Saturday, April 29, 2006

No Rest for the Weary

Energy is a funny thing for a person. Up to a certain point, the more a person uses, the more they tend to have. Contrary wise, failure to make use of our own energy tends to lesson it.

My point? This can be used to the advantage or disadvantage of the actor during a show.

Most people find the energy they need while ON stage. What about off stage? Just observing some videos of previous performances of mine, and looking back on my memories of them, it is easy to recall that many people drop their energy like a ton of bricks as soon as they are off stage. Sometimes, when there is a blackout, people can be seen dropping their energy even before they leave stage. I assume such people assume that since they are not acting, and cannot be seen, it becomes less important to keep a certain level of energy up.


I of course do not advise running around the outside of the theatre whenever one is off stage, in order to keep up energy. That would certainly pass a threshold, and merely fatigue an actor. Still, I believe that loafing about in the green room, lying on the floor, relaxing totally on a couch, or just tuning out in general when one has a break in a show of more than 5 minutes is fool hearty.

Keep a slow walk or pace going on around the building, so long as it does not bother anyone. Run your next scene silently at triple speed while you wait. One of my favorite energy maintenance tricks while off stage is shadow boxing. Whatever method you choose, be sure that your body and mind do not slip totally into "rest" mode. "Rest" mode is, for most people, only a step or two away from "non-performance" mode. Of course, no one wants to rush out on stage in that mode.

This goes for what we visualize and talk about as well. You may feel fatigue, but going about backstage telling anyone who will listen, "I am so tired! I am exhausted! I have no energy", is a self fulfilling prophecy that will only enhance your tiredness. Talk about how well the show is going, or what you are going to try in the next scene. That way even if physical fatigue has started to set in (and if you are working hard, it will), your can at least convince you mind you have some more to give before curtain call.

That is not to say that a person should not sit down and relax for a few minutes after a big musical solo. By all means take a drink of water, catch your breath, gear down a bit. Just resist the temptation, (and we all have it at some point) to leave our energy on the stage. Staying just a little limber and a bit warm when you are off stage will increase your chances of being red-hot when you get back out there.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Heavy Price

I just read this article. I know I am probably too sensitive in the eyes of most people, particularly in theatre. However even as someone who loves performing, I would have to conclude there is a line that is not worth crossing.

This professional seems to have crossed it, in my opinion. It was supposed to be an upbeat article, but I found it depressing.

I acknowledge that in the professional acting world this is true more often than not. Yet I cannot help but think that if enough dedicated artists over an era or two refused to tolerate this sort of thing, it might change in the future.

I don't know. I know there are many fabulous professional performers. I have met some in my day. Many of them are fantastic, well adjusted people. Yet when I read an article like this, I am almost glad I am not professional. (Forgive me professional actors who may read this blog.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Making Friends = Getting Roles?

I am not a social animal. In a crowd, I am not the one you will see introducing himself with enthusiasm to all of the strangers in the room. Making friends takes more time than that for me. There is, however, one time when I try to do a bit more "schmoozing"; I put in a bit more effort to get to know strangers right away when I am at an audition.

Truth be told, many of the auditions I go to these days are also attended by people I have worked with many times before. Ergo the odds of me auditioning with nothing but total strangers at these home theatres of mine are very slim. Yet my advice is still worth heeding. Even for myself when I know most of the people auditioning already.

I am not suggesting that you start asking everyone out for a cup of coffee while you await your turn to be called into read for the show. However, if you can make the rounds in a subtle manner and make small talk with those who do not seem too engaged in their own private preparations, I recommend doing so.

"Why", you ask me. "I am just as introverted and awkward as you seem to be, Unglebower."

The reason is simple. Unless you are trying out for a very particular kind of show the director is almost guaranteed to ask you to read with at least one other person. In most cases several people, sometimes multiple people at the same time. Stage chemistry with other cast members is vital to a show's overall quality. So if you have made yourself a bit more comfortable with the people auditioning before you actually read, that is probably going to show during your reading.

This will not assure you or the other person of a role, of course. However, if after some small talk about theatre or even the you find that the first layer of your social barrier has been lifted with a person, it will be that much easier to interact with them on stage. A lack of awkwardness on stage is imperative. Getting to know someone before you read with them, (if you have that chance), will strengthen both of your readings.

In some cases, it will not work. In most cases I dare say that your small talk will in fact make a useful connection between you and the stranger in question. And, once in a great while, you and the other person may hit it off quite well, in a short amount of time. In those rare but rewarding instances, not only are you all the most comfortable during your reading together, you increase your chance of having fun playing off of each other. Plus if neither of you get a role, you have made a potential new friend. (Gasp.)

Yes, dear blog readers. This actually has happened to me.

Now I am never going to be a mingler supreme. My semi-wall flower status is not going to change to any great degree at a party. But as an actor, I want the part. I also want to perform with people I can connect with. I dare say many actors feel much the same way as I do on such things. So take my advice; when you enter that audition ante-chamber filled with people who are scared to death, close in. (Gently). It could do both of you a world of good.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Six Years and Counting

6 years ago tonight was my very first opening night as an actor. (Not counting school pageants as a child and such.) It even falls on a Friday again. So I thought I would share some memories from that first production, and the things leading up to it. Indulge me if you will, blog readers.

My very first production was called "Sorry, Wrong Number", by Lucille Fletcher. It's a murder/suspense story about a bedridden woman who thinks she is about to be killed, and the people who offer her no help or comfort as she tries to convince people of her plight through the only means available to her; the telephone next to her bed.

I played Sergeant Duffy, of the local police department. Duffy was one of the many who ignore the woman's pleas for help, dismissing them as ravings of a half crazy person.

The director of this one act play, (originally written as a radio play) was a fellow student in my acting class. I confess that her and I had not always gotten along throughout the year. But that was all behind us by the time she pleaded with me for days to try out for her show. From the moment I was cast, we got along in a most excellent, professional manner.

Indeed the way she handled the production, and me as a first time "real" actor deserves a moment of recognition here in this blog. I say that because I know that if my first experience on stage had been awful, I would not have auditioned for anything else. Yet this director's patient style, clear instructions, and cast bonding games, (such as the ever popular photo scavenger hunt) all conspired to make that first play an enjoyable experience for me. It is not absurd to think my continuation in college theatre was due in large part to the way she undertook her duties.

At first the rehearsal process did not feel all that different than rehearsing for class scenes throughout the year. It wasn't until tech week that greater anticipation (and nerves) set in. In fact, all through the day on opening night I would be hit with the sudden realization that I was going to perform for the first time in just a matter of hours. I would not call these feelings fear, nor I would not use the term, "undiluted joy". It was sort of an all or nothing feeling. I was either going to get the job done, or not.

This feeling translated into a touch of panic only once, I am proud to say. About 20 minutes before we went on, I suppose it was clear how concerned I was. The aforementioned director advised me to remember that I was "Duffy", and that nothing else mattered for the next hour or so. Furthermore she reminded me I already knew everything I needed to do to get everything right. This relaxed me, and panic left, though nervousness remained.

The structure of the play was unique, and it worked to my advantage somewhat. Instead of us walking around the stage, all characters were pretty much in the same positions throughout the play, from the start. 90% of the play's script consisted of phone conversations, so little blocking was required. When each character was "called" by the lead character, a light would shine above them, and the scene would proceed. I had the advantage of getting used to being out in front of an audience for a good 15 minutes before I even could be seen by them. Years later the director regretted her choice of script, and the nature of said blocking, but at the time, I enjoyed it.

As soon as the lights came up during the "ringing" of the phone on my desk, I felt any remaining nervousness vanish. I knew that I knew. This sudden realization that I had it is hard to describe. A lifting fog, perhaps, or a light bulb coming on in the dark. (Literally in this case.) Either way, the difference between how I felt before, and after I went "on" was instant and significant.

The show proceeded without any flaws. Before I knew it, it was over. Back in the green room, congratulations abounded from and to everyone. I had the notion, perhaps without reason, that I had been doing such things as performing plays, for years. It was one of the first times in my life where I insisted on generating confidence within me, and succeeded in doing so. (With help from my cast, and director.)

That night our director gave each of us a cast photograph that had been taken two weeks before, at a picnic we all attended. Each photo was attached to a piece of felt with "Sorry, Wrong Number", the date, director's initials, and a felt telephone attached to it. It hangs on a wall 4 feet behind me to this very day.

The phrase "you never forget your first time" was coined to refer to something else. Yet it applies in equal fashion to one's first experience on stage. Whether one continues to act, as I have, or if one never again does so, there is something unforgettable about that first walk across the stage, that first sense of a sea of faces watching everything you do, that first opening night jitter attack. The first cast bonding and the first sense of accomplishment when you realize you have told a story that people enjoyed being told.

When that first time is a good one like it was for me, it stays with you on an even deeper level. I confess that though I do not know where any of those people are anymore, I cannot help but think of each of them for a few fleeting moments when I am in a new show. I cannot help but be reminded of how different and yet how exactly the same the crazy world of being in a show is for me today as compared with 6 years ago today.

I even sometimes wonder, for a second or two, what my very first director would think if she could see the stuff I do now. That is the impact left by my first ever show. It may not be on my mind most of the time, but the fact that 6 years later it still makes it to my consciousness as often as it does says volumes.

In a sum, "Sorry, Wrong Number" was in fact just the right thing for me, at just the right time.

So, 6 years later, here's to the first domino in the effect that is my career; here's to my first cast, and director, wherever you are.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We Were Students Once...and Young

Out of 7 productions I was a part of at my college theatre, I have video copies of three of them. I have been skimming through said videos for the first time in years.

It's funny how improvement and evolution of one's craft can take place to a degree that one is not aware of. One dedicates oneself to pursuing what they love as often as possible, motivated by a desire for excellence. Constant improvement is all but ensured. Yet it sometimes takes an objective look at one's self to fully appreciate how far one has come.

This is what happened as I was reviewing some of these early performances of mine.

Don't get me wrong. There is much I did in my first few shows that I am quite proud of even to this day. (As the videos reminded me.) However, as represented by these videos, many of the finer points of my performances were not as well defined back then as they are today. I of course assumed I had improved over the years. I have insisted on it. Yet it took the objective viewpoint of a camera that cannot lie, and the separation of many years to delineate my improvements in such a clear manner.

Many people avoid watching videos of themselves for this very reason. Embarassment sets in as they realize what they should have been doing during thus and so speech, but failed to do. And I admit there were plenty of winces to go along with the smiles I experienced when watching them. Still, I have found it to be more rewarding than I thought it might be before hand.

How have I improved since those days? I cannot list all the ways, but I will give some examples. My diction, for one. Watching some of the videos, it was clear why "slow down" was a common note I was given by directors early on. I can be understood, but am thankfully much better at it now.

I can also tell that my inner workings have deepened since the days those home movies were shot. True, my acting professor and director's always had nice things to say about my ability to express inward thought in an outward manner. Nonetheless it is clear that compared with nowadays, my performances did not always include a consistent emotional reaction ascending into the delivery of a line, and continuing after said line. I am much better with that now. Indeed I am told it is one of my strengths. An evolution.

I want to make it clear to readers that my college acting days were not without their good spots. In fact there are some positive aspects that existed during those sorts of productions that I know will never be replicated in my acting career, no matter where it may take me. Still, seeing a more primitive version of both myself, and the overall productions I chose to involved in at the time serves to all the more enrich the acting I am lucky enough to do on a regular basis today.

Here's hoping that years from now, when I view the stuff I did this year, I can say the same thing.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Modem Nightmares

Loyal Blog readers...

What a week it has been. Aside from personal, non-theatre stuff going on (yes, hard to believe but such things do exist), I have had horrendous modem problems. It could take an hour to check three emails. Literally. So blogging was at a minimum. And yes I missed my usual Saturday post. Forgive me.

But the technical guy from my cable company showed up today and fixed everything up. So I should be able to return now to my regular comments and questions about the world of theatre and acting. Those who wait with baited breath...I have returned.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy (almost) Anniversary Post!

I had saved this longer entry for a special day...the 6 month anniversary of the launch of Always Off Book. It turns out, I was performing on that very day and had to blog about that. So it is not the exact 6 month anniversary. But within a few days. So congratulations to me!

On this special day, I want to talk about a book that is special to me. A book that I treasure, refer to, and internalize in just about every way shape and form as an actor. A book which for reasons I do not understand has been out of print for years, despite being relevant to any actor today. A book that sums up the actor in me quite well. (The reason I wanted to post this review on the 6 month anniversary of my acting blog.)

If you are an actor and have never read it, buy a copy online and do so soon.

I refer to
On Acting by Sir Laurence Olivier.

If I have an "acting bible" to use a terrible cliché, Olivier's treatise on his art would be it.

Why does this out of print and rather forgotten book written by a legend long dead hold such a high place in my consciousness? Let me start by discussing aspects that do NOT place it in such high esteem in my mind.

It is not a dry, analytical exploration of named techniques and theatrical parlance. It is not a manifesto to the actor trying to perfect his craft and attain glory. And it is most certainly not a book which sets down what a person must or must not do, think or say in order to be a true actor. No dogma. No reprimands. No intellectual tyranny. The author issues no demands on the reader.

What Olivier does do is describe his perspectives on many aspects of the acting craft in the most non-pretentious way I have yet found in a book by an actor or director. Character development, script selection, the rehearsal process, costumes, sets, diction, directing, training, and so on are all covered with a "this is how it worked for me" approach. Though here is not the place to present all of Sir Laurence's ideas, the universal themes of his acting approach include respect, enthusiasm for any role, confidence, a focus on the audience and actor-based direction. (Sound familiar, blog readers?)

Indeed I was delighted to learn as I first read the book how often my approach, and that of Sir Laurence Olivier were congruent. I cannot tell you how many arguments I had gotten into with fellow actors over the years about my approaches to said theatrical subjects. Before I found the book someone was always certain that I was not in step with what theatre and acting ought to be. Some theatre major, or self professed "acting specialist" would without fail turn their nose up at my way of doing things. Since finding the book, however, instead of arguing, I will say, "Laurence Olivier did not seem to think so. If it was good enough for him, it is quite good enough for me."

More often than not, this shuts people up in short order.

Yet, On Acting is not merely some technical manual that is easier to read than most. What is most striking about it is the fact that it is a love letter. A love letter written by a brilliant man, exhorting the virtues of his deepest love, acting. It being written near the end of Sir Laurence's life, (which he was well aware of) adds a poignancy to the piece.

It is the author's expressed love for acting that makes the book so powerful. Not just the performance angle, but the overall experience of being an actor. Things fellow theatrical actors cannot help but recognize. The smells of paint and sawdust in the wings of a small theatre. The "twinge in the gut" an actor feels at random intervals during the daytime of a long awaited opening night. All the foibles, fears, and frustrations that go along with being an actor, (particularly in live theatre) are laid out in such a realistic, human way, I almost feel as if it were written about my own experiences.

Indeed, that is what is glorious about On Acting. The most admired professional actor of his or any subsequent age writes about acting with the non-pretentiousness of an amateur community player such as myself. The man who wrote this book sounds like he could, any given night, walk into the Old Opera House itself, and audition for one of our plays. That is how real it is.

The best thread that runs throughout the book, however, is Sir Laurence's insistence that you must believe. In yourself, and in the magic of theatre. That the only way to find that belief is to get out there and do it.

"Begin, whoever you are; do begin. You must, if you believe, and you will not succeed if you do not believe."

Belief is something all actors struggle with. All actors who are serious about what they do, anyway. Fellow actors out there can deny this until they are blue in the face. And they may do a great job of never letting people know it. But there are always moments when we, as actors, just do not believe enough. Olivier himself had such moments, as he describes in the book in a candid manner.

Yet overall, the book, and the man were about belief. Say what you will about his techniques, methods, approaches, script choices, or attitudes. You cannot read the book without knowing that Sir Laurence Olivier believed what he said, and believed in our craft. Believed in always improving, always learning, always acting.

For every show I am in, I have a picture of Laurence Olivier taped to my dressing room mirror, with my favorite quotation from this book printed underneath;

"It's not important to be at the top of the bill. It's important to be the best."

Whatever role I get, no matter how small, I try to take that advice to heart, and be the best. Sir Laurence was without a doubt one of the very best of all time. Open your heart and mind, read this book, and you will understand why it is true.

Monday, April 10, 2006


The Old Opera House production of Anything Goes is over now.

First I will say we had a good final performance. It did not top Saturday night of course, but it was a large, responsive house. There were some mistakes in various places, but what are you going to do?

Then there was the cast party, which was all right. We looked at a slew of digital pictures that "Sir Oakleigh" had taken throughout the run. That was fun. I look rather cool in some of them.

If I were to blog about the sentimental feelings I had whenever a show closed, that would get rather boring. It would be much of the same thing each time; how I made new friends, and got to know the old ones better, and I did not have time to get to know some people as well as I wanted to, and all that. Happens in nearly every show. But there are some things particular to this show that I wanted to mention.

For one I think I did learn to feel more comfortable with dancing. Other than tap dancing which I in all honesty still do not understand. Yet overall, I came to realize that on some level, under the right circumstances I am able to pick up some things. That may be useful if I ever end up in a big musical again. I am wary of trying out for one, but if I did, maybe it would not take as long to get into the dancing groove.

I also reminded myself of something that I have always known, but sometimes forget. A character tends to be what you make of it. The Purser, as written, is not much. He has one line that is written to be funny in a half-assed sort of way, and that is about it. So, a lot is left up in the air about him. When I wrote my back-story for him all those weeks ago, I tried not only to fill in holes, but to give life to the character. Make him real. I must have succeeded, because last night, I missed him. I know that I have given a part everything I have when I miss the idea of it being around at the end of a production. Almost like a friend moving away.

The moral of the story is, despite it being a cliché' , there really are no small parts. I tried my hardest to give depth to my "small" role. Something I was very tempted not to do at first. It is obvious to me, and it seems to others, that I changed my mind about that.

A mother of one of my friend's paid me what is perhaps one of the most well stated and appreciated comments I have ever received as an actor. She said I have a rare talent for turning small roles into big memories. That is all I have ever tried to do with the purser. I am glad, in her eyes, and in others, I succeeded in doing so. May I always be able to do that when I don't get the big role.

Allow me to end by saying that I love my gargoyles.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Snicker Slut

The title is by request from some of my cast mates, who were having a discussion at dinner after the show. I hope they never say I don't love them.

This was our best performance of the run so far, and in all likelihood will not be topped by tomorrow's closing matinee. The crowd was large and responsive, everybody was right on target, and there were no mistakes of any significance. For my part, I added a bit more non-vocal things tonight as I was fed by the energy of this crowd. It must have worked because I got more laughs tonight than I have at any other previous time.

The Gabriel Blow dance number felt the best to me out of any time it has ever been done. I speak only as one cog in that machine of course. For what it is worth, however, I have never had more fun doing it.

I was a tad less immersed in my own personal melancholy before the show than I was last night. That by itself made the start of things different than they were last night. Nonetheless I was still a bit more standoffish before the show than I was last week and earlier this week. That may have contributed to the extra nuance of my performance as well.

All and all, an excellent final evening show. I know there is still one more to do, and I will be trying my hardest to make it good, of course. But as any actor will tell you, the final day is it's own species. You are either in a damn hurry to get the show done and out of your life, or you are crying between scenes as you realize you will never do those particular lines with those people again. Plus it's a matinee. So to have the final evening show go so well was a small blessing for me.

To use the director's favorite expression, tonight we had the sparkle.

One day more...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

T.G.I.F? Kind of.

So our Friday night show went much better than Thursday night. It would almost have to. I spent more time isolated before the show tonight than I have been. I did this for personal reasons, but I think it may have given something extra to my peformance. Maybe I was a little more focused or something. It is hard to say.

Anyway, there were about 140 I would guess. Responsive, but not wild. Even the biggest laugh line in the show got less laughs than normal. It got plenty, but compared to the other nights, it was less uproarious.

There were a few odd mistakes here and there. A few lines skipped, or said out of sequence. And one example of a character referring to himself by the wrong name. Yet other than these things, a solid performance.

For whatever it may be worth to posterity, I got my hair near perfect last night. It is always acceptable, but it was almost exactly how I envision it in my mind last night. So kudos to myself and my hair.

Tonight is the last evening performance. A little bittersweet. Yet I am going to remember that no matter what happens, this is a Saturday night. By and large people are not supposed to be depressed on a Saturday night.

Friday, April 07, 2006

What Is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?

I am not sure of the answer to this ancient Zen riddle. I would say that a fair aproximation to the answer would be tonight's audience.

Don't get me wrong. I am sure all 22 of the people that showed up tonight were well meaning theatre goers. They just were well meaning somewhere else from a mental stand point.

No major screw ups on the part of the cast, though we were flat at times when singing.

I think, honestly, that is all the comment tonight's show deserves. Bring on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Dispensed With

The pick-up rehearsal for dancing and singing was cancelled. I admit, I would have liked to have had it tonight. I was just getting certain parts of the dances correct. Yet, the choreographer conferred with the director, and neither seemed to think we needed it. So there you have it. Three nights off.

Another reason I would have liked to have it, aside from brushing up the dance steps, is the informality of it. At this theatre, pick-up rehearsals between weekends are rare. This is too bad, because I think they provide more than just the chance to refresh lines, blocking and dancing, etc. It gives the cast a chance to ease into the second weekend with a little cushion of relaxation. To do the first Sunday show, and then not meet until everyone is once more caught up in the frenzy of preparation denies us the chance to just sort of get reacquainted with doing the show after a few days off. Maybe have some much needed release of tension amongst the cast mates that is not possible on a performance night.

It was not meant to be for this show, however. So we will all meet for the second weekend opener. Those of you in the cast, see you in about 24 hours.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Penny

This post is for the benefit of people like Playmaker, and others who read my blog but do not know me personally. I am posting this story, by request, about why I carry a specific penny with me for every performance. But those who do not believe in the supernatural or miraculous need not read on.

My father died in 1985. As a younger person, that was the only year I could think of that reminded me of him. I never knew or remembered the year he was born. So when ever "1985" would appear somewhere, I would, for years, think of my father. Still do, sometimes.

Now flash forward many years. My last semester of college. It was a time filled with personal tragedy. I did not end college on a good note by any definition. I didn't even bother attending the ceremony.

After that final semester, I had nothing to do, and no where to go. No mentors to guide me and no promising prospects. Instead of going home, I theorized that moving to my college town would be advantageous, as my network was mostly located there. I was wrong. My bad luck continued, and I got nowhere. I spent at most three months living in my college town after graduation.

Yet during those three months, for the first time ever, the college's drama department opened up auditions to the community, and not just to students and faculty of the college. I auditioned under these conditions. I figured the drama department had always been good to me, so why not make a comeback, albeit a brief one.

To make a long story short, the process of rehearsals and such did little to ease my inner pain. Opening night came, and I was still pretty low. By then I knew I would not be able to stay in town once the show closed. This and many other things weighed on my mind as I paced back and forth backstage, my custom always in the final minutes before a curtain. This night, it was in the nearby prop room.

During that anxious pacing, I did something that was rare for me...I wondered what my father would think of my theatre endeavors. Whether he would approve, or want me to get off my ass and do something real with my life. Almost as soon as I thought this, I heard something behind me. When I turned around, there was a penny sitting on the filthy concrete floor of the prop room. It had not been there moments before when I walked past. I know this because I always stare at the floor as I walk.

I approached the coin, and saw it was tails up. Most people will tell you that you are supposed to leave a tails-up penny alone. I am not one to conform, and instead said to myself, "if, by some strangeness, this mystery penny should bear the year "1985" on the front, I know what it means, and where it came from."

I bent down, picked it up, and slowly turned it over in my fingers. As though out of a script, "1985" jumped right out at me. It seemed destined to happen. I was moved, but in the end not surprised, somehow.

The call for places was made, and I stuck the penny into my pocket, and kept it there for the rest of the performance. I put it back in my pocket the following night, and for every performance for the rest of the run. It has been in my pocket, or otherwise on my person for every performance of every major production I have been in ever since, up to and including this past Sunday morning. (Though it was safely taped to the top of my foot, so as to not fly out of my pocket during the dance numbers.)

So there you have it. The where and the why of what has come to be known by my circle of colleagues as "Ty's Penny".

Big Boy!

This is an off day, so I have to talk about something else. I figured I would ask about this commercial. Has anyone ever seen it? It is one of the better ones in the last two years. Better than anything during the Super Bowl, that's for sure.

I laugh every time I see this thing, even though it's old. This clown deserves some kind of acting award, and the commericial itself is just about the truest to life I have ever seen.

I also have to give a great amount of credit to the guy by the window at the end of the commercial. The one sitting to the left of the protagonist. The expression on that guy's face is outstanding.

Author's Note: Much to my chagrin, the link no longer featured the commerical I was referring to, though the page name was the same. Damn them!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Four down and four to go. For a matinee, it was a large and receptive audience. Our largest, but not our most responsive, That would be last night. I would say, a 7.5.

Aside from that though, there seemed to be various weird things that went on tonight, in rather quick succession. Allow me to describe.

Anyone who has been in live theatre knows that it is close quarters backstage for a show of this size. To the uninitiated, watch a submarine movie sometime. Any submarine movie will do. Watch the scene (and there WILL be one) where someone has to pass someone else in a corridor on the sub. Note how sailors press their backs up against the wall as tightly as possible to let the other person go by. That analogy fits the back stage with a large cast to a tee.

During one of these crosses as I passed one of the Angels, her dress strap somehow got caught in my Naval Rank insignia. I didn't know it until I felt the tug as I was side stepping away from her position. Neither did she. Luck was on our side, as it was easy to undo the mess, and no one missed an entrance or anything.

A more difficult misstep to ignore was a few scenes later. I did not know the entire story, as events unfolded, and I am still not clear on everything. I do know our director was up in the pin rail working flies. I learned later that somehow he was left in pitch-blackness. Seems he fumbled around to find the right rope to lower the fly that serves as the wall of Moonie's room. It was about 2 minutes of blackness when I realized something was up. When something finally came down, it was not the wall, but a white scrim that is not even used in this show.

The scrim looked ok, by and large. It served as a makeshift wall just fine. Had it not been for the delay, one might not have realized it was an error. Not a huge deal, but it added to the weirdness.

Said weirdness continued 2 or so scenes later. For the opening of the number called "Heaven Hop", one of our sailors is supposed to deliver a line to the lead singer of the song. That is her cue to begin the piece. When we got to that part today, unbeknownst to her, said sailor was not on stage. After a brief glance over her shoulder she realized this, at about the same time I realized it. It was then I delivered the sailors line myself, and the song proceeded without further incident.

I am not a huge fan of delivering someone else's line for them, but under the circumstances, I did not see any other choice. The actor was not there at the moment. Turns out this was because his props and chair had been misplaced at last minute, so I would not say it was his fault.

To the best of my knowledge, that was all the weirdness that took place. There may have been other things that happened. I will have to ask my cast mates next time we talk, which will be during a dance pick-up rehearsal on Wednesday evening.

It will be a weird two nights, not having to go into the theatre. But I will get used to it I am sure.
Also, some cool pictures of me were taken. Maybe I will see about getting copies, and posting them on here. If I can figure out how.

Mike Check?

I do not have a lot of time before I have to head on over to the matinee. (Lucky me.) But as a blogger, it is my duty to keep reader's updated on what is going on, and so here I am.

Last night's show was, as I predicted it may have been, our best performance so far. An audience of over 200 that was quite responsive most of the time. I'd give it an 8 or so. It was going smoother, faster, (though not too fast) and the music/dance numbers were much crisper than Friday night. I felt high energy during the dance numbers. For brief moments, I felt like I might be considered a dancer myself =)

Actually one of my colleagues in the audience approached me after the show. She told me I looked good when dancing, particularly the look on my face. More than one person has told me I have a glowing dance face. So in the very least that is something I can say for myself in the world of dance. I look happy.

One person that was not happy last night for a few moments, was one of our performers who has to wear a body mike for the show. The person shall not be named. But the story, as I informed them, must be told on this blog.

To pass the time, I brought a Pac-Man mini game to the theatre last night. This is always very popular with my cast mates. The performer in question was observing the Pac-Man fun between scenes and, as I am told, was making Pac-Man vocalizations as Pac-Man ate up the little pellets. Something along the lines of "boop-boop-boop". Or something.

If you remember the title of this entry you have probably guessed the punchline by now; indeed the body mike of said person was still on. Though I was not there to hear it, my understanding is that for a brief moment or two, "boop-boop-boop" was heard through the sound system out on stage.

An instant classic indeed.

Another instant classic is that it was April Fool's Day last night, and the one and only joke I pulled was on our director. I told him a bird had gotten into the house, and was fluttering around freaking people out. He came down from his office and just as he was getting to the door of the house, I reminded him that it was April 1st, and walked off. I would have loved to see the look on his face, but walking away at that moment was the best way to deliver the pay off. So, apologies to him, but it worked.

And now, loyal blog readers, I am off to perform for what thus far promises to be our biggest crowd. Sadly it's a matinee. But who knows? It might surprise us all.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Second Time Around

I got home late last night, so I am just now getting around to posting about how the show went.

I would give it, say, a 6.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. There were some long scene changes and a few other snafus here and there, but all and all not a bad performance.

The crowd was larger, about 150 people. At first they were not very responsive, but they picked up a bit as the show went on. One of my friends in the audience said that I got laughs a few times as the purser, and even stole a short scene I was in. To my dismay, they did not remember which exact scene it was, so I don't know what I did that was so enjoyable. I am glad that it was enjoyed, whatever it was.

I still feel like a hack during certain moments of certain dance numbers. (Because I miss the steps.) Overall though, most of the dancing for me is starting to feel good. I am much more comfortable with a few of the steps than I had been just a week ago. Our choreographer is pleased with our dancing thus far.

One moment of dancing that I was not pleased about, and indeed was somewhat scared about for a moment or two, was at the end of a number called "Let's Step Out". At that point I leap into the air, and land in this fancy-ass pose on the ground, big smile and everything. Only last night when I did it, just before the applause broke out, there was this distinct clinking noise. I realized right away that my special penny that I carry with me for all performances had flown out of my pocket. I thought for a moment it might have rolled into oblivion never to bee seen again, as I was near the orchestra pit. Disaster!

Yet, it just sort of spun, and landed right in front of me. Staying in character as much as I could, a leaned over and swiped it before exiting. That was a close one though. That penny is important. When I have more time, I will blog about it. Suffice to say that tonight, I am taping that sucker to the top of my foot.

Went out for some food and drink after the show. About 15 of us. It was fun, though the service, as usual for that particular establishment, left much to be desired. Yet it was two for one beer night, so it was almost worth it.

Talk of another gathering for drinks and karaoke has been whispered about. As I am a fan, (and not to mention, master) of karaoke, I am game for that. It's the perfect way for theatre flunkies to act like the hams that at heart all of us are. Plus it is quite a bonding experience. It's been so long since I have done so, I'd be willing to go even if only one or two people agree to go.

Looking forward to tonight's show. 80% of the time, the best night in a run is the first Saturday. I am ready to step out.