Monday, May 24, 2010

Haiku

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!

5/23

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

Sacrifices

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.) ;)

~Madison

5/15

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!

D-Day

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



Finale

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

5/4

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?

video
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,
Snookie

Saturday, May 1, 2010

5/1

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...