Waking Up Now That September Ends

 

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This month has felt a bit like a dream.

 

I got to work on a great show with a wonderful group of bipeds.  We had some crazy hot weather in California and I hate the sun, so we all know how I feel about that. I actually was able to begin building my savings account again, even with extra bills to pay!  That’s a big one.      

🎭🎭🎭🎭🎭

 I had so much fun working on Assassins for Los Altos Stage Company!  The show got such great reviews.  I had no idea what the show was about and I wasn’t planning on auditioning.  Then I got a call from Lee Ann Payne saying, “hey I am directing a show. You should come and audition.” Of course, that wasn’t how she said it, but it was very casual. Then, a coworker explained the whole show to me. It was at that point that I thought “hell yeah! I have to do that show.” So I do owe them both credit for prompting me to audition.  As often as I could, I watched all the scenes when I was off stage during the rehearsal process, seeing how the director and actors built up their characters and told their stories.  I loved hearing the crazy things that are only said in theatre like “you’re giving the ‘fuck’ too much.” Once the show opened, I loved to listen to the scenes (especially the Fromme and Moore scenes) and chuckled at every joke that was found throughout the show.  For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of Sondheim’s Assassins you can do a Youtube search, but here’s a description from MTI:

A multiple Tony Award-winning theatrical tour-de-force, Assassinscombines Sondheim’s signature blend of intelligently stunning lyrics and beautiful music with a panoramic story of our nation’s culture of celebrity and the violent means some will use to obtain it, embodied by America’s four successful and five would-be presidential assassins. Bold, original, disturbing and alarmingly funny, Assassins is perhaps the most controversial musical ever written.

Assassins lays bare the lives of nine individuals who assassinated or tried to assassinate the President of the United States, in a one-act historical “revusical” that explores the dark side of the American experience. From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, writers, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, bend the rules of time and space, taking us on a nightmarish roller coaster ride in which assassins and would-be assassins from different historical periods meet, interact and inspire each other to harrowing acts in the name of the American Dream.

Assassins requires skilled singers who are also versatile actors. This is an ideal choice for mature audiences and will challenge your designers as they try to recreate famous moments and people in America’s history.

So you see, it is something that many people don’t want to be “entertained” with, especially in light of Donald Trump’s statements about 2nd Amendment-ers “taking care” of Hillary Clinton. So some people didn’t really like the material of the show, but they did appreciate the performances though it seems like the audience is  “rooting” 👏 for Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wilkes Booth, and the others during show, particularly at the end of each either completing their jobs or being executed themselves. The all performances were so good, from the top down the entire cast was so solid!  Some were mesmerizing like Ken Boswell as Charles Guiteau, Philomena Block as Sarah Jane Moore, Alea Selburn as Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, and Todd Wright as Sam Byke.  It was a great show to be a part of and I am grateful for the chance to play with this group of actors, even if the unexpected heat did put a damper on the run.  But this is one to remember, thanks to the timeliness of it as well as its own greatness

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MY STARS!!!  It is September! Why are we having this 90+ degree weather when global warming isn’t real!? (I totally believe in global warming. That was just a joke.) Yes, yes, I know that summer ended on the 21st, and can potentially stay warm through October.  I know this academically, but I don’t wanna!  LOL. I want it to stay like it was when I was a kid. Summer was only June thru August! I have made mention many times that I don’t enjoy being in the heat, so this felt like a slow painful Wicked Witch of the West type murder. 💀 What a world! What a world. Mercifully, the costumes weren’t too heavy, and considering one of my castmates had a suit that was made out of material that felt like the heaviest grade of wool cloth a person can find, I shouldn’t really complain. The important thing is we survived! And my beard and moustache stayed on when I needed it to!  That is the real miracle here. Even if I did look a little like Mario.  Special thanks to the Assassins cast for always singing the Super Mario music when I passed by… 😜😉

   $$$$$

You know, here in the Bay Area, it takes a lot of solid, steady, well paying work in order to pay the rent/mortgage if you are an actor.  Out of all the actors I know (and that is a TON of them) I believe all of us have survival jobs.  Some of us like those jobs.  Some of us don’t. Personally, I tend to vacillate between the two.  Currently, I am grateful to have them as I know some people aren’t so fortunate.  Now this month has been rife with extra bills to pay.  Some expected, some not so much. For example, I decided I wanted to work out my brain with an anthropology class. Since I love to people watch, I figured this would be a good fit. I wasn’t expecting to cough up almost $400 bucks for it and that’s without the books. But it worked out.  Then, stupid me got a parking ticket.  $50. 💩! Then a smog and my car registration, which I was planning for.  But then, to have to fix the exhaust pipe on the car on top of all that?  Oh, I thought I was doomed. 😱 DOOMED, I tell you.  Somehow, looking at my statements, everything did work out really well, and for the first time in a long time my savings account has funds flowing back into it.  👀  I never thought I would see that day again.

That has been my September in a oven roasted nut shell.  Did you have a good month?  Or was it like Green Day’s September, where you just want to hide out until it is over? Just like with the survival job, I went back and forth on this, too.  I hated the weather. Loved the show. Hated the extra bills. Loved that I have done a bit of growing up.  Hate that I just said that.  Love that I am learning new things.  Hate that I don’t write as much. BUT Love that you, dear reader, take the time to give this the once over.  Thank you!

Tell me about your month! Did you learn something new about yourself?  Did you do anything fun relating to theatre?  I am all ears… er… eyes, I guess it would be.

Until next time!

💖

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City Lights Shine Bright With Spamalot!!

I wanted to take a picture with the Black Knight.
I wanted to take a picture with the Black Knight.

I have never been a fan of Spam.  I did love the acronym that was used when I was younger: Some Parts Are Meat.  I don’t know if people still use the joke.  

Unlike spam, Spamalot is not merely an entertainment byproduct.  Oh no, sirree!  

When this show premiered, I didn’t quite know how I felt about it.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the recording though.  I’ve listened to the cast recording of Spamalot a few times, but it wasn’t something that I felt I would give repeated spins to, with the exception of “The Diva’s Lament” and “Knights of the Round Table/Songs That Go Like This” Reprise.  I love the source material, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  But the songs for me at that time seemed overly simple. But then I watched the show… WOW!

Last Sunday afternoon, the munster and I sat in the front row (those poor actors! [I’ll explain in a sec]) excited and yet slightly hesitant about what I was going to see.  

As we are waiting, I scan the stage. The challenge with this space is that it isn’t a large stage and it has no proscenium. The set consisted of two grey towers on each side and a long wall across the back of the stage with a set of double doors in the center.   Creating a single set design with enough wiggle room for several specific locales is a mind boggling bit of work that I always appreciate, so when Prince Herbert is revealed I was so giddy! I don’t wanna ruin anything for you so that is all I will say. As simple looking as the set looks, it works wonderfully for this afternoon of magic.  Kudos to designer Ron Gasparinetti!

In other technical news: I liked most of the costumes, but I was hoping for just a little sparkle on the “Laker” Girls outfits.  Okay, a lot more.  Just to go with all that energy they had.  Other than that, everyone looked great.  The number “You Won’t Succeed on Broadway” looked outstanding! My favorite costume moment, however, was the Lady of the Lake’s finale dress!  I was totally caught off guard with that.  And hearing the gasps from the audience, I wasn’t the only one.

One of the hardest but my FAVORITE parts of a show, in my humble opinion, is the choreography.  In past musicals that I have seen here, the choreography was okay. It didn’t make me want to “borrow” any moves or give me any inspiration. It was just kind of there. This is totally a “me” thing. That being said, Jennifer Gorgulho’s work is brilliant!  She had a hell of a task, too, with all the musical styles that this show touches on.  It made me want to dance, and I was smiling from ear to ear right from the get-go with the “Fisch Schlapping Song”.  Ms. Gorgulgo, I am a fan!! I cannot wait to see what you work on next. 

The tricky thing about this production was that it used prerecorded music.  I have no problem with that.  I do think that this is a double edged sword though.  As an dancer (I use that term very loosely), I find it comforting to know that the song will always be the same. As an actor though, I think that keeping it “live”ly becomes a challenge because the the song will always be the same. That didn’t seem to be a problem for this cast though.  They performed the heck out of each number and as testament, I have had the cast recording on repeat in my car since.  The only non-positive mention I have about the music/sound is that the cast isn’t mic’d so on a few occasions the music drowns out the soloist.  On the flip side of that though, the music doesn’t quite swell to that full orchestral sound on some of the songs that you would expect to get.  Again, I stress this is a super small issue.  

Under the direction of Jeffrey Bracco, this show moves so smoothly that you get to the intermission before your sides stop hurting from laughing so much.  The jokes all “landed” and I swear I was annoying the lady next to me because I was a friggin hyena!  I was literally crying/laughing.  And yes, I used the word literally the correct way.  I felt bad that the cast had to hear me cackling the entire show, but jeezuz it was just SO funny.  Then again, it is Monty Python!  This cast must have had a blast at rehearsals. 

Speaking of, the cast was joyful and energetic and spot on!  Their enjoyment was infectious and made me a little envious.  My negative comment here has nothing to do with the cast but the program design because there are no images for the cast, so I can’t point out the ensemble people that I couldn’t stop watching.  Boo.  But to the female ensemble member that gets her stick taken away from the Diva, YOU ARE DIVINE!!!  Your reactions were perfect and your dancing was no joke!  Loved watching you. The two tapping gents on the box in the casino number, kudos!!  Now, while the cast was fabulous, I HAVE to tell you that there are some brilliant performances here.  Nick Manfredi does triple duty as Sir Robin, Guard, and Maynard while Mackenszie Drae steals the show with his Sir Lancelot, Guard, French Taunter, Ni, and Tim (which slayed me when he says “Below me is a cave…”).  Their characters were not only so rich but they all had slightly differing accents.  Staying in the moment with all that and quick witty dialogue is remarkable. However, Josiah Frampton as Patsy, James Snell as Sir Galahad (which has my favorite scene regarding the crowning of a king by a lady in a lake) and Black Knight (second favorite scene) and Ryan Mardesich as Historian, Not-Dead Fred, Minstrel and Prince Herbert also give incredibly wonderful performances. Leading these knights is the great Ken Boswell.  It is hard to be the strong leader with so many funny scene stealing characters around but he does a fantastic job.  

Do yourself a big favor, go to this site and order your tickets right now! Click the green box under the company name.  I swear it is ready to sell out! I will probably go and see it again, it was just that good!

City Lights Theatre Company is in downtown San Jose on 2nd Street.  No seat is a bad seat, trust me!  Order your tickets NOW!!!