Life Upon the Wicked Stage - All Things TheatricalMelusina -- Tuesday, September 03, 2002 -- 09:32:47 PM
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So things on the set of "Annie," the show I'm doing in community theater are beginning to get frenetic. The first cast opens on Nov 1, so people are understandably a little edgy. Most of the adults are in the run for the long hall, but I am only in the second run, beginning after Thanksgiving. We have a second set of orphans and Annie for that show as well. I am doing one performance for the other Miss Hannigan in November as she has to be out of town on business. So while I want to master the role, I've got a little more time.
The group is really nice and there is lots of talent there, but I think the blocking is pretty dull. I've tried to keep my trap shut, but sometimes it is tough. The director and her staff are devoting a great deal of time to the kids and leaving most of the adults to just figure things out for themselves. I've noticed several people just kinda doing things on their own and no one seems to care. On the other hand, the choreographer is just the opposite--she'll give you line for line interpretation for each song, as well as your steps. Irritating!
Responding to palmist:
Annie was a blast, and went by too quickly. It had been 12 years since I had done anything except directing kids' shows at school, and I cannot let that much time go by again! I was heartened by the warm response (and a few comparisons to Carol Burnett), and found that a year of voice lessons have given me a passable character actress voice. The next show I'll audition for is "The Pajama Game" next summer. Hernando's Hideaway, anyone?
Glad to hear it was a good experience. I was sure you'd be great. I thought of you last week, when I overheard some furclad matron complaining to her son on the Metro the other day. She was just a heartbeat away from moaning, "Just throw me out like the empty cans of Bumblebee tuna, and let the pussycats walk all over me!"
It may be a bit ridiculous to post about plays I saw over three months ago, but I just saw this thread. The first post was about plays in London, so I thought I'd add mine. I saw these in mid-late Sept/02. I've added the prices to dispell the myth that London theatre has to be enormously expensive. Considering the productions all have great sets, and the lengths of the plays, I think the prices are excellent.
- Uncle Vanya (Chekhov, at Donemar Warehouse in Covent Garden) (5 pounds, had to stand)
- Midsummer Night's Dream (Globe Theatre) (5 pounds, had to stand)
- The Coast of Utopia: Shipwreck (Tom Stoppard, Royal National Theatre - one of a trilogy ofStoppard three plays focusing on the Russianaristocracy ca. 1850. Melusina also saw this one. (10 pounds, reasonable seat, but not the best)
- My Fair Lady (Drury Lane Theatre Royal) (7 pounds, seat had a slightly restricted view due to the balcony, but I could just lean forward a touch if I wanted)
- Ivanov (Chekhov, again at one of the three RoyalNational Theatre sites on the Southbank) (10 pounds, reasonable seat, but not the best)
- Les Miserables (Palace Theatre) (7.5 pounds, slightly restricted view)
- The Golden Ass (an author who I can't recall who inspired Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, Globe Theatre) (5 pounds, standing)
All were excellent productions. I'm not a picky critic, so I may have missed the shortcomings. I mostly had a sense that the directors paid a great deal of attention to making even small details perfect. I have seen Stoppard's Arcadia done not so well and so I was a bit concerned about Shipwreck, but it was very engaging.
I have an unnatural love for Tom Stoppard, and see far too little of his work.
At the beginning of next month, we have tickets for Les Mis. My kids know the plot because we have listened to the CD ad nauseum in the car, but they've never seen it. My eldest turns 12 at the end of this month, and our tickets are part of her birthday gift. My mother just saw the same tour show in DC and called to tell me that it is an excellent production. I admit I stood in line the first day tickets were available and secured six seats in the third row (owing to the fact that this is a special occasion and I have to keep a 6 year old interested in the production) and I am far too embarassed to tell you what I paid for the tickets.
Have you gotten the CD and played it for the 6 year old? Knowing the music will go a long, long way, and that was very wise to get right up front.
I've never seen Les Mis and don't know the story (beyond the standard) but that one song that the E character sings is absolutely beautiful. I've never known why it didn't become a classic and I have to listen to Memories all the time.
The six year old has the CD committed to memory. She loves singing "the song of angry men", and will be mesmerized by much of the action, but I wanted to be up front for the quieter, emotional scenes. They will hold her interest better than if we are not in the second balcony.
Cal, you should really try and see the show. There are some gorgeous moments--truly thrilling theater. I love the "I Dreamed a Dream" number beyond understanding. The first time I saw the show (this will be my third), I was in tears within 15 minutes of the overture because that song (about losing her childhood to a dashing but unfaithful lover) touched me so deeply. The second time I saw the show, I was a parent and viewed it from a different perspective. I'd better remember to pack the kleenex this time. My husband got tired of me wiping my eyes on his sweater last time.
Oh, I'm calling you wise and perspicacious for getting the upfront seats. I have long resolved not to go to concerts or plays unless I can sit that close, because I simply don't enjoy them.
On My Own is the song I like. The melody is just gorgeous.
To appreciate choreography, I like being on the mezzanine level. If you're too close, you lose all sense of the patterns on the stage.
But I still think that you're very smart to get up close and personal for the six-year-old's benefit, Marsie.
Les Mis was the second Broadway musical I ever saw (the first was Anything Goes, with Faith Prince). I still remember the thrill.
"On My Own" was very, very popular as an audition number when I was in college. I remember my roommate coming home from auditions almost weeping with hysteria, because someone screwed up the lyrics and sang "the streets are bare and everywhere the trees are full of strangers!". Brought the house down, just not the way she meant to.
I can't stand theater because I can't see a damn thing, which is why I like sitting up close. Fuck choreography; that's why they make movies.
I once saw some Neil Simon thing, the one about the composers, from the second balcony, and I hated the experience. All I could see were the tops of their heads that the tops of their shoes. Faces! I like to see faces! Ever since then, I've sprung for orchestra seats.
I've gotten terribly behind on all my subscriptions and I'm just catching up on this thread. Marsie - I'm glad that Annie went well, and that you'll be auditioning for more plays. Lois, I was interested to hear about the shows you saw in London. I was wishing you'd seen one of the other Stoppard plays, so you could tell what the rest of the trilogy is like.
No news to report on any fronts here. I've had to temporarily shelve all things theatrical in my life due to my pregnancy, work, and my efforts to go back to school (to get a PhD in English, with a specialization in drama). I'm still hoping to get my Shakespeare company off the ground, because I think it's a worthwhile idea, but the time table has been extended quite a bit at this point.
I wish I had seen the other two shows in the Stoppard trilogy also, Melusina. It was interesting that I happened to see two Chekhov shows both of which featured late 19th-century Russian landowners on the decline, and then the Stoppard show was about the Russian land-owning class ca. 1850. I thought the staging of the Stoppard play was very interesting, with a projection screen. It's described here like this:
With the action set in Moscow, St Petersburg, London and Paris, designer William Dudley has used ground-breaking 3-D video projection to cast moving images across the stage of smoke, rain, snow and a pine forest through which actors can appear.
With all that, I have to say one of the more memorable moments was the nude actress with her absolutely perfect body. Seeing that reminded me of how far I fall short. Oh well.
The projection screen blew me away too, Lois, especially the combination of the projections of windows for the interior scenes with the gobboes of the window frames on the lights (which gave the impression that the light was actually shining through the nonexistant windows). The set wasn't exactly kitchen sink realism, but it managed to be very evocative of the many different places in which the action occured. I would love to see all three plays back to back, but I'm not sure when I'll get the chance - I'm not planning on going back to London for 18 months or so, and I doubt it will still be playing then.
It was interesting seeing the play in that space (the Olivier Stage at the National Theatre) because it's the only stage in the world which is designed like the stage in my undergraduate theater. The same person designed both spaces and they are identical - circular stages with a built in revolve and elevator system. The stage is split so that one half can drop to one of two levels (an intermediate set changing level or the scene shop). The seating is modular so that you can do audience all around the stage, 3/4's or proscenium style. It's an incredibly flexible design and useful for all sorts of more contemporary staging.
I went to see this production of Inspector Hound, another Stoppard play, last night. As I mentioned earlier, my impression is that Stoppard is really hard to do well. I think the production was as good as you can expect for a community theatre, though, and parts of it were very funny. I haven't seen The Mousetrap, and from bits I heard after the show there may be a parody element. Anyone know?
A friend gave me Elaine Stritch: At Liberty for Christmas, and it is a simply wonderful recording of her Tony-winning "event". Not to be missed.