Go See… Oh Wait, It’s Much Too Late And So Am I

Posted in Theater on December 17th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Big surprise, time got away from me.  How did that happen?  Couldn’t be that it’s Christmas time and I have a million things to do.  Honestly, I always try to refrain from sending Christmas cards, but sometimes I feel so badly when we get cards from others and I’m not sending any back.  So then I start sending some – just to my MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, I’ll say.  But next thing I know, I’ve decided to send Christmas cards to “a few” select groups of people, and that’s when I realize that I’m just sending Christmas cards anyway even though I wasn’t going to!  Well, this that and the other stuff; Christmas cards are just one extra check on my holiday time to-do list, but that’s a tangent…

My point was busyness.  I was so busy that a few weeks ago when I wrote another newspaper review for one of our community theater groups, I forgot to post it on my blog.  I usually like to post my reviews in my blog – since I’m doing the work to write them anyway, I might as well post them here to try to remind some friends and readers to go see the show.  But now it’s too late, for the show I saw and reviewed has finished its run.  Oh well, such things happen; hopefully my review as it was printed in the paper made some people want to come see the cute show.  For fun, here is a copy of the review:

Pageant Shines This Season

Early December finds many people preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of the approaching holiday season, so what better way to unwind from holiday stress than to see a live show?

A play guaranteed to inspire Yuletide spirit, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is being performed by The Williams County Community Theatre in the playhouse at 501 S. East Avenue in Montpelier during these chilly December weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This festive show provides fun for the entire family. The audience can spend a wintery evening or an afternoon matinee getting to know the Bradley clan (cohesively played by Jake McAfee, Mary Valdez, Allie Boyer, and Logan Psurny) as their normally normal life erupts into chaos. Thoughtfully narrated by young Beth Bradley (a cute and concise Allie Boyer), a heartwarming story unfolds, and the audience is a captive witness to the events leading up to what everyone hopes will be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

When Bradley mom Grace (a funny, flustered Mary Valdez) is chosen to replace Mrs. Armstrong (an amusing character played by Nicki Bassett) as director of the church’s annual Christmas Pageant, all seems well until the Herdman family (outrageously played by Lance Day, Jessica Valdez / Sunny Bowman, Mason Bassett, Elliot Bowman, Isaiah Valdez, Jamison Grime, and Katie Taylor / Zara McNalley) slips into the scene. The Bradleys’ seemingly picture-perfect world is turned upside-down when the six trouble-maker Herdman kids come to Sunday school. Even the reason why they began attending in the first place is hilarious (Logan Psurny takes the heat as Charlie Bradley). Poor Grace just wants to tell the story of Mary and Baby Jesus in the Pageant, but rehearsals are tough with a zany assortment of characters (brought to life by Amy Boyer, Jenna Bowman, Kyla Huband, Jake McAfee, Abby Ledyard, Makayah Long / Alisa Parsons, Kayden Long, Anna Valdez / Carolyn Rychener, Brook Ward / Bailey Ward, Taylor Brown, Amari Blanco, Tatum Grime, Savanah Kleinhen, Ethan Psurny, Hailey Tressler, Hannah Tressler) who just don’t seem to like the idea of giving the Herdman kids a chance. Will it all come together in time to be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?

It’s the perfect time of year for this touching show, and WCCT’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will have you flooded with Christmas spirit. Whether you simply come for the holiday fun, to see the joyously decorated theatre, or to watch the adorable children in the cast put on their Pageant, this show will tug at your heartstrings, chase away holiday blues, and leave you humming Christmas carols with a glow and a grin!

“After all, It’s almost Christmas!”, so come out to the theater and join the fun!

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever can be seen on the Montpelier stage on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm on December 3,4, 10, and 11 and Thursday night December 9, and Sunday afternoon December 12 at 2:30 pm. Some of the roles are split between multiple actors, which is just one reason to see this show more than once. Reservations are recommended, but not required. Please call the WCCT Office for reservations and more info: 1-888-569-9228.

Taylhis has experience in community theatre that spans multiple decades. Ms. Taylhis has been on the stage as an actor, as well as behind-the-scenes doing production work like assistant-directing, producing, and stage-managing. As an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in Northwest Ohio, she has also enjoyed serving administratively on the boards of various local community theatre groups.

Classic Sherlock Holmes Tale Told

Posted in Theater on October 14th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Last weekend, we drove some 200 miles on Friday night, which culminated in rush hour in Chicagoland.  Saturday was go-go-go, but no complaints here since we got to see Jack Hanna’s stage show, something I have been waiting over a decade to see!  After a (much too) short visit with family, we were on the road again late Saturday night, and traveled the 200+ miles back home again, arriving about 2am.  We got up early for church, and with my blurry tired eyes, I carefully went over my lesson plan for my 1st grade Sunday school class since I was anticipating a special guest.  I’m happy to report that my class went off without a hitch, so thank God for answering my prayers – after leaving it in God’s hands, I was not even nervous about it, which speaks volumes if you know me and my ability to let my nervousness get to me!!

So needless to say, by Sunday  night, I was wiped.  But I had been asked by some friends to attend the special press night of their stage play, the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles to write a review for our local paper.  I happily obliged, especially because seeing the show on this particular night helped our finding-a-babysitter situation.  I didn’t know how I would like a Sherlock Holmes stage play as I had never found the books entertaining.  But I was entertained by the show, so I decided to put my review on my blog since some of my readers won’t be able to see it in the paper.  Note that each actor brought something unique to the show, but I was unable to include rambling accounts of each individual performance due to spacial limitations.  If you are anywhere near Hicksville Ohio this weekend, I hope the following review will make you want to stop by the Huber Opera House to enjoy a great autumn mystery on stage!

From the Bryan Times – Thursday, October 14, 2010:

HICKSVILLE – While the leaves fall outside, an early darkened evening or a chilly autumn afternoon spent taking in a live stage play is especially enjoyable while viewing a chilling mystery.

This weekend, the historic Huber Opera House in Hicksville comes alive with a classic Sherlock Holmes whodunit, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Join the Hicksville Village Players this weekend as Holmes, Watson, and other curious characters guide you through the tale of the hound that haunts the halls of the Baskervilles. Intended for the audience to piece together, the show is a puzzle whose clues are carefully and individually laid out by the intriguing cast of characters.

Sherlock Holmes, the know-it-all yet admirable mystery-solver is extraordinarily portrayed by Bill Murphy. The audience is held captive while Holmes connects clues between puffs of his pipe. Nicely complementing Murphy’s natural Holmes as the ever-faithful, always reliable assistant Watson is Travis Heffelfinger of Hicksville. Heffelfinger’s Watson is dependable and sharp-witted, and he is observant enough to attain the job of Holmes’ eyes and ears while protecting their client, Henry Baskerville. John Robinson of Bryan portrays Henry, a man who is fearful for his safety while he remains inquisitive as he tries to deduce who – or what – might have murdered his uncle. Providing clues and distractions alike for the famed detective are Dr. James Mortimer (Corey Fowler) and Beryl Stapleton (Lindsay Clem).

Once the investigation carries Holmes and the audience away from Baker Street and into the isolated countryside, strange stories are spun of murder, mayhem, thievery, and betrayal. Around the mysterious moor, the secrets begin to spill, and it becomes apparent that the odd collection of characters might not be as they appear. The audience joins Holmes as he tries to figure out if either the peculiar Mr. Stapleton (compellingly played by John Overberg of Montpelier) or the lady-like Laura Lyons (depicted elegantly by Courtney Widdifield) can be trusted. Can Holmes’ client, Henry Baskerville, presume that the keepers of Baskerville Hall, The Barrymores (persuasively illustrated by Jamy Shaffer of Edgerton and Amber Garza of Antwerp) are truthful witnesses? Why, “It’s elementary, my dear Watson!”

In the atmosphere of the historic Huber Opera House, the wonderfully directed The Hound of the Baskervilles will transport you back to 19th century London and directly to Baker Street with Sherlock Holmes himself. The curtain opens Friday and Saturday nights, October 15 and 16 at 7:30pm and on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:30pm on October 16 and 17.

My Stage Debut, Sort of…

Posted in church, Theater on December 10th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, ok, so last Sunday wasn’t really my stage debut; I acted in about 4 stage plays when I was a kid, and three quarters of those roles were in The Wizard of Oz  🙂

But somewhere along the line, I developed a severe stage fright, and I haven’t come close to the front of a stage since I auditioned (and wasn’t chosen) for the part of Thor in The Nerd in 1990.  I’ve worked in many various capacities behind the scenes and on the members’ boards for a few of our local community theater groups in recent years, and if ever someone was brave enough to inquire, I would always reject and adamantly refuse the offers of roles to be portrayed onstage in front of an audience – just way too nervous, and I’ve actually had many a nightmare about having to  get onstage!

But a few weeks ago, my husband and I became involved in our church’s semi-annual Kidstuff, which is a small collection of skits and musical numbers aimed at instilling a virtue in its audience, this time being ‘compassion’.  So my husband was rehearsing for Kidstuff, and I was tagging along to rehearsals as I usually do when he is in a play.  I was asked by the director (who is also the school nurse in my two oldest daughters’ school district) if I would “just stand there and hand out prizes” during one of the skits.  Always being willing to help providing it doesn’t get in the way of my family life, I obliged, and next thing I know I am a character complete with a name, Fran Hootenhiener!  So I guess you could say it was my stage debut as an adult!  The director was right though, I really just had to stand there during one of the skits and hand out cookies, but I even had an introduction by the extremely handsome game show host (my real-life husband) where I had to smile and even give a little wave to the audience while I showed off my cookie prizes.  I was incredibly nervous beforehand, but I got through it without fainting or doing anything really embarrassing like throwing the cookies at someone or dropping my tray.  I think it helped that 90% of the audience was kids and also that our little show had a more divine purpose than simple entertainment.  It was quite a different experience to work with a cast and crew who were coming together to teach kids a virtue versus a community theater production where the goal is to entertain paying adults.  Not that one is better; it’s just a matter of personal preference, I think, and it helped me to be less nervous.

And I think this experience helped me for what was to come last night…  because of the weather, the two other small group leaders for the 7th grade girls at youth group were unable to make it, so I was in charge of ALL the 7th grade girls last night!  It went better than I thought, even though I really don’t like to be the one in charge of a group.  But, such is life, and I’m just happy I didn’t know about it until we arrived last night otherwise I would have been a nervous wreck all day.  And the youth pastor’s face when he told me I  was the only teacher who could make it was just priceless, haha!

I’m not saying I will ever get on stage again, but for this one time, I actually had some fun!

Sundance, Here We Come!

Posted in Theater on April 14th, 2009 and tagged , , ,

This Saturday we’re going to do something that should be pretty cool – we’re going to film a movie!  In 2007, we staged a short one-act play for our community theater called The Clinic which was written by my husband (also our O Great Admin).  The play got a really good response from its audience; including two newspaper reviewers.  Recently, we’ve struck up a friendship with a guy who runs a small production company, so we decided to make The Clinic into a short film for submission to film festivals.  The part about the Sundance Film Festival in my blog post title was just a joke; it’s not like we’re expecting this to go anywhere.  If it does, awesome!  But mostly it’s just for fun.  And seeing as how the cast and crew contain some very good friends of ours, fun is exactly what we’re expecting on Saturday!  Once we wrap it and finish post-production, maybe I can put it on my blog or at least link to it…  and ACTION!

Audrey’s Adventure

Posted in Theater on April 10th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

It all began with my husband suggesting the play Little Shop of Horrors to our community theater’s play-reading committee.  Somehow, they actually chose it and my husband was chosen to direct it.  That was months ago, and the play is slated for production in October, which is rapidly approaching.  Realizing the enormity of the scale of a production like this, we’ve begun to work on it, even though it’s only April.  Among the many challenges we will face are casting, music (do we cram a band into the theater or use pre-recorded music?), blocking / dancing, and props – which are going to be a doozy for this show.  Normally these things are all part of the fun of staging a production, but given a unique set of circumstances, we are in for quite an endeavor – mainly, the fact that we are to perform this thing on a very small stage with an even smaller back stage area.  If you are familiar with the show, then you know that the plant involved is HUGE – it must be big enough to eat a person.  Not only that, but there are actually four of the plants – it starts small and gets bigger during the show, and at least 2 of the Audrey’s are VERY large.  Also challenging will be filling the role of the plant – it is a VERY physical role, as the person actually has to get inside the plant and use all of his/her muscles to move the thing around – very challenging, and it’s not like they will get a lot of glory in that role; their face will never be seen on stage.  I expect it to be challenging to fill such a role in community theater where most all of the actors I know LOVE the glory that comes from a role well-played.  I am really looking forward to the challenge, however, and I think great things can be accomplished!

What we need is a lot of HELP!  Manpower, brains, talents all intersecting to achieve what might seem impossible – to stage an awesome production of Little Shop in a small theater.  The good news is, we’ve already had LOTS of volunteers, with some people actually stepping up to help  already – and it’s only April!  Take JustJ, a fellow blogger for instance.  Yesterday he ventured to Lima Ohio with us, an hour and a half away (thought it took much longer than that to get back – you’ll read why later),  to pick up Audrey II, the man-eating plant needed for the show.  And it was an adventure, to say the least.  Let’s begin by saying that the three quotes I’d gotten from costume shops and other theaters to RENT an Audrey range from $900-$1200 – WAY out of our theater’s price range.  So when I found a theater down  in Lima who was willing to see us all four Audreys plus some miscellaneous props for $250 to KEEP, not rent, I was excited and charged ahead with the arrangement like an idiot who made a New Year’s resolution to curtail her bad procrastinating habits.  Was $250 too good to be true?  I guess that’s something I should have thought about before we made the drive.  Their $250 Audrey II was a heap of foam mess on the floor.  They did throw in a curtain for the last scene of the show, a huge (and awesomely scary looking) dentist’s drill, some “seedlings” for the flower shop and a flower display case, but the Audrey II was in a state of …  well, I’m going to say disrepair, but only because today is our 10th wedding anniversary and I’m in a good mood.  But you know what?  We’re going to set up a PMS Team (Props and Movable Set Team – what were you thinking?) who will start working on repairing Audrey II and breathing some life back into her ASAP.  I am going to be totally optimistic, and that’s why we’re starting so early – it’s going to be a GREAT show!

Back to the adventure portion of this post…  We loaded the heap of foam that was Audrey into JustJ’s pickup truck, along with all of the other props, and it all fit!  Well, sort of…

little-shop-adventures-obtaining-audrey-4-9-09-002

Of course it had to be somewhat windy yesterday, and that complicated things.  We’re driving along, and next thing we know, JustJ and my husband (who was riding shotgun) are seeing pieces of Audrey flying down the road in their sideview mirrors!  So we pull over, and my husband goes to retrieve whatever lost pieces of Audrey he can find while JustJ adjusts the tarp that we had to stop and buy earlier in the day.  My husband didn’t quite get all of Audrey’s pieces, so don’t be surprised if you read about little man-eating plants sprouting up somewhere in the farm fields outside of Lima, Ohio!  We get back in the car for take two and didn’t make it more than a few miles before Audrey is flapping in the wind again.  The cycle continues, and now Audrey is breaking (eating?  Nah, she has a taste for only flesh) bungee cords too, so we have to stop at the first hardware store we came across – a little hole in the wall place in Bufu Cooper Ohio, whereever that is…

The good news is that only seven stops later, we finally made it back to the theater with Audrey, just a little worse for wear.  Hey, she needed much repair in the first place, so what’s the difference?  Now she is ours and she’s here!  So any takers for the PMS Team?  And thanks, JustJ for making the trek and keeping your cool during Audrey’s adventure.  A producer job is yours if you want it!

New York Trip Diary Volume 1

Posted in animals, Travel on March 24th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When my family travels, I like to take notes and make a diary of our activities.  I figure it will be fun to read later when the kids are grown up and will also bring back many memories that might otherwise be forgotten.  Now that I’m keeping a blog, I decided to just keep the trip diaries in my blog; that way I don’t have to write them twice and they’re automatically saved for us in cyberspace.  Last weekend, my husband had to go to New York on business, so we decided to make it a family trip and take the kids along.  Here is a log of our activities:

NEW YORK TRIP – MARCH 20-23, 2009 – TAYLOR: 9 yrs, SAMMIE: 4 yrs, DISNEY: 2½ yrs, CHRISTOPHER: 8 mos

Friday, March 20 – We left the house bright and early, only twenty minutes past our goal of 8 am.  Disney and Christopher had kept us up until 2:30 in the morning the night before, so we were dragging a little, but they slept in so at least we could tie up loose ends without them.  Sammie and Taylor were big helps in the morning!  The kids were very good in the car even though Christopher got a little crabby toward the end of the first leg.
We arrived at the Cleveland Zoo 11ish – not my favorite zoo.  I’m not one to complain about any zoo, but Cleveland had lots of walking to see a small amount of animals.  I think part of the problem was that they were undergoing a lot of construction, so that made for more walking around the construction areas and also to some animals being off exhibit.  They have koalas, but one was sick and the other was sleeping.  I’m glad I got to see it anyway though since seeing koalas is a rare experience at zoos, but now I know why many zoos don’t have them – they sleep 20 hours per day!  Cleveland Zoo also has lots of steep hills, which was a “bear” (pun intended, wink wink) when pushing a double stroller, but luckily for me, that was my husband’s problem.  As we were walking past the zoo’s hospital, an employee told us to come inside because a baboon was about to have a physical.  This is a really cool feature of this zoo – they have glass walls in their examination rooms so that zoo visitors can watch animals’ procedures.  Unfortunately, the baboon was not cooperative, and they couldn’t get it sedated so we didn’t get to see it.  We waited for about an hour, but we really wanted to fit in Akron Zoo in the same day as well, so we decided not to wait any longer.  Here are my girls waiting for the baboon’s physical:

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-005

Cleveland Zoo also has a cool rainforest exhibit which normally costs extra admission, but our Toledo Zoo membership got us into ALL THREE zoos we visited on this trip for FREE!!!  What a bargain AND an extra special Valentine’s Day gift from my husband that keeps on giving!  The rainforest exhibit had a cool 2-story monkey/squirrel exhibit, and a really nice view of a swimming gharial (a crocodillian with a long slender snout).  But overall, the animal habitats were lacking.  Thank goodness they are building new ones, but I wish they were building one for the giraffes.  There were probably more than 10 giraffes confined to a tiny indoor room – at least it was only their winter quarters, so once it gets warm, they can go back outside and have room to roam.  Hmmm…  maybe when I’m done with this trip diary, I’ll have to  develop a zoo rating system – that would be fun.  Then I’d have an excuse to visit even more zoos, and re-visit some of the old ones!

ny-trip-march-20-23-2009-001Here are the kids in front of the lion exhibit at Cleveland – then it was on to the Akron Zoo.

“Just Akron, cold beer, and poor poor thing for 2 weeks?”  you ask?  Well, not for two weeks, we were only there for about 2 hours, but I wanted to throw in that line from the stage play Harvey (and later, the movie starring James Stewart) that was running through my head for the two hours.  Stay tuned for Akron!

The Lion In Winter

Posted in Theater on March 16th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

I am very glad we were able to arrange our obscenely busy schedule in such a way to be able to see the play The Lion In Winter on Saturday night.  A great friend and fellow blogger, Jamiahsh was a sucker kind enough to babysit all four kids for us, as this was not a play for children.  Not that it was “adult” per se, but our younger two especially would NOT have been able to sit still throughout the entire production.

The Lion in Winter tells the story of King Henry II and his family in 1183.  Although the actual play is fictional, it is based upon real people and real events.  King Henry has 3 surviving sons who share the same goal: to inherit the kingdom, although that is where their similarities end.  Richard, the eldest brother, “growls out for gore”, as it is said in the play.  He is the warrior of the bunch, and he has the temper to match.  Geoffrey (played a little too convincingly, haha, by a great friend and fellow blogger, justj – great job!) is the scheming, conniving, if mostly forgotten middle brother.  Geoffrey “hums treachery” and is the epitomy of someone who suffers from middle child syndrome – and it’s that much more hilarious when his parents actually admit to not giving him the time of day!  John is the youngest brother, who is favored by his father for some reason despite his lack of… well, his lack of much of anything upstairs (I’m tapping my head).  Eleanor, Henry’s estranged and imprisoned wife, is a tyrant in her own right, although she is largely limited by gender roles in the twelfth century.

This particular production was co-directed by a good friend – someone whose many talents I’ve long admired – she’s a gem!  She is a very detail-oriented, hard worker, and the finished production illustrated those attributes.  Because The Lion In Winter is typically an historical drama, it wouldn’t normally be one of my favorite shows – I’m the type to much prefer good stagings of upbeat musicals like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Wizard of Oz or slapstick comedies like Idol Night at the Karaoke Place, The Nerd, or even a good melodrama.  That being said, I can honestly say (and to my surprise) that I was never once bored during The Lion in Winter.  And even being an historical drama, it’s not without its (large) share of comedy as well.  The dialogue (and hilarious insults!) fly swiftly and smartly, and I honestly wish time would have allowed me another opportunity to see the play as I think there were many more things I could have caught, especially if I weren’t a walking zombie these days.  The play is complex; its dialogue and characters almost too intricate to effectively absorb in just one sitting.  The playwright, James Goldman, found many opportunities within the script to have the characters make clever satirical remarks, often making fun of the time period in which the play takes place.  Among my favorites was the following exchange between John and his mother Eleanor, the Queen:
Towards the end of the first act of Lion in Winter, John is astonished and horrified when his older brother Richard pulls a knife on him. “A knife,” he says, “he’s got a knife.”  To which his mother, Eleanor, responds by saying: “Of course he has a knife.  He always has a knife.  We all have knives.  It is eleven eighty-three and we’re barbarians!”  Just the memory of that line makes me smile, especially because the woman who played Eleanor was simply awesome – she gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on a community theater’s stage.  I would expect it to be difficult to give life to a character as complex as Eleanor; after all, in Henry’s words, Eleanor “thinks heavy thoughts like molten lead and marble slabs.”  but she did it marvelously.

Actually, all of the acting was great in this production; King Henry came across as powerful yet emotionally weary and even a bit vulnerable, and King Philip of France seemed to be both a willing yet also an unwitting pawn in the treacherous game played by the royal family of England around 1183.

Also of note in this particular staging of the show was the remarkable set which exemplified an old European castle quite well.  Although it amounted to hard physical labor for its extensive stage crew,  the medieval set was easily (depends who you ask, I guess!) transformed into 6 distinct settings for the play.

Overall, a good show, and a fine job by both cast and crew.  I only wish I had a chance to review it earlier so I could have done my part in recommending it to and recruiting audience members.  Well, such is a busy life with 4 little kids, I suppose!

Meet Me In St. Louis

Posted in Movies, Theater on March 8th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve certainly heard of the musical Meet Me In St. Louis, especially being a fan of the late great Judy Garland, but I had never before seen it until last night.  A great friend played the role of Grandpa, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to watch him age some 40 years and to be able to return to the stage.

First, I’ll begin with the venue.  The play was performed in a historical building in Hicksville, Ohio called the Huber Opera House.  As I learned in the director’s introduction before the show, the Huber was originally built by a wealthy man who wanted a place to stage-test his plays between Chicago and New York; I’m thinking some time in the late 1800’s; not exactly sure on that.  I do know that one of their stage curtains was created right around the time Meet Me in St. Louis takes place – 1903-04, and the gorgeous curtain depicting angels in a boat was hanging last night in all it’s glory.  The Huber is simply gorgeous.  I especially enjoyed seeing the pictures of it from the 1990’s and how far it’s come since then.  The owner of it at that time decided to trash the place when he found out he was going to lose it, and trash it he did.  The place was an utter disaster; they even went so far as to rip one of the opera balconies from the wall.  Apparently downtown Hicksville was not a place you wanted to be after dark at that time (coming from the ‘burbs of Chicago, that’s particularly amusing to me – I mean, Hicksville Ohio dangerous?  Yeah right!), and the city wanted the Huber torn down.  Some very dedicated individuals earned a lot of money and worked their butts off to restore it and give us back the beautiful theater it is today – and I was lucky enough to be able to see a show in it.

As for the show itself, I will say that Meet Me in St. Louis will never be one of my favorite musicals.  The cast and crew of this particular production did a wonderful job, but I just can’t identify with a cast of characters who randomly break into song at the strangest moments and whose greatest conflicts in life include relocating and deciding who to take to the local dance.  That being said, I still had a great time.  I really enjoyed being transported back in time, and it was both interesting and refreshing to see how much respect children had for their elders back then.  My friend Jamy was awesome as Grandpa, and I don’t think I’m being biased.  He definitely stood out as one of the better singers, and I was even surprised to see that Grandpa Smith is a much better dancer than Morat Notboratnichkov – one of the other characters I’ve seen Jamy portray on stage.  The little girls in the play were simply adorable, and adding to the fun of the evening was bumping into a couple of friends whom we didn’t know were going to be there.  Overall, a fun evening out away from the kids, and I even learned a thing or two, which I’ll share below.  Congratulations Jamy on a job well done!

Random Meet Me in St. Louis Trivia

– Ice cream cones and cotton candy were introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair which was in St. Louis.  I thought it was really neat that they chose to serve these as intermission refreshments last night at the Huber.

–  The 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis starred Judy Garland, but at first she refused the role because she was tired of taking childish roles.  After a talk with director Vincente Minnelli, she was convinced to take the role of Esther Smith, and it became one of the favorites of her career.  Judy and Vincente got married and had a daughter, Liza Minnelli, who went on to become an award winning actress and singer; earning an Oscar, a lifetime acheivment Grammy, two Tonys, and an Emmy award throughout her career.

– Two single recordings from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis became hits by Judy Garland before the movie was even released: The Trolley Song and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

– During the shooting of the large dinner scene (where one of the older sisters receives a long distance call from her beau in New York), Margaret O’Brien caused mischief on the set.  She would change the cutlery around and put two napkin rings beside a plate.  The prop man would say, “Please, Maggie dear,” when he would liked to have shaken her.

Doubt

Posted in Movies on March 5th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We saw the Oscar nominated film Doubt the other night.  Normally, I like to see as many of the major Academy Award contenders before the awards show airs as it did a few weeks ago, but it’s usually not possible to see every single one in time.  Even though it didn’t win any of the 5 Oscars for which it was nominated, the buzz that surrounded Doubt was so intriguing that we decided to check it out.

For a movie being based primarily on dialogue, it is very fast-paced.  I was never bored, which is something I can’t say about a Good Will Hunting, an Oscar winning movie we watched last week.  Good Will Hunting a long movie, so it took us two nights to watch it, and I fell asleep both nights during the movie.  Not that it was a horrible movie; I don’t know much about it – I  was sleeping!

Ok, back from the Oscar tangent, back to Doubt.  This movie is based on a stage play, and the author of the play also wrote the screenplay and directed the film version; which I think is very important so nothing was lost in the translation between stage and screen.  The story is compelling; it’s about a Catholic school in 1964 where the principal, a nun brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep, suspects the priest is having an inappropriate relationship with the school’s only African-American student.  Amy Adams portrays Sister James, a naive freshman nun who is caught in the middle of the conflict.  Amy Adams is one of the actors from this movie who was nominated for an Oscar, and it’s understandable when you see what a far cry Sister James is from Adams’ purse-selling ex-cheerleader Katy on The Office or the character Leslie Miller from her first film, the teen beauty pageant spoof Drop Dead Gorgeous from 1999.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman was excellent in Doubt also; hardly recognizable from the 1990’s roles where I saw him previously in the movies Twister and Leap of Faith.  It’s easy to see how Viola Davis received her Oscar nomination for Doubt as well – she had lines in just one scene in the entire movie, but her performance was excellent, however short on screen time.  You win some and you lose some, which explains how those 3 actors walked away without their Academy Awards.  Inexplicable, however, is how Meryl Streep did not win an Oscar for Doubt.  True, I haven’t seen The Reader with Kate Winslet, the actress who won the Leading Actress Oscar instead of Meryl Streep.  I did see Changeling with Angelina Jolie who was also nominated, and judging by the phenomenal performances of Streep and Jolie and the fact that Winslet was the winner, I might just have to see The Reader.  I loved Angelina Jolie in Changeling, and I’m not usually a fan of hers, so that says something.  I  loved Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, but honestly, I used to think Hollywood had a strange habit of sucking up to Meryl Streep.  How can she be THAT good, I would wonder…  until I saw Doubt.  She IS “that good”.

I can see where this movie would make an excellent stage play.  But after seeing 4 of the most talented actors out there portraying the lead roles on the big screen, who would even want to be compared to that by  staging a live theatrical production of Doubt?

Now THAT Is One HORRIBLE Stage Manager

Posted in Current Events, Theater on December 11th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wow – what happened here?  Due to a props department mix-up, an actor was doing a suicide scene with a real knife instead of a fake one.  Luckily, he wasn’t killed, but this qualifies as a bit more than a simple mistake, wouldn’t you say?  Perhaps I’ll think twice about offering to stage manage anything in the future – apparently there’s a lot at stake.  And for you actors who read this, how much trust do you have in your props people?  And how much will you trust them after reading something like this?

From Time.com
by Adam Smith
Try this for an Agatha Christie plotline: performing on stage inside Vienna’s Burgtheater, one of Europe’s oldest and grandest, an actor takes a knife to his throat in his character’s desperate attempt at suicide. As audience applause fills the opulent theater, blood pours from the actor’s neck. But something’s not right. Buckling and staggering his way off stage, the actor collapses to the floor. That’s because the knife, and the harm that it’s done, are both tragically real.

Unfortunately for Daniel Hoevels, a 30-year-old actor from Hamburg, those pages from a murder-mystery came to life last Saturday night during a performance at the Burgtheater of Mary Stuart, Friedrich Schiller’s play about the wretched life of Mary Queen of Scots. Rushed to the nearby Lorenz Bohler hospital having sliced through skin and fat tissue but thankfully not his main artery, Hoevels was fortunate to survive. “Just a little deeper,” said Wolfgang Lenz, a doctor who treated him, “and he would have been drowning in his own blood.”
The police investigation into the calamity points more to a foul-up than foul play. Viennese police say they’re not probing the possibility of attempted murder; press reports had speculated a “jealous rival” could have had a hand in Hoevels’ injury. Instead, investigators are focusing on possible negligence within the props department of Hoevels’ Thalia Theater ensemble. According to local media, the company picked up the knife in Vienna to replace one brought from their Hamburg base that was then found to be defective. One possibility: that props staff forgot to blunt that new blade, which, police say, still had the price tag on it.
Hoevels himself seems to have put the snafu behind him. “I am now absolutely fine again,” he told local media, “but I will always for the rest of my working life have a strange feeling about this scene.” After reprising the role Sunday, albeit with neck bandaged, Hoevels headed back to Hamburg Monday in preparation for his role in Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther. In that play, the long-suffering title character winds up shooting himself in the head. Someone might want to double-check the gun.