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fancycwabs: (sweeney)
Thanks to a black costume, dark lighting, and staging requiring me to be in profile a good chunk of the time, I appear as a set of disembodied hands in many of the Sweeney Todd production photos where I appear (it also doesn't help that they were taken during first dress, where lots of the lighting wasn't yet fixed).

But there ARE a couple of decent ones in the set: )

Oh yeah, I forgot. The other review, in which I'm actually mentioned! Again (outside of the set, which I liked), I couldn't find much to really disagree with--although I would have liked the chorus getting a mention.

While I'm editing: Last night about thirty folks in the audience bolted--BOLTED--from the theatre during curtain call. Thanks a bunch, assholes; you don't have to clap, but racing from the place like the building's on fire isn't cool, even if the show sucks.
fancycwabs: (Default)
Our Judge Turpin had a smallish part in 21 Grams, which was shot here in town, and today told us that on one of the days that Naomi Watts and Sean Penn were supposed to be filming a love scene, she'd spent a considerable amount of time waiting, unclothed, in bed on the closed set, while he failed to appear. Finally, an assistant came up with word that Mr. Penn Would Arrive Momentarily, He Was Having His Butt Shaved.

In honor of this pronouncement, I lightly smacked myself on the ass when I told the judge onstage that there was stubble upon his cheek. Perhaps he HAD been a bit hasty in his morning ablutions.

In other Sweeney news, at today's matinee performance the Judge raped Lucy so hard that her wig fell off onstage. Or that's the way we're putting it, anyway.
fancycwabs: (Default)
Sunday's performance had the usual matinee flukes: The bird I was supposed to kill fell out of the cage onto the stage early on in the scene, and nobody thought to pick it up, so it just lay there dead for the duration, while the stage manager gave me a replacement. I palmed it (as much as someone can palm a six-inch long bird), and when the time came, I reached into the empty cage, turned my hand over, and voila! Magic bird appearance! My castmates were impressed, anyway. The audience was probably still staring at the original dead bird lying on the ground in the spotlight, which eventually got kicked offstage during the transition to "Pirelli's Elixir."

Later, at the end of the "Sweet Polly Plunket" section of "Parlor Songs," I threw up the horns, which got a laugh, even if it was mostly out-of-character. I later apologized to Mrs. Lovett for deviating from the script, but she hadn't even noticed that I'd made the gesture.

I don't know if it was stress-related, depression-related (I hope not), or just garden-variety exhaustion, but about 8 last night I fell out and slept for nearly ten hours, waking up at 11 for a minute or so and again at 3. I'm hoping that was a one-shot deal to get some sleep cycle things back in order.
fancycwabs: (sweeney)
Sweeney Todd had its preview night last night, and everybodys mothers and sycophantic friends who got free tickets said it was a great show. I'm a little too close to it to offer an objective opinion, but there are a couple of things worth sharing:
  • The chorus--especially the ladies--is tight. I've NEVER gotten the musical chills at a Theatre Memphis show before (and they've put on shows where by rights I should have), and there are no fewer than three places where I'm all like, "DAMN, what was that?"

  • There are moments in the show that you may not have ever heard or seen before--particularly a moment at the end that both telegraphs the big plot twist and heightens the sense of tragedy; so even if an audience member's memorized both cast albums from the original production and the revival, they'll have a (slightly) different emotional experience here.

  • It goes without saying, but if you've only seen the Tim Burton movie, you've never seen the show. I can't speak for everyone in the cast, but honestly I'd just as soon forget that the Burton movie ever existed--perhaps we could call it "non-canon" or something, like it was bad Sweeney Todd fanfic.

  • I'm holding all of my long notes to the very end.

So, everyone buy a ticket to Memphis and come see.
fancycwabs: (Default)
At Sunday's Sweeney Todd rehearsal, I was told that I'd be making an entrance playing the harmonium while riding on the rotating set piece, which reminded me of another famous musical number:

Sadly, only one other person in the room got it. I felt really, really old, in spite of the fact that it was more obscurity than age that probably generated the quizzical looks.

I recall playing the board game "Taboo" in college (early 1993), and having to get my teammates to say the word "Parliament" without using words like "British" or "Congress" or "Legislature," and so I said "Funkadelic" and "George Clinton." Everyone in the room looked at me funny, as if I'd suddenly begun reciting the pledge of allegiance in Japanese. Later, they chastised me: "What the hell does Psychadelic have to do with Parliament? Bill Clinton? You idiot! I'm never playing with you again!"

Later in the rehearsal, someone had a question about who wrote The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, which led to a brief but amusing discussion of Sacks-Minnelli Disease. I think they thought I was Making Shit Up, when in reality I was just repeating other people's Made Up Shit.

After rehearsal, I had auditions for History Boys, which went okay--considering that the director didn't have me read for the one part I'd listed as an interest and had me read instead for a part I'm about twelve years too old to play. We'll see what happens (the younger part is, incidentally, a better part, but it's still meant for a 25-year-old).

Then, beer and hot wing rolls at the Blue Monkey, for Tugbucket's birthday.
fancycwabs: (Default)
As the Beadle, I don't have a ton of lines, even though I'm a bit of a menacing presence the whole show. However, towards the end of the play, I have a conversation with Sweeney wherein I ask "Oh, do you pomade the head? I dearly love a pomaded head!" This line seems rife for a bit of ad-libbing during rehearsals. Some options:
  • Oh, do you do a fauxhawk (mullet)? I dearly love a fauxhawk (mullet)!

  • Oh, do you do a Pete Rose (Gordie Howe) haircut? I dearly love a Pete Rose (Gordie Howe) haircut!

  • Oh, do you trim nose (ear) hair? Mine is getting to combover length, and I dearly love an unblocked nose (ear)!

  • Oh, do you have those magazines where I can select a haircut on a model and get angry when the haircut doesn't make me look like the model? I dearly love that!

  • Oh, do you do genital piercing? I dearly love a Prince Albert!

  • Oh, do you do a bikini wax? I'm getting a little wooly down there, and would dearly love a clean scrotum!

  • Oh, do you do a Jherri Curl? I dearly love a Jherri Curl!

  • Oh, do you do back tattoos? I dearly love a tramp stamp!

  • Oh, can you put my hair in little golden ringlets, like Shirley Temple? I dearly love to wear a sailor suit and have an oversized lollipop with that haircut!

Also, I'm slightly concerned that Mitzi Hamilton will come see the show for some reason, and will decide to cast me as a completely overweight Little Mary Sunshine in Chicago. Stupid high notes.
fancycwabs: (Default)
Sweeney Todd had its' first rehearsal last night. We muddled through the script with everyone kinda singing everything, and we got through the whole thing in about 2:45. We've got a good cast, although I'm concerned that some of the men in the chorus didn't appear to be singing; hopefully that's an "unfamiliar with the material" problem which will be corrected with rehearsal. I KNOW I'm singing the wrong notes at the first rehearsal, but I go ahead and sing 'em loudly Fortunately, as the Beadle, my singing job is way easier than the rest of the chorus. I don't think I actually have any complex minor-key harmonies until after I die and come back for the big finale.

The set designer (who does the best work I've ever seen on a non-equity stage, especially with his one-room sets) showed us the set model and talked a bit about the production design. It's a fairly bold choice, but I don't know if I like it. Let's just say it's informed by the Trent Reznor / Marilyn Manson school of design and the horror movies that were, in turn, derived from those--it may not have a broad appeal to the traditional Theatre Memphis season ticket-holder; but then Nine Inch Nails' fanbase are getting older, too. It'll certainly be "edgy," and the blood will hopefully not be as Pythonesque as the Burton version.

Updates as they come! Runs October 17-Nov 2--get your tickets now! I'd say to ask for "Splatter Zone" seating, but I don't think the orchestra would appreciate being between the stage and a "splatter zone."
fancycwabs: (Elvis)
Okay intarwebs, time for the wisdom of public opinion to provide me with characterization, especially since the "mostly Shatner" version of Professor Bhaer was a rousing success.

(Mild apologies for a couple of obscure references, which may be a little esoteric for our youthful and/or international readers. They were absolutely necessary.)
[Poll #1223865]

Oh my.

May. 23rd, 2008 06:07 am
fancycwabs: (Elvis)
Review of Little Women came out today, and much to my shock, the reviewer didn't like it... )
fancycwabs: (Default)
When I do a show with a cast of, say, 5, I can afford to get them something of actual value as an opening-night gift, like a cheap-ass bottle of wine. When the cast size goes up, and we have an orchestra, I've got to rely on crappy homemade presents. Like the little pamphlet I created, with the kind assistance of Google Translate:

It's full of in-jokes. )

A riddle?

May. 15th, 2008 09:48 am
fancycwabs: (Fuck it)
What has two thumbs and sang the wrong verse to his song in front of a preview audience last night?
fancycwabs: (Default)
Managed to remember all the words to all my songs last night. Now, I get to, you know, develop a character who responds with more than "um, LINE?"

Tonight I'm going to see Room Service at Theatre Memphis. I've heard mixed reviews of the show--some folks think it's great and hilarious, and others find the comedy dated and dull. Where will my verdict fall? Stay tuned!

Monday I have an audition for the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's first show ever, As You Like It. I'm supposed to prepare two pieces of Shakespeare that I love totalling three minutes, one verse, one prose. What with all of maybe two dozen prose monologues in the collected works the pickins are slim, indeed, but Launce has a couple of nice ones in Two Gentlemen of Verona. I hope he doesn't mind that I don't bring a dog along.
fancycwabs: (Default)
  • Not to ruin a plot twist for you, but Beth dies in Little Women, after being exposed to a piano that Laurie's dead aunt used to play. Clearly, the piano has an infestation of Streptococcus pyogenes, and all the tragedy could have been averted with a little Lysol.

  • In the musical, Professor Bhaer produces a copy of Jo's manuscript for a novel that forms the basis of the very play you are watching from his magic murder bag at the end. Only this particular Professor Bhaer also produced a pair of black lace granny panties--a holdover from a previous show.

  • The theatre critic for the local independent weekly sent me an email asking if the show would make him wince. While Little Women is the prototype chick flick for everything ranging from Beaches to Steel Magnolias, that, in and of itself, is not winceworthy. If I continue to forget words during my songs, however, there will be wincing and gnashing of teeth.

  • The actress playing Jo asked the other day if maybe possibly I might kiss her on the cheek instead of the lips at the end of our duet. Clearly she needs a T-Rex shirt for opening night.

  • The opening line in my solo number is "She asks how I am." I am having trouble not hearing this in my head as if Popeye were singing it, for some reason. Ughughughughughugh!
fancycwabs: (fancycwab-pink)
I put down the Little Women script for reals for the first time last night and was unsurprised to discover that I only know about 3/4 of my lines, which is usually okay when you've got a prompter and a patient, sympathetic cast who will wait for you to catch up, but less so when you're forgetting great swaths of song--folks normally won't stop a song to wait for you to remember your lines.

All of those words are in my head, somewhere, as I can sing them alone when I can take a few seconds to access the data between verses, but the retrieval process hangs. Since the music continues apace whether my singing is going on or not, what emerges from my mouth during those moments where the words haven't made it to the internal prompter is a string of nonsense syllables sung to the right tune, while I make a pained, panicked expression. I probably need to clear out my cache or something.

God, I hate sucking. We have an audience in eight days.
fancycwabs: (Elvis)
The Commercial Appeal has started running theatre reviews as online video, instead of printing them in the paper. As you might imagine, the local theatrical community is up in arms over this perceived slight, especially since theatres without the resources to send review clips of their shows to the paper generally ARE getting written reviews, so in the paper today there's a lengthy preview of the local production of Noises Off at Kudzu, but not a review of the much-more-highly-budgeted Room Service at Theatre Memphis. Similarly, The Underpants got a nice written review, but not The Compleat Female Stage Beauty, which features many tres important local actors1 in what's widely regarded as a great show to see if you're also an actor.

Needless to say, I'm pretty sure the casts of Room Service and Stage Beauty would rather have something nice for posterity, but are instead stuck with a video clip that will probably have an advertisement for Old Spice or something added to the beginning of it eventually. Likewise, folks wanting to see the review of Stage Beauty get treated to an additional review of Boris Vian's The Empire Builders, which features a man confronting a zombie monster and talking about vegetables. While I'm going to see Stage Beauty Saturday night, part of me really wants to see the show with the zombie monster and the satirical look at the nature of fear.

Honestly, however, I'm not sure what The Commercial Appeal is really trying to accomplish with the shift to online video. Newspaper reviews have a certain cachet borne out of the fact that they're in print, and that folks waste the production resources and trees in order to make and distribute them in that fashion. I can't print and distribute a newspaper, but I could easily record a video of myself saying that this play or that play is great or sucks2, and stick it on the web for public consumption. Even if I didn't have the resources to put up a video, why would the Commercial Appeal want to horn in on territory already covered by the local news? Also, why would they want to abandon their bread-and-butter to compete in online territory where their primary competition is a ninja, Ze Frank, and Lore?

I don't have answers, of course. It may be that the local newspaper as a media form has been dead for a while now, and these developments are just the corpse starting to smell bad. Does anyone not related to the cast of a show, or a wannabe actor even read theatre reviews? I usually didn't, when I wasn't involved in "the scene." I moved here in 1995, and started doing shows in Memphis proper in 2006, and would have to think to name ten shows that had been produced in those ten years. Maybe theatre reviews are all autofellationary crap with an audience limited to actors in the play itself, and persons within one (or perhaps two on rare circumstances) degrees of separation from those actors.

1Adjectives and adverbs in French when the remainder of the sentence is not in French denote sarcasm.
2Assuming, of course, that I never wanted to work in Memphis theatre again. Folks around here are remarkably thin-skinned, even for theatre folk.
fancycwabs: (Default)
Last night in lieu of going to Little Women rehearsals I went to watch the little cwab perform as unnamed cheerleader #4 in Disney's High School Musical at her high school. My life has remained blissfully High School Musical-free up to this point, and I was surprised to discover that the school in question had divided the population into distinct cliques of jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, theatre buffs, and skaters, when the school could have very easily lumped them all into the wider category of "spaz," or more precisely "persons who could be easily diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, for all their continued mugging for the audience and complete failure to sit still during a scene."

While there were cast members fully capable of belting out a tune, those members weren't cast in the leading roles, which were instead given to performers based on having the lowest BMI, a common practice in casting. Still, during the company numbers, when the show wasn't focused on the leads or Disney Channel modes of "comedy," the show transcended the inherent badness of the material and the poor casting choices and just let folks sing and dance, which, as a group, they did admirably.

I think the show only cost us $150 in program advertisements and another $100 in tickets for friends and family members who didn't show up to watch the little cwab have no lines. But she was excited for it, so we'll be excited too.
fancycwabs: (Default)
The production photos from The Underpants came in, and we were offered a CD of the shots for $35 that "couldn't be printed or emailed because of copyright." So I took my little digital camera and snapped photos of the photos, so they're a little distorted from the high-quality shots that would I couldn't do the one thing I wanted to do with them. I will probably order a print or two just to throw some money the photographer's way; I just can't drop a hundred bucks on photos.

Reminder: There are things you can't un-see. )
fancycwabs: (Default)
  • If recent commentary by Lore Sjöberg, Penny Arcade, and Zefrank are to be believed, Twitter seems to be undergoing a resurgence since its last resurgence a year ago. In fact, I seem to be gaining several new and strange "followers" nearly every day, so that (for once) I have more folks theoretically reading my 140 character thoughts than I, myself, read. As someone who kinda thrives on having an audience and occasionally fancies himself an aphorist, this suits me fine--as with LiveJournal, I'm not forcing anyone to subscribe to my musings or accounts of my mostly-pedestrian life.

    So why the hubbub? Clearly there are folks (myself included) who Twitter things of a less-than-compelling nature from time to time, or even all the time. If I had cause to post such a surefire winner as "Demon child at the Chinese buffet just punched me in the nuts" every day, I'd be leading a miserable existence for everyone else's entertainment. Still, I like to think that (as with my bits of text-message based whimsy, usually cc:d to Twitter, incidentally) a decent portion of my output is at least mildly amusing, and at least more entertaining than those friends of mine who post song lyrics as their Facebook status on a regular basis.

    Of course, my Facebook friendslist includes actual humans that I've met, and each and every person I follow on Twitter could be a figment of my imagination--as I am theirs.

    Incidentally, Twitter spammers are kinda sweet when you compare them to the good folks who feel compelled to share every single thing that comes through their Google Reader. At least with Twitter it's over in 140 characters, and is limited somewhat by how fast someone can type or text message.

  • Last night I went to see the touring company of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for the second time in as many years (I caught it in Nashville a little over a year ago), as much to support having actual good shows come through town as to see the show again. Thanks to the mildly improvised nature of the show, and a mostly solid cast, it holds up well to repeat viewing and was well worth the steeply-discounted ticket price, but I have to remark that Memphis has some seriously lousy spellers--I was afraid that they wouldn't make it to "Catarjunes" before everyone was eliminated. I actually sat in the midst of a group of friends who had all elected independently to come see the show and somehow got seated in the same two rows. Maybe it was the discount thing.

  • They're supposed to be recording the performances of The Underpants tonight and tomorrow. I don't know if they get rights clearance to do that, or if they just flaunt the copyright law, but I'll probably be getting a copy for purposes of forcing guests to watch me. Naturally, I won't be watching it myself, as watching yourself on a television or laptop steals a little bit of your soul.