It’s Gonna Be A Busy Holiday Season For Me…

Opens in January!!! Get your Tix NOW!!

Congrats to my NEW fellow cast mates!!  Check it!

Chuck Baxter – Michael Rhone
J. D. Sheldrake – Damian Marhefka
Fran Kubelik – Cindy Powell
Dr. Dreyfuss – Bob Visini
Mr. Kirkeby – Jery   <—————————That one’s ME!!!!
Mr. Eichelberger – Todd Wright
Mr. Dobitch – Dave Leon
Mr. Vanderhoff – Gregg Zigler
Miss Olson – Kimberly Kay
Marge MacDougall – Breigh Finnerty
Miss Della Hoya – Cierra Cass
Miss Polansky – Esther Selk
Miss Wong – Jennifer Young
Karl Kubelik – Howard L. Miller
Mrs. Sheldrake/Nurse – Elizabeth Strycker
The Greek Chorus – Jennifer Medeiros, Lea Simon, Jennifer Smith, Maggie Velasquez
Men’s Ensemble – Karl Schweitzer, Braden Taylor, TBA

Our fearless leaders are Director: Walter Mayes, Musical Director Dan Singletary, and Choreographer: Lee Ann Payne.   I’ve heard great things about all of them and I am looking forward to finally getting the chance to play with them.

On top of that, there are a number of people that I love working with also in the cast like Jennifer Young, Karl Schweitzer, Lea Simon, and Cindy Powell.

I think tickets are on sale for the show already.  It opens mid-January 2013!  Getchyo’ tixs now!!  This show is gonna blow it out!  Join the party.

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In addition, I have been asked to create two dance pieces for a dear dear friend of mine and I am so excited for it.  I can’t wait until we have a chance to sit down so I can talk about ideas!

Also, I have been asked to re-up my role as Master of Ceremonies for an event which I am more than happy to do because it was SOOOOO much fun!

Can’t wait!!  Gonna be all theatre-y and stuff!!

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?  I know it’s a bit early to ask, but it’s coming up!

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“Excuse Me…”

Being Polite. Picture from Funnyjunk.com

I am constantly amazed at how little the terms “Excuse me” and “Thank you” aren’t used.  Even if it’s informal like “Thanks.”

At work, I always see people trying to push past other people with care not to bump them, but giving off this attitude that the obstacle is such a major inconvenience.

It could easily be remedied by being polite.

Thank you.

And have a nice day.

 

 

Can you believe 2013 is right around the corner?

I want to keep it light today.  Light as in upbeat and optimistic.  I’ve noticed that in many posts, while I have been praising things like theatre, I often turn a little dark, sometimes a little angry,  somewhere toward the end. So let’s stay bouncy today!

As we near the halfway mark of 2012, lots of people are going about their lives as usual. I’m sure at one time or another have used some form of the phrase: “is it ___________ already?”  Most of the time I’ve used it when hours are just flying by…or not.  I heard myself today saying it about July!  And it wasn’t just once or twice.  I think I may have started every new conversation with it. “Can you believe we are in July already?”  Sometimes, I can’t believe it, but that really doesn’t change the fact that it is, so what’s the use believing or not.

Then I started thinking how it’s already practically 2013!!  Now that the 4th is over, August is going to fly by, then comes Labor Day. Soon fall will arrive and bring with it Halloween.  My favorite time of the year.  I go around and randomly sing the phrase “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Nipping at it’s heels is Thanksgiving and Christmas just barges right in!.  Then voila, we are back to New Year’s Day.

I tell you these next 6 months are going to scream on by.

Yes, I know there’s the whole Aztec Calendar worry, but I just think we will discover something new and how we once thought will need to change.  That’s all.  Kinda like all the people thinking the Earth was flat.  Then when they learned it wasn’t thinking was adjusted.  No big.  I have a feeling it will be something like that.

I don’t really have any plans for any of the holidays as of the moment, but I usually don’t celebrate them anyway.

The thing that we love to do, my friends and I, is to gather at one of our little apartments and have a pot luck.  The great thing is that we are all under the same roof and sharing in one another’s company.  Such good times, with such amazing people.

Man, now I want the holidays to be here NOW!  hahaha.

What’s your favorite holiday?  Has it passed or are we fast approaching it?  Do you share in my love for Halloween?  Oh, let’s discuss!!

Until next time….

♩♫♪ Don’t Wanna Be An American Idiot…♬♪♩♪

“One Nation Controlled By The Media”

How are you planning to spend your 4th of July? I am going to return to the Orpheum Theatre and watch American Idiot one more time!

I remember back in the day seeing my first Green Day video (I don’t listen to the radio much) and thinking “what in the world is going on here?”  This was creepy visually, but the song is so catchy, I couldn’t change the channel. The masks that the patients wear are just *shudders*…

 I liked the music and have enjoyed watching them try out new sounds over the years.  I think any artist that doesn’t is not growing.  So when I heard there was a musical coming out featuring songs from their American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown albums, I thought this should be interesting…*raised eyebrows*

When I heard the original cast recording of American Idiot, I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the same as hearing the actual band playing.  So I gave it a “its pretty good” on the How Much Do I Like This Show judgement. But then I didn’t bother to listen to it again until maybe the beginning of this year.

I was cycling through my ipod music one day and two songs from AI (Green Day version) came on.  I hardly ever get to hear Green Day when I do this.  Then the next day, I read in an email that AI was coming back to the Bay Area.  So I decided to give it another go.   The difference on this listen was that I chose not to distract myself with anything, except knitting.  I fully focused on hearing and feeling the story.

And something struck me.

This was so much better than I originally thought.  Of course it isn’t going to be the same as the band playing because it was it’s own entity.  I should have acknowledged this from the beginning and stupidly I didn’t.

Everyone has had that moment in life where they’ve felt lost or wanted something better but not sure what.  The main characters in this story are living that out in their various ways.  I think what threw me for a loop on that first listen is that some of the voices sound the same if you aren’t really paying attention.  So it didn’t quite sink in that it’s three male characters that are having this “crisis” not just one.  Oh, I think I should also note that I don’t really like to read the liner notes.  I feel that a really good musical will stand on it’s own through the songs and not need explaining.

Then when I watched the show a few weeks ago, I loved it.  The energy on that stage is amazing!  The set reminded me a little of “Rent” in regards of how little there is on stage and the variety of uses each thing has.  The band is fantastic and it’s fun to be able to see them rock out on stage as well.  The cast is incredible! To have to name everyone that was great in the show would be simply to look at the program.  I do have to make a special mention though.  I saw two understudies and they were both outstanding, so when I learned that on the next visit I would be seeing the other cast members, I thought “how much better can they be than what I just saw?”  But during the little after party, the understudies (Jarran Muse and Vince Oddo) swore that the people who will be playing St. Jimmy and Favorite Son are absolutely amazing.

I think the highlight songs in the show are “Holiday” “Favorite Son” “The Waiting” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”  For “Holiday”, it is all about the exuberant excitement of new destinations and adventures that one seeks when they set out on a new path.  The energy just fills the theatre and pulls the audience into the fun.  In “Favorite Son” the character is what makes that number and Vince Oddo had such a commanding stage presence that dancing girls were barely noticeable in their colorful dancewear.  The choreography in “The Waiting” and “Wake Me Up…” was so beautiful that I got choked up watching it.  It wasn’t that the dance itself was technically highly difficult, it was more that it was perfectly able to portray the cold harshness of the military in the first and the disorientation and loss in the latter.

I cannot wait to return to SF tonight and watch the show one more time.  I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to our country than to see a show that wants us to question “What am I doing?” and “Where am I going?”  Both similar simple questions but not so simple to answer.

And in that spirit, I’d love to challenge you, AMERICA!

What are WE doing? I see us being divided by classism, racism and inequality.

Where are WE going?  I see us allowing ourselves to be further and further divided.

How do WE fix this?

P.S. Just for good measure…

Like the Borealis, The Aurora consistently shines with magic…

Madeline H.D. Brown, Kevin Clark, and Liam Vincent in Mark Jackson’s Salomania at The Aurora Theatre Company in Berkley.

Have you ever seen something and it struck you so unexpectedly, you have to actually let go emotionally before you can continue on?  That’s exactly what happened to me when I saw Aurora Theatre Company’s World Premiere of “Salomania” by Mark Jackson.  I LOVED IT!

In the program’s author’s note, Jackson ends by saying “The mystery as to how so many intelligent, prominent people could say and do so many stunningly outrageous things is indeed the question that grabbed a lasting hold of me…Ultimately, the play is less about its characters than it is about the anxious, hysterical society that shapes them.”

When you learn that this play is based on an actual account in history, one can only shake their head and think how incredibly sad it is that nothing has changed.

The story focuses on San Francisco dancer Maud Allen (Madeline H.D. Brown), who made a career for herself internationally by dancing the title role in Europe in Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” and creating her own dance of Salome.  Editor of The Vigilante newspaper, Noel Pemberton-Billling (Mark Anderson Phillips) has tried to slander many people in Parliament, the Royal Family, and other well-to-do members of the community by saying they are a part of a secret black book which is owned by the German Secret Service.  In this black book, were the names of 47,000 individuals who are deemed “sexual perverts.” After his efforts failed to work on those in the British ruling class, he focuses his intentions on Ms. Allen, who is known to have a fighting spirit.  Maud sues Pemberton-Billing for libel and the case makes the front page of newspapers.

Clark as Judge Darling, Brown as Maud Allen, Phillips as Noel Pemberton-Billing

While Allen is the prosecution, it is she that is victimized and demoralized.  Dredging up horrible scars from her past and accusing her of lesbianism and a German sympathizer, criminalized her in the eyes of “moral” British citizens even though there was no evidence provided.  Pemberton-Billing’s main focus along with his little henchman American Harold S. Spencer (Anthony Nemirovsky) is to “bring to light” that his country is being infiltrated and degenerated by German sympathizers through homosexuality and consequently will lose the war because of this.

There’s a touching side story of a troop of soldiers and their experience on the battlefield, with each other, and how they deal with their situation.  Throughout the play, the troops, after getting air raided upon, argues about which is the best chocolate supplier and why.  They argue over the Allen case.  Its a funny little look into their lives.  How even in this intense environment, they do what they can to remain “normal.”

The script is a fast paced conversation that has funny sprinkled throughout so this particularly heavy situation doesn’t weigh down the audience.  The complex sentences of Jackson’s writing give the actors chances to have fun with the lilt and cadence of his words.  Parts of the play are actually quotes taken from the testimonies and other historical documents.

This play takes the audience on a gamut of emotions.  Unless you’re a robot.  I laughed.  I got angry.  I was horrified.  I was amazed. I was moved.  I laughed because while the subject matter is tough, there are still so many lines and scenes that are hilarious.    A great example is the judge in the case, Judge Darling (Kevin Clarke) [See picture above].  Throughout the hearing and during questioning of Lord Alfred Douglas (Liam Vincent), a former “friend” of Oscar Wilde, his quick side looks and “Don’t you dare” eyes and the quick wit are highly memorable.  Although to be fair, Allen’s quick quips to Pemberton-Billing were funny as well.  What got me angry was that Allen’s case fell apart because of the accusation of lesbianism and that the justice she sought would become her undoing, much like Oscar Wilde.  I was horrified with the death of her brother.  He was hanged because he was found with two dead girls.  In his sad sad speech he declares his innocence and how sorry he was that they couldn’t see that.  Then abruptly he is hanged.  And while the action is insanely simple, the contrast of this beautiful moment cut of by jarring lights and noise get maximum impact.  I’ll talk about amazed in a sec.  I was moved by the beauty in which actor Kevin Clark transitions from Judge Darling to Soldier, to Oscar Wilde in a span of two minutes.  Each change seemed to have it’s own “quirks” but it wasn’t until he became Wilde that the biggest one hit.  I was luckily sitting literally 2 feet away from him and while he had his back toward me, I could tell something was going to happen.

And it was such a small thing at first.  After the Soldier.  He pulled out his comb and slowly combed his hair back.  He wasn’t moving like this in the change from Judge to Soldier.  Then, he reached out

In the trenches. Kevin Clark in focus.

his hand to the chair he was once sitting on. It was trembling.  Wilde died of cerebral meningitis when he was 46.  As he slowly lifted the seat of the chair and took out a white jacket, Clarke began to hunch over slightly and with shaking hands placed his hat on with an artistic tilt.  Next, he slowly made his way to the table that was center stage upon which sat a lone wine glass and bottle.  His shuffling feet were the only noise as the audience sat spellbound.  That alone was one of my favorite moments in the play.  It is not something that can be written.  It is just done.

In the scene that followed, Maud and Oscar talk about their first meeting, the pointlessness of war and how it will always be around and the lack of acceptance of the love of beauty.  It is such a beautiful and well-written scene, I could feel the tears welling up.

I don’t want to give away the ending!!  But…but…

okay, here is what I will say. I thought the end was so symbolically beautiful and so perfect for an Oscar Wilde inspired play that after the show I had to sit in my car and cry for about 10 minutes before I could drive back home.

What made me amazed about this production was how relevant it is.  Criminalization of LGBT people are still things that happen around the world.  In recent years, Cece McDonald, an African American transgender woman and fashion design student, and some friends, while walking down the street in Minneapolis, were attacked by people who were yelling racial and homophobic slurs.  Someone broke a glass in her face and it left a gash that required 11 stitches.  A fight broke out and a man with a swastika tattoo was stabbed and died.  McDonald was charged with 2 counts of murder.  The prosecution says that the hate speech that happened before the fight is irrelevant.  McDonald is currently serving 4 years in a men’s prison even though she identifies as a woman.  Recently, though, she has pled guilty to lowered charges of negligent manslaughter.  Still f-ing ridiculous!

Stories like this happen all the time.  There’s another story about a Mexican-American woman who is facing the death sentence because the lawyers, after telling the jury that because she’s a fiery Mexican and “hard core lesbian” due to the fact that a guy hit on her enraged her so much she had to kill him.  They then brought in 10 people who simply confirmed that she was a lesbian.

My amazement turned into sadness when I thought more about this aspect of the show.  I guess it will never get better.  Let’s only hope that it doesn’t get worse.

If you are interested in reading more about these stories, check out Queer (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People of the United States.

But back to the play…

Can I just say how much I loved the costumes?? Callie Floor is amazing. If you look at the picture at the start of this post, look at Vincent’s pants.  Those are the pants he uses as a Soldier.  Everyone except for Brown has this same costume piece and only switch out the jackets and vests.  However, when you get a look at the whole outfit, I think it is remarkably fashionable.  Maybe it is just me and my penchant for costumes.  I would totally wear that look.   The gowns are lovely and look so elegant, which they should as they are ladies of high society.  I will have to say and I know I shouldn’t, but nothing is ever perfect… On the back of one of Nemirovsky’s striped jacket, the panels aren’t arranged properly.  I was always told that the stripes should always make a “V” when it hits the center seam.  That’s the only thing that’s amiss with the costumes.  Practically nothing.

The set, created by Nina Ball, was multi functional and works so well in the theatre’s small stage area. I loved the scenes with the actor propelled turntable.  It felt like I was watching a movie with the profiles always changing in those scenes like a circling camera shot.

One thing I did want to see more of…When Allen is dancing it is lovely, but what I wanted to see more of was the feeling on her face and was there a difference in the little pieces she did or were they all part of the same single number that made her famous.  Again, just a little nit picky thing. I’ll bet because of my seat, she could have been doing this, but I only saw her back.

The acting was superb even with the two or three words that were stumbled over.  Brown, who looks like she stepped out of the silent era silver screen, is heartbreaking as Allen.  Clarke is stellar as Judge Darling and Oscar Wilde.  Alex Moggridge is completely charming as both Allen’s lawyer, Ellis Williams Hume-Williams and the Soldier who gets leave.  Anthony Nemirovsky played the upbeat, yet dangerous American with a smile that didn’t let you know that there was some crazy stew boiling inside.  The super-talented Mark Anderson Phillips is incredible as he has the hardest job.  His Pemberton-Billing is a despicable character, yet as Allen’s doomed brother Theo Durant, he draws out your compassion almost in the same minute.  Marilee Talkington was a true chameleon.  She had the most characters and all of them were so distinctly different that one could easily see her do well in a one woman show! Liam Vincent, while quiet as a soldier most of Act 1, really packed a wallop as Lord Douglas.  His perfectly timed entrance and his quick stiff jibes at the judge were a wonderful contrast to his moving speech about dredging up one’s past.  Easily one of the most memorable moments of the play.

You will like this play. If it doesn’t move you emotionally (because you are a robot) you will like the thought provoking aspect of it.

The Aurora Theatre Company does it once again!  5 of the biggest happy actors ever!