Thursday, May 29, 2008

Week 4: Beckett Finally

Last Thursday was my last show and we got Beckett as the playwright! I was so happy. Read more about it on experimentfarm. There’s one more weekend of shows left. I won’t be there, but that’s no reason not to go.

Here’s the summaries of last week’s shows.
Thursday: Upstairs Upstairs – in the style of Samuel Beckett
Colfax (Laurie) and Mingo (Alan) wonder if anyone lives upstairs from them, while Elizabeth (Mandy) and Charles (Christian) wonder if anyone lives below them. When Mingo’s twin brother Milo (Christian) goes upstairs, he gets trapped as Elizabeth and Charles’s servant. Then the worms move in, and everything changes.

Friday: The Teacher’s Lounge – in the style of Lillian Hellman
Miss Prescott (Susan) gets hired by Dean Nickelson (Laurie) and Miss Leone (Mandy) to fill the post vacated after the suicide of Miss Annabelle Lee (Tara). When her teaching style clashes with the school’s traditions, and Miss Leone’s machinations, Miss Prescott soon worries she’s on the same path as Annabelle. Can the Dean convince her to stay, or will she jump out her own window?

Saturday: Gwen’s Men – in the style of Oscar Wilde
Gwendolyn (Mandy) would prefer to live out her days on the estate of her best friend Cecile (Tara) and her husband Edmund (Christian), but the Lord and Lady Trenton (Christian and Karen) are determined to find her a husband. Charles Maquire (Debra) would gladly oblige, but his poetry turns Gwendolyn’s stomach. Until some mistaken identity at the cross-dressers ball and a duel gone wrong cause her to change her mind.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tonight's your last night to se ME (and Week 3 recap)

Tonight’s your last chance to see me perform in Theater: The Musical!

I missed last Thursday’s show because I had laryngitis, but my voice had recovered enough for me to play in Saturday night’s Tennessee Williams show. We kept it lighter this time, since the audience clearly wanted it lighter. I played a character who smoked the whole time which was a good exercise in space object work, and a character who was subtly in love with Larry’s character. It worked well, considering the main storyline was about Tara being secretly in love with Laurie. (The audience wanted lesbian Williams.)

Tuesday night at rehearsal we worked a lot on absurdist playwrights (Albee, Ionesco, Beckett) and split screen scenes. Something we’d been having problems with. I’m excited to play tonight, but sad it’s my last night.

Come tonight! If you can’t, come see the show before it closes May 31.

Here’s what happened last weekend:

Thursday: Writer’s Block – in the style of Woody Allen (yes, he wrote plays)
Marsha (Mandy) has writer's block until she starts dating her accident-prone therapist, Dr. Allen Goldstein (Christian), who is even more neurotic than she is. But when her cutthroat editor Kathleen (Laurie) convinces her to put everything into her new novel, Allen starts to wonder if Marsha's been grabbing the extinguisher because his arm's on fire – or because her career is.

Friday: Shooting Richard – in the style of David Mamet
Famous actor Richard Sylvestri (Christian) wants to make art films, but his agent (Mandy) and producer (Sal) keep forcing him into mindless Hollywood schlock. When the mob calls Sal’s loan, he needs Richard dead to save his skin, but he can’t dupe the young Hollywood starlet Cassandra (Debra) into pulling the trigger. So he pulls it himself.

Saturday: The Broken Figurine – in the style of Tennessee Williams
Virginia (Laurie) is becoming a woman and Peter Calhoun (Larry) has come courting. Melinda (Tara) tries to talk her best friend Virginia out of returning his advances. He’s a mean brute of a man, but that’s not the Melinda’s only reason. Melinda doesn’t like men. She wants Virginia for herself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Week 2: Williams, Martin, and Simon

I managed to survive performing in all three shows in the second weekend of Theater: The Musical, but I’m not sure my voice did. I got off to a rocky start when my character had to scream at Larry on Thursday and it all went down hill from there. Hopefully I can recover by Thursday.

Other than the voice damage, this weekend was a study in playing supporting (yet important) characters who didn’t need to be on stage much.

Thursday night I went out in the second scene as Larry’s character’s old father. As soon as I left the stage after that scene I knew two things: I would have to yell at Larry at some point, and my character would die. Turned out that was my only scene in the first half. I had two in the second. My character didn’t need to be in it anymore than that and I was quite content. My yelling followed by my immediate death ended the show. Very satisfying.

Friday my character wasn’t as pivotal, but I got into a great banter with Larry onstage about the fact that my character refused to read specials boards at restaurants. I could have kept that argument up for hours.

Saturday I probably should have been onstage more. I played the love interest and should have had more songs with the lead character. Even so, I did have more songs in that show than any other. Unfortunately I had a heck of a time finding my notes. Finally in the last song I managed to sound good. At least I got there.

Over all, I think we learned this weekend that we need to sing more. Not only will it deliver more of what the show is promising (being a musical and all) but it will slow us down and force us to do less. More singing = less plot.

Here are last week’s show summaries:
Thursday: Southern Gothic – in the style of Tennessee Williams
Charlotte (Tara) struggles to change her abusive husband Beauregard (Larry) on a southern plantation. When the ghost of Beauregard’s mother seeks to intervene, the whole family must confront the truth about their past.

Friday: Pirates & Producers
– in the style of Steve Martin (yes he’s also a playwright)
Rachel (Mandy) tries to get her producer sister Carol (Laurie) to make her 400 page pirate romance script with little success. Then she starts dating Richard (Larry) whom she thinks owns a bowling alley, but when she discovers he too is a producer can she make the 7-10 split?

Saturday: The Wedding Plan – in the style of Neil Simon
All Sandy (Debra) and Brian (Alan) want is a simple wedding, but when Sandy’s family takes over the planning, the wedding start spinning out of control. They call off the wedding, prompting Sandy’s mother (Mandy) to dig herself a grave in the living room. What will she do when she finds out they eloped?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Week 1: We Can Do It and I Can Sing!

Theater: The Musical successfully opened last weekend. Our houses Thursday and Friday were on the lean side, but Saturday sold out, which is great for opening weekend. I came away from the weekend with two nuggets of incite.

First off, we can do this show and do it well. Thursday’s Mamet was definitely the rockiest, but it was the first night and happened to be the cast least suited to doing Mamet well. Tara excelled, but everyone else seemed a bit at sea. Even so, it was a solid show. Friday night we nailed Eugene O’Neil right down to his darkly depressing core, and Saturday night we did a highly entertaining Neil Simon. There was some room for improvement on the Simon, but I’m not sure we could do a better O’Neil. Maybe if we sung less in the first half. Either way, I’m convinced now that we can take any playwright the audience gives us and do an entertaining and satisfying show, even for playwrights we’ve never heard of (I’ve never read any O’Neil).

Secondly, I had a bit of an epiphany in regards to my singing. I’ve started listening to the music more closely, mostly as a way to not listen to the sound of my own voice. When I’m focusing on the music, I can harmonize more naturally and singing feels easier. When I’m paying too much attention to the notes I’m singing, I get too self conscious and singing gets really difficult. I’ll have to see how that works moving forward.

Here are little summaries of each of last weekend’s shows:

Thursday: Don’t Screw Up! – in the style of David Mamet
Miss P (Laurie) hires competing photographers to follow her ex-lover Laroue (Mandy), but one of them (Susan) double crosses her. The slow-witted Tina (Tara) figures it out and spells doom for Laroue’s double (Larry). In the end, Miss P discovers that Laroue was right under her nose the entire time.

Friday: The End of the Play – in the style of Eugene O’Neil
Aspiring author Tim (Alan) struggles to break free from his overbearing family. His father (Karen), an alcoholic washed up actor, uses the young Mary (Debra) to recapture some of his youth, while Tim’s younger brother Robert (Christian) resentfully fills the void left by their dead mother.

Saturday: Big Plans – in the style of Neil Simon
Christopher (Christian) has gotten into UCLA, but his mother Rachel (Tara) doesn’t want any of her children to leave their home in New York City. Meanwhile Chris’s father (Alan) is so eager for his kids to move out, he’s started turning Chris’s bedroom into a solarium, complete with fully grown corn. Will Chris and his sister Kathy (Laurie) finally have the courage to stand up to their mother?