Friday, November 19, 2010

Chicago Razzle-Dazzles ‘em at Seattle Musical Theatre

By David-Edward Hughes for

It's been years since a local company has been able to land the rights to the mega-long run Broadway (and film) smash Chicago, and Seattle Musical Theatre has the boasting rights of being the first. SMT's non-Equity cast production doesn't quite have all that jazz, but it has more than enough to warrant your attendance, and the show itself (dare I say Kander & Ebb's best score?) is always worth a re-hearing.

By now, the tale Chicago spins (book by Fred Ebb) is pretty familiar. Set in the Windy City during the Roaring Twenties when a murder a day headlined the papers, it tells the (loosely fact based) tale of flapper fatale Roxie Hart, who guns down a lover and enters into a world where tabloid celebrity is king, and you better grab your 15 minutes of fame before the next scandal rocks the presses. Roxie is thrown into the Cook County jail where prison Matron Mama Morton shepherds a flock of Merry Murderesses, including reigning queen bee Velma Kelly. In no time, the deceptively demure Hart has Velma's ace lawyer Billy Flynn as her legal eagle, and sob-sister reporter Mary Sunshine sympathetically covering her every move, while her cuckolded sad-sack spouse Amos watches, invisibly, from the sidelines. Just when Hart's case threatens to take a backseat to the latest breaking story, she feigns pregnancy and goes into the courtroom loaded for bear. The verdict is scarcely announced when another hot murder hits town, leading Roxie and frenemy Velma to take their notoriety and head for a stage career. Bob Fosse's dark hued take on all this has been watered down a bit in various productions since the Encores! staging led to the still-running Broadway revival and the 2002 Oscar winning film, but director Ann Arends' entertaining take on the show leaves the Fosse vision more or less intact, with a principal cast that largely fills the bill.

As the pivotal Roxie Hart, Danielle Barnum is the real deal, a cool blonde charmer with a great voice and solid footwork, and she scores from beginning to end as the scheming Roxie, delivering her solos like "Funny Honey" and "Me and My Baby" with confident sizzle. In the showier role of Velma Kelly, Lindsey Larson may need a few years to grow into such roles, but she's a triple threat talent, nonetheless, who really sparkles in her duets "My Own Best Friend" and "Nowadays/Honey Rag" with Barnum, as well as her showcase numbers "I Can't Do It Alone" and "When Velma Takes the Stand."

Bradetta Vines is an ideal visual and vocal match for the unapologetically butch Mama Morton, and sells her "When You're Good to Mama" solo like a million bucks, before teaming with Larson to turn the raunchy ode to "Class" into an act two highpoint. Doug Knoop knowingly underplays poor soul Amos Hart, and sells the heck out of his "Mr. Cellophane" solo. And, as Mary Sunshine, R. McCabe is easily the equal of anyone I have ever seen in the role, delivering vocal pyrotechnics on the faux-maudlin "A Little Bit of Good." The only featured performance that left me wanting more was Troy Johnson, miscast as Billy Flynn. Johnson's sheer likability and youthful appearing presence are at odds with the Clarence Darrowish bent of the character, and the actor seems vocally overwhelmed by the demands of Billy's numbers.

The young ensemble isn't always up to the ambitions of choreographer Crystal Dawn Munkers' Fosse-fied choreography. The touchstone opening number "All That Jazz" is weakish, whereas the spunky "We Both Reached For the Gun" is both cleanly danced and vividly characterful. Director Arends misses by not letting Yusef Mahmoud as the entire Jury (a great bit when it works) play his takes and reaction out, making the scene about the hats he is wearing and not allowing the actor to simply inhabit the many faces of the jurors. Musical Director Paul Linnes' small but savory band does justice to the score of the show, though I found some of his tempos way to brisk for the insinuating styles of the songs. Dan Suiter's set design is the best looking I have seen at SMT in some years, and is well met by Richards Schaefer's noirish lighting design. Costume designer Deane Middleton has caught the right jazz age tone in her apparel, and especially gives Roxie and Velma some knockout outfits.

More of a full production than the hit Broadway revival and tour ever seemed, SMT's Chicago is a fast, fun, down & dirty diversion that contrasts well with the abundance of cozy holiday family fare arriving at our theatres the next few weeks.

Chicago runs through December 4, 2010, at Seattle Musical Theatre, Building #47, Magnuson Park. For more information go to


Friday, October 22, 2010

"Can you imagine? I mean, can you imagine?"

Hi folks! Doug Knoop here, I'm playing Amos Hart ("Mr. Cellophane") in Seattle Musical Theatre's production of "Chicago."

Just a note to let you know that rehearsals are chugging along just fine. I got to watch some of our oh-so-talented cast run-through both the "I Know a Girl" and "Me and My Baby" numbers last night. Our choreographer, Crystal Dawn-Munkers, is doing amazing work. You are in for a treat.

As for me? You'll never even know I'm there....

We open Nov. 12th (that's three weeks from today). Call 206-363-2809, or click the SMT link to the right, for ticket information.

Danielle Barnum as Roxie, Troy Johnson as Billy and Lindsey Larson as Velma

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's Good, Isn't It? Grand, Isn't It?

Ladies & Geraniums, this is Little Mary Sunshine welcoming you to the madcap world of CHICAGO: THE MUSICAL, presented by Seattle Musical Theatre.

For my very first post, I present you with a delightful video of Miss Liza Minnelli performing "Nowadays" on Dinah Shore's television program (complete with Kander & Ebb....and a very special guest).

Stay tuned for some delightful tidbits from myself and several very special guests from the company.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The songs are already completely stuck in my head... and I'm happy about it! Chicago is one of my favorite shows and I could not be more pleased to be working on it with this team and cast!

We're off to a great start: music rehearsals are going well and designs are coming together. Tonight will be our first dance rehearsal and I can't wait to see what our choreographer, Crystal Dawn Munkers has in store for our fantastic cast.

Please join us on our journey to the roaring '20s. It's gonna be great!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Back in the days of my early 20's, attempting to make a living in NYC, fighting with the constant conundrum of "Do I keep a roof over my head" or "Should I really start paying off these Student Loans?".

I was working part time as a receptionist and office assistant for Richard Frankel Productions (Hairspray; The Producers; Stomp; Young Frankenstein) when I get a call from the secretary of Candlewood International Productions.

"We'd like to offer you the role of Lancelot in our National Tour production of CAMELOT!"
"Sure! Send me the information and I'll get it right back to you!"

Without hesitation I leave my desk call my mother and she screams outrageously over the phone.

"It's Lancelot, right?!"
"That's what the lady said! I'm assuming that since that's what I auditioned for?"
"Oh... Okay, well call me back once you get the details"

Sure enough, I check my email and there it is!


I called the office back...

"Hi, there must have been some confusion, I thought you were offering me the role of Lancelot?"
"Oh no, we'd like you to be in the ensemble and be the Lancelot cover"
"Sorry, I can't afford to leave my job and my apartment for an ensemble role"

Now, I know what you're thinking, but don't scoff at me just yet, this was not an ego trip that I was on, I was barely making ends meet, I was working 2 1/2 jobs before the summer, had just gotten back from a summer stock and found a new job and although a National Tour is still a good thing, I had a little pride and I really couldn't afford to leave the city AGAIN just to put "NATIONAL TOUR: ENSEMBLE" on my resume.

Full of dismay I went back to work, I had been so excited, I had a scale of plans from the time I graduated college that included getting onto a National Tour and I felt like my dreams just punched me in the gut.

Luckily, not two days later, I got another phone call...

"Hi, sorry about before, we DO want to offer you the role of Lancelot on our Tour!"
"Are you sure?
"Yes, I got it right this time"
"Good, because I can't go through another pint of Ben and Jerry's"

"In short, there's simply not....

...a more congenial spot, than here in Camelot!"

I couldn't agree more with the Messrs. Lerner and Loewe! It's a joy to watch this production progress with each rehearsal. There is a lot of hard work going into each scene, song, and sentence so that when we bring it to you - our audience - it, in turn, brings you something to love, something to think about, something in which to take joy.

Pardon me, I should introduce myself: I'm Sarah and I am a member of the lovely ensemble. I'm proud to stand in the midst of this incredibly talented little group. And what better way to present the glorious and tragic story of King Arthur than with an armful of people truly devoted to it. This story is, indeed, dear to my heart. As a student of literature and the English language, I fell in love with Arthurian legend (all tales related to King Arthur, Camelot, etc.). The tales of chivalry, courtly love, and loyalty make me a little bit giddy. This musical adaptation of the story takes a good long look at the relationships between lovers and the loved. In fact, this show is entirely about relationships and how we handle them. It is also a story of incredible hope in the face of trying circumstances. But I'll stop there, I don't want to give anything away. ;)

Anyways, I hope I didn't get to carried away there... I really love this show and this story. :) I wonder, would you be interested in some other Arthurian resources? For some pre-show reading material, I highly recommend The Once and Future King by T. H. White (if you don't have time for the whole thing, the first book - The Sword and the Stone - will do nicely) and Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory. Also, here's a great internet resource for all things Camelot: The Camelot Project.

Thanks for listening and I can't wait for you to see this show!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fun at our alternate rehearsal space

We spent two days at our alternate rehearsal space this week since Seattle Musical Theatre's Summer Stage camp's production of Annie needed to use the theatre. Before we could start with music rehearsals we had to move our old piano (the newly donated one we'll keep at the theatre) to the space a few blocks from the theatre, but within Magnuson park.

Thanks to cast members Britt, Nicholas & Jontom, resident sound designer Joshua, production manager Dan and SMT friend James, the piano was moved down the street and up the stairs quickly.

Later that night, when I was gathering chairs from other rooms in the building, I (perhaps somewhat foolishly) opened a door in the basement. It was starting to get dark. The door made a creaking noise right out of a horror movie. Then, I found myself eye to eye with a life-sized paper-mache person. She stared right at me and was wearing a surgical mask and curlers in her hair. In one bloodied hand she had a stick of some kind and in the other arm she carried a severed head. I screamed. And then laughed until tears were streaming down my face. Then made sure to show everyone at rehearsal that night.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

To Camelot!

It really seemed like it was just last week that we closed 110 in the Shade... but here we are: a new season, a new show, a new cast and new blog updates!

Although the production team has been meeting for a couple of months now, yesterday was the first rehearsal with the cast. We are extremely fortunate in both our creative team and our cast members and I can't wait to see everything coming together!

Onward. To Camelot!

In the beginning...

...there was a meet-and-greet...

The first rehearsal of a new show is such an exciting time! Even though the production and artistic staffs have usually been meeting for a while, this is the first (and often last) time we're all together until tech week.

Meet-and-greet is the night where everyone gets to introduce themselves and what their connection is to the show. For some of us, it's really easy ("I'm Britt and I'm in the ensemble.") Others (Joshua!) are doing so many things it's difficult to keep them all straight! One thing that's always true is that most of us won't remember anyone's name for more than five minutes. For weeks, you'll be known as "the sound guy who lurks in the back."

Remember how much you loved show-and-tell in kindergarten? Meet-and-greet has it's own grown-up version. Models of the set, reams of costume research-- it gets your imagination going! Camelot is going to be a gorgeous show and it's fantastic to see how passionate the designers are about creating this world.

PS... the actors are pretty amazing, too! After listening to last night's table read, I can't wait to see this show come to life!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Britt wrote me a haiku for closing:

Ah, life as SM
Standby thunder and lighting
... Where the hell's my cast?

It kind of rocks my world.

Closing a show always is a little bit hard - especially when you have enjoyed the process and the people involved so much. Usually, I count myself pretty lucky when, by the time we close, all of my actors are still in one piece, none of my crew has quit and the theatre did not burn down (not that I've been leaving a trail of broken actors, disillusioned crew and smoldering theatres over the years... I just keep expecting the worst. It's what stage managers do). Sometimes, when very lucky, I will feel like I've made some new friends and it's the occasional rare show where everyone just bonds and a sense of family is created.

110 was such a show.

As I told my favorite underage cast member, the end of a show feels like having to send your kids out into the wide world. You're excited for them, you know they and you are ready, but you know you'll miss them and you just don't know when they'll come back to you... and it makes you secretly wish that you could just hold onto them - or the moments you created together- for just a little bit longer.

But, I also know that we'll see each other again - as friends, colleagues or at organized reunions. The Producers clan still has periodic get togethers and I'm pretty sure the town of Three Point will see each other at some annual picnic day or other...

On to the next season... it's going to be a good one!


We closed today. A few finals things:

1) When Greg and Paul laugh at the same time, it is pretty much the most frightening laugh combo imaginable. It sounds something like if two evil professors determined to take over the world have unhatched some devious plot and are celebrating their debauchery.

2) FX and myself REALLY like pie.

3) The gay equivilent to a "cougar" (i.e. attractive older woman who picks up younger guys) is a "jaguar".

4) Justin burns 4500 calories per session of Dance Dance Revolution.

5) Girls cry.

6) I don't cry. Mostly because I don't have human emotions. Mostly because I am robot. Yes, I've been a robot this whole time. And with this revelation, I am proud to announce that I have successfully completed the perfect trifecta of cowboyninjarobot. I am now unstoppable.

110 In the Shade was a blast. Per usual, it is the people, from crew to actors to musicians and everybody in between, that make stage performance such a wonderful craft. And, of course, thanks to our audiences who came out and supported this production. Truly, truly, truly theater is possible or relevant without an audience. Thanks to all. See y'all next season!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Start of a new week

There's something so great about starting a new week of a run. Those couple of days off are a nice way to hit the reset button. I find myself listening so much more because it's been a few days since I heard Greg go on about how he's gonna make it rain-- he has a great way of pulling in our townspeople that can be easily taken for granted.

Only three shows left, so don't miss out! Come down and play "Match the Cast Member with the Blog Entry." I'll even give you a hint - I'm the one with mummified legs!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Photo call

After the matinee performance yesterday, we did a quick photo call in an attempt to properly capture and immortalize the 110 family.

From left to right (standing):
F.X., Jenn H., Josh, Charles, John, Madison, Gregory, Dick, Jusin, Arwen, Eric and Britt. Seated in front are Bill and Jenn L.

As it turns out, people dressed in all black are hard to photograph well:

The crew consists of:
bottom row: Dominic (Technical director & light board operator), Bradley (running crew)
middle row: Caleb (Follow Spot operator), Katherine (Wardrobe coordinator), Emily (Assistant Stage Manager) and Parker (Follow Spot Operator
upper row: yours truly (Stage Manager) and Joshua (Sound designer/engineer and projections guru)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday matinees and Easter eggs...

On Sunday matinees, we open the house an extra fifteen minutes early, which means we have a lot of extra time to kill backstage between sound check and our places call. Ironically, it's also the one day in the performance week where most everyone is ready well ahead of sound check. That adds up to a lot of bored folks crammed together in a small space!

We all spend the time differently. Some of us are responsible and balance our checkbooks (no, not me!). Others spend quality time with their curling irons (again, not me). Today, you could find a bunch of the guys out back playing frisbee. They aren't very good at it. Word of warning: don't park your car behind the theatre if you value your paint job ;)

Now that we're in the midst of the run, here are a handful of things very few people see about our show:

*Starbuck's conjuring stick has a notch for each performance we've had an audience. Everyone touches it before each show because... well, we're theatre people, and theatre people are a superstitious lot!

*The red bandana signaling Starbuck's entrance may look simple, but there's a whole production number happening behind the scenes. Typically, Gregory is standing the wings getting into character as the ensemble exits from "The Hungry Men" (the picnic scene). There's not a lot of time before we come back on, so we wait in the wings and try not to cause too much of a ruckus. Josh likes to give Gregory pitching tips, which makes me bite my lip so I don't bust out laughing.

*Wanna know what sitting in the dressing room during a scene change looks like? Imagine a herd of hippos. In clunky shoes. Stampeding above your head.

*In the Act Two opener, look for the minivan parked in the projection. Lawd knows the cast does! And no, there are no dinosaurs hiding in the bushes. Trust me, Josh has looked for them...

*Starbuck has some crazy stuff in his wagon. Vials of potions, skulls, a gods-eye. Arwen and I want to know how he uses them to make rain!

*Notice how after Starbuck charms the ensemble in the "Rain Song", you don't see them again until the second act? That's because we're downstairs with a box of card games that rivals the selection at Top Ten Toys. Favorites include Killer Bunnies, Bang!, Loot and Fluxx (both the Monty Python and Zombie editions). We also have a lovely rotating selection of treats. Of course, we never eat them in costume ;)

*The guys in the cast have been all over this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book backstage this week. Don't you love those? They also are making some serious headway on our deck of Mensa cards. I'd be willing to pit my cast against anyone in town on trivia night!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


As I ponder attending a prom after-party, I shall post. First off, this run is going by way too fast and I am not ok with it. The faster it goes, the closer it gets to days I can sleep & eat full meals & have time for chores...none of which I am familiar with. ...Or at least haven't been these last few weeks. Sometimes the "simple little things" in life get looked past for the big, shining moments. For me, it's been time spent on the stage with these folks. They're absolutely wonderful - and a nice thing to look at - onstage and off. ;)

Greg (Starbuck) informed us of a review in the newspaper. Although they didn't have anything bad to say about our production, they mentioned that this wasn't their favorite show, that there was no glitz n' glamour. But it didn't take us time at all to think - "well of course...we live in a town called Three Point, $100 bucks is just about the last amount to our name, and we don't break out into song and dance to perform for the audience." We break out into song and dance to tell a story. And it is so moving that even we, as actors, often feel the emotion and start to cry (in character, of course) onstage. It's a unique show. And if you see it, you will have a wonderful experience. You might not rave about the performance after, because quite frankly, you could be speechless from the moving story you just watched. Might I add that I have never been involved in a production quite like this, and it took me some time to get used to performing in such an intimate environment where I wasn't performing for someone. We're performing to make art -- to tell a story. Our reactions, our feelings, our lines...they're all reactions to what has been said or done. Nothing is a performance, we're experiencing onstage. Which is why blocking can change on different occasions, emotions can be more intensified, and our characters might vary slightly depending on another's line delivery or reaction.

So we've created this big family - again both on and offstage - and we've brought it to life every night. Sorry, Peaches, you might not have felt the spirit, but by goodness, you're one of few. I personally can't wait for Chris (our director) to see the show on closing - I really hope he makes it. Throughout the run, his biggest desire for all of us was to create a family that never stops changing, that isn't platonic and rehearsed. He even said once he didn't care if we end up at a different spot every night, as long as it was for a purpose...if we felt in the moment, and it was genuine. It takes talent and quite a bit of experience to be able to rely on your actors so much that you're rehearsing changes night after night.

Thanks Gregory, for bringing this review to our attention. It makes me even prouder that we can confidently say, "What show did you see, Peaches?" And if we didn't say it...we were thinking it. Also, it's nice I can give you credit for something, considering you only get made fun of whenever Josh posts.

After this, I have officially decided against the after-prom-party, and I might go take some "emotional time-out" and cry thinking about Old Maid again. (Josh, once again, you are partially to blame for this.)

And just...thank you to all of you... for making missing prom the easiest sacrifice I've ever had to make. I'm so dang proud to be in this show, it's truly a blessing.

Love and fairy dust for a special show tomorrow! (Curry will provide.) ;)



After a nice week long break, we came back to do yet another round of our show. Our house tonight was, as far as I could tell, our largest and most responsive audience yet. Thanks to all who made it out tonight.

In other news, much of what I observed tonight came from off stage right. Now mind you, I am still committed to SL4LY (Stage Left For Life, Yo), but tonight I hung out on the other side. From stage right, I observed Greg's interesting process in throwing a hanky on stage. A simple task, one would think. Greg, however, requires several steps of practice pump faking and just general assurance that he can actually throw something on stage. I will give him credit that he does so successfully every night. This simply validates the already known fact that us theater folk cannot throw things very well...

As I have already stated in previous blogs, my job in the cast is to successfully meld both ninja and cowboy to create a super race of stealthy badasses. I have completed this task flawlessly. Tonight, I am officially declaring the enemy of the ninjacowboy; that is, the Three Point "Stepford" wives. Over the course of the show, I have noticed stage green lights on the backs of Britt and Jenn off stage. They tried to cunningly convince me that this is simply the light coming from their mic pacs. This clearly is a lie, covering up the truth of their cybertronic identities. I am pretty sure they also use an auto-tone during our songs on stage. Cheating robots...

Finally, a shout out to the ladies:

1) I was randomly listening to "Simple Little Things" being sung tonight by Jenn Littlefield. Even after hearing it dozens of times, when really listening to it, I find something new and beautiful to appreciate. Simply put, Jenn is wonderful and is the reason that you should see this show.

2) Our stage manager, Carine (pronounced with THREE SYLLABLES), is a beautiful and wonderful human being. She is truly a pleasure to work with.

Finally finally, a shout out to the lobby bar upstairs (with you should check out after the show, yo!)

3) Beer = good. (Its the beer talking...)

More to come...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Opening Weekend

Most of the blogs that I have written thus far have been written with comedic intent. I would like to step away from that for just a moment...

I can't say that I do theater to impact other people. I do it because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy the people and the atmosphere. I have had a wonderful time being part of this made up world where people break out into song. I have found much joy with this production. I think, however, for the first time this weekend, this show made me feel awful. It was nothing the cast or crew did. But the response that it evoked from a friend who came to see the show.

We talked in the lobby. She told me she was brought to tears. I wasn't particularly surprised to hear this, expecting them to be tears of joy from the ending. She agreed with this. As the tears began to well up in her eyes again, she also told me that Lizzie's song "Old Maid" hit a little close to home. She had to stop. I couldn't talk to her anymore. It never occurred to me she was that lonely. This breaks my heart.

I am lucky to be part of a production that has this capability. I reminded that as performers we are lucky to be able to shake off some of the harder aspects of life that we must face on stage at the end of the night. Our audience may not have that luxury.

A bittersweet note on an otherwise wonderful opening weekend.

Let the rain come...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tickled Pink

In a very large nutshell...our backstage fun consists of...

Electromagnetized brushes, history lessons about short ties, lots of ripped fabric equaling a frantic Snookie, completely random killer bunny card games, waaaayyy too much junk food, awkward moments with Starbuck's hickory stick, discussions of Justin Timberlake and Adam Lambert together on Broadway...?, Brittany validating that she does in fact own every entertainment item known to man, complaints of why the show isn't called "The Rainmaker" (or something cool like that), steaming flat irons that scare the crap out of Britt, mini baskets of jelly beans (I believe I mixed two together and made pink lemonade!!), finger crossing that John's testerone isn't too much that it rips my dress again, reluctance of using an outside porta-potty, and a big ol' bucket of licorice.

...but aside from all the fun lay a row of beautiful pink roses, each set with a card beneath them. Darn, turns out I wasn't the first one in the dressing room this evening, Chris beat me to it...

So while the fun gives us memories for the future, it's the heartwarming moments that make the present so special.

Feel the love and come see this special show.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Opening Night

A little peek backstage...

7:50 Opening night gifts have been flying backstage! Emily's biscuits, Bradley's beef jerky, Gregory's candy-filled stars are all well-received. Our leads have flowers crowding the extra spaces. Plus some of our favorite SMT alums, Colin and Ashley, sent us all sorts of goodies (including sunscreen!)

7:58 Places called. Still not ready. Drat!

8:00 Despite some minor sound check delays, we still managed to start the show at the appointed hour. Trust me, it's not as easy as it sounds. There are so many things that can hold up the show's start time.

8:10 Opening number rolled right along. The boys are upstairs now singing "Lizzie's Comin' Home". Josh and Justin have decided to add their own interpretive dances in the dressing room, conveniently located just below the stage. Thundrous applause (for the guys onstage, not so much for the downstairs version).

8:20 Cross #1 - the infamous lemonade balance. It didn't fall over, so all is well with the world. Hung out in the wings to watch Josh strut his stuff. Some roles are absolutely typecast... ;) Plenty of laughter. Came downstairs to find flowers had magically appeared at my section of the room. Awww!

8:23 Listening to Jen power-run the words to "Hungry Men" as the guys jump into "Poker Polka". What a strange dicotomy.

8:30 Lemonade spilled all over the floor during the picnic. Fortunately it's made of paraffin wax and yellow crayons, so it stays in the cup. "Mopped" it up with my dishcloth regardless...

8:45 Oh, "Rain Song"! Starbuck was sure spinning the story tonight, which captivated many of us for real. Popped the seam in the armhole of my green dress - thank goodness Kathryn is awesome at sewing, because otherwise I'd be forced to grab the duct tape from upstairs and fix it myself. Now that we're free for the rest of the act, the ensemble settles in to play Killer Bunnies. Certain members of the cast inform us that the game looks like a five year old designed it. That may be true, but it's sure fun to play!

9:20 Intermission. We frantically pack up our game as Lizzie holds out the last note of "Old Maid," as we play on the floor right in front of the costume rack. Sometimes nobody wins. Maybe tomorrow... Mic battery and costume changes before we can enjoy intermission.

9:35 "Everything Beautiful" lives up to its name - everyone remembers their own lines and no one falls off the platform. We even remember to smile-- Chris and Paul sure drum it into us enough that it's a "happy" song.

9:50 Cross #2 - chasing Martha. Jen and I always have fun with this one!

10:10 Last entrance of the night as we head into the homestretch. Eric and I have a running commentary during this scene that rivals Statler and Waldorf Hope our mics don't get turned on by accident! The last few moments of the show are incredibly touching, so I don't mind bursting into tears onstage. Waterproof mascara!

10:27 Race downstairs to change clothes one last time and head off to the Blu Water Bistro for our opening night party! Good show, everyone!


What a gorgeous day to open a show!

Once you get done playing in the sun, come on down to opening night of 110 in the Shade. We had a side-splittingly fun show last night for preview (thanks to Snookie) and everyone's psyched for tonight's performance! If you get to the theatre early, rumor has it the bar will be open ;)

A handful of us will be blogging backstage for opening night, so check back later for the play-by-play!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Video teasers!

A few sneak peek videos from 1st dress rehearsal. Awesome projections not included yet...

Pay-what-you-can preview is tonight at 8:00pm
Opening night is tomorrow night at 8:00pm!!

Please join us!

Little Red Hat - with the much discussed swing-Snookie-upside-down dance move:

Is it Really Me?

Poker Polka


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I felt that last night's run went swimmingly, with only a few bumps here and there. It was good to have the band back. After our sitzprobe on Saturday, we didn't have them on Monday night. No offense to Paul's piano abilities, but even his prowess cannot replace a whole band. No worries, 'cause they are back for good, baby!

I don't know how old Dick is. I am not going to guess and put my estimate on this blog, because I don't want to hurt his feelings and don't want to suffer the consquences of my honesty (he told me in the military he did some boxing). But, I would imagine that, over the course of his lifetime, he has on several occasions been required to tie a tie. I admit, it can be a tricky task to do correctly, but last night Dick's tie made it, maybe, halfway down his chest. It looked like he was trying to hide some cleavage or something. I gave him some grief about it, and in response he told me the origin of the tie, which was in France (leave it to the French, right?), and went about his merry business. I suppose I shouldn't give him such at hard time; at least he's wearing a tie. Shoot, I mean Jimmy can't even button up his shirt...

Us ensemble have a nice long break after the "Rain Song" until intermission, and some of my fellow townspeople have began to pass the time with an assortment of card games. Britt, the girl who pretty much owns every form of entertainment ever created (be it CD's, DVD's, television series, EVERY-FREAKIN'-THING), brought in a dozen different games that look confusing and nerdy even to us fellow performers. I simply watch and patronize them as they play their silly, little games...

...I will probably be the most enthusiastic player of these games by the end of the run.

Finally, us theater folk don't get to compete too often aside from auditions. Generally lacking the physical coordination and aggressive tendancies, I willing to gamble that most of us aren't overly active in the whole "sports community". That being said, Paul, being the sneaky music director that he is, gave us a chance to compete in a verbal shouting match during "Rain Song". Now, my side, Stage Left (SL4LY or Stage Left for Life, Yo!) is at a distinct disadvantage by having one less person on our side. For the longest time Stage Right (SRSB or Stage Right Smells Bad) abusively used their greater numbers to oppress us on the left. WELL, NO MORE! For the last two nights, SL4LY has crushed the tyrannical SRSB with dynamic force. I may not be able to throw a football, but I will "YEAH!" the crap out of anybody!

More to come...

2nd Dress Rehearsal

At some point during the rehearsal process, and in particular tech week, things usually go wrong. And they finally did. And I'm kind of glad. I was starting to worry that everything was going a little *too* smoothly, which was bound to result in a spectacular mess on opening night. Because that is how these things go. So, the fact that last night our technology went haywire is okay. Because it will be fixed.

All show, the projector, which projects the beautiful slides that Jason designed and really help to set the scene, had been acting up - and we knew it would be, due to a video card problem. Sometimes it wouldn't move on to the next image when I pressed the button, sometimes it would come up with the wrong image and a few times Three Point, Texas would be so entirely out of focus that we'd imagine our patrons all taking off their glasses and trying to rub off the blurry spots.

Then, towards the end of the show, after a wrongly place cue instantly teleported the entire cast from one area to another, the rain cue came and everyone was excited to see the animation work. Unfortunately, our joy was rather short-lived because the projector suddenly started flickering and then alternating between two different images before crashing completely in a rather impressive display of technological failure. Imagine seeing your computer screen freezing up, the image breaking into fragments and go partially black - but then on a giant 12ft screen. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to keep my light and sound cues straight (at which I failed pretty miserably), madly pushing my sound cue standby / go button while trying to rattle off the correct light cues as Three Point shattered around us.

But, between Joshua and Jason's expertise, and the new video card Caleb supplied, we should be good to go today. And I'll get those cues straight. Because, in the end, it always comes together.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A little Poker Polka, anyone?

O.k..... this is my first blog - in my era, blogs were large geletin like carnivorous creatures (oh wait, that was "the Blob" - nevermind...)
I did my first musical in 1967, playing "Freddie" in "My Fair Lady".... since then, I have done a lot of wonderful work with great people ( and some crappy work with bad people - but hey, thats show biz). This show has to rank among the very top of my list.

I do love the show to begin with and have since I first heard it in workshop in 1974. Always to hoped to get a chance to not just be in it, but to be in a great production of it. I believe we have accomplished that..... the ensemble is a delight - you guys/gals are so fun to watch. Your faces are constantly expressive, in character and totally believable. You put out a choral sound that seems like there are twice as many of you.

Jennifer sends a chill up my spine with her Lizzy - singing, dancing and acting all top notch....(anybody think she looks like Dana Delaney??) Greg has power, charisma and is a wonderful Starbuck. I love my kids, Charles and John. Great fun to work with. Snookey is lovely to watch and a crack up to listen too..... I so admire her courage in being flipped around like a rag doll and I know Jimmy will never drop her! File and I go back many years and its so good to work with Bill again.
Carine has got to be the most organized and best stage manager I have ever worked with....including The Fifth Avenue!
And of course, Chris and Paul - creative - encouraging - humorous and about as talented as it gets musically.

Thanks to everyone for making this one of the best theater experiences of my life..... Break a leg!

Poetry time

An ode to the design elements of our show, set to the tune of that classic showtune, "My Favorite Things". No, that's not from 110 in the Shade, so don't go expecting to hear it pop up in the middle of Act Two! ;)

Raindrop projections and stormclouds a'brewin',
Dusty street scenescapes and oversize moons,
Thunder and lightning flying 'cross the screen,
These are a few of our technical things.

Mic packs that wedge into too-tiny places,
Beige cords criss-crossing actor necks and faces,
Sound levels balanced and piped to the wings,
These are a few of our technical things.

Lanterns and clipboards and old water pails,
Havana cigars shipped to town on the rails,
Brown picnic baskets with feasts fit for kings,
These are a few of our technical things.

Bright painted wagons and sturdy wood tables,
Platforms we dance on (so thankful they're stable!)
Tall wooden columns stretch up to the beams,
These are a few of our technical things.

Snappy suspenders and light faded dresses,
Bobby pins jammed in to hold up our tresses,
Cowboy boots clomping as we dance and sing,
These are a few of our technical things.

Soft sweet blue light makes the night so serene,
Hot red daylight makes you long for some sunscreen,
Brightness and dimness that colors the scenes,
These are a few of our technical things.

When my notes strain
(makes me insane!)
Or my lines get crossed,
I simply look 'round at the technical things
and then I don't feel so lost!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Our idea of of...being productive?

Keepin it short and sweet tonight...
People to see, places to be...cattle to tend to.

Above are our beloved cast members staying occupied backstage with the "High School Musical" version of "Where's Waldo." Greg says I'm gay for owning that. psshhh. Like he would know.

OH, ohh, and what the heck guys?! Stage Left wins??? Paul's stage right ear was plugged, that's all that was. A.K.A - a fluke.

Love and a hug,

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Today was our long day, sitzprobe and all. But really, it was pretty painless. Thanks to the board for dinner and Carine for making it such a smooth operation.

So, sitzprobe = fun. Hearing the band for the first time is always a treat. Also, I am convinced that doing choreography from a chair is the only way to do it. John choose to do a little extra standing up, which including touching his hips and doing a little shimmy when Starbuck sings about "little boys wad[ing]" in water. An odd choice, and a reminder that I should probably alert local law enforcement...

Speaking of Starbuck, during his song "Melisande" (which sounds phenomenal, b-t-dubs) there is a part where he sings as the mythical princess character Melisande, in which, I swear, his voice goes lower than any other part in the song. Greg's idea of a princess has such a sultry and smooth baritone voice. Anybody surprised?

Being the long tech day that it was, we also got our costumes for the first time. For me, the costume in a show is a monumental help to finalizing the character; actually giving the character a physical difference than yourself. It also really helps when relating to other people on stage, giving you that final push into believing that you are talking to a townsperson. Carine said that our costumes said really complimented the set, which is also coming along nicely, with the combination of plain, earthy tones. Upon hearing this, I tried to use my costume to make me invisible against the floor of the set. Carine was not fooled, and reminded me that I can indeed be seen. Again, cowboy ninja. I am determined to make it work!

I haven't mentioned in my previous blogs about the dance routine between Snooks and Jim in "Little Red Hat". Without giving too much away, in the number Snooks gets flipped around a wee bit. Now, in the past this has been a little, er, sketchy. In the song, the two sing about getting romantic, and in the dance routine the only thing Snookie was getting romantic with was the floor. Fortunately, it has improved greatly, and will look awesome by opening. I was beginning to think that we might have to rename the number "Little Red Helmet"...

So, after today hearing ourselves with the mics/band/everything, I convinced that you will want to come see the show. If I can toot our own horn for a second, it is gonna sound freakin' awesome. Get your tickets, folks! You won't wanna miss it!

More to come...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tech talk

I like tech. It often has a bad rep, and sure, there are the long hours, the fear of things not coming together on time, stressed out production team members, demanding actors (what?! not this cast, of course!) and the pressure of making things run smoothly and keeping everyone in the loop while still remembering to call the light, sound and projection cues on time. But I love it. It is by far the most exciting time in the rehearsal and performance process for me... For months, I've been in on design and production meetings, auditions, casting and seemingly endless nights of rehearsals, but when technical rehearsals starts it's finally time to see everyone's efforts come together.

We have been adding lights the last couple of nights, which always makes a huge difference. Tomorrow we will have a rehearsal with the orchestra and sound (again, adding those makes an enormous difference!), followed by a run through where we'll add costumes and make sure all of the scene changes and lights are (close to) the way we want them. Our crew person will join us for the first time then, too.

Then on Monday we'll throw everything together: actors, orchestra, sound, lights, projections, props, costumes and make-up.

Another reason for enjoying tech rehearsals is because it functions as a bit of a reunion party for me. I love getting to work with new directors and new cast members and making new friends, but there is something really comforting about reaching the end of of the rehearsal process and getting to see and spend time with all of the familiar faces of the tech crew; the follow spot operators, light board op, sound engineer, wardrobe coordinator, technical director, charge artist and running crew. And seeing the reactions of the design team who are seeing both the show and their creations in action for the first time is pretty awesome too.

Things do go wrong. And when they do, they usually make for great stories over a drink or two. But, so far, so good. Everyone has been doing great work. So.., here's to another good day of tech tomorrow!

We remembered to breathe!!!

It was a solid show last night. And it's everyone's doing - no single person made the show great . With that said, their behind the scenes participation makes it extra fun to write blogs.

Josh gave us some after-show entertainment with his rendition of “Everything Beautiful.” Except not...he called it, “Everything Gothical Happens At Night.” I *thought* I pressed record, but I didn't. Guess he'll have to do it again for us. By the way, Josh, we moved in style beautifully last night.

Britt brought some goodies for us to enjoy from Idaho...what a treat!

Arwin and I had a humorous run-through of “Hungry Men,” sorry Paul...

Greg got yelled at again for mispronouncing “Melisande,” again...:) I believe Paul said he would “shoot things” at him if he mispronounced it again. Maybe he'll get lucky, and Paul will just have Chris spit on him.

Jennifer immerses herself in “Lizzie,” once again and continues to impress us.

Justin plays a mean drunk man...mean in a good way!

Chris was the kindest director ever by only having two pages of notes for us...what a confidence boost!

F.X does a beautiful job of hiding a bottle of vodka. *cough*

Jen continues to impress me with her man skills...

Eric belts those echoes in hot day like no other...what a man.

Dick consistently makes me laugh - rather the line is intended that way - or not.

Bill sang “Man and a Woman” with such ease. Absolutely stunning.

Charles stands up for Starbuck and it gets me every time.

Paul makes us sing better - so he just wins.

and finally, John and I finished Little Red Hat GRACEFULLY.
It's come a far way...and I have bruises on my legs to prove it! ;)
Paul's idea of a choreographed breath before some of the longer phrases worked perfectly. I think of a breathing technique for a pregnant woman right before I sing, and it does wonders. Always have to have something on mind.

Until next time...

Snookie (Snooks, Snookums, Snook, Snookster)

P.S: Wins for stage right: 2


On our way!

Last night we hit the mark! After 12 pages of notes the previous night, I took 2 pages, and many of them merely praise for this great cast. Here are a few: Josh looks good without a shirt; Arwen and Justin's timing to platform area 6 was perfect; FX's "Rainsong" moves were spot on; Eric and Britt have never looked more genuine and dear; Jennifer made most of her entrances on time, and cursed herself, hands covering her face, when she didn't; Madison and John nailed "Little Red Hat" and I have confidence they always will; Charles' delivery of "No one I know of," is perfectly timed and heartfelt; Dick leaves me believing in H.C. and his philosopy of life; Bill has left the mind and moved into the heart of File; Gregory has found the moments and given them time needed, creating the Starbuck we were looking for; And Jenn is my Lizzie - the pain, the hopes, the dreams, and the talent to share it all with us.

And least I forget, SMT provides their directors with the best creative and administrative staff anyone could hope for. I have never been able to thank Ann and Paul enough for the support I receive when I am privilaged enough to participate in their productions. And now I have Carine as well! Thanks, kid, for moving us forward so consistently. And thanks to all the staff.

And we still have a week of layering the tech to create a deep and wonderful show. We're running with the wind, and I can smell the rain coming.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Great run-through

Can I just say that yet again I feel so lucky to be a part of a theatre company that is so talented AND organized that we do run-throughs 2 weeks before opening? I love it! It really gives me an opportunity to experience the full-meal-deal and sink my teeth into it, so by the time the audience sees it, we will be so ready to present. Thanks to Chris for reiterating for the umpteenth time that he wants us to be real - listen and react genuinely. The detailed notes we get from Paul and Chris will just tighten up the performance as a whole. And we still have 1 more week to go! (And thanks Chris for being so patient and understanding with those people who just can't seem to enter on time. And you know who you are, you slackers.)

I'd say the "backstage" antics are so amusing, even if they occur in the house seats. Josh has more characters and voices than Sybil, and although he wants to be a ninja cowboy, he can rock out like nobody's business.

It was great to chat with Arwin on what were our favorite songs from this show. There are so many good songs in this one, it sure is hard to pick a favorite. "Simple Little Things" and "Everything Beautiful Happens at night" are just too purdy. However, "Little Red Hat" is just such a head-boppin', toe-tappin', fun song, that with John and Maddison's fantastic dancing, however, I don't think it can be topped in my book. (No offense to Charles "Twinkle-toes" Gift and Dick "I'd rather be in the back row" Hooper for their efforts.)

So here's looking forward to our long Saturday where we get to experience the full orchestra. You go bobble-head Paul!

Time well spent.

For the first night of tech, I thought it went rather smoothly. Just a few minor mishaps, but that's what makes tech rehearsal not a dress rehearsal...we still have some time to tweak. Here's an idea of what went on tonight - if you happened to miss this very entertaining evening.

“What's going on right now?”
“Everything Beautiful.”
You know your head is full of way to much darn information when you're asking the person you just practiced with FOR the next scene, what scene is up next...

Flightiness runs in our theater family, even though John and I enjoyed the “extra moment” while Wally and his bud joined us onstage during “Little Red Hat.” Yes, I do refer to this scene often, mainly because it's the only scene in the whole show where a person is treated as a prop. Moi. Brittany whispers, “You need a little hard hat,” after rehearsal. Yes, that would be helpful, but not as rebellious. Heck, I sang a couple measures of the song upside down tonight...SUCH A RUSH.

Compromising positions? Why yes, Paul, I think that phrase fits perfectly.

It's also really great when random limbs end up in odd my arm being squashed in a hug between Noah And Jimmy...does that happen? I guess on the stage, anything's possible.

As Brittany said, actors pretty much sacrifice our lives (in a sense) for “homework time.” But the truth is, for many of us, theater is our life. And when a great show is created by a hard-working cast, we wouldn't trade it for all the time in the world.

Speaking of time, Chris's rather perturbed statement, “screwwwwwww,” gave us the impression he would have liked more time for notes. At least that's what I got from it. But I'm afraid if he did finish his twelve pages of “hey, do this, not that,” it might not have stuck as well as he would like, so we'll gladly take our notes via email. That said, valuable time was spent with Chris sharing his idea of a drama opposed to performing a musical. “We are actors -- not performers.” He makes a point to tell us how each of us have a moment in the show, and it's a matter of grasping that moment that will really make the audience take that extra breath and feel the story, opposed to a show with people singing songs randomly. “It's so much more than that, it's a drama with music.” It's a challenge to be under a spotlight, and not act as though it's there. I'm lucky enough to work with actors who are capable of ignoring that spotlight, and their experience is beginning to wear off on me. Being reminded of the importance of a story, was time well spent. Thanks, Chris.

So, would it be off to say we've all received A's on our homework so far???
*crosses fingers*

'til tomorrow...[tonight]!


[This is the kind of stuff I think about at 1:00 in the morning.]

“Hey should totally start recording "Little Red Hat" during the "around the world" lift - put it in slow motion, and post the final position every night until opening. Then we can make a picture-book after the run. We could sell that for money.”


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Once more, with lights!

Tonight, we started adding lights and follow spots - something that always makes a huge difference in how the show looks. Below is another snippet of the Rain Song, this time with lights. The video quality is not optimal, but it should give you an idea of the difference.

This is the view from the tech table, which is a little farther away than where I took the video from last time...

Everyday dancing...

Doing a show is like being in school again. You should go to class (ie rehearsal) every day ready to learn and do some good work. But you're only gonna get average grades if that's all the effort you put in. If you want an awesome production, you've gotta do your homework.

That's why I'm dancing in the middle of Boise International Airport.

Let me connect those thoughts for you :)

Everyone onstage has a whole "outside" life we never consider within the course of a show. Some folks are lucky enough to make acting their full-time occupation-- something almost unheard of in Seattle. For the rest of us, we have day jobs just like you.

So that means that we're cramming in our homework wherever we can. Singing through our harmonies while stuck in rush hour on the 520 bridge. Mulling over blocking notes during coffee breaks. Memorizing lines while trying valiantly not to drip mustard on our scripts as we eat lunch.

Today, my day job landed me in Boise waiting several hours for my flight back to Seattle. What better time to run through production numbers than a long layover? I'm sure the gate agents are very amused as I work on my chass├ęs (that's "step-together-step, for you non-dancers) and body positions. They probably think the rest of the flash mob will show up at any minute.

So the next time you're standing in the Starbucks line and the person ahead of you in line starts humming under their breath and shuffling their feet, strike up a conversation. You never know when you might get the inside track to an awesome new show!

PS: 110 cast and crew, I'm bringing back snacks from Boise!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zombie Cows

Here is a sneak peak from this last night's rehearsal. It's from The Rain Song, which is one of my favorite musical numbers in the show because it a) has almost everyone up on stage and I'm a sucker for ensemble pieces, b) features some fun choreography and c) the revival style music is just so catchy, you can't help wanting to clap and wave along!

Emily, our assistant stage manager and I lovingly refer to this song as the zombie cow song because of the line "There's dying cattle that will rise right up and live".

I particularly enjoy this snippet because it gives you a good idea of what rehearsals are like: the cast is focusing on singing and dancing while at the same time trying to incorporate (or ignore) whatever directions Chris shouts out at them.

And below is our charming music director, Paul. Doesn't this just make you want to come to rehearsal and join in the fun?


Platforms...we have platforms! Thanks, Dom! It nice to clearly see the different levels of performance now. All very high, of course. And Starbucks wagon is set to appear tomorrow. I still have one of those little Red Flyer wagons at home, and would have volunteered to lend that to Greg, but thought he might look a little ridiculous pulling it behind him as he sang about bringing on the rain! I have a million ideas - just need a better filter.

(Carine is dumping out on us tonight.)

The ensemble gets a night off tonight - they worked hard last night and now can use the evening to rest (i.e. Par-tay!) I look forward to a little al Italian fun this evening, where speed is of the essance and drama counts for nothing. Balance will be discovered eventually.

(Carine is still dumping out on us tonight.)

I wish I could write more humorous notes here, but since I'm often the brunt of the jokes, it hurts too much to repeat them. It's almost lunch time, so I think I'll just lick my wounds. Ugh!

(Did I mention that Carine is dumping...?)

"Little Purple Hat"

Well, now that I've officially done the don't as far as deliberately disagreeing with the director, it seems that Josh is loving every opportunity to mock me...such a gem. However I probably deserve it, considering I did kind of yank his arm many times tonight to get him to twirl me in the proper direction. I must say, taking the lead, would be the best option.

There was a revision tonight: the song is now "Little Purple Hat." As the hat is...well...
That said, John models it rather nicely. :)

After running "Little Purple Hat" once again this evening, I'm very interested in seeing what will happen once I'm clothed in my silk dress, lifts that were once just slightly damaging, could now be considered...deadly. When I told my mother about my most recent fabric addition and my concern, she laughed lightheartedly. funny mom...

There are advantages to being the youngest in the cast, however, tonight, a rather interesting comment came out of Jennifer's mouth: "I figured out why you're having a hard time with're so damn young. Bitch." No offense taken, Jen. Regardless of her envious state, she continued showing me how to "do the two-step." Chris remarked, "it's easy for me" sometime during the whole knee-slapping business, and that with John's "I struggled with it, too...I had to practice it for awhile," I concluded that young people just suck at dancing. There should be a moment in the song where the two of us just step aside, and let Chris and Jen knee-slap to their heart's content. Now THAT would be a show-stopper. H.C can let out a few more YAHOO'S and all the elderly folk can "get down low and take it to the dance floh floh..."
We'll all shout "evacuate the dance floor," and I will continue to laugh at my own jokes because I'm sure I'm the only one who listens to this music...

Anyway, it's late...and although I should probably be getting some shut-eye, I might pull a Lizzie and run off with some rainmaker.
Not random at all.

Glad to have Arwin back this evening...
but now I'm missing something else...
my hat. *sigh*
Guess I'll have to wait until Wednesday...
'Night folks!

<3 Snookie


Today we ran the big numbers.

For our opening number, the audience sees the townsfolk for the first time as we all assemble in the street, and at one point we all huddle in the middle. Snookie was distant from this picture and Chris asked Madison if she could sneak in closer. Evidently hearing something else, her response was "No, I am good where I am." The border between Madison and Snookie is slowly fading. I didn't know that we had such abilities to stand up to the director and make requests. Don't be surprised when I enter the stage Roman Emperor style, on the backs of a dozen servants. Theatre life is so extravagant...

We ran the "Rain Song", which was nice to touch up on. Chris mentioned that to simulate the sensation of falling rain he would spit on us from the house. Hopefully this will not be the same response we get from a paying audience.

Also on tonights schedule was repetion of "Everything Beautiful". When John asked about the pronunciation of "beautiful", Chris told us that it should be "bea-DUH-ful". Afterall, we are from the south; there such be a lot of "DUH" statements in our dialect. In this number, we have a semi-dance formal walking motion to do. Being a white boy with absolutely no sense of rhythem, I managed to make this simple task a complete and total trainwreck. I'll get it, though. Before going on stage, my partner, Madison, grabbed me by the arm and said "I'LL LEAD!" She has such a strong grip.

...and, per usual, Paul made fun of my being alone by the end of "Everything Beautiful". I'd like to point out that while typing this blog, I have been enjoying many alcoholic beverages by myself. I blame Paul's constant torture for this behavior...

More to come...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The joys of lemon cake...

One of the highlights of life in Three Points is our annual picnic and potluck. Everyone packs their favorite dishes, which disappear pretty quickly (especially with all of the hungry men sitting around). A favorite is Lizzie's special lemon cake-- yum! The inedible prop cake onstage isn't nearly as delicious as this recipe, though:

Lemon Ice Box Cake
14 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup white sugar (measured as two 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk, chilled
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 (3 ounce) package lemon flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

  • Directions:
  1. To Prepare Crust: mix graham crackers, 1/2 cup sugar and melted butter and press into 9 x 13 inch pan.
  2. Mix lemon gelatin with 1 cup boiling water and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, whip the chilled evaporated milk, add 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice. Whip until sugar is dissolved. Whip in the cooled gelatin into the milk mixture then stir in pineapple.
  4. Pour lemon mixture over crust in pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers and chopped maraschino cherries if desired. Chill several hours or overnight.

Variation: Mix one 8 ounce package of cream cheese with the 1 cup sugar; add this to the whipped milk, gelatin and lemon juice mixture. Stir in pineapple then proceed as above.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

4/24 - Saturday Rehearsal

First full run-thru, and my partner in crime has laryngitis. Brilliant. I hope she realizes how important her voice is for our chorus...

Britt sadly accepts that she can't sing today - constantly getting the evil-eye from Paul. “He'll kill me if I sing,” she says. Britt returned the favor by glaring at me while I sang music from The Last Five Years in front of her...apparently that was a bad idea...

First costume fitting today, turns out, Snookie is a lot more fit than I thought she was. While Lizzie works on her up-do, I'm hitting the gym.

All excited about “necking in the car,” John and I were ready to bust out some awesome lifts in “Little Red Hat,” but instead, I just fell. We both established however, that it was in fact my skirt, and neither of our faults (*wink* *wink*).

Behind the scenes, I captured Justin in the epic 3D-not so-3D glasses, while Josh and F.X ran around with a bottle of vodka (a.k.a a coke bottle) and did a grand job of entertaining themselves until their next entrance.

During notes, Chris reminds Gregory not to scanter, and Greg shoots back with, “but I was planting!” Reminded by Chris that he was plantin' the wrong garden...

Before I head out Chris calls my name, then nervously asks if the lift is “going to work.” I smile and say, “Of Course it was only the skirt.”
Actresses are wonderful liars.

I leave, and yet again, I find myself driving in the rain - it's true that everything beautiful happens at night. ;)

I am incredibly impressed with this cast's hard work and dedication to what they do, we're creating a "family portrait" onstage and offstage, and I'm thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful show, with such a beautiful cast.

Two weeks till' opening! I know it will be just great.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

There is always that stage of rehearsing where all the various platforms, walls, entrances and levels of the set are merely tape marks on the floor. If the actor doesn't look down much, interesting, and mildly amusing (at least to me), things can happen. People walk through walls, step off 4 foot platforms, discover new (and eventually impossible) ways to enter and exit. We excitedly anticipate the sets arrival on stage when everything seems to make more sense.

I enjoy watching the ensemble (a.k.a. "chorus") evolve from the basic information given them in the script to "real" people in "real" environments. It takes experienced actors to know how to make that work. This production is lucky to have such talent. Without a strong ensemble the town of Three Point wouldn't come alive. Now we have a stage full of families and friends - personalities! Case in point, the song "Hungry Men" is being renamed "Hungry for Men" in honor of our lovely Jennifer H. and her hunt for testosterone.

Our musical director, Paul, has recently proven to be nimble and "oh so light afoot" as he dives within seconds from a relaxed recline in one of our audience seats to the piano bench just in time to intro an upcoming song. I don't know how he remembers the cue lines so well, but never a beat is missed.

A couple more weeks and we're open to the public. This is a special show.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So, our costumer Deane was kind enough to let me use the boots I'll be wearing for the show to rehearse in. Fortunately, none of the dance steps have been hindered by the boots so far. For the most part, they are really fun. They sort of give a boost of masculinity that my personality probably needs. However fun they are, they are ridiculously noisy. Even when treading my softest behind the scenes, a steady CLOP CLOP CLOP can be heard. Cowboy ≠ Ninja. Lame.

With our run of Act One today, we received a new set piece: a brand spankin' new picnic table! And this sucker is STURDY. Think Noah's Ark. It is legally able to also serve as a bomb shelter in case of an emergency. I suppose it goes with the saying that "Everything's bigger in Texas". After attempting to lift it, I checked our actor contracts only to find that SMT isn't liable for hernias. Figures...

H.C. (Dick Hooper) was getting some laughes today, whether they were intentional or not. Some lines were flubbed about H.C's boy, Jim, getting caught puttin' the moves on a young lady. After a little confusion, H.C. just walked away saying "I didn't see anything". This is indeed his line, but it wasn't put in the right place. This same flub happened several times after the actors were forced to repeat the scene. Jim could be all sorts of naked with some lady in front of his dad, and H.C. still wouldn't care. That's my kinda dad! Real progressive...

Finally, got to mention "Raunchy" again. After Jenn finished her piece of seductive dancing, some young hulligan which was totally, definitely, ABSOLUTELY NOT ME made some obnoxiously enthusiastic cat calls . Chris, who was sitting a few rows ahead of me, turned around and looked over the rim of his glasses.

"Are you THAT guy?" he asked.

"Yes. Yes I am," I replied, in complete seriousness.

He gave me a look like I just spit in his coffee. Chris will never cast me again...

More to come...

They build 'em strong in Texas

Tonight's rehearsal reminded us all that although our show takes place in Texas, we still have to be prepared for Washington-style natural disasters. Fortunately, the set comes equipped with our very own earthquake shelter: a picnic table!

This isn't just any ordinary table, though. It has to survive the wrath of actors jumping, climbing and dancing on it. Believe me, we're all very grateful for its tank-like sturdiness, even if it takes half the cast to move it. Starbuck is worth it, right?

Plus, to quote our stage manager Carine, "We have incorporated it into our duck and cover nuclear attack preparedness routine." I know where I'll be if disaster strikes. But don't worry-- there's plenty of room for everyone!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Last night we worked our way through Act One. It was really cool to see all the numbers, and get a glimpse of the big picture for the first time.

For our number "Hungry Men" the women of the ensemble served us a traditional Texan dish: left over chocolate eggs from Easter. In the song they describe all the labors of preparing an epic feast, and really all they do is open a plastic bag and put it on the table. Feminine trickery. Thank God their singing is better than their cooking...

All in all, the musical numbers are really coming together. The Man Trio, that is Dick, Charles, and John, laid out some sweet harmonies in "Lizzie's Coming Home". Speaking of Lizzie, her "Raunchy" number really brought the heat. It was so good, it made Dick forget his blocking.

And it wouldn't be a true rehearsal without somebody breaking something. John's rippling arms caused him to break right through the skin of a prop drum. Easy on those pushups, stud...

We go back for Act Two tonight. Its coming along, y'all!

More to come...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Time for fittings...

One of my favorite milestones as an actor is costume fittings, which are happening this week.

All the way back at our first rehearsal, our fabulous designer Deane Middleton shared her ideas about the show's costumes. She also corralled us to take measurements, which was the last time we saw her up until now. Out of sight, out of mind they say-- especially when it comes to the tech elements of the show. We know that they'll magically appear at some point, but until then you become consumed with all of the things you're actually responsible for as an actor (like remembering your phone book full of stage directions, to quote Josh's earlier post).

At fittings, it's the first chance the actor has to see how much work Deane and her team have done while we're off singing and dancing. For the fashion-challenged folks like myself, it's great to have someone hand you a pile and say, "Put all of these on." It's like having a personal shopper for your character!

And even better, Deane is an expert at making sure things not only fit her vision, but also the physical demands of the show. We get our show shoes at this point so we can start rehearsing in them-- a very important thing, as everyone who's ever worn a new pair of shoes out for the first time can relate to!

We're gonna work through Act One for the first time tonight, so we'll see how my shoes hold up...


Rehearsal started today with a general lack of parking in Magnuson Park. There was a big book sale that going on, which really seemed to draw the crowds. Perhaps that's the secret to a full house in Seattle: a book sale decoy.

We started today with blocking Starbuck's "Rain Song". Gregory Conn, who plays Starbuck, makes it really easy to get excited about what he's trying to sell with his larger-than-life portrayal. Our director, Chris, gave us about a phone book of stage directions, and jokingly asked if it would committed to memory by the end of rehearsal. This was followed by a few chuckles and then many nervous looks around the room amongst the ensemble.

In this scene, like many others, Chris has blocked Snookie (Madison Greenlund) to hang out with me in the beginning of the scene, but ending up with Jim (John Huddleston) by the end. I think my new nickname for Chris should be "The Anti-Cupid" for killing any opportunity for romance. Whenever Snookie gets ripped from my arms, Paul always lets out a big laugh, taking cruel pleasure in my solitude. Musical directors are such sadists...

Fortunate for me (and every other male in the cast) ensemble member Jennifer Hawkins' character (if it is indeed a character choice) seems to be willing to accept any male attention that comes her way, with this scene being no exception. Awesome.

We closed rehearsal with blocking the finale. Similar to the "Rain Song", it was the song that we sang for callbacks, and initially got me interested in doing the show. It's hard not to feel good when singing this song 'cause it puts a little pep in your step. If you're not familiar with the song(s), I'm sure you'll agree when you see the show. You'll be crying HALLELUJAH before you know it.

After all the chanting we had done, when we got out of rehearsal, sure enough, it was raining. Ya gotta love the impact musical theater has on the world!

More to come...