Friday, March 31, 2006

Bon Voyage...

So we opened! Good job cast, for those of you reading this.

With everything going on, I did not remember to do an audio post after the show ended. Perhaps later in the run I will do something like that.

I would say it was a good opening. A smaller crowd, which is to be expected for a Thursday night opening. Several people I know were in attendance, though. They, along with the rest of the crowd, seemed to enjoy themselves for the most part.

It's sure to be a show that responds better to larger crowds. I expect we will have quite a larger crowd tomorrow night. (And a near full house already set for the Sunday matinee.)

As for me, I am satisfied with how well I did. I threw in a few extra things tonight. Did not change any lines or anything like that. Just that once a crowd is there, you can sort of sense where the vacuums of activity are during a scene. I did my best to fill a few of those with some business.

I didn't have much time to get focused and settled in. I was late because of horrendous, unspeakable traffic on the highway which made me 25 minutes late or so. I did not miss opening or anything, but it did not leave much time for my pre-show rituals.

Afterwards, the bank across the street from the theatre threw a reception for the cast and audience members. A simple affair, but very generous of the bank to host. It seems they plan to do this for future opening nights at the Old Opera House. That will be a nice little soiree to have for each show.

I am very much looking forward to tomorrow (Friday) night's performance. Not just because there is talk of getting drinks afterwards. It is because, like I said in my last entry, there tends to be a bit more hectic yet fun energy on a Friday night. So that is something to await with eager anticipation.

Traffic is not something to look forward to. I think I would rather spend the extra time over at the theatre in a relaxed state of preparation, than spend the extra half an hour on the highway in stressful traffic. I think I will arrive an hour or so early tomorrow and just chill out, waiting for the rest of the cast to show up. Maybe kick back and listen to my Monster Ballads CD's.

Yeah. Sounds good.

One more random thought I had tonight during the show that I wanted to mention here. It is not the first time I have noticed this phenomena. Just for some reason it stuck in my mind enough tonight to blog about. Only a hopeless theatre geek such as myself would ever think this or understand it, and not even all theatre geeks would. But this theatre geek runs this blog, so here goes.

I have decided that women tend to look quite beautiful under blue backstage work lights. And before any sickos twist this into some sort of sexual thing, it isn't that at all. Just that, for me, there is an almost dream like aura to a still face when hit by that gentle but effective blueness. Of course I have always loved the effects of all kinds of light, and maybe that is part of it. I also do not mean to imply that the women in the show are not pretty in normal light. There is just something sublime in the combination of the dark quiet of the backstage, the potential magic mixed with nerves in the air during a live performance, and the serenity of a woman's face as she stands perfectly still, waiting for her next cue.

Hey, if you don't like it, start your own blog.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

All Aboard

Other than the fact that tonight was our final rehearsal, it was pretty much as nondescript as the night before. (Which is why there is no post for that night.)

I will say one that last ditch effort was made with one of the hats. Failed. My one cast mate keeps saying because I have a freakishly large head. I say it is because the Opera House has freakishly misshapen hats.

Mainly I wanted to talk about the "night before opening" mindset I am in. I know I will be up half the night. (Of course I usually am.) But it will be different this time. Not because I will be nervous. Just because I have always had a sort of a watered down Christmas Eve sort of magic feeling before an opening night. That night before the big day. The show of course is not in the morning, but I never claimed the metaphor was perfect.

I go over the show in my head. I think about all the rehearsals the previous week, or the previous month. I think about the day I auditioned, and the first read through. All that stuff.

There is also that wonderment of potential. I find myself in the deepest contemplation about certain things. What sort of adventure is in store for the cast, and the production as a whole? What surprises will there be? Who will love/hate each other by the end of the weekend? Who will shine, and who will be lack luster? How much fun will this group of people be in the hour or so before the curtain? What will the audience think of me, if anything?

And more.

Thursday openings are a little less exotic and adventurous for me. I guess because it is a work/school night for most. Not that you cannot have a good show. One of the best openings for a show I ever had was on a Thursday. There just seems to be an overall greater feeling of abandon and energy on a Friday night opening. But that could be just me.

Thursday or not, there is still something about an opening night. And here I am again, on the eve of one. With many things to think about, and many things to do in order to prepare.

I get the feeling that an audience will start adding some spice where there has not been much.

I may do an audio post right after the show ends...what with all of the noise and crap. Maybe just to bug my cast mates. We will see. Stay tuned.

Those in the cast that may be reading this, good luck, and I will see you at call.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What Dreams May Come

Dreams, and the subconscious mind can be such fascinating things. How your mind can create just about any image in the world, and beyond it. How dreams can know what is on your mind, even when you do not. How the parts of your brain that control dreaming can take actual facts from waking life and convert them somehow into imagery in your dreams.

The whole process becomes even weirder, and more intriguing when you find yourself asleep enough to be dreaming, but awake enough to have outside stimulus make its way into your dreams.

"Ty, what has all this got to do with acting and theatre", you are asking. Good reader, stay a while. I will be faithful.

I was not feeling well and I lay down for a bit. I had my Monster Ballads collection in the CD player, so I clicked that on and I started to doze off.

About half way through the album I was in that mind-bending state I mentioned; I was dreaming, but could also in the vaguest way sense what was happening in the waking world of my bedroom.

This is when "The Angel Song" by Great White came on the CD.

I don't remember what I was dreaming before the Angel Song came on, but I know what the dream became once the song began. I could hear the song in my dream, but in that context it was not coming from a specific source. It was just omnipotent, as though coming from the air itself, filling the whole world.

As I hear the opening piano bit from the song, I am standing alone at night in the aisle of the Old Opera House. I am facing the stage. It is filled with thick fog which is back lit by intense white light. It is so obscured by the fog, however that I can look right at it without squinting or anything. It just gives the fog a sort of white glow.

I hear the first line of the song;

"Fallen angel ripped and bruised, think on better days..."

I notice a few people walk onto the stage in a rather slow manner. I cannot see anything of them but black silhouettes. Four of them in all, who end up forming a line.

I am, for whatever reason, fascinated by all of this. As I walk closer I come to realize it is the four actresses who portray the "Angels" from Anything Goes. I could not see their faces, but I just understood who they were.

The chorus of the song goes like this;

"Fly, lonely angel, high above these streets of fire..."

As I hear the chorus, the four "Angels" raise their arms high and wide as though they were wings. I also start to feel a wind blowing across my face. It was this wind sensation that upset the delicate balance of this state. I woke up.

Since the CD in the waking world was in fact what I was hearing my dream, the song continued from where it had left off in the dream. In other worlds, the dream world ended, but the continuity of the song was of course perfectly preserved. That made it more disorienting than it would have been had I been totally asleep. I had to look around, and go splash water on my face before I could acquaint myself with the surroundings again.

It was a rather mesmerizing "dreamlette". I wanted to record it somewhere before I lost it.

Monday, Monday

If last night's rehearsal was a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10, I give tonight about a 7. I think there was marked improvement in a few areas. I would even go so far as to say that one or two of the dance routines went better than they have ever gone.

Even if one might disagree with that from an objective, production-wide vantage point, I know I did my personal best in all of my dances tonight.

There was more energy to many parts of the show tonight. It seems to move along faster in places than it has so far. There are still some scene changes that take longer than would be ideal, but the good thing about a musical is that the orchestra can vamp if there are delays in changing the scene.

Speaking of orchestra, we had another musician with us tonight down in the pit. A clarinet player, whom I did not meet personally. At least I think it was a clarinet. I did not get a good look at the instrument itself from where I was. It sounded like a clarinet to me. Whatever it was, it added some nice flourishes to the music, without it being overtly confusing.

I also felt more energy and creativity in my scenes overall. I was more into the production than I have been the last few nights. Ad-libs in the background. More certainty with the lines that I have. It was an overall comfort with being on stage that I knew I would get to at some point, but had not quite gotten to before tonight. It still needs to get better by opening night. Yet I feel confident that it will, given the fact that I am finally starting to get comfortable with when my many rapid entrances and exists are in the overall production. That had not been automatic in my head, and checking the script was required. I still have to in a few places, just to be sure, but I have it mostly committed to memory.

My next challenge is to study the script of a crowd scene. In it, we all shout at various times in response to what certain people say. I think every cast member had the same problem...We all neglected to look at that part of the script when we had free time. For a week we have only tepidly been responding as group at the right times. It is all still very tentative. It is getting better, but I need to memorize those moments. The more people that do so, the better off it is going to be. So I think I will be spending some time on that tomorrow.

This was the second night in a row that 100% of the cast was present. Hoozah! I am not sure that has happened two days in a row before. If it has, it's been a while.

Only two more rehearsals to go. Hard to believe. But then again, when is it ever easy for an actor to believe it is time to open? If we had three more weeks, I would be saying the same thing three nights before opening.

That being said...holy crap, only two more days!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Of Uniforms and Doinks

After to days off, all kinds of neat stuff today in the world of Anything Goes.

First off, several people came early and brought food for a little semi-impromptu gathering in the green room before rehearsal. There was quite a spread going on! Trail mix, pies, cakes, cookies, candy, chicken, egg rolls, bread, humus, and so on. Too bad not all rehearsals have all that waiting for actors during their breaks!

Then there's my uniform. Oh, the smoothness. I was given a different shirt that had shoulder decorations and insignia (authentic) attached to it. With the white pants and my ever-improving sexy hair style (center part), I think I looked quite dapper. Not to be immodest, but several people agreed.

More than one dude told me that almost all women have a thing for guys in uniform. Before tonight I thought this was a myth. Since I try not to encourage stereotypes, I at first brushed it off. However even women in this cast said it was true. Women said this. So while I do not think every woman would agree with the "guy in a uniform" thing, it seems many do. At least in the OOH cast of Anything Goes.

Myth or no myth, I think the uniform looks great. Still no hat. To be honest though I do not know if I need it. I realize I have been squawking about getting a cool hat for months now. That notwithstanding, the shirt, and decorations and the hair look so good on their own that I wonder if a hat is even necessary. I am sure they want me to wear one, and if they provide it, I will. Yet I cannot help but think it works even without one.

Ladies out there, (not just ones I know personally) would a hat add to, or take away from the "guy in a uniform" mystique? Or does it depend on too many factors? Don't be shy...tell me. Please. Post as "anonymous" if you like, but do post.

The sweetness of tonight did not stop there. The director has concocted a little mini-sequence to perform during the overture music. I will not give it all away, in case someone reading this plans to see it. I will say, however, that my trick of having a cigarette in my hand/mouth as I move around back stage has effected on-stage action. I will be coming out at the top of the overture to "smoke" a cigarette. As much as I would love to flick it out into the ocean that is the audience, I of course cannot. I still however think it was a neat piece of business to add to the top of the show that came about due in large part to a character building exercise of mine.

As for the rehearsal itself, I would give it a 6 overall. Some rough spots, but that is to be expected. Most of the scene changes were being run for the very first time tonight by the techies. (That is where tech week gets it's name after all.) No disasters took place that I was aware of.

The orchestra comes soon. I hope that does not throw us off too much.

In closing, I will have to mention something that really could not be connected to the rest of this entry in any rational way. Yet I still had to be mention it.

I heard the term "being a doink" for the first time today. At least I think that is what she said. Fear not, for I was not the "doink" in question. Yet still the phrase was amusing to me.

Three more rehearsals, loyal blog readers. Then, the S.S. American sets sail, no matter how seaworthy she is.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

One Week Remaining

That title is a misnomer. Tonight is already gone, and we do not have rehearsal again until Sunday. So while in a chronological sense the show is in one week, we have only four rehearsals left to get it right.


I have some sharp edges to round off in my performance in those four days. The production has some edges to round off as well.

But I think in both cases it will happen. We just really need to kick it into high gear.

Tonight we ran the whole show for only the second time. It had its moments. I look forward to the musical director returning, I can tell you that.

The sound guy was here for the first time tonight. But for this individual "sound guy" is putting it in a much weaker light than it should be. I have worked with this gentleman several times before, and he is in fact a sound master. A wizard if you will. He does all sorts of cool stuff with sound effects and mixing. He is in many ways, the man.

As for me, I tried to be the man tonight, by walking around with a cigarette in my mouth or hand. I do not smoke, so the whole concept is strange. Yet I am doing it backstage because I think it helps me maintain character. My version of the purser is quite the "rascal" as people might say back then. Drinks, smokes, and women, women, women. Not a bad guy mind you, just...liberal with doling out life's pleasures to himself when he can. The cigarette is never seen on stage, but having it on me between scenes gives me more of a feeling of being that guy.

So would a hat. Today, the skipper got a hat, and I am still without. Oh the anguish! Yet I tried one on again which did not fit. However, the Skipper's hat fit me like a glove. (Except it was a hat.) So I told the costume people that if they can just find one more hat of the same size, we will be in good shape.

And now, two days off for dry tech rehearsals. I know I should welcome the days off. To be honest though, I would not have cared had we went in those two days. When there is work that has to be done in a play, I find in general that I do not mind doing it. A long rehearsal, or a rehearsal on a weekend will not much bother me, so long as the time is being used in a productive manner. I love seeing things come together.

Yet the fact is we are off for two nights. I plan to spend some of that time ironing out some of the things I am still shaky on. For as I said, in just 7, and now 6 days...

Not surprisingly the Styx song, "Come Sail Away" has been on my mind the last few days. Maybe we can work it into the show somehow. I will ask our director about this.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Costumes and Cookies

I suppose even as an actor I must concede that on rare occasions certain things might supercede the theatre, the crowds, the applause, and the glory. One such example could very well be cookies. At least good ones.

One of the cast members brought her homemade chocolate chip cookies for everyone to enjoy tonight. She said they were famous for their tastiness.

After rehearsal when I changed my clothes I tried one.

Good night, King Richard.

She was not lying about how good they were. The only thing I could imagine being better would be the raw dough of those cookies before they were baked. Heaven help us. If she is reading this, I hope she notes how happy I was with her baked goods. (I mean that literally.)

I suppose the second most important thing to happen tonight aside behind the cookies was the first dress rehearsal for act 2.

It was a decent rehearsal. I think we had only one person missing tonight. So that was rather sweet. Everyone looked pretty good in their outfits. (The Angels in particular.) As for me, I am in all white, with black shoes. I tried on yet another hat today, but alas, my large head once again would not fit. Even with many last minute adjustments (to the hat, not my head) it still did not fit. The search continues.

As I predicted, it was nice to have a costume one, albeit it a simple one. The costume and my "1930's playboy" hairstyle conspired with a cigarette in my mouth when backstage to give the purser even more life.

More than one of the actresses in the show told "the purser" that they would "like a piece of that". Sometimes it's good to be in the chorus.

A local paper will be there tomorrow to take pictures. I am not likely to be in any of them, since the last time I was a lead in a show the reporter told me that she was "getting sick of seeing" me in shows, and did not interview me, or allow my picture to be taken for the write up. I will fare far worse as a chorus member. But that is all right. Few people will look as good as I do in a uniform anyway. (Laughter goes here.)

"The Ghetto of Funny"

That was a new term developed by one of my cast mates tonight. It was in specific reference to a note the director was giving me. He had asked me to punch a certain line in the script more than I have been so far. He wanted the joke to be caught by the audience. It was at this point that he admitted, (in an almost reluctant manner) that said line was "almost" or "kind of" funny.

Wise ass that I am, I mentioned it was in the "neighborhood of funny". This cast mate of mine, (who is the purser's "angel partner" in this show) chimed in with the notion that it was in the "ghetto of funny". That was a better term, so it wins the honor of having this entry titled after it. I think that has the makings of a catch all phrase for any joke in the show that is not that clever, but is not horrible either. (Though this one is a pun and those have never been funny to me.)

Aside from creating new catchphrases, the cast ran act one tonight. The non-dancing parts were say, a 5 out of ten in quality. The singing hovered around 4 most of the night, because the musical director is not there to kick our butts into gear. So laziness does slip in a bit for most.

Dancing went quite well. Get this, blog readers; for one run through of one of the dances, (we went through it several times), I did not detect being lost for any significant amount of time! I congratulate myself, and anyone reading this is more than welcome to congratulate me as well.

Tomorrow, from what I understand, costumes will be attempted. Except for the hat, I do believe I have a full "day" uniform. Despite recent talk of having the officers wear the same uniform throughout the show, the idea of separate day and night uniforms (informal and formal) has resurfaced. So, we will see which notion comes out on top.

Either way, it will be nice to get into costume. I have mentioned on this blog before how much more a character starts to define himself once he is in costume.

To help that along, I think I will buy a pack of my character's favorite cigarettes, and have them with me before rehearsal. Just to get into the mood more. I do little things like that when applicable. Holding a cigarette by its nature alters the way one holds one's self. We will see if that is a positive thing. (For those keeping score, Lucky Strike are the brand I chose my character to smoke, when I wrote the back story.)

I also want to experiment some with how I will be wearing my hair. Even if I have the hat on, I want some kind of semi-authentic hair style underneath. I plan on parting it down the middle. (Something the real me NEVER does.) That should add to the notion of being someone else. Besides even if it doesn't, my hair has almost never required specific attention in the roles I play. This way I can pretend it matters.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Shifts of Dynamic

Tonight was a rather routine dance and singing rehearsal. There was nothing special about it. other Several people were missing. That is what I would like to talk about for a moment. But not the usualy "why can't people show up" sort of thing.

It is always interesting to me how different the atmosphere of a rehearsal can be when certain people are missing as opposed to when certain other people are missing.

All things being equal, a rehearsal can be exciting, fast and productive, or slow, boring and unproductive. Anything in between is also possible. That is with the balance of all the people. Start taking away people from the rehearsal, and it there is a tendancy for even more dramatic changes in atmousphere. What it changes to depends on who is missing.

Take away one person, and at once the group dynamic is somewhat more serious. Add that person back the following day and take away someone else, and the group dynamic becomes more jocular. Take away certain combinations of people, and it can in actual fact allow those who are present to let loose a bit more. A smaller but more raucous group is the result. You get the idea. The combinations are endless.

I am sure this concept holds true to a certain extent with any group setting. Yet I feel a cast in rehearsal is more affected by specific absences than your average group.


Not simply because they leave physical holes in the scenes and numbers of the play.

Love, hate, or have no feelings at all for them, you spend much time with cast mates night after night. You sweat with them, and make mistakes with them. (Or at least in front of them. )In short, to paraphrase the old song, you grow accustomed to their face. There is a personality vacuum that is missing from the cast when certain individuals are not around. The loud and quiets ones alike. So even if you otherwise might not be their biggest fan, you almost miss an absent cast mate.

That is kind of where I was tonight. We were having fun, so it was not a case of everyone being an ass because someone was missing. Still, for better or worse, there was an absence of certain traits in the room tonight. The cocktail was just not the same without them.

No need for a tissue. I'm ok.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Full Run Through

I got to rehearsal a bit earlier today than normal. I was about a half ad hour early. I thought there would be more traffic on that awful 340 than there was.

No matter, as it gave me the chance to try on some costume stuff. A pair of white pants I tried on was almost a perfect fit. With a belt, (which the uniform would need anyway) they will be great.

I also tried on hats. Many hats. None were big enough for this voluminous gourd I call a head. I felt better though when the costume person told me that all the men's heads were turning out to be too big for the hats available. So it's not just me. The hat will come though. The hat will come.

Then I went to take a look at the newly painted set. It is looked good. There is more left to be painted, but the portholes, life preservers with "S.S. American" on them, and a cloudy blue-sky backdrop were all new today. The "sky" had an patch on it, which will have to be fixed. Otherwise it's an attractive set.

On that attractive set tonight, we ran the entire show for the first time. Not without stops, and not without bumps. The point is, however, that it was the very first time we ran the entire show in one night. Two leads were missing, but we managed, thanks to the multi faceted voice talents of our acting stage manager. Most people would have just read for the missing people. He used different voices for each missing person. Kudos to the man.

At the end of the night, when the director was giving notes, he mentioned how much he loved the naughtiness of the dancing that my partner and me display. I cannot see any of the other couples, but I guess they are somewhat more tame than my partner and I are. I am glad the director is pleased. The choreographer did say she wanted heavy flirting. That is what we gave her. It has paid off it would seem.

The director also mentioned that there was a lot of fumbling with lines, which I suppose there was. More than the last time we ran some of these scenes. I think it was just a bit of an off night all the way around. It will pick up. It did however make for a slow, dragging run through at times. Such is the life of theatre.

Tomorrow it is the last time we will have just a dance/music rehearsal. So I hope we make the most of it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Happy Dance Face

As was the case for my last play, I will be temporarily discontinuing my Saturday advice/commentary column. I will instead be bringing you rehearsal/performance updates on those days for the next three weeks or so. And speaking of that...

Due to things I would rather not discuss right now, I was about an hour late for dance rehearsal today. Of course, during this time, something was changed. I did not get to run that new part, but I went over it with Gaby, and I think I its pretty simple.

Several other people were missing today. That notwithstanding, I did better overall in my dancing than I have yet done. The bar is set quite low for that I realize. It was a personal triumph, however. I felt less lost than normal. I may have even enjoyed a few moments of dancing.

For whatever reason, two of the dances click better with me than the rest. I have no idea why. It just seems that I can follow the progression of moves for Heaven Hop and "Let's Step Out" better than I can the others. Maybe because they are the shortest ones? Whatever the reason, I always like it when we get to rehearse those numbers.

One of the "Angels" in the "Let's Step Out" number came up with a cool idea. She is going to sit on one of the railings. When I rush onstage as I hear the party, I will now go to her, and place her down on the floor at the start of the dance. Even though it was her idea, it is such a typical moment for the purser as I see him. Another advantage to it is that it establishes, albeit briefly, a bit of familiarity between my character and hers early on. We are paired up for "Blow Gabriel", and we have to flirt with each other for that one. The more times the audience sees those two characters communicating, the more natural it will seem that we flirt with one another when the time comes.

That is how I see it, anyway. I do not claim that is why the actress came up with that idea. It probably was not. Yet the serendipity of her choice is undeniable.

Moving on, don't look now, but the cast might be starting to have fun with some of these numbers. Do not get me wrong when I say that. I know most of this cast from other shows, and many are friends of mine. My comments are not a strike against any of them. Yet from my personal view, the cast as a whole did not always seem to be having fun together early. The last practice or two, that has seemed to change somewhat. People, (at least those I was with today) seem to have a more relaxed feeling about the show now. Maybe because opening night is fast approaching. Maybe it is because the dances are starting to click for everyone that was struggling before. Attribute it to whatever you like, it is tangible to me.

It must be readable on my face as well. The choreographer told me to day that I had such a "happy dance face" during the numbers.

Or maybe I am a crock, and nothing I am sensing is correct. I will say that if I am correct and more fun is starting to creep in, I hope it continues to evolve and increase from now on.

If not, I am more than willing to provide wine for the whole cast before the opening night show. That should get them going.

Checking Up On Things

Here is just a quick check to see if the tech stuff with the blog has been sorted out.

If this ends up on the site, I will be a happy man. If not...well i guess that is a conclusion that is easy to draw on one's own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ides of March!

I was not assassinated tonight. Neither, as far as I am aware, was anyone else.

First things first. I wanted to point out some comments left on two of my recent entries; The Long Haul and Disaster Averted. They are anonymous comments, but it is someone that is in the show with me. If you are reading this, I wanted you to know that I have responded with comments of my own on those entries. Thanks for stopping by.

The next thing I should probably do is clear up the mystery behind last night's entry. Now that I feel somewhat better and less guilty about things, I suppose I can mention what happened.

One actress ends up standing on a chair during a dance number. I had it in my mind that if I could not get the dance correct, I would at least try to have as much fun as I could while making the attempt. I suppose I was having a tad too much fun, and in my selfishness bumped into the chair the actress was standing on. Or perhaps side swiped would be a more appropriate term.

A tenth of a second later or so I turned my head to the left to see said actress stumble a bit. (At least that is what I thought I was seeing at the time.) Visions of injuries and crashes and all sorts of ugly things entered my mind as I reached out and, so it would seem, stabilized her. She didn't go anywhere.

Which is more than I can say for the blood in my face at that moment. I needed to pause and collect myself. I honestly thought for that half a second I had caused serious injury to one of our leads. It was a scary moment or two for me. Even once it was over. I was being a bit of a goof.

Not that I was setting out to body check her into the sky just for the hell of it. Yet if I had been just a bit less jolly at that moment, I might have prevented it. So, mea culpa. I am just glad it worked out all right.

Enough said on that subject.

Now, for tonight's rehearsal. It was the first time we tried to run a whole act. Act one in this case. There are still some choppy waves for our ship to cross. Nonetheless I like getting to the point where we are doing whole acts in a show. No matter how rough it may be, it starts to take at least a bit of shape during those nights.

My costume is also taking shape. I tried on a Navy officer's jacket tonight. Navy blue. It fit well and looked cool. I would have tried on the pants as well, but unbeknownst to the costume manager, and unbeknownst to me until I was in the bathroom with them, the pants in question had no ass in them at all. There was nothing there. A total rip down the back of the entire article of clothing.

That was not going to work. They can be repaired though. I might try them on tomorrow.

No hat. But the time is approaching I am sure. If you would like to add your voice to the "Give the Boy a Cool Hat" campaign, send your comments my way. I'll forward them to the proper authorities.

Long entry tonight. Yet it is finally concluded. Thanks for stopping by the blog, loyal readers.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Disaster Averted

Despite being a damned fool, I was somehow quick enough to prevent calamity.

That is all I have to say about it.

The Potentials of Navy Surplus and Sound Systems

Upon arriving at the theatre for Monday night's rehearsal, I was told to go see the costume lady upstairs.

I thought that perhaps my dream of getting my hat was being realized.

No, dear blog readers, not just yet.

However, I did try on a uniform jacket. Dark blue. Turns out it was too small. The costumstress (is that a word?) mentioned that she knew someone who worked at a Navy surplus store, or something of the kind. Actual Navy clothing by the truckload gets sent there. I imagine that this will provide for the possibility of kick ass costumes. (Hats included.)

When I went back downstairs, I was talking to the guy who plays the "Skipper" of the American. He had tried on a captain's hat that had not fit. He also told me that, as he was told, he and I might have two dress uniforms for the show. One white, for the opening of the show, and the daytime, casual scenes, and one darker one, for the second act of the show, during the evening scenes. If this turns out to be true, and both day and night uniforms are consist of Navy surplus, I just might find myself wearing the second most awesome thing I have ever worn on stage, for this show.

(The most, and probably unbeatably awesome costume ever for me, was a replica of George S. Patton's uniform, for Moon Over Buffalo.)

So time will tell with regards to the outfit(s).

As for the actual rehearsal, we ran some dance numbers on stage, while singing the music ourselves. This is the first time we did this in the history of the show. Conditions were not ideal, in that the keyboard our musical director used could not be hooked up to the main sound system, and it was difficult to hear. Given this fact though, it was acceptable much of the time.

I have been given a little extra bit of singing in one of the dance numbers. I now sing for a moment in Heaven Hop, when it used to be an all girl number. I will not be thrown, though, as Heaven Hop is the dance during which I do my best foot work.

We also ran the song and dance for Anything Goes, and Bon Voyage. (Though there is no dancing at all in the latter.)

Tuesday night is the same as last night, just with act 2 numbers. (The scarier dances for me.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Long Haul

Rehearsal today from 2PM until about 5:30. That's a long time, given that we were not running the whole show yet.

What we did run was dancing for the first two hours. She added skads more tapping to the agenda, and has me front and center. (Again). I claim no responsibility for how bad that will look when we get to opening night.

Aside from the new tapping, which was from a whole new dance number, we reviewed two of the numbers we have worked on before. I had been doing good, but I was robbed; she put me on the polar opposite site of the stage from where I had been. So what little I had remembered got lost in the need to view the plays from the reverse angle. (With no instant reply available.) Yikes.

I was also assigned a new woman to come on to during "Blow, Gabriel, Blow". I mentioned before how the first partner I had was a friend of mine, and that it might be a bit awkward. Now my partner is someone I hardly know, and it will be a bit awkward. Yet not as awkward as some things I have had to do.

Such moments of "staged dirtiness" can be such a double-edged sword. In one way, if two people remain awkward when faced with such a task, that will register on stage, and the flirting will look fake. The result, people around will laugh and snicker, and tell the couple that they need to get into it more. On the opposite side of that, if two performers decide to be professional about it, and just do what is called for to make it look convincing, you get laughs and snickers from people who proceed to tell you that you are both "enjoying it too much".

The point here is, if there are no snide comments about what I have to do at that moment, I will be just fine with whatever is called for. (Major hint to those in the show that might read this blog.)

Later we practiced music for 90 minutes or so. I left my music book at home, so I used my script, which has all the lyrics in it, without the notes. Guess what? I followed along much better. I guess since I do not read music, all the notes tended to get in the way. Tonight, all I had to do was concentrate on hitting the right harmony while reading clear cut printed words. It made a difference.

So overall a lot of work during a long day. We did not get everything done that we planned, but I get the sense that the show really needed a day like this. The bumps are still there, but some of them have gotten a little smoother. (Which is more than I can say for my less than healthy knee, that I managed to bump on the floor more than once.)

Tomorrow night, the true fun begins...Singing live while dancing on stage.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Living in the Past

Today I have been working on back-story ideas for my character. By back-story I mean those aspects of a character's life created by the actor, which are not explicitly assigned to or denied them by the script. When my ideas are more concrete, I will share some of them. Right now, I wanted to talk about the idea back-story in general.

Not everyone uses the back-story exercise. Why do I?

One simple reason is that it's fun. I don't do it every time, and when I do, the level of detail varies. But that is the beauty of the back-story; as much or as little as you want.

Yet I am not just entertaining myself when I write a back-story. Such creations often add to my performances. How?

Everyone you meet in real life has a back-story. That does not mean they are conscious of everything they have ever felt, every moment that you see them. People do, however, consist of more than what is right in front of them. A spiritual weight is on the back of every person, and even the best of scripts can leave characters without such weight at times. Even if the script is perfect, an actor sometimes wants to get a notion of what has NOT been said. This is where back-story comes in.

I like to think of it as a backpack. If one wears a back-pack with nothing in it, they will walk in much the same way as they would without it. Fill the pack with canned food, however, and there is a noticeable change. It is inevitable. One's gait is different. One walks a bit slower. One's stance is altered. All of this because the back-pack is now full of items. We may not see the individual contents of the bag, but the accumulative effect is present all the same. Adding back story to a character and making it part of my performance adds that emotional back-pack full of goods, which cannot help but alter, and one would hope, improve my performance.

That is not to say that every single aspect of your back-story will directly influence your performance. No one is going to say, "judging by how that actor is climbing the stairs, he clearly wants the audience to know his character would, in theory, prefer Pepsi." Nevertheless, a back-story adds depth. Remember what I said a few weeks ago about "The space between the bars..."

Unless you are David Mamet, it is not intriguing to watch an actor spit out lines like a machine and walk around a stage, without any thought as to "why?" The use of back-story is a fun way to determine the origins of some lines, actions and status of a character, when the script is mum on the issue.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Three Weeks and Counting

That is right. Three weeks from this very moment, we will be on stage for opening night of Anything Goes.

Funny how subjective the idea of three weeks can be. As rehearsal was ending tonight, the choreographer expressed something along the lines of "We have three whole weeks left". The director replied by saying, "No, we only have three weeks left."

If, as you read this, you think I am going to announce which of those views I have adopted, you're nuts.

Suffice to say, however, that just about everyone on every level of the show admits there there is still much to do.

Some of the was done today, as we reviewed the blocking for Act 1. Most of it. We did not get to the final two scenes. I am starting to feel quite comfortable with act one, however. There are only two places where I need my script, and a few more where I like having it, but do not need it. I am off book totally for about half of the scenes I am in for act one. (Meaning spoken lines and blocking only. I cannot make that claim for all of my dance moves yet.)

Still, speaking for myself, I feel I am moving along rather well three weeks out.

In stark contrast to a mere 2 weeks ago, the theatre was nothing close to cold. Outside it was one of those wonderful early spring nights. About 55 or 60 degrees when I got there for rehearsal. It was not much cooler when I left the theatre. Early to mid spring always went well with theatre for me. I enjoy shows any time of the year, but there is something about rehearsing and opening one during the spring that often clicks with me. Like bread and butter. I think maybe it is the notion that as springs blooms, people's imaginations start to open up, and creativity enhances as the winter starts to thaw out.

I have two days off, before the big scary Sunday rehearsal, where we will be going over every single dance, I think, so we do not have another night like Tuesday. I am glad I have 48 hours or so to prepare for such a day.

On a side note, My friend Gaby, who I have mentioned before, came back from a week in Florida the other day. While there she got me something which she gave me tonight at rehearsal. It is a book filled with insults from the works of Shakespeare. I had already memorized a few of my favorites over the years, but this book has all of them. Classified by the play they appear in. Fun.

Also have started to develop some interesting back story for the Purser. More on that when I flesh it out.

Standby at C-Minus 12

If you can figure out how I came up with the title for this entry, well done. I'll mail you a fruit basket.

By the way, this entry will be dated as the 9th, though its contents refer to the night of the 8th. It's the middle of the night, insomniac that I am. I am still going to say "tonight" though, so get over it.

Pursuant to that, "tonight" was not a very active rehearsal for me. We did work out the placement for the very final scene. 12 people were missing, however, and needless to say it was not ideal. We muddled through though, as we often do when people are missing. (Which, let's face it, is every night so far.)

That scene I mentioned is for me one of those wherein you stretch the acting muscles which belong to the silent group. It's a whole separate skill to look motivated and involved in the action when you have no lines for ten minutes. It is not more difficult per se, but the temptation to space out during such scenes can be greater if one is not careful. This can lead to missing the one line an actor may have in said scene. So I always try to be in the moment. I make an effort to respond to or observe something during every second of such a scene.

After we ran that a few times, the director sent all but three people home. ( I was to stay.) We three were going to block the scene that comes before the finale. As the others were filing out, one of my cast mates approached me. He asked if I would like to try out for a show he was directing in the fall at the Apollo Civic Theatre. I had never heard of the show before, but it sounded interesting, and I said as it stands now, I would be willing. I have the better part of the year to think it over, which is nice. He mentioned he likes to plan ahead on such things. I can understand that, as I often have the same tendency.

Once everyone had shuffled out that was no longer needed, the pace was quiet almost to the point of eerie. It would not have been as noticeable if not for the fact that 3 minutes previous, the rest of the group and all of their accompanying noise filled the building. Then, all of the sudden, they were gone. 12 people may have been missing, but there were still plenty of people engaged in plenty of talking.

Those few of us who were left took a short break before we ran the little scene in question. (Act 2, scene 2 for those of you keeping score.) In that scene, as written, a character (Bonnie) hangs upside down and looks into a window in the brig, where two characters are waiting. (Billy and Moon). A discussion was taking place on stage as to how we might pull that off, when the time came. No decisions were made, and as I am not tech savvy, I made no comments. If we cannot do it on our budget and with our resources, that will be too bad, because I think it would make a cool visual. Due to the nature of our set, it is presenting some problems though.

If anyone who reads this out there has ever been in this show somewhere and pulled that stunt off successfully, I would be curious to hear about how it was done. I am not saying we could do it that way, but I would find it interesting to read about nonetheless. Plus, who knows, maybe it will spark some kind of idea for us. You will have then had influence on a production that is potentially thousands of miles away from you.

That would be kind of cool, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Best Laid Plans...

Sometimes it is the things that go wrong that teach us the most. I think tonight's rehearsal may have been one of those times.

Ostensibly we were blocking Act 2 Scene 1, which is what we started off doing. By the time we got to a number called "Blow, Gabriel, Blow", the director decided to have us run through the dance we had learned for same. This was a dance that I had started to somewhat understand the last time we ran it during dance practice.

That was then. Not long into everything, 90% of what little I had learned flew right out of my head. It was gone. Complete blank. I stood there lost, I am afraid to say. I even forgot to bring out Reno's chair when I was supposed to.

My only comfort was that I was not the only one who was lost. Nearly everyone else seemed to be lost at some point during the number.

To begin with, we found that we had tables and chairs in the way. Putting that matter aside, we had roughly half the space on stage that we had in the dance rehearsal hall. Couple that with having twice as many people as we have ever had for the dance before. (Many of which had never learned the dance.) The result was what I like to call a cluster&*#%.

I am not saying that to be sarcastic. Nor am I the only one who thought so. Judging by the fact that our choreographer had buried her face in her script by the time it was over, I think it's fair to say she too was not thrilled with the results.

The plan is to drill this dance into everyone's head on Sunday.

In other news from this same dance number, one of my friends is my partner for parts of this dance. The choreographer wants there to be "heavy flirting" happening with the partners at this point. While one, (or in this case two) can say that everything is professional and there is nothing to feel worried about for such things, most people feel some awkwardness at first. We will not be required to do anything distasteful, so neither one of us will be terrified about it. Nevertheless, there is a small hurdle to get over. For some reason it is easier for me when the "partner" starts out as a near total stranger than when the other person is a friend of mine. Go figure.

Yet I am sure we will work something out, and all will be just fine. Just one of those things. The key will be to not make a big thing out of it before hand. That way it will lose it power. Somewhat.

I overheard someone say that costumes fittings and such may start next week sometime. So make sure you all keep you fingers crossed for a cool hat for me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

78th Annual Academy Awards

I was at an Oscar Party last night. Never been to one before. So it is hard to say if being at a fun party altered my view of the show, but to me, it seemed to be a tamer and shorter affair than in most previous years I have bothered watching.

I know I left right after they announced the upset victory of Crash as Best Picture. That was 11:30 or so. I know I have seen Oscar shows run well past midnight.

It was, of course, still the Oscars. You could tell by the many pointless montages from movies that have been featured in every Oscar montage every year for the last 30 years. But the extra musical numbers were kept to a minimum, and no one's speeches were overtly dragging. Both of these facts made for a shorter than usual ceremony.

As far as the host, I am not a huge fan of Jon Stewart, though I have nothing against him either. I do not watch his show, but I am familiar with it. He was clearly toning it down last night as far as political jokes, (though he did make a few.) His sharp though not quite biting sarcasm made for some enjoyable moments for me. He did not set the Kodak on fire with his work, but he did keep things moving with self deprecating humor, poise, some sarcasm, and overall a great deal of ease. Given that it was his first time hosting the most watched ceremony in the world, I give him a "B".

I would say more, but I did not see any of the Best Picture nominees, and only one of the acting performances that were nominated. As mention previously in this blog, I did see Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, and she did deserve the award. (Though I did admit I predicted Felicity Hoffman would win. 9 times out of ten, if the Academy nominates someone portraying a member of the opposite sex, or a retarded person, that is your winner.)

A lot has been made about the fact that no blockbuster were nominated for best picture, and few huge names were in the most nominated movies. Ergo, according to some, there was less glamour to the ceremony. I think that is a bit silly. It is still the Oscars, and in theory, it is supposed to be about movie quality anyway, is it not? I think the Academy itself tends to forget that. While I do not expect this trend of "smaller" movies to continue forever, it was sort of nice to not see some explosion ridden CGI-fest up for Best picture this year.

Now that the Oscars are over, let's hurry up and get the rest of those movies on DVD so I can finally watch them.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Lend Me Your Support

Loyal blog readers, the time for concern may be at hand.

I must ask you to indulge me, and if you think you can, support me as you read this testimonial to my alarm at the state of things for me. (Especially those readers who know me or who are in the show with me.)

Some may find this funny. It was at some point, but I am no longer laughing. Since many people I know, and some that are in this very show will read this, I will preface this entry by saying that I blame no one but myself for what I am about to relay. I hold no ill feelings towards anyone. That being said, without any intention to be sarcastic, I must say;

I cannot dance.

This afternoon was a major dance rehearsal. I learned a few things. One thing I learned is that I will not, for whatever reason, have the privilege of being in the entire group of people who will do virtually no dancing. Indeed I was not even aware of the existence of such a group until today. Yet for some of the numbers, many people will be simply sitting at tables for most of the dancing. As much as I would have preferred to be one such person, I have somehow ended up as half of a couple in one of the biggest dance routines of the entire show. Despite the fact that I know my friends in the show could very well read this, I have to confess how concerned I am over all of this.

It is not that all of the dancing in all of the numbers is especially hard. (See also, here.) With more time, in fact, I thin I could actually master about 60% of all the dancing I have learned so far. But time, I do not have. To be more accurate, I do not have the time that I personally need to master it all. What with only 25 days remaining, with both singing (harmony) and lines for my character to commit to memory, there is a lot going on in my head. More, I fear, than it is built to process at one time.

I admire the dancers in this show. The instructors as well as those who are students of dance, or who have picked it up far quicker than I have. The way it is laid out is bound to look great. Which is exactly why I am so concerned. I can already feel myself letting those people down. It is only an uneasiness now. It has the potential to evolve into panic, however, when I consider how prominent my position is for some of these numbers. I can see the entire number(s) being brought down by me. I could have gotten by in the background. In the front, and particularly with a partner, I have far less control.

In the end, that is what a lot of these issues I am having are about. Being behind, and out of control while on stage is very foreign, and frightening to me.

It is even more unnerving when I think of the last time I was assigned to dance in a musical. Despite being told repeatedly how easy it was all going to be, I made progress so slowly that two weeks before opening I was actually cut from the number, and replaced. That is not an option for this show. I say that because I think one reason I have been featured so prominently in the dance numbers question is that I cannot be replaced by any men currently in the cast for these numbers. If I bomb, I bomb. I do not know how to handle bombing on stage. It is unacceptable to me.

The only solution available to me now is to try not to fall even further behind as new steps, and changes and music is added at lightening speed for my brain. I can only hope that simple repetition of it will somehow ignite muscle memory somewhere within me and allow me to fake it when I need to, and really do the dances when I can.

That muscle memory has to be recalling the correct movement, however.
Those who dance well, light a candle to your gods and goddesses in my favor. I will need it

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Newtonian Physics and Acting

There is a great temptation to do things half-baked early on in a rehearsal process. Often in the first two weeks or so, (sometimes more), there are lots of short cuts, and little energy. I feel justified in pointing this out, because if I am not careful, I can adopt the same attitude.

The reasons for this tendency early on are simple; it does not feel in anyway like a production. Consider the first week or so of rehearsal in the average show.

There is often no set, only an empty stage. No one is in costume. There is the cumbersome nature of walking around with the script in one's hands. You have the constant changing of the director's mind in regards to blocking, which is almost inevitable early on in a production. All of these factors conspire to make one feel an audience is at least 100 years in the future. Ergo, lazy line readings, slow, meandering crosses, and an overall emotionless presence on the stage are commonplace. In other words, few people are performing.

Of course, even the best of the best need that time to acclimate themselves to new stages, new scripts, and new cast mates. They are not at the top of their game from the first instant. It is, however, the best of the best that will use every moment that is available to them before opening night to get into that all-important groove. From day one they are putting feeling into line readings, crossing the stage with energy and purpose, and seeking to interact in a convincing manner with their fellow actors. Though it is rough, it is a performance.

What you do with your character and line readings on the first night will differ quite a bit from what you present on opening night. (One would hope, anyway.) The idea, however, is to be presenting something all the time. Never simply go through the motions. Your mind, body, and spirit are not exempt from inertia. If for weeks you have been phoning it in, waiting for the set to be complete and your costume to be ready before you start, you will find it twice as hard to kick it all into gear when you need to. Contrary wise, if you start off in motion, (as Newton said), your performance will find it much easier to stay in motion. With hard work and luck, by the time that motion carries you into opening night, you can take off and fly with it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Watershed Moment

This was a semi-landmark rehearsal for me. I was able to follow, and execute more than half of the dance we learned today!

That is to say I had no major problem following, understanding, or duplicating most of the steps we were shown. I had a bit of a problem keeping the order in my head, because we added maybe two more things in one sitting than my brain can handle with comfort. That notwithstanding though, I actually grasp the overall concept and rhythm of the dance. (For which, thankfully, I have been assigned a smaller, simpler part.)

I dare say if nothing else, that by the time we open at the end of the month, I will have mastered that number, if none others. (The number is called Heaven Hop.)

I would have gotten an even better idea how it all went together had more than half of the people showed up tonight. (This is a sentiment I think I share with the choreographer herself.) Yet I was actually able, for a few brief shining moments, to taste a small sampling of what it is to enjoy dancing.

I am sure I still looked like a wounded yak. But I was a wounded yak who usually knew where he was supposed to be, and that is rewarding to me.

I am not sure why this number seemed to be so much easier to follow. A person more well learned in dance would know the different terms used to describe different types of moves and steps. To me, it is usually all just under the umbrella of "choreographed dancing". If I had to choose one reason it seemed easier, I would say it was because it was void of "combos". I think there were no combos, and that made it easier for me.

Whatever the reason, it was easier, and I rejoiced at the notion of not being totally lost.

I make no promises for other numbers. But Heaven Hop is something I feel confident I will be able to master.

One day.

More on Pursers

I am quite a fan of researching a role. By that I mean getting into the nature of what a character's position is not only in the play, but in the society the play is based in.

This makes for some research that is far more in depth than many actors I know would bother with. Unless detailed knowledge is required for performing the role, some do not bother to know more than the script itself. That is fine for most, but not for me. As far as I am concerned, any little detail or tidbit of information one learns in research can contribute to a performance.

So I was doing a little bit of simple research on what a purser does on a cruise ship. I came across this rather useful
description. It was designed to help those interested in pursuing a career as a purser understand the nature of the position. Yet I found it to be a small gold mine for me as an actor as well. (Particularly the part which describes the type of person a purser should be. )

Is that handing ideas to an actor on a platter or what?

I call them "character seeds"; tiny pieces of information about real life pursers than I can use, and allow to evolve into character traits, or even quirks. When I play a main character who dialogue and story are strong enough, I require fewer such seeds, though I still use them. A supporting part like this one opens up a greater chance to make use of such seeds. While I will not use all of the information in the article, the information has already made me think of some ideas.

Hat Watch continues. No word yet. But tell me I would not look just as good as this gentleman in a similar hat. That is what I am talking about.

As for rehearsal tonight (3/1/06), I did not end up getting off book today. Turns out it is my longest scene. But I can feel "off book" on the horizon already. We have two weeks to be off book. I am there.