Saturday, February 28, 2009

OPENING NIGHT!!!!!

"Opening night....it's opening night!"

Again!!!!

I can't wait to bring this wonderful show to all of you.

And, as always, it wouldn't be possible without Suzanne. Thank you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Prayers and belief"

From Renee Fleming's "The Inner Voice" --a note her voice teacher sent her.

Dear One:
...First, you KNOW HOW TO SING and telling yourself that will remind yourself how much you do know and how well you use that knowledge. There is NOTHING IN THIS PARTICULAR OPERA THAT YOU CAN'T HANDLE. That is the first thing to remidn yourself of, and you have people around you that know it, too!!! ... I believe everyone at your level gets tense as they remember their responsibility. Try to snap your fingers at the so-called difficulties. They are there but you have handled much greater difficulties and come through with flying colors.
I love you and believe in you all the way and now try to accept the way it is with being way up there!!!
Prayers and belief.
Always and always and always
Beverley


Dispatch preview!!!

Here!

Dark, haunting musical offers insight through discomfort
Thursday, February 26, 2009 3:06 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Leo Frank (Jon Schelb) and his wife, Lucille (Liz Wheeler), in Parade

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GALLERY PLAYERS

Leo Frank (Jon Schelb) and his wife, Lucille (Liz Wheeler), in Parade

On Broadway, Parade won respect along with Tony awards for its score and book.

Yet the musical was staged for only a few months, partly because the dark drama about injustice and anti-Semitism challenged audiences.

Committed to presenting important works about Jewish culture and history, Gallery Players will open Parade on Saturday in the Jewish Community Center.

"It's a haunting musical about social issues, race, religion and the position of men and women in society at a time when women didn't vote and couldn't sit on juries," director Frank Barnhart said. "Unfortunately, those aren't issues of just one particular time period. We can't help but watch this show and see ourselves."

The composer and playwright -- Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years) and Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy, The Last Night of Ballyhoo) -- based the musical on the real-life trial of Leo Frank, the Jewish manager of the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta who was accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old employee, Mary Phagan, in 1913.

Uhry drew from his experience as a child in Atlanta and his connection to the story: His great-uncle owned the factory.

The infamous trial, which sparked the creation of the Anti-Defamation League, raised questions about justice in the South.

"The trial aroused anti-Semitic tensions in Atlanta and throughout Georgia," said Jared Saltman, cultural-arts director of the center.

"The plot stays close to the historical story's conclusion that the likely killer was drifter Jim Conley, a key witness against Frank at the trial. The true villains of the piece are the prosecutor, Hugh Dorsey -- later the governor of Georgia and then a judge -- and the rabid publisher, Tom Watson, who was later elected a U.S. senator."

When the musical folded after less than three months on Broadway, much commentary pointed to its tragic ending, Barnhart said.

"Parade also doesn't have what people refer to as hummable tunes," he said. "Brown's score almost has a Sondheim style . . . and a contemporary operatic feel. The music is written the way people speak -- with scenes and monologues that happen to be sung."

Gospel, ragtime and rhythm and blues help evoke the period atmosphere.

The songs have proved demanding for Jon Schelb and Liz Wheeler, who star as Frank and his wife, Lucille.

"The score is quite difficult, . . . replete with intricate, often-unexpected rhythms and tough choral music," Schelb said.

"The score is very modern and with a wide range. . . . Most are belting songs," said Wheeler, who is making her Gallery Players debut after stints with Actors' Theatre (Macbeth) and Columbus Children's Theatre.

Her favorites include You Don't Know This Man, a poignant defense of Leo; and All the Wasted Time, a husband-wife duet.

The latter, performed near the end of the second act, is "about how we have spent the whole beginning of our relationship emotionally apart and we didn't know how much we loved each other," Wheeler said.

"I love Lucille because she goes through such a huge journey. She starts out as a very mousy woman who just isn't aware of what's going on. But by the end of the show, she's become a strong pillar in the Jewish community."

His tragic role, Schelb said, is challenging.

"In the beginning, he comes across as cold, distant and awkward. In the first act, Leo is harsh toward Lucille and remains indignant about his situation through almost the conclusion of his trial."

The actor related most easily to the convictions of his character.

"I was most touched by Leo's steadfast belief and faith that right and justice will ultimately prevail, even if he does not live to see it.

"At the end, faced with the inevitability of death and still proclaiming his innocence, he maintains that all he has endured was part of God's plan."

mgrossberg@dispatch.com


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Essie


Me and Liz (Lucille) before Act I.

Tips for Theater People

A list of do's and don'ts:
1) Do not be late to rehearsal.
2) Do not MISS rehearsal unless you're dead. Corollary: DO NOT MISS TECH WEEK unless you are "absolutely, positively dead."
3) Do not be rude to your castmates.
4) If you are having problems with lines, talk to the appropriate people and rehearse it on your own.
5) Do not be rude to your castmates!
6) Theater fellowship is great, but not when you have a cue in the next 20 seconds.
7) BE PREPARED in all ways--to go on, to improvise, to fix, to help.
8) LISTEN TO PEOPLE IN CHARGE
9) Do not think Your Way is the Only Way. Be open to new ideas.
10) BE PLEASANT. Shows are a high-wire endeavor. Everyone is stressed. Everyone is nervous. But being mean doesn't help!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The ecstasy and....the comedy.

Tech day three!!! (And fancy color font to celebrate!)
FIRST, the "ecstasy" (These are all Frank quotes)

"Things are looking really, really great."
" 'Old Red Hills' is beautiful"
"Funeral scene is just chilling."
And, my personal favorite: "The factory girls were really nice."

YAY!!!
(play the harp and blow the trumpet, or whatever)

The comedy:
*All of us turning upstage at the end of "How Can I Call This Home?" and then stopping very, very short as we realizes the float was in front of us. So I was squished into Dani, with Aaron basically in between my shoulder blades. Good times!

The tragicomedy:
*the hanging scene (which, trust me, will make you just bawl)--Aaron has to put the noose around Jon (Leo's) neck. This was the first time we'd rehearsed with the actual noose, and Aaron made it tight. So tight that if Jonathan (Frankie) had really kicked out the stool beneath him, Jon would've been in a tight spot. During notes, Frank says to Aaron: "Aaron, don't tie the noose so tight!" Jon nodded emphatically and we laughed. We don't really want to kill Jon. That would be sad.

Tomorrow night we do one of my favorite theatrical things: The choreography of curtain call.


New blogs!

Conversion Story
The Smithson Family

Monday, February 23, 2009

OK ONE more...

Some funny things that happened:

*Jon didn't get one of his quick changes done in time, so he came on for the trial with his shirt misbuttoned, no tie, and his suspenders down. It was a riot. Well, OK, maybe not for him. He needs a quick-change person (like Jaylene in J&H).

*We forgot the order of the lyrics for "Where will you stand?" and therefore COMBINE verses into one very bad verse whilst circling the float.

*The tray carrying the champagne glasses was dropped not once, but twice--one of those being on stage.

*Bill (who plays Watson) had another quick change mishap, from convict ("Feel the Rain Fall") to rabid publisher ("Where Will You Stand?"). So the orchestra and the governor (Randy) sort of looked at each other and went on. Bill rushed on stage (fully costumed) and caught up.

YOU WILL CRY

OK, real fast, because I'm tired!
Just got back from Tech 2, but really, the first one, with orchestra, costumes, lights, etc. No stopping. :)

If you are not bawling at the end of this show, you have no heart. Seriously. We all feel like crying when we're in the wings. From "All The Wasted Time" to the Finale, it is One Big Tear Jerker.

The hanging is just....wow. Jon singing the "sh'ma" is something you do not want to miss.

I am honored and privileged to be working with such a wonderful cast.

1999 Review of Parade from the Christan Science Monitor

Poignant 'Parade' probes America's heart

Iris Fanger, Special to The Christian Science Monitor
NEW YORK— (EMD: My emphases in bold)

Six years in the making, the musical drama "Parade" just opened at New York's Lincoln Center, and the American stage will never be the same.

Brilliant yet terrifying, filled with complex themes elucidated with the clarity of a white-hot spotlight aimed at center stage, this pageant about the forging of a troubling aspect of the American character is one of the most thrilling evenings of a theater-lover's lifetime.

"Parade" is dramatized by Alfred Uhry, who won a Pulitzer Prize for "Driving Miss Daisy," with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, a young composer making his Broadway debut. It is co-conceived and directed by Harold Prince, whose 45-year career has propelled him to this pinnacle, a story based on an actual event that is not easy to imagine in song and dance.

The facts are these: In 1913, Leo Frank, a Northerner and a college-educated Jew who had moved to Atlanta and taken a job as superintendent of a pencil factory, was accused of murdering a 13-year-old girl who worked for him. Convicted and sentenced to hang for the crime, Frank was spared by Gov. John M. Slaton after two years of appeals because of suspect evidence given by the witnesses at the trial.

But within weeks, Frank was dragged from prison by a mob and lynched, a victim of lingering anger against the North, whose victory in the Civil War forced the loss of so many farms, propelling families into the cities and children into the factories to help support them. Anti-Semitism also played a role.

The importance of the time and place is established from the show's opening moments. A young Confederate soldier sings the heart-rending "The Old Red Hills of Home." It rings with love for a region that had not yet recovered from devastating losses.

A battle-scarred veteran takes the place of the young man as the scene quickly changes to Confederate Memorial Day in 1913. The passing of the parade, with its floats and banners, stands as a metaphor for the pride and the fury that had scarcely dimmed since the defeat of the South.

In a virtuoso, ever-transforming performance by Brent Carver, a Tony Award-winner for his lead role in "Kiss of the Spider Woman," Frank is the quintessential outsider right from his first song, "How Can I Call This Home?" While everyone else watches the parade, Frank, in a dark business suit and tie, is on his way to his office, despite the holiday. He does not even feel comfortable in Atlanta's German-Jewish community, into which he has married, because he has not adopted their protective attitude of fitting in by deeds and manner.

The plot escalates quickly from the discovery of the girl's body in the basement of the factory to the connivance of politicians who need a quick resolution, to the fanning of the incendiary situation by journalists. Act I ends in the trial and conviction of Frank.

Act II focuses on the marriage of Frank and Lucille, who takes up his cause, persuading the governor to review the case. Frank grows from a tight-lipped, controlling character to a man of fervent belief in the eventual fairness of the law. The poignancy of the couple, who fall in love in the midst of adversity, is the core of the work. It makes the tragic outcome - the miscarriage of justice - even more disturbing.

Along with Carver, standouts include Carolee Carmello as Lucille, the woman who must leave the life of a stay-at-home wife and become a heroine; Rufus Bonds Jr., as a fugitive from a chain gang and the chief witness against Frank; Evan Pappas as an effervescent journalist; and John Hickock as Governor Slaton.

The theme of dignity and fair-mindedness in the face of nearly unspeakable prejudice is the quality that lifts "Parade" into new realms of stagecraft. Uhry's dialogue, Brown's expressive lyrics and memorable melodies, and Prince's surehanded direction create a parable of Americana, a landmark commentary on the many strands of courage and darkness that weave through American history.

The Simple Woman's Daybook--February 23,2009



The Simple Woman's Daybook
For MONDAY, February 23, 2009

Outside my window...
It's dark. :)

I am thinking...
I am up early! Yay me!

I am thankful for...
good sleep!

From the kitchen...
Brioche and coffee for breakfast.

To live the liturgy...
Bible, rosary.

I am wearing...
A purple camisole and pj pants.

I am creating...
a show!

I am going to breathe deeply ...
and have a good day.

Bringing beauty to my home ...
a clean kitchen table. This is an accomplishment.

I am going...
to go to work, and then first costume tech!

I am reading...
The Iliad; Team of Rivals; Wings of the Dove (Henry James)

I am hoping...
for a GREAT Opening Night!

I am hearing...
The Parade soundtrack. Again. :)

Around the house...
vacuuming

One of my favorite things...
dinner w/ my parents

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Tuesday: TECH!
Wednesday: TECH!
Thursday: Tech and article in The Dispatch
Friday: Weathervane audition
Saturday: OPENING NIGHT!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lights.... (5 DAYS!)

In the beginning....
There were lights.
We spent the first 45 minutes of rehearsal moving props, checking lights and reading our program bios to make sure that there were no misspellings. (Mine is good to go, yay!)
After that, we began at the top of the show, sans music because our music director wasn't there. So we did "Parade a capella." Interesting.
With the lights the entire house looks different. It's a small house, so the lights play off the walls and in the dark it seems a LOT bigger. Plus the booth was lit so it appeared like a floating lighted space above the seats. The JCC has a great intercom/sound system, so we could hear Jen calling the show from the dressing rooms, meaning we didn't have to hang out in the wings to hear. Very nice.
A few minor problems but nothing major. Jen was very pleased. We stopped around 5:00, having gotten to "This Is Not Over Yet". Tomorrow is our first tech with costumes! Yay!
Again--run the show.
T: Run the show
W: Run the show
Thursday: RUN THE SHOW
Saturday: Opening night!!!

A good morning

Is coffee and one of these, made yesterday.
Yum.

It was my first time using Guittard couverture. Oh my gosh. What I was missing, all those chocolate recipes where I used other chocolate! Never again!
(I got my box at Williams Sonoma, FYI).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Duck Journal!

Finally up, here!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dinner tonight! (7 DAYS!!)

Tonight's dinner, for Tiff and moi: mac and cheese--homemade!
I will report on the results.

UPDATE (10:45 p.m.)
Soooo yummy and delicious.
A few clarification/tips, if you want to try this.

1) I used a pyrex 9x13" baker. Worked wonderfully. Be sure to really butter the pan!
2) I used small penne pasta because I couldn't find elbow shaped at TJ's. Worked well.
3) If you have a candy thermometer, or any kind that goes in a saucepan, use it to gauge the temperature of the sauce. I wasn't sure if the sauce was at the right thickness, so I tested it, and it was exactly 160 degrees, which is what it should be.
4) The sauce is BEAUTIFUL. I didn't have any cayenne, and I think it needs it for the kick. You could probably add a few dashes of hot sauce, me thinks.
5) Since Tiff and I were hungry, I didn't do the extra broiling step for the crunchy breadcrumbs. If I had more time (Like if I made this for a game night), I would do this step.
6) It looks beautiful, and tastes great. Tiff had two servings. I felt happy to have made good food for my BFF.

:)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

8 DAYS!!!

I can't believe it. 8 days until we open!
Costume parade went well. Over my skirt and blouse, I have a blue work pinafore, dotted with red flowers. With my hair in pigtails, and my boots, I get a total Anne of Green Gables vibe. Or, as Will said, Pollyanna, which lead us to sing "early one morning" and recite random lines. Jay looked at us like we were mad.
We also did a complete song run through, which was like "Parade greatest hits", but was a lot of fun. Or like "Parade in concert" since we didn't have sets or anything,we just sang.
Lots of fun. Next week---the final rehearsals!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Failure! (and 9 DAYS LEFT!)

I cannot knit.
It's just not in me.
I can get that first stitch, but after that...
Nothing.

PLEASE HELP! I don't want to be a failure at knitting!!!!

(It seems like every other girl in Parade can knit. And I can't.)

With real Parade notes:
--I saw my costume. It is a pretty dark blue skirt (sort of royal blue?), with a white blouse with fun ruffling. I also have button boots, thanks to Abby ($5!). We were nude hose with our costumes. We may have hats and gloves, too. For the Governor's Tea Dance, I will have a blue sash around my waist. My skirt hits a little below the knee, but Rachel (our costume Queen) said she might take it up a bit more.
--We ran the Trial Scene and "Where Will You Stand?" with scene changes. "Where" is about a B, B- right now. It's getting there.
--Costume parade tomorrow for Jen and Frank, and then publicity pictures! Yay!!!

The Pope Vrs. Pelosi

Over at CPG (thanks dad!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

owwwwwww

Curses on my genetically deformed feet!
Rehearsal was like tech week Light. We had our sets today--Yay! (Like the real sets--the tree, the doors, the pillars, stuff like that. Not just the bare platforms) But that means we have to practice MOVING all these things.
BOOOO!!!!
Basically it worked out to 1 hour of rehearsal for every 10 minutes of show.
Yikes.
Yes, we need to do it. Yes, it will make the show better! Yes, this means are we approaching performance! (which is why we do this!)
But sheesh, my feet hurt!
Normally I start wearing my character shoes early to "break them in" and get my feet used to standing/dancing/ moving in them. But owww they hurt tonight.
(OK whine break over)
But it's a lot of fun, still. Always. Things are coming together and really taking shape.
Tomorrow the girls get to see their costumes!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bookshelf: A Pair of Blue Eyes

When I did my English Major at Cap, my concentration was English Lit., as in the literature of England. And while this inspired my deep love for Jane, and Paradise Lost, and I read many wonderful Shakespeare plays, we didn't get to a few authors (we're talking about more than a thousand years of lit--that's gonna happen). One of them was Thomas Hardy, who wrote Tess of the D'Ubervilles. So I took it upon myself to read him.
I've read Tess, as well as The Mayor of Casterbridge, and just finished one of his early novels, A Pair of Blue Eyes. Hardy's novels take place in the fictional country of Wessex, usually, but this one is based near the seacoasts of Plymouth (also known as the home of Mr. Pratt in S&S).
Our heroine (because there is always a heroine in Hardy) is Elfride Swancourt (yes, a rather outlandish name), the daughter of the local curate. She has led a fairly sheltered life, which is abruptly upended with the arrival of a Stephen Smith, a young London architect who has come to assist Rev. Swancourt in the renovation of his parish church.
Elfride falls in love with him, and he with her. But her father does not approve because Stephen is the son of servants on the nearby Luxellian estate--indicating that he is of low class, and therefore unfit to marry Elfride. The two try to elope, by Elfride panics and returns home. Stephen heads to India, where he swears to make his name and fortune, and thereby make himself worthy of marrying Elfride.
While Stephen's gone, Rev. Swancourt marries a rich, local woman, whose cousin, Henry Knight, comes for a visit. But Mr. Knight was also Stephen's former tutor, and has taught him Latin and how to play chess, among other things. Initially uninterested in Elfride, he falls in love with her, too! Elfride eventually falls for him, but cannot break her secret engagement to Stephen.
In the third part, Knight and Smith meet up and realize they both loved the same girl. They go back to her home to find her and confess their love.
Whoops--they find out that Elfride has married Lord Luxellian (she was very close to his two small daughters) and has died, all in the space of five months. They are too late, and instead stand over her grave, remembering the woman they both loved.
Now, Hardy's novels do tend toward the slight ridiculous, but I enjoyed this one. Elfride is a lovely character--a young woman coming into maturity, and torn between what is right to do, and what her heart tells her. I would have chosen Stephen, because he's nicer and closer to her age. Henry is sort of a curmudgeon.
It's easier to read than Tess and Casterbridge (although I recommend those, too), and is a good way to start investigating this author.

The Simple Woman's Daybook--February 16,2009



The Simple Woman's Daybook
For MONDAY, February 16, 2009

Outside my window...
Sort of cloudy, with a weird snow pattern. It's like it snowed, but then it didn't want to stick around. Weird.

I am thinking...
there is a lot to do today.

I am thankful for...
my friends.

From the kitchen...
Brioche and coffee for breakfast.

To live the liturgy...
I'm going to try to read my bible. Been in sort of a prayer rut lately. Not enjoyable.

I am wearing...
A purple camisole and pj pants.

I am creating...
an organized and beautiful home.

I am going to breathe deeply ...
and enjoy today!

Bringing beauty to my home ...
a clean kitchen table. This is an accomplishment.

I am going...
to have lunch with Karen and Paige; Act II rehearsal.

I am reading...
The Iliad; Team of Rivals

I am hoping...
for a full week of good rehearsal!

I am hearing...
The Parade soundtrack. Again. :)

Around the house...
vacuuming

One of my favorite things...
The Jane Austen sign my mom got me for valentine's day--it says "There is nothing like staying home for real comfort" (from Emma)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Tuesday: Act II
Wednesday: Complete run through
Thursday: Run through
Friday: "Turandot" (Opera Columbus)
Saturday: Richelle's 26th birthday dinner at Marcella's in the Short North

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Weekend update (thus far)

ACCOMPLISHED:

**two loaves of brioche baked
**Cleaning (for the most part)
** A Pair of Blue Eyes finished (Bookshelf coming)
**One Rehearsal (ugh "Where Will You Stand?")
**Two movies watched ("The Dark Knight", "We Were Soliders")
**One Pitt victory accomplished
**16 bars of ballad selected for audition

STILL TO DO
**lunch with Karen
**Develop May/June '08 pictures
**copy audition music
**Rehearse Act II
**access port
**vacuum

Friday, February 13, 2009

Total Run Through


During "Intermission: Abby (Iola), me, and Rachel (Mary)

The first run through wasn't really a total run through, since around 10:00 we stopped (so people could clean!), which meant we were just short of the hanging and Finale. But until then, we had done well. No stopping (yay!), and everything went very smoothly. Frank had notes, of course, and the only one he had for me was my line in the funeral sequence--apparently it sounded off. I'm going to count this up as a fluke because I've never had trouble with the line before. And we were missing some people so the harmony wasn't all there, either. I have, however, asked Kristin if she thought it was something we should go over prior to our second run-through on Sunday.

Long weekend, huzzah! Tiff, Bill (her boyfriend) and Branden just came over, where we talked about the show, Branden's new job, and watched 90 minutes of The Dark Knight.
A very quality Friday.

And happy birthday to Anne, my first Best Friend! 27!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This Week Bexley Article

Gallery Players to stage 'Parade' beginning Feb. 28
Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:08 PM
ThisWeek Staff Writer
In their next production, the Gallery Players will share the true story of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, who was wrongly accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old employee in Georgia in 1913.

Parade will be staged Feb. 28-March 15 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus' Roth-Resler Theatre.

JCC cultural arts director Jared Saltman said the trial aroused anti-Semitic tensions throughout Georgia. The plot stays close to the story's conclusion that the likely killer of Mary Phagan was Jim Conley, a key witness against Frank at trial.

The villains are prosecutor Hugh Dorsey -- later the governor of Georgia and then a judge -- and publisher Tom Watson, who was later elected a U.S. senator, Saltman said.

"It is probably one of the best musicals written in the last 20 years," said Parade director Frank Barnhart.

Barnhart said it is an important story in American history, and the musical maintains the accuracy and credibility of that story.

"Lots of times in theater or film, writers take liberty with the facts to change the story or alter it," Barnhart said.

The biggest challenge as a director has been finding the right balance of entertainment and sharing a story that is "quite tragic," Barnhart said.

John Schelb, who plays Frank, said he was interested in performing in Parade since he saw it on tour in 2000.

He thought it would be a good fit for the Gallery Players because of the themes of anti-Semitism, racism and political corruption.

"They are all relevant topics for today," Schelb said. "Galley was at least, from my perspective, the most logical company that would produce it."

Schelb's knowledge of Frank's story was limited to the script. By researching Frank's trial and the background of the characters, he gained a wealth of information, especially about the legal process Frank endured -- from the time of the murder until he was lynched.

Schelb said the most difficult part of the musical was putting himself in Frank's place -- sitting in jail before the trial, with a feeling of hopelessness, letting the system play out.

"The entire time he had a belief and faith that right would ultimately prevail," Schelb said.

Parade was written by Alfred Uhry, who also wrote The Last Night of Ballyhoo and Driving Miss Daisy. His great-uncle owned the pencil factory run by Frank. Jason Robert Brown wrote the music and lyrics.

Parade will be presented Feb. 28 and March 7 and 14 at 8 p.m.; March 1, 8 and 15 at 2:30 p.m.; and March 5 and 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for JCC members, $18 for non-members, $10 for senior members, $16 for senior non-members, $8 for children or students and $10 per ticket for groups of 10 or more. Tickets can be purchased by calling 231-271 or at the door.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Problem Sports and Notes (Countdown: 17 days!)


"Please monsieur, another note!" --Mme. Giry, Phantom of the Opera

Tonight was a short rehearsal, mostly working three numbers: "People of Atlanta", which opens the trial sequence; "Where Will You Stand?", which went better, and "How Can I Call This Home?" Afterwards, Frank dismissed 98% of us, but I stayed to ask if there was anything he wanted me to improve in my performance. His note was for the "Factory Girls" number. We have lines that say things like "My face gets red" and "Put up my hair", so I'd been doing those things--raising my hand to my cheek, touching my hair.
I love the way Frank gives notes. He said it was good to try and explore, but that I should try it with my hands held at my sides.
I love that. Instead of "You're doing it wrong!" it was, it is good to experiment.
Love that.
You know you want to see this show.
Run throughs start tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Act I run through

Yes, the entire thing. Once.
It was pretty great; no major disasters, a few "outtakes" of word flub ups, but since we were 98% off book, that's really good. There are only a few people even using their librettos now.
"Factory Girls" went well, although I still startle every time Jon touches me. I just don't know when it's coming. I suppose I'll get used to it. :) Kristin is in the pit playing the piano, so that's good for us finally knowing where the sound will be coming from. Frank gave us notes, as always, when we finished, mostly big picture stuff. He emails people with individual notes, if there's a lot.
Our Leo and Lucille are divine. Really. I just love watching them.
Tomorrow we are called at 7:30 to run Act II (which is, of course, shorter). Hopefully "Where Will You Stand?" will be better.
Cannot wait for the total run through on Thursday. Yay!

The Sympathy Question

In Parade, the sympathy question is interesting.
For comparison: during our second weekend of the run, Pleasure Guild's Beauty and the Beast (which has many of my J&H friends in the cast) opens for its' run. In that show, the villian is clear. It's Gaston. At first, he seems like a simple egotistical guy, but we don't like him, because Belle doesn't like him. And we like Belle. He becomes truly evil later on, but by then we've already written him off and are actively rooting against him.
In Parade, it's more...complicated.
The first "I Want" song is Leo's(theater term: an "I Want" song is a theatrical convention, usually where the main character gets up and sings about what s/he wants from life. Hence, the term. Coincidentially, one of the most obvious "I Want" songs is the "Belle" reprise in B&B, when she sings "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere"), "How Can I Call This Home?" Normally this is the song that wins the audience's affection. (i.e., "The Wizard and I" from Wicked or "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miz.)
But, that's not really that case here. Leo is talking about his dislike of people that, at this point, seem pretty nice. OK, yeah, they're "celebrat[ing] losing a war", but they seem like friendly folks.
So the audience's sympathy is torn. You should like Leo. But really, do you? Do you like him at all until we get to the middle of the act? I don't know. It's hard to, because he's just rude to everyone--his wife, the prison guard, even Mary. Brusque would be a better word, actually. He's just not nice.
Then, when you do feel sympathy for him, most likely by the end of Act I, you don't know how to feel about the townspeople in general. (Not specific characters.) You can identify with them to some extent (I hope). They're normal people, not unlike people you would meet today. If you've seen the movie A Time To Kill, you've seen how mobs can form in present-day societies and attempt to influence and corrupt the legal process. And while we'd all like to say that we'd be more high-minded, would we really be? If it was your daughter, your friend, your neighbor who was raped and beaten and murdered? I don't know. Mob mentality is powerful.
So you like Leo, and you probably intensely dislike certain characters, like Watson, for example. But how do you feel about everyone else? How do you feel about the Factory Girls, who are very young and just lost their best friend? How do you feel about Newt Lee? Or the governor? Or the judge? Or Frankie? Or even Dorsey, the prosecutor?
It's a complicated question. If you go see the show, I'd be interested in knowing your reactions. My job, as an actor, is to create a three-dimensional character that makes you unsure how you feel about me. If I've done my job right (if we ALL do our jobs right), there are no easy answers.

Monday, February 09, 2009

"Sometimes it was perfect"

That is what Kristin said tonight about "The Factory Girls/Come Up to My Office."
I am crediting Divine Intervention.

Tonight the three of us were called at 7, with Jon (Leo) to run this number. It is so, so fun to do. As Frank started choreographing it for Jon, he turns to us and says, "Do any of you mind being touched?" He got an emphatic No.

(Side note here: If you're really sensitive about that stuff, you probably can't do theater. There's a part of this number where Jon touches my butt in a suggestive way, but I know he's not actually doing it that way. He's probably thinking about his next line. It's like stage kisses are stage kisses. Now, do some people take it too far? Absolutely. Fortunately I haven't had that problem yet.)

So he choreographs the number on us (literally and in the balletic sense). We run it a few times, then Abby decides to ask Frank if we can dance.

Those of us who remember my J&H Fosse Resurrection Travails are wincing with me.

Fortunately it is very, very simple, times to Leo's second verse when he talks about "a new dance they're doing in Manhattan." The only thing I initially had to work on was the turn, but even that's OK. I'm sure it will look great from the audience. Frank liked it, anyway.

Jon takes this number and runs with it. It's really the only time he gets to have fun in the entire show, and I think he really enjoys it. We do, anyway. (Yes, we are unabashed hussies. Oh well.) I think the cast will like it too, and I can't wait for them to see it when we run Act I tomorrow.

Yes, we are running Act I, in its entirety. Then:

Wednesday: Act II (with the pesky "Where Will You Stand?" hopefully solved)
and...
Thursday: The ENTIRE show.

That's right. Two weeks before opening, and a full week before tech--we will run the entire show.

I cannot WAIT.

All is well in Essie's world.

Let's hear it for our director!

Congrats, Frank!


THEATER AWARDS NIGHT: Senior Rep wins a Roundtable Award for outstanding production

One of the biggest Roundtable Award winners earlier tonight was Senior Repertory of Ohio Theatre Company's production of Tuesdays with Morrie.
The area premiere, last February at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, was one of two 2008 productions voted by the Theatre Roundtable as one of the year's outstanding productions - and, as mentioned in an earlier blog entry, also was recognized in the individual-acting category for Frank Barnhart and Ron Nocks' performances in the area premiere of the two-actor play..

Tuesdays%20THEATER21%20KR%201%20-%2002_07_2008%20-.jpg
(PHOTO: Frank A. Barnhart, left, as a writer, and Ronald E. Nocks as Morrie in February 2008 in Senior Repertory of Ohio's Tuesdays with Morrie Credit: Kyle Robertson, Dispatch)

To bring back memories of this superior production, here are excerpts from my February 27, 2008 Dispatch review:

"Central Ohio theatergoers should give SRO Theatre Company welcome-back hugs for Tuesdays With Morrie.
After more than a year's hiatus, the senior-theater troupe has returned with a broadly satisfying production.
Director Karen Clark-Carpenter mostly avoids gratuitous flourishes in an intimate staging of the true story of sportswriter Mitch Albom's friendship with Morrie Schwartz in the final seasons of the professor's battle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
Because of its concise episodes and directness, Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher's off-Broadway version of Albom's best-selling book stands or falls on the power of two actors.
With Ronald Nocks as Morrie and Frank Barnhart as Mitch, Morrie's former student, the central Ohio premiere of the touching, amusing play stands tall.
At Friday's opening in the Columbus Performing Arts Center, two of central Ohio's most accomplished actors filled the stage with gentle humor and wisdom about retaining a zest for life amid loss.
Nocks starts with the easier role, grabbing surefire moments of twinkled charm or gruff laughter, but his dramatic arc becomes more challenging as Morrie becomes progressively immobilized by degeneration. As the one-act builds to emotional peaks, the veteran actor achieves what might be a career best with compelling subtlety.
Meanwhile, Barnhart begins with a less sympathetic role, although I found it easy to identify with his harried journalist. As Mitch is reminded by his mentor about the power of love and friendship -- more through example than words -- Barnhart registers those insights with self-deprecating and often painful honesty.
Both actors command the stage, often with fresh or nuanced takes on material that in less mature hands might easily become too sentimental, melodramatic or predictable.
From finding forgiveness to letting go, many things can be learned by sharing Tuesdays with Nocks and Barnhart.
The two actors weave a powerful spell in an evocative memory play that sheds light on what really matters."


From the Columbus Dispatch

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Act I

Today was... a bit low-energy.
What we did today is necessary--the running of Act I, the focusing on details. This is what turns an OK or good show into a GREAT one.
But man, it can be dull in the wings.
The first part of rehearsal was spent on the first 9 pages, which encompass three songs. First we had the opener--"The Old Red Hills of Home", sung by Jay.
After he finished, Frank gave him notes.
Then we ran our entrances about four times. Held our poses. Randy started the reprise, the men joined him, the chorus joined him.
We finished the number.
We had notes.
We did it again.
We had more notes.
We did it again and went into Leo and Lucille's first scene.
We sang "The Dream of Atlanta"--with notes.
We did it again.
Then we did the beginning of "How Can I Call This Home?" The blocking and singing revisits on this one took up the rest of the first half of rehearsal.
Then we did "Leo at work/What Am I Waiting for?" Twice.
We did "Big News!", which went well.
We skipped the Funeral Scene because Frankie wasn't there and we've run it before.
A new scene--Jay as Dorsey and Aaron as Starnes, discussing Leo's guilt. That went well, I think. Jay is fun to watch in this role.
Then--we were done.
We just seemed low-energy and occasionally crabby today. Not sure why. Hope it gets better tomorrow.
Tomorrow me and my factory girl cohorts, along with Leo, are called at seven, so we can run "The factory Girls/ Come Up To My Office", with blocking, which we haven't done. It's a three-part number: we sing our bit, Leo sings his bit in our "imaginations", and then we return to the main theme. I'm looking forward to working with Jon (who plays Leo) on this number.
I am hopeful that we are energetic tomorrow and ready to work! Act I is longer than Act II, and we haven't run it in awhile, so that may have explained the lethargy. Once we have it down it will move much faster (I hope).

Friday, February 06, 2009

New BABY!

My cousin, Di, and her husband, Matt, are proud to welcome Susan Elizabeth!!!
born at 2:00 (their time--central).
Yay babies!

Susan Elizabeth Bramanti on TwitPic

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Act II--twice :)

We accomplished a major feat tonight, that I have NEVER accomplished in my theatrical history.
We ran Act II--completely--twice.
Yes, that's right. Twice. Without stopping.
That NEVER, EVER happens. You are usually lucky to run the entire show four or five times during tech week. I have NEVER run an entire Act twice, with this much time left in the rehearsal schedule.
I bow down before Frank. :)
We even got NOTES!!!
Most of the act was good, except "Where Will You Stand?", which continues to be sort of a mess. But we have THREE WEEKS until our last tech, so I am sure we will get it. I was running it madly in the car so I think I know it now. There is a lot of off-book going on, too, which is awesomely fantastic.
Frank, in the notes, also gave us acting lessons, like "How To Turn" and "Please Project." That was awesome.
OK, how about we say everything was awesome,a nd move on?
But really, it was so great. People were on their cues, words/music mostly happened...it was great progress.
On Sunday we run Act I, which we have NOT done in its entirety--we've only done up to the Funeral Scene. But we have blocked the trial and run that once. So we'll see what happens. There are a few scenes that have not been blocked--like Leo's "Seduction" of the Factory Girls--but it will happen eventually.
So excited for Sunday.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Loss

Amy Welborn's husband, Michael, has died.
Prayers and donations for the family are being accepted.
All the royalties from this book go to support their children's college funds.
I would urge you to buy it and give it to everyone you know.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Saga of the Factory Girls

Or, Frank is somewhat Pleased

So after being an angry mob for 90 minutes, doing "Where Will You Stand?", Abby, Vera and I went to do Our Number. The Number. Whatever. Again. :)
My problem--solved--is that I'm just too loud.
(OK, all of you, stop laughing now. I mean it!)
Yes, I'm loud, OK!
But in this case, I'm too loud, and it's pushing the intonation.
So--quieter! Decrescendos!
After we did this a few times, Frank has us sing it blocked, while he sat in front of us and listened. When we finished the first part, he opened his eyes and said "yes! That is so much better. That is what we want!"
Whew.
So now I just have to make my C at the very end a C, and not a C flat or a C sharp or whatever else--a C. IT WILL HAPPEN . This is really the only problem left, thank God.
I told Abby, who is pregnant, that her child is going to come out singing this number. No joke.
Frank's notes really helped, noting that this is really Iola's number, and Monteen and I are just echoing what she says. She's the ringleader. So I can take it down a few notches, knowing that I will still be heard (well, duh, I can probably be heard in Montana, anyway), and relax. I know this number. Whew.
Tomorrow, the hanging and the finale.
Thursday: Act II run through.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Essie's Redemption :)

Or, Factory Girls: Take Two!

Tonight was rehearsal, of course!
First, Vera, Abby, Randy (The Gov.) and Liz (Lucille) ran our scene in Act II--the reprise of "The Factory Girls", and then Gov. Slaton and Lucille's questioning of our testimony. The three of us did really well, and it was awesome working with Randy and Lucille. Liz has some great scary looks! Frank was happy with it, too, and gave us some great notes, which we used and, I think, turned in a very good scene.
After this, we had some time before the guys arrived to run the Chain Gang sequence, so Frank asked the three of us to work on "The Factory Girls" in Act I with Kristin. I was a little nervous--the reprise had gone well, and I have been rehearing this number, but I didn't know how it would go.
It was so much better! Yay! Kristin was really happy, and the sound was pretty amazing to hear. Frank and Kristin still had some notes on certain notes (say that five times fast), but it is 1,000% better than it was. We are going to run it again tomorrow night, and I can't wait. Whew! I asked my friend LaRon (Jim conley) how it went, and he said it's coming. So I am very excited and think it will be a great scene. Our voices sound quite lovely together.
So that was tonight--tomorrow we're doing "Where Will You Stand When the Flood Comes?" and then other scenes until Leo and Lucille are called at 8:30 to do their last scene together, which includes the glorious "All The Wasted Time" and making love onstage. Yes, that is what the stage direction says; I didn't make it up!
So glad that this Waterloo is being defeated!!!

The Hardy and Wharton projects

OK, so if you read this blog regularly, you know about the Jane Project.
Well then I had the Virginia Woolf project (ongoing), where I decided to read all her books/stories/essays, etc. Now I'm stuck on "Orlando", where I need to get a copy.
To add to all this literary joy, I now have "The Thomas Hardy Project" and "The Edith Wharton Project."
Both of these started out pretty easily--"Tess of the D'Ubervilles", "The Age of Innocence", etc. I read the major novels. (I've got Hardy's "Far from the Madding Crowds" going on now.) So I do an Amazon search to see what books are left.
Oh my. Lots. Hardy wrote a lot of novels--I've ordered "A Pair of Blue Eyes" for my next one. And Wharton was an interior decorator before she wrote, so she wrote about that. Plus her NYC stories, and other things.
These are going to take awhile.

The Simple Woman's Daybook--February 2, 2009


The Simple Woman's Daybook
For MONDAY, February 2, 2009

Outside my window...
Snow is melting! All the icicles are gone, and I can see greenish-brown grass again! The sky is a lovely blue.

I am thinking...
that I can't wait for rehearsal!

I am thankful for...
music and theater

From the kitchen...
Nigella Lawson's onion and potato hash. new recipe.

To live the liturgy...
Magnificat, daily Bible reading, rosary

I am wearing...
a yellow baby cable knit sweater (in honor of the Steelers), chocolate brown cords, brown socks.

I am creating...
more Essie. :) In act II.

I am going to breathe deeply ...
and have fun with this show.

Bringing beauty to my home ...
Weekly Home Blessing Hour

I am going...
work out hard today!

I am reading...
The Iliad; Bleak House (yup, it's back); Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy--part of the Thomas Hardy reading project)

I am hoping...
for a full week of good rehearsal!

I am hearing...
The Parade soundtrack. Again. :)

Around the house...
vacuuming, cleaning, etc.

One of my favorite things...
the Steelers. :)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Tuesday: Act II--"Where Will You Stand When The Flood Comes?"
Wednesday: Act II--Finale
Thursday: Run Act II