About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just A Quick Thought

I'm in the middle of reader another blog that I follow, and since it's Valentine's Day, the writer is talking about loving everyone and being happy with what you have, and not constantly comparing your happiness or success to others.

These are all generally things I agree with, but I thought the concept of being nice to people was something that could be stressed more.

Theatre is a very small world. We all know each other. If you are a pain in the ass, we will not work with you again.

If you are awesome and fun, we will definitely work with you again. Which could lead to you having a fatter resume, or more prominent role, or larger budget.

My good friend over at The View From The Booth often sits in the lobby during auditions, and actors are often dismissive, cold, or downright rude to her, because she's just the girl in the lobby. Then they go in to the audition and are all sweet and nice to the artistic director. Well, he comes out and talks to the Booth Girl, and asks her what So-And-So was like outside of the audition. And he listens to her opinion.

You don't just have to be good in our show, we also have to put up with you for three months. Make yourself worth it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversay DVD

I'm so glad I bought this.

Really, I'm such a dork. I had it on pre-order from Amazon.com.

I didn't particularly enjoy the Joel Schumacher film--I thought it was tacky and overblown and lacking in intimacy. For example, "The Point of No Return" is a sexy, sexy song. Just look at the lyrics:

In my mind I have already imagined
Our bodies entwining, defenseless and silent

Hot, right? In the stage version, they are groping the hell out of each other; and even though the Phantom is completely shrouded in a cloak, you can detect his fear and excitement in being touched in a way he never has before.

In the film version, they don't even touch for half the song. They are on complete opposite sides of the stage while very distracting tango dancers twirl around in the background.

So I was thrilled when I heard they were putting out a DVD of a concert version that would feature the original staging (with some slight alterations for being on an unfamiliar stage) and the original scenic and costume design. Maria Bjornson's designs are one of the reasons this show has held up so well. Remember, it originally came out in London in 1986, and it does not look dated at all, in my opinion.

So on to the DVD. I was a little distracted at first because the acting is very big. They have a huge audience, and despite the filmed aspect, the actors are still playing to the back wall. Totally appropriate, it just took a little getting used to.

Any concerns I had about the broadness of the performances were shattered as soon as Ramin Karimloo turned up as the Phantom. He is originally Canadian, but made a name for himself for playing this role in London, and it shows why his interpretation really resonated with audiences. He's got a clear, powerful singing voice, makes bold acting choices, and has really intense emotional commitment.

Here's an excerpt from his performance of "Music of the Night" (they cut away right before the money note!):

Hadley Fraser, while adorable, makes a surprisingly douchey Raoul. During the scenes leading up to "All I Ask of You", he shows little concern for Christine, who is clearly terrified. He's like "I know we just saw a guy die, but stop freaking out about a ghost. It's totally improper. I am super rich and important, and it would not look cool for me to have a crazy girlfriend".

I've enjoying watching Sierra Boggess's career rise for the last couple years (and I want to go shopping with her. I think that would be fun). Her diction sometimes struck me as a bit odd--she's the kind of singer who favors rounder tones over accurate vowel pronunciation. But she has great tone, and her acting was great, especially after about the first quarter of the show, I could tell she was really getting into it. She gave the most passionate performance of "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" I've ever heard.


Amusing story from watching the DVD: I started watching it while my stage manager roommate (and fellow Phantom fan) and our music director houseguest were out at rehearsal. They came in during the last scene, and slowly migrated over to join my in the living room. Before long the three of us were spellbound, and as the show closed, the music director shuddered and exclaimed "Chills!" We have a date to watch the whole thing together tomorrow.

Also, Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser are both alumni of the recent "Les Miserables" concert, playing Enjolras and Grantaire, respectively. Karimloo was sharing the stage most of the time with a huge star as Marius, Nick Jonas, and I thought he blew him out of the water. Fraser also had a "Hey, who's that guy?" performance, which must be why we saw him again here. I like that about Cameron Mackintosh; he recognizes talent, and will continue using it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Question From A Friend

I was inspired to start writing in particular today because I got this email from a friend, and I thought other people might find it interesting:

Theatre question for you.

I went to a play on Friday night that to put it nicely drug like slow molasses in winter. The first act was 2 hours – ohh my goodness. There were sooo many places it could have been cut.
Then, there was a 15 – 20 minute intermission and the 2nd act was another hour, which part of it should have been cut.
If a play is running 2 – 3 weeks, can a director, after the first performance or weekend, cut scenes? Surely the director had to know how long that first act is. It was so draggy it was painful. I know there’d be hurt feelings on part of the performers who were cut but heavens to betsy!

This was my answer to her:
It depends on the play; if it’s a published play that they had to license the performance rights for, then the director probably isn’t allowed to make cuts. If they’re doing an original piece, then it can go a couple of ways:

-if they get feedback that the play is running long, or things aren’t working, they may make changes from one performance to another (I have some friend doing a sketch show, and they made a bunch of changes after opening night based on what the audience did and did not like)

-a lot of directors like to consider the show “locked” after their final dress rehearsal; it takes such an effort to put a show up, they may feel it’s too much strain on the actors to ask them to memorize changes. Instead, they’ll workshop the material based on this run, and apply those changes to a future run of the show

-Or, sometimes people are just too pretentious to believe that EVERYTHING they do isn’t perfect.
True story about my friends' show, by the way. They're doing sketch comedy, and I went with a group of people on opening night. There was some REALLY funny stuff in there, but there were a few sketches that just sort of drifted off without a proper ending, and one that just completely fell flat. Plus, it was running about three sketches long. And kudos to them, instead of getting offended (which SO many artists do), they took the feedback, and made changes that make the show stronger.

In the case of my friend's email, this was actually a big-name musical from the 60's, so the director couldn't have cut it. But perhaps this director wasn't making choices that moved the show along effectively, or it could just be a case of the show aging well. Sometimes those old chestnuts just wear out.

Back From The Dead

Zombie! ARrrrrgh.

No, not really.

What happened was I was working on Julius Caesar, so I had a lot of interesting things to talk about. Then I took a break, and I didn't have ANYTHING interesting to talk about. I felt like I was constantly pressuring myself to write, so I decided to forgive myself instead, and just write if I wanted to, rather than out of obligation.

Then I worked on a REALLY stressful show, so I was too busy to keep up with it, and all of my posts would've been really crabby and negative, anyway. After that I worked on a really fun holiday show, but I'd been out of the habit too long, and again, busy.

And now I'm working on something really exciting and fun, and not feeling completely slammed (my day job circumstances have changed, so I have a little more downtime/flexibility), and I finally feel like I have something to share again.

And if you're reading this, please comment! I want to know what you like to hear about. Do you like advice and useful anecdotes about working in the theater, or wacky backstage hijinks, or do you prefer insight on obscure shows that I find fascinating? Please tell me!