Today, January 19, 2017 at 5:30pm in each time zone, theaters across the nation are standing up to announce that through the dark days that may be ahead of us, we will be there, standing tall for inclusion of all people regardless of where they are from, who they believe in, who they love and how they got here. We will fight to tell the stories of the people that reflect our humanity (or lack thereof in some cases.) We will fight off the bullies and create safe spaces for everyone to come to and be a part of something constructive and creative. In doing so, in my little opinion, this practice will spill outside of the walls of the theaters and into the streets and into the lives and consciousness of others who will continue to grow and shine that light.
Please go to the website The Ghostlight Project and check it out and join your community at one of the many theaters taking part of this project. As I mentioned before all are welcome, and if you happen to be a part of another movement, that’s fantastic! Bring those friends. Can you imagine what could happen if The Ghostlight Project and the Black Lives Matter Movement worked on something together?
Join us. You don’t need anything but a light and your cell phone light will work perfectly. Personally, I am really excited because this is the first time I don’t have to work when a rally I wanted to attend was happening. You can bet there will be pictures, dear reader!
Will you be there? And don’t forget to share your experience. Use the hashtags, #AllAreWelcom #BeALight and #GhostlightProject.
Last night, after a super great run, with comments from the audience like “I haven’t laughed that hard in this place in a really long time,” Nana’s Naughty Knickers finally closed up shop. We were so fortunate to have such great houses for nearly the entire run for which we are so very grateful.
Now while this is November, don’t get the wrong idea that I am going to spout off about how you should take next Thursday to say why you are grateful and what you are grateful for. No. I think you should do this every single freakin’ day! Acknowledge that you are happy for the people and experiences in your life and you will be a happier person..but I am off topic…
Getting back to my first love, acting, has really made me so happy! So much so that I felt like I could do anything. HA! Don’t get me wrong, I loved being in “Knickers” while I am rehearsing for “Promises” and writing that silly little novel and volunteering as an assistant to my dance teacher for preschoolers, but I find that I can’t REALLY devote time to develop these things as fully as I would like to because I have all the other things in life to do still.
So while I am struggling to find that balance of “being responsible” and leading the creative life that I would love to have, I really have my plate super full this month.
Since I haven’t posted anything on the site in a while I figured I should at least acknowledge the closing of this funny little gem and the wonderful incredible people that I’ve met or reconnected with.
I had some side splitting moments almost every performance outside the stage door with Fiddy during the show and we couldn’t really laugh out loud like we needed to because the audience was just around the corner! I got to chat with Jackie before each show to find out that this quiet young lady is not only a sweetheart but a hardworking student as well. Then there’s Mary who was a card! Almost always unexpected and often times hilarious, she had these little stories that she would share before shows. I really didn’t get the chance to begin talking to Sara until the show’s tech week because one of us was either on stage or not at rehearsal. I am still not sure if I am even pronouncing her name right. She is so nice but can be so evilly funny at the same time. I love it! I don’t think I have met anyone like Marian. She has such a presence even when not saying a word. She is just so nice and upbeat I find her to be so inspiring. Then finally there’s Ms. Mandy. She had such a hard role to fill. Not only are her lines almost repetitive, but they are constantly getting cut off so she had to be on her toes if people didn’t come in for cues right away! Her improv skills are INSANE!!! Most of the funny lines in the show weren’t even in the script. They were improvised one night and ended up staying in.
The other half of the “improv duo” is Estelle who I met one or two years ago. We worked on a trio of plays and of course hers was the one that I had nothing to do in, so we didn’t really get to “work” together until this. I think I must have told her every night how happy I was to be on this project with her. I just hope that I get to have even a third of the theatre experiences that she’s had! I was so happy when I walked into the first read thru to see that Stephen was in the show!! We hadn’t been on the same stage since we did “Funny Thing…Forum.” He is always one of the cool kids to perform with!
Special thank you’s to Gary and George let me come to the company and play with this fabulous group of people! Our stage manager Michael, who thinks I have a problem with the bottle, was always ready to lend a hand and keep the cast happy. My hat is off to you sir!
Finally thank you to the incredible audiences that came and laughed at us for a few hours a night. It’s good to get out from “real life” and forget things for a bit. We are so glad you joined us!
To my friends and family who came I am especially grateful that you took the time out of your lives to share it with me and my new friends. I love you guys!
And now it’s on to the next! With auditions coming up next weekend…
In light of the phenomenon that Glee has become, NBC decided that it should strike back with it’s own non-reality singing TV show.
SMASH (I think the title is shite) is dramedy about what it takes to make a Broadway show. It features some heavy hitters not only from television, but also from Broadway. People like the amazing Debra Messing (Will and Grace), the adorable Christian Borle (Emmet from Legally Blonde), Brian d’Arcy James (Burrs from Lippa’s Wild Party as well as Shrek), the gorgeous Anjelica Huston, and Jack Davenport, who I’ve been a fan of since BBC’s Coupling!
It features American Idol’s Katherine McPhee and Megan Hilty as the two girls who are up for the role of playing the Icon Marilyn Monroe. I haven’t watched AI truly since the very first season, but I heard a lot of things about McPhee and some of them weren’t so good, but it seems that in this role she is going to shine. I was really impressed with the trailer and gleefully clapped my hands as I recognized the people mentioned above.
Here’s the trailer:
Here’s the downer: This is supposed to be a midseason replacement, sooooooo there’s going to be a big wait until this actually hits the small screen. HOWEVER, I do hope that all of you theatre buffs and Gleeks support this show with the same fervor that you reserve for watching Glee. It’s important to show the big networks that our community should be represented on television.
Okay everyone, this is one of the events that I wait for every year! Here is the full list of the nominees. If you just want a breakdown of how many each show got, just scroll to the end of the post.
The Tony Awards will be aired on June 12 @ 8:00 PM from their new home in the Beacon Theatre. Drumroll please….
Author: David Lindsay-Abaire
Author: Jez Butterworth
The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Author: Stephen Adly Guirgis
Author: Nick Stafford
The Book of Mormon
Catch Me If You Can
The Scottsboro Boys
Best Book of a Musical
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Book of Mormon
Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys
Cheri Steinkellner, Bill Steinkellner and Douglas Carter Beane
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Book of Mormon
Music & Lyrics: Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone
The Scottsboro Boys
Music & Lyrics: John Kander and Fred Ebb
Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics: Glenn Slater
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Music & Lyrics: David Yazbek
Best Revival of a Play
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Merchant of Venice
The Normal Heart
Best Revival of a Musical
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Brian Bedford, The Importance of Being Earnest
Bobby Cannavale, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Al Pacino, The Merchant of Venice
Mark Rylance, Jerusalem
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Nina Arianda, Born Yesterday
Frances McDormand, Good People
Lily Rabe, The Merchant of Venice
Vanessa Redgrave, Driving Miss Daisy
Hannah Yelland, Brief Encounter
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Norbert Leo Butz, Catch Me If You Can
Josh Gad, The Book of Mormon
Joshua Henry, The Scottsboro Boys
Andrew Rannells, The Book of Mormon
Tony Sheldon, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes
Beth Leavel, Baby It’s You!
Patina Miller, Sister Act
Donna Murphy, The People in the Picture
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mackenzie Crook, Jerusalem
Billy Crudup, Arcadia
John Benjamin Hickey, The Normal Heart
Arian Moayed, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Yul Vázquez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Ellen Barkin, The Normal Heart
Edie Falco, The House of Blue Leaves
Judith Light, Lombardi
Joanna Lumley, La Bête
Elizabeth Rodriguez, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Colman Domingo, The Scottsboro Boys
Adam Godley, Anything Goes
John Larroquette, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Forrest McClendon, The Scottsboro Boys
Rory O’Malley, The Book of Mormon
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Laura Benanti, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Tammy Blanchard, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Victoria Clark, Sister Act
Nikki M. James, The Book of Mormon
Patti LuPone, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Todd Rosenthal, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Rae Smith, War Horse
Mark Wendland, The Merchant of Venice
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Beowulf Boritt, The Scottsboro Boys
Derek McLane, Anything Goes
Scott Pask, The Book of Mormon
Donyale Werle, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Best Costume Design of a Play
Jess Goldstein, The Merchant of Venice
Desmond Heeley, The Importance of Being Earnest
Mark Thompson, La Bête
Catherine Zuber, Born Yesterday
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Tim Chappel & Lizzy Gardiner, Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Martin Pakledinaz, Anything Goes
Ann Roth, The Book of Mormon
Catherine Zuber, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Paule Constable, War Horse
David Lander, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Kenneth Posner, The Merchant of Venice
Mimi Jordan Sherin, Jerusalem
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Ken Billington, The Scottsboro Boys
Howell Binkley, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Peter Kaczorowski, Anything Goes
Brian MacDevitt, The Book of Mormon
Best Sound Design of a Play
Acme Sound Partners & Cricket S. Myers, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Simon Baker, Brief Encounter
Ian Dickinson for Autograph, Jerusalem
Christopher Shutt, War Horse
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Peter Hylenski, The Scottsboro Boys
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Catch Me If You Can
Brian Ronan, Anything Goes
Brian Ronan, The Book of Mormon
Best Direction of a Play
Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, War Horse
Joel Grey & George C. Wolfe, The Normal Heart
Anna D. Shapiro, The Motherf**ker with the Hat
Daniel Sullivan, The Merchant of Venice
Best Direction of a Musical
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw and Trey Parker, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Rob Ashford, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Kathleen Marshall, Anything Goes
Casey Nicholaw, The Book of Mormon
Susan Stroman, The Scottsboro Boys
Doug Besterman, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Larry Hochman, The Scottsboro Boys
Larry Hochman and Stephen Oremus, The Book of Mormon
Marc Shaiman & Larry Blank, Catch Me If You Can Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Philip J. Smith
Regional Theatre Tony Award
Lookingglass Theatre Company (Chicago, Ill.)
Isabelle Stevenson Award
Special Tony Award
Handspring Puppet Company
Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre
The Drama Book Shop
Sharon Jensen and Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
Tony Nominations by Production The Book of Mormon – 14
The Scottsboro Boys – 12
Anything Goes – 9
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying – 8
The Merchant of Venice – 7
Jerusalem – 6
The Motherf**ker with the Hat – 6
The Normal Heart – 5
Sister Act – 5
War Horse – 5
Catch Me If You Can – 4
Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo – 3
The Importance of Being Earnest – 3
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown – 3
Arcadia – 2
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – 2
Born Yesterday – 2
Brief Encounter – 2
Good People – 2
La Bête – 2
Priscilla Queen of the Desert – 2
Baby It’s You! – 1
Driving Miss Daisy – 1
The House of Blue Leaves – 1
Lombardi – 1
The People in the Picture – 1
Did any of these shock you? Were you surprised that anyone wasn’t on this list? Were you surprised they were? Let me hear ya!
San Francisco Free Civic Theatre presents an incredibly relevant play for the times. Last weekend, I took a drive up to S.F. to watch my first actual Ibsen play. I’ve read his plays before, but this was one that I hadn’t heard of: An Enemy of the People.
HENRIK IBSEN (1828-1906) was born into prosperity in the Norwegian village of Skien but sadly that fortune didn’t last long. He was a very intelligent man who was a cynic and an atheist. His plays are dark and often force the audience to really look at the ugly underbelly of humanity. He believed that in order to fix all the dark parts of human nature, a light should must be shone into those deep recesses that dwell within man. Like most, his first plays weren’t well received. He traveled to Rome, and it was there where he began to make a name for himself. It seems as though all of his plays are a form of protest. This particular play happens to be corporate greed and hypocrisy versus public health. Considering the Health Care Bill that got signed into law, there couldn’t be a more perfect time to present this masterpiece.
The play consists of three acts separated by two intermissions. When I saw this in the program, I wondered what the running time of the show would be. As it turns out, it’s just ten minutes over the two hour mark with the intermissions included. What was more shocking to me than that, was that it never felt like the show was 130 minutes. I have been to movies and performances (and have been in some of them) where it feels like time is dragging.
The plot of the play is that the town has built a new spa and is looking forward to the tourist boom that will accompany it. The hero and villain, it totally depends on which side you agree with, are a pair of brothers. One is a scientist (Thomas Stockmann)and the other (Peter Stockmann) is the mayor of the town. The scientist discovers that the water is full of harmful bacteria which caused several cases of illness during the first few months that the spa was open. He gets confirmation of this and when he presents his findings to his brother, the debate begins. The board of directors of the spa built it downstream of a cannery (which belongs to the father of Thomas’ wife) even though Thomas had recommended that it wasn’t the ideal spot. When Thomas discovers the bacteria, he begins a campaign to have the spa rebuilt on the previously recommended site and an overhaul of the town’s water delivery system. Peter sees things differently. As a mayor, he is more concerned about the money and time the whole project will take and the toll it will take on town. Even though the overhaul would benefit the entire town and the tourists that would visit the spa, they would have to wait not only for two years before the spa and the water system would be completed but also for the revenue and tourists from the spa. When Thomas gets word that Peter will not move the spa he decides to take the matter to the people, who would be outraged at this news. His friends at the local independent newspaper, The People’s Daily Messenger, offer to write his story so that the public knows about the spa and the Board’s decision on the matter. The publisher, Aslaksen, ensures Thomas that the people will be behind him 100% and offers to help as much as he can “in moderation”. To counter his brother, Peter makes it known to the editors and Aslaksen that should the project be approved, he will enforce a tax on the public that many people cannot afford thus ensuring that Thomas’s attempt at a public outcry for change be effectively stifled.
Robert Cooper (Peter) and Eric Nelson (Thomas), do a great job making this classic text feel as though it were written recently. While the dialogue was snappy, it was accompanied by some weak movements while they would be standing face to face. At one point, while having an argument, Thomas was making a case in which he has a solidly valid point and yet he physically takes an awkward stumble back. When you see this kind of argument in person, the debater with the point doesn’t back up in this situation. There are two movement that I have seen happen, s/he either a.) holds their ground or b.) moves in “for the kill”. That backward step negates the power of the point that he is making. However, both men give supreme performances.
The women in the play also play up the duality of an issue in their own right. Thomas’ wife, played by Gabrielle Mortarjemi, served as the school of thought that women are the homemakers and caregivers of the family and that is the main function they serve. Thomas’ daughter, Petra as portrayed by Corinne Oprinovich, played Mrs. Stockmann’s opposite. Petra had opinions and wasn’t ashamed or afraid to make them known. Both women complimented their respective roles perfectly in both voice and movement. Mrs. Stockmann moves fluidly, while Petra tended to move in sharp short movements. Mrs. Stockmann never seemed to want to make any waves o interrupt their way of living. Petra, on the other hand, takes after her father and even offered help during a “town meeting” citing the appropriate methods to call in order for Thomas to have a chance to speak. While it would be socially unseemly for a woman to have knowledge or even attend an affair of this issue, Petra walks in stoically while her mother keeps her eyes low and head slightly bowed.
As the Messenger’s fidgety and ever careful publisher, Aslaksen, Mark Romyn was my favorite actor on that stage. In addition to great line delivery and movement, his character seemed to be so complete that I had a hard time figuring out if the shaky hand movement that he had on stage was a nervous habit, or if it was something that he did off stage as well. Aslaksen punctuated every promise of action with “moderation” throughout the show that by the end Act II it was something of a joke, which he delivered with perfection every time.
Most of the other characters were performed well. However, having not read the script myself, I say this emphasizing the fact that this is merely my opinion, but there is a character, the junior editor of the Messenger, who needn’t be introduced into the play until Act 2. The most memorable thing that he did in the opening scene was to call every person on stage a great man, or a great woman. Of course, I exaggerate this by saying every person, but the character says this three or four times in the course of 10 minutes. There didn’t seem to be any believability behind it. So to me it just seemed like he was randomly yelling that phrase which by happenstance coincided with a line that the “great” person just finished. “A great man!”
Aside from the junior editor in the first scene, this play had so many great attributes that I feel it would truly be a shame if it were missed. It’s obviously well written, but it has some of the most wonderful lines scattered throughout. One of my favorites was “Without power, what good is truth?” Thomas questions as he is given word that the people will not be giving their support to him. Also, in Act II Scene II, Thomas has a great speech in which he tells the public that “the people are never right…at first…Were they right when they crucified Jesus…?” In addition to it being a great show, there’s even an amazing deal: The tickets are FREE! There’s still one more weekend left to see it. Click on the link at the beginning of this review or click on the Calendar of Events in my blog roll and you can see the dates and times that you can catch this show.
This afternoon, I attended a performance at the Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2. I was treated, um…I don’t know if “treated” is the right word. It’s not often that I have personally witnessed a script tackle an issue head on while being both very insightful, funny, and genuinely moving. The play Coping Through Pain written and directed by Elizabeth Fatum was exactly that experience.
Susan (Maggie de Vera) is a woman who has a “unique” way of coping with stress and emotion. This play was brought to life because, like all great theatre before, it’s a necessary topic that needs to be brought to light for the safety of those involved.
The lights went down in the audience and came up on the stage that had a podium, a white board on an easle, and a chair behind the podium; all of which are stage right of center. When the first few actors came on set, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It seemed like it was supposed to be improvised interactions between various groups. Then, enter Susan and you get sucked in by her presence. She begins as a quiet demure woman somewhat clumsy, but when needed, she becomes assertive until she accomplishes her goal, then goes back to quiet and unassuming. And she makes you laugh while doing it. A quick lesson in acting: playing the opposites within moments or beats of each other create interest and energy. Susan uses the following during the opening scene: quiet and mousey to strong and assertive and then back which is funny when done well, and Ms. de Vera was right on the money.
The funny thing about this is that once she gets the actors on stage to leave, she starts the show as though she were presenting to us a lecture about Controlling Uncontrollable Things. She writes the acronym on the board – C.U.T. She begins to explain that emotions and stress are things that are uncontrollable items in life that actually can be controlled. She begins to use an example of a volcano and is suddenly interrupted by a loud thump backstage and then some of the other actors re-enter the stage and play out a scene, and you come to realize that those actors are the physical representations of Susan’s thoughts that show the audience glimpses into Susan’s past and private life which feature Stephanie Rose Neimann who plays Young Susan. This explains the opening of the show. Clever. Following the departure of the “thoughts”, there is a small interaction between Susan with a person that was a focus in the scene before. Once Susan “gathers” her thoughts, she continues with the presentation aspect but is again interrupted. The play is told through this manner of storytelling.
As you can probably guess from the acronym, she suffers from Deliberate Self Harm Syndrome and is considered a “cutter.” This behavior is not unique. The problem is that it’s such a personal act that no one talks about it. And it’s personal for any number of reasons. Sometimes there’s feelings of shame or guilt tied to the action, while some do it because they “feel numb” and are looking to “feel alive.” This behavior affects millions of people, and in a society that is so full of pressure to fit in, the possibility for it to become worse is high. Ms. Fatum made it a point to explain in the show that Susan was a bright and well rounded person. There isn’t a general group that this action encompasses. There is no way to simply look at a person and know if this something that they are going through. I am grateful that Ms. Fatum has planted her foot in the ground and heaved this issue in the audience’s lap.
There are many great moments throughout this too short 40 minute performance. One of the most honest, I think, was when Jodie (Kyeshia Arrington) is talking to Susan and offering her a friendly ear to confide in. One would think that something so simple and easy could be pulled of by anyone. That’s the problem. Nothing is ever that simple. This particular scene felt so genuine that I felt like I was actually in a high school watching two friends secretly talking.
Another great moment is again Susan interacting with her Mom (Shannon Quinn) after a flashback. This was a really well written scene. The mother was questioning her role in her child’s illness.
The most powerful moment is the point when Susan realizes that while she isn’t hurting anyone else, she is hurting the most important person. Herself. At this point, the entire cast is on stage and Susan has just stopped Young Susan from placing another cut on her arm. Then while in an embrace, the Susans in unison ask for help. The rest of the cast, also in unison answer the call. It’s a very moving scene.
Congratulations to Pacifica Spindrift Players Stage 2 for producing an important piece of work for the sake of all those that suffer from this behavior. While there were a few tiny, tiny choices I would have liked to have seen done in a different way, this was a great debut for Stage 2. I live in Campbell, and if this is the type of shows that Stage 2 will be performing, I will be more than happy to drive the 53 miles to see another.
My hope for Ms. Fatum is that, while this piece has grown from a 5 minute skit to a 40 minute play, she continues her work on it thus creating a full length 2 act play. I feel like so many people will be shocked to learn what I have during the 20 minute talk back after the show. If there is a way to incorporate some of that information into the middle of the play to understand the mindset of a person with this illness it could possibly have a bigger emotional pay off in the end. Still, should you ever get the chance to see this show produced elsewhere, please see it.