🎼 Time, Time, Time, See What’s Become Of Me… 🎶

Credit: Michael Horta.

Hello Gentle Reader!

Happy holiday season if you celebrate it in any fashion and for those that don’t I hope you are having a fantastic time. I am usually only a Halloween and New Year’s kinda guy, but with my last project, you can say that I am in the Xmas spirit, I suppose.

I have a question for you my Dear Reader. What is the difference between the following line:

“… my very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle, with a compass and this thing which tells time built right into the stock.”

“… MY very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle. With a compass! And this thing… which tells TIME built right into the stock.” 

The way that I see it, the first version has the same sort of half committed involvement that the narrator from the film uses.  He is invested, but it just feels like he has told this story before to other people so it isn’t novel or new to him anymore. In the second version, I play it so that it feels like actually owning this present is a dream that I don’t want to wake from and the details of the gun that I have been going on and on about are highlighted since they are referred to 99% of the time the air rifle is mentioned. But I think the Time emphasis was me bringing my life experience to the piece. 

Christmas Eve was the first day since closing night of A Christmas Story that I could say that line without feeling the burning sensation in my nose and eyes of tears that wanted to be set free. 

I can’t exactly say when it happened, but I suspect that it was some time during week 2 of performances that the line above began to morph from the previous to the latter. 

I don’t know if I had mentioned it here yet, but I had so much work to do with the script that I read it multiple times a day on the weekends and at least once every day. I listened the the audio version I made while I was in traffic on the way to rehearsal. I listened to it at work when I wasn’t in meetings.  All to share this memory for this character.

But what is a memory? It is a snippet of time that you are recalling at a different point in time. Sometimes it is purposely done and other times it could be involuntarily triggered by sound, scent or emotion and situation. 

On closing night, I said that line, and before I could continue with the rest of the scene, I had this magnificent surge of love, heartache, stress, fondness and a few other emotions, all at once. I became aware of the symbol of authoritative and parental figures and friends (that my cast mates Shawna and Keith represented) had turned into a focused source of those people in my life that I don’t see, can’t see, won’t see anymore or haven’t seen in a very long time.


It was an overwhelming sensation. Then it circled back to the sadness that this little show of ours had grown to become something so special to me and it was taking the last breaths of life.  I took a few moments to try and force my voice back “into character” but as a proponent of “feel your feelings” I delivered the lines “The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received…. Or ever WOULD receive” with that bubble in my throat and powered through “pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.” I could only hope that through my quaking voice the audience could understand what I was saying, Kind Reader. 

I felt a wee bit foolish but there was nothing I could have done.  In far away voices, I could hear the backstage manager and some of the others, waiting to enter the stage for bows, commenting or gasping that this moment was happening. 

During the first attempt at creating an audio aid, which I recorded on a whim, I can hear my final speech get a little emotionally shaky. I wish that I had paid more attention to that moment so that I could steel myself of this and present the show to the audience  just as we had done the rest of the run. 

Even before this show began I have been fighting with the fleeting nature of time and the ideas that some people had about it. And I took on some of their baggage from them and still shoulder. So couple that baggage with the reminiscing of friends and family and a storm was inevitable.

It is a lot of energy to process and keep in check in the space of the 15 seconds that it takes to say that line and I did well every other night. But time will find a way of catching up with you.

With that, let me just shut off this light on 2022 and the wonderful production of A Christmas Story that I was so fortunate to be a part of. Thanks for letting me bend your ear one more time this year, Dear Reader. Take care of yourself and those you care about! Stay safe and alert and I will see you in 2023. 

🎼 Thought I Heard Your Voice Yesterday, Then I Turned Around To Say… 🎶

Hello Gentle Reader!

Can you believe that my current show A Christmas Story is in its fourth and final week? Too soon, I say! 😂 But as I say in the show “Finally, all good things must come to an end. There were no more presents to be opened, just empty boxes and paper around the tree.”

While this is bittersweet, it isn’t what I wanted to write about. There is something that has been bothering? No, that isn’t the right word… weighing on my mind is a better way to put it.

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions. Amazing highs from the show and seeing some adored friends in the audience after to lows and valleys of sadness because work has had some terrible news for colleagues and friends of mine. Yet in the middle of all that was this encounter that I had after the matinee last Sunday.

After the show, I had gone into the lobby because I was hoping to snag a hot chocolate, it may or may not have been spiked🤭 and while I was out there, this gentleman approaches me. But he has this really weird energy and my paranoia went into red alert. I checked my surroundings to see what and who was around me.

Being out in public always puts me on edge anyway because of all these mass shootings. But now add all the hate crimes that seem to be popping up all over the country, and that just makes my fight or flight response even more active. My Dear Reader, I totally know that women live this life everyday and THAT is a tragedy because when do they get the chance to not have tension in their lives? I feel for them. It makes my soul weep that our mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and friends have to live with the fear always lingering.

At this point, he is standing next to me and I say “hi” but he just has this sad smile on his face. After a group passes by, he says that he really enjoyed the show. I tell him “that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome audience.” Then he starts to say something, but his voice catches so he clears his throat, the way guys do when they don’t want to give away that they are experiencing an emotion, and says “you remind me of my best friend that I had.” He told me the friend’s name, I want to say it was Eddie, but I am only partially listening because my brain is wondering if this guy was ok. He goes on to tell me that his friend used to love “doing drama” but that while it wasn’t his particular thing, but he would go and support his friend when he did perform. He said he almost thought I was actually him. Voice, appearance and mannerisms all lined up according to this man. The thing was that his friend had died when he was 30.

I could see that he was still feeling the sorrow of that loss and I extended my condolences. This man was a little younger than I but I couldn’t tell how much so I wasn’t sure how recent this was.

This experience has been in my thoughts since then. Did he need closure? Did he truly just miss his friend that much? What was the rest of the story? I didn’t know how to respond and I am disappointed in myself that I didn’t say something more than just vague condolences. After a few minutes, the guy left and I wandered back to the stage in a daze, confused by what just happened. It felt like an hour but it was really only moments, I rushed back to the lobby to find the guy. My intent was to offer to go grab a cup of coffee or even a drink and just toast the memory of his friend. He seemed like he needed it.

However, I was so thrown off by this encounter, I couldn’t even recall what he was wearing. I could have been looking right at him and I wouldn’t know it. Well, I do remember he had on a black beanie that was pulled low on his forehead.

I just wish that I had caught him in time. His sadness was palpable and it just seemed that this little gesture could have been of some comfort to him. Or should I have offered him a hug? I just feel like some compassion was needed and I failed miserably to offer it.

For the life of me, Kind Reader, I cannot get it out of my head that I didn’t act in alignment with my personal ethics. Logically, I understand that I don’t have to do anything, but my heart just keeps saying, “I’m not mad, just disappointed.”

It is exhausting to have your brain and your heart disagreeing. I am trying hard to put this to bed so that it doesn’t affect the show. One thing I would like to put into the Universe is that if that fella happens to be reading this; I hope he will send me an email and let’s go have a toast to your friend and you can tell me some of your favorite memories.

Thanks for letting me bend your ear, Good Reader! I hope you know how much I appreciate you. What would you do in my situation? Let me know because I feel like I am falling down the ladder of human virtue.

Until next time, stay safe and alert. Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

❤️

🎼Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy? 🎶

Happy Holiday Season, Gentle Reader!

Oooooooowwweeeeee!

I hope your Turkey Day was wonderful, if you celebrate. If you are one of amazing Readers outside of the US, I hope your week was magnificent. But to be clear, this post isn’t about the recent holiday.

As we head into the weekend, and I return to grown up Ralph Parker, I wanted to share why I am enjoying this production so much. And it isn’t because it is Christmas themed. LOL. I don’t really celebrate it as I had mentioned before despite the fact that I worked on a Christmas show last year and in White Christmas many years ago.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to be a part of this production was the shear fact that I have never had the opportunity to work with this many youngsters before. I wanted to have this experience because it was not only new, but the energy that they bring is incomparable. My past experiences were as a choreographer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a youth production and the shows where I was cast that did have younger persons, really only had one or two. To share a stage with 10 of them is a wholly different experience and I am enjoying it immensely.

Another reason I have cherished this process is because of the director. Allie Bailey is one of my favorite people and director to collaborate with during the process. The first time I met her was at auditions for her production of Pippin. What a blast that was! This is my 3rd time working with her. I have absolute trust in her. I appreciate that I can offer my ideas on the character and she asks questions to force me to dive even deeper than what I thought was deep enough. Sometimes instead of confirming my ideas, she counters knowing that it can do one of two things, guide me into a different point of view OR ensure that my view as the character has an answer in their backstory for every potential question that the script may present. I trust that if I am not presenting anything clearly, she will catch it and let me know so that I can make stronger choices. I also like to think that she trusts me and is fully ok with the time I take to work through building my character. She also knows how much I change delivery of lines to try and find my truth in the moment. Sometimes, directors have wanted me to make my choices and stick to them midway through the rehearsal process so the scene is “set” but that stresses me out because if a line gets delivered differently on accident and I give my response like we had “set” then the truth of the moment is lost and will be seen as forced by the audience.

It has been so incredible to take this journey, Dear Reader. The A Christmas Story movie is brilliant in its mix of realism and hyper camp thanks largely to the filming style by director Bob Clark. Not to detract from the acting because I thought all of that was well done too with special nod to Darren McGavin. But aside from the lamp, the filming visual are what stick with me. Like the zoomed in perspective of the kids on Santa and the elves when they are angry or the over dramatic grading by Miss Shields. That is hard to replicate on a stage. Yet, our director had the solution.

When I step back and take a macro look at the staged version, I can see at least 3 levels of style, for lack of a better term. In the first ring, this is the most true to life. My version of Ralph lives here. Yeah, he gets caught up in explaining some of the moments of his memories, but think about when you are recounting something to others. It is a normal reaction. Not only can you get caught up in the storytelling, but those emotions can well up within you again. Like the bullying scene. It is sad to recall, but man, those are some of the easiest feelings to recall from my past. It is painful and scary and embarrassing but the mix is easy to find when I need them.

In the next ring, the memory is stored there. I know that the potential for expanding upon your story is highly likely, Sweet Reader. While Ralph recalls this Christmas memory, obviously some parts are over the top. This is the ring that Mother, The Old Man and Randy, Santa as well as Ralphie’s classmates and Teacher live. Slightly larger than life yet rooted in complete truth but a little more exaggerated than Ring One.

In the final ring, Raphie’s imaginative fantasies reside. This is the overblown moments in the show. This is the home of Black Bart and his gang, Shakespeare and the fan girling Miss Shields, and Red Ryder.

The real trick was knowing where to blur the lines and have those rings bleed into one another and I think our director must be a fricking magician because she has managed to do that very thing spectacularly.

I say it every day in real life, I am a lucky duck. I cannot tell you enough what a wonderful time I am having getting to know these little artists as well as making friends with peers that I had not worked with before. And now, it is off to the theater!

Thank you for once again taking a moment out of your lives, Gentle Reader, to read the musings of a vagabond actor just looking for new ways to explore emotion and view life through the stories of others.

Until the next time our paths cross, Dear Reader, stay safe and alert. Be sure to care for yourself and those around you.

❤️

🎼Looks Good, Sounds Good, Feels Good Too…🎶

Heeeeeeelllllloooooo Gentle Reader!

My many apologies for my long time away. First came the attempt at learning candle making, then I got cast in a production and now work is all kinds of wonky! BUT the important thing is now the show has begun with last night being the start of a spectacular run.

Yes, you Gorgeous Readers, I have opened another show! I kept meaning to post about it here, but time was just too poorly managed on my part. I can say that with complete honesty. I slept like crap these last 8 weeks and it just got worse 3 weeks ago thanks to work looking into cutting back on it spending. At first it wasn’t about stress. At first. It was more the fact that traffic in the Bay Area has returned to PreCovid Times and people drive worse now than they did back then. My drive to get to rehearsal can take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, I think was my record, thanks to an accident. By the time it was the return trip home, the last thing on my mind was writing because I was trying to figure out what meetings I had to prepare for at work the next day.

So writing was put on the back burner. My sincere apologies. I’ve missed y’all.

I hope that you are all well and healthy and you are looking forward to the holiday season!

Speaking of the holiday season, let’s chat about my current project…

No doubt, Lovely Reader, that you have seen this 1986 holiday classic that is played on repeat every single year for 24 hours on Christmas Day.

If you happened to have missed it, somehow. It is the memory of the main character’s Christmas from when he was 8 years old. Filled with moments of hilarity and relatability, this film has something for everyone

Check out this newspaper article featuring Keith Larson. Keith does an outstanding job as The Old Man! I swear sometimes it sounds like the O.G. dad, Darren McGavin. He talks about how as he has gotten older and a family of his own, his relationship with this film has also grown.

If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It takes place in the 1940’s and it is just a simpler time so there are no cell phones, no distractions from screens. It is all about the human connections.

The script for the play version highlights all the best parts of the movie and delivers such heart.

For my experience with this show, it was pure pleasure. In the movie, you never see my “role.” You definitely hear it though. He is little Ralphie all growed up. (Yes, I know that isn’t a real word) and just like the movie, the play is told through the “memories” he shares, moving the story along.

For me the great challenge was getting the style of the syntax correct because while all my lines weren’t quite run-on sentences, they most certainly felt like it. There would be a paragraph of 7 lines that was only 2 actual sentences and some of the grammatical markings weren’t where one would think they should be. So really digging in and trying to sort all of that out was my biggest issue. Not to mention ALL THE LINES!! The sheer amount of them had gotten so that at a point in the early stages of rehearsals, that I began to question my casting. 😂😂

I was sick of hearing myself speak because it felt like I was ALWAYS monologuing. I began to wonder if I would turn out like some of the presenters I see during work functions, droning on and on and losing audience members like a comet loses pieces of itself as it hurtles through space. Sometimes I had pages of things to say and they didn’t really connect to one another so trying to shift the energy so it felt like it was a “scene change” was such an incredible exercise. There is still one that I feel a bit sticky on.

Here is an example: After one of the fantasy scenes with all the kids, Kind Reader, I reenter and talk about how having the Red Ryder BB gun was a must. Then I am supposed to set the tone for a scene about the sexy leg lamp. After a fantastical scene where Ralphie uses his rifle and the built in tools to save his classmates they all run off. The script says: “RALPH: No question about it. I had to have that air rifle. It was an absolute necessity. Meanwhile, night after night, the soft sinuous radiation of the Old Man’s major award lit up Cleveland Street, attracting cruising prides of adolescents.” Logically, I know there is a light shift, but I can’t see it as I am in a follow spot whenever I am on stage. So all I see is that light. I drop the register and volume of my voice and hope that I wait long enough that the light change happens before I go into the light part of the line. At the beginning I am in one frame of mind, caught up in the ideas of what could happen with that rifle and then I have to shift over to sexy time talk with a flip of the dime. 😂 It just feels funky to me. I am sure it looks great, but I, personally, find it feeling funky. It is totally a me thing and I completely trust my director, the amazing Allie Bailey. If it looked off or sounded odd in any way, she would straight up tell me.

Now with this beast of a show open, I can relax and enjoy the holidays myself. Since my family has suffered a lot of hardships with losses over the last few years, I know I need to enjoy our time together now.

Sometimes during the penultimate and the final scenes, I get a little choked up because of how I built the backstory for my character. But that is for another post.

I hope that you are able to come on down and check out this cult Christmas classic presented on a stage with over the top silliness and about a planet sized amount of heart. Besides, look at that little face! Don’t you wanna see the shenanigans this lil fella gets into?

Program Image: Shawna Gonzales as Mother and Matthew Horta as Ralphie Parker

Until next time, Dear Reader, I hope you stay safe, healthy and aware. Make sure to take care of yourself and those around you. I adore you all and look forward to the next time. Thanks for letting me bend your ear.

❤️

Awww, Man!!

I have been trying to figure out what the likely-hood of doing two show, nearly simltaneously, would entail, and it JUST dawned on me.  DE-nied!!! There isn’t any possible way that it could happen.  I would be missing the first three weeks of rehearsals if I were cast in Cabaret with Sunnyvale, and getting from the rehearsal space for Bless Me, Ultima to the rehearsal space for Cabaret on Sundays would be a mess.  Super sad that the possibility of doing both is now dead.  I won’t say impossible, because I am sure that if they are willing to overlook all those conflicts I am willing to give it a go. I’m just sayin’ that the positivity rate is looking pretty low right about now!

Not related to the above paragraph, did you know that Seattle will be the home for the creation of the  new “Aladdin” musical?  It will have all the songs from the film and reinsert the missing songs that were cut from the Disney film!!  Hooray!  It will be awesome for “Proud Of Your Boy” to be heard by the masses.  It’s an amazing song that always makes me get a little misty eyed.  The company that is the lucky duck is Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.  This is the same company that premiered “A Christmas Story: The Musical!” this past holiday season.  Yes, it’s based off of the beloved movie that shares it’s name!  “You’ll shoot your eye out!”  This company attracts such an amazing caliber of talent that one can only expect sheer amazing fantasticalness that will the the staged production of “Aladdin.”  Here are some ACS clips that I’ve found on the tube!

This boy, Clarke Hallum,  is gonna be a force on Broadway one day!!  And these guys are utterly brilliant!!!  Check out this song writing team!!!  Oh muh gawd!! Benj Pasek and Justin Paul!!!