soundtrack. What is “your” song?  C’mon. You can share.  We’re pals.  No judgements.  Let me know in the comments below.  Who knows, I may not know the song and when I look it up, it may be the best thing I’ve ever heard👂

Until next time, Dear Reader…

This One Is Personal…

Posted: March 10, 2017 in Uncategorized
ACL

Taken from a poster filled with different tickets of a NYC trip in the lobby of our rehearsal space. 

Dear Gentle Reader,

I think I shall always be amazed at how much time goes by while I have my head down working.

I needed to post this before we open A Chorus Line, which, incidentally, happens to be tomorrow night, because I need to get out of my head.  As long as I have this in there, I can’t really focus on just this moment.

I love this show because it is dedicated to those people that live their life auditioning to get into their next job.  The theatre is unlike anything else in the world.  It isn’t steady and most people don’t become mega stars. The people that do it may have different reasons for beginning but they stay because it is who they are deep in their bones and they can’t dream of doing anything else.  The last time I performed in ACL was about 2 1/2 years ago.  It was a wonderful show.  I played Greg, who was funny, sassy, and unapologetic for who he was. It was such a delight.  This time around, I am playing Paul. He isn’t funny or sassy. But he is honest and a little withdrawn.

The thing about his story, though, is that it hits so close to home. While I didn’t go to a Catholic High School, I did go to a high school on the East Side of San Jose that was filled with wannabe gang members or just straight out only-child assholes. I am not saying that every only child is one, but there were quite a few there. Then of course there were the jocks and the rocker kids, who either just insulted you or ignored you.  I am sure you can guess which group did what.

Paul talks about his school experience of being bullied and I have to recall all the times of people getting in my face or pushing me around saying “faggot.” Or the time this wannabe thug kept shoving me into my desk because he didn’t get the answer right but I did and the teacher did nothing about it. Believe me, when I left that school, I never thought about it again. And as for “reunions” HA! They know where they can shove that.

Paul talks about his parents and I have to recall my own experiences with being “asked” to leave the house I grew up in, the disappointment in my mom’s eyes when she finally point blank asked if I was gay.  I have to recall how awkward it feels to not know where you are supposed to fit in. I have to recall how something so simple as “take care of my son” can break a heart.

For those of us who have felt this sense of nowhereness, desperate for something solid to latch on to just to give you an idea of which end is up, this Paulologue is for you.

And in The King Cheetos’ Corporation of America, we again don’t fit in. So it is with the knowledge of where I have been, what I have been through, and where we won’t go back that helps me get through the whole time on stage talking to the audience. Sharing not only Paul’s story but also all of yours.  Reminding the audience that while this show is set in the 70’s and he is talking about his experience as a youth, we have to again deal with bullies because we are different.

Gentle Reader, we have our last rehearsal tonight and then it is on to Opening Night. I quake in my shoes.  This isn’t just another show for me.  This one is personal.

img_2053

Dear Gentle Reader,

My how the last two weeks have flown by!

The Ghost Light Project was kicked off…    It was announced that there are plans to cut funding to the National Endowments of the Arts and of Humanities…    The circus is going to pack up the tent for the last time…  A Chorus Line rehearsals have started to get intense… Went out dancing at the local Goth club… They call today super bowl Sunday (but I like to think of it as mini Gaga concert day)…  welllll maybe the circus thing was a little longer than two weeks.  I actually believe it happened before the Ghost Light Project.

I am not a big sports fan, so I watch “the big game” for the commercials because, well, they are like mini-mini movies and some of them are VERY clever, well done, or even moving. And when I say watch, I totally mean that I fast forward the game on DVR. 😀Then of course, there is my Gaga rocking out the halftime show! I was shocked that there was no Doritos commercial.  Usually they have one of the best spots so it made me a wee bit disappointed. Maybe they aired it during the pregame time, but all that stuff doesn’t need any extra real estate on the DVR.

For the brief time that I have this evening, I just want to take a moment to talk about the GLP. Then later in the week I will write about some of the other things I mentioned.

Aaaannnd moving on…

Well, as I was doing my errands on January 19th, I just happened to find myself near the downtown San Jose area around the 5 o’clock hour, so I joined the party at the Hammer Theater.  I was so jazzed because I thought this was going to be a big event based on the message it was sending. When I arrived, honestly, I was taken aback that the gathering was rather small. However, that being said, I do have to mention that the publicity was a bit on the down low.

After some opening remarks, there was some mingling, and sadly I use that term loosely, it was more like people keeping close to those that they knew.  I was trying to find representatives of the other companies that are near the area but was having a really hard time.  I was curious to know what plans the companies had for the GLP. I was surprised that this task was proving so difficult. Surprised and a little saddened. However, Dear Reader, I do have to have to say that one of the representatives for the Hammer Theater was a great host.  I feel terrible that I lost the paper on which I had written her name. She was  great at checking in with the guests that were there and making sure that everyone had a chance to fill out the GLP “I Am” pages, making small talk and offering up refreshments.

I did love all the “I Am” pages.  It was a beautiful sight.

img_2056

All of the pictures I took of the “I Am” pages had the same effect thanks to that doggone wonderful disco ball’s reflections, so the top is all wonky. So bummed about that. Sadly, the above is the best one that I can share. My “I Am” page said “I Am a son, brother, and husband.  I Fight for the Arts, all of those that can’t fight, and Equality for ALL” (and based on that sentence, the Oxford comma. LOL)

There was a great little jazz combo from San Jose State University that was jamming in the corner. They were fantastic.  On the first landing of the stairs that lead up to the balcony there was a ghost light and people could snap a shot of themselves with it, but I didn’t see many people taking up that offer. I did like the visual though.

img_2055

Gentle reader, I so wish that I had been nearer to the Saratoga Theater so that I could attend the event with my friends there. I still have designs on finding out what the theaters in downtown are planning for the project.  I also still want to talk about the circus and the NEA but those will have to wait for another time.

Did you celebrate the Ghost Light Project? If you were to fill out one of the “I Am”  pages, what would you write? Oh, not sure what the “I Am” page is… well..

iamposter

Now that you know, what are you gonna write?  Who do you fight for? Let me know in the comments below.

And until next time, Gentle Reader, I wish you a good night. I need to get to bed, I think learning the bows for A Chorus Line has left my personal tank on E.