Theater

Here I go, shooting my big mouth off again

me at Subject Line Here Believe it or not, it's been over a year since I've been on a stage. Yup, one whole year (and a summer) since Shane Nickerson organized the first L.A. blogger performance thingy I'd ever heard of, "Subject Line Here."

Since then, Leah Peterson of LeahPeah has taken on the heinous task of riding nerd herd patrol. I was unable to attend the first gathering of L.A. Bloggers Live! because I was busy being inducted as Chief Nerd, but--gawd help us all--I'm doing this one. (I have no idea what I'm doing yet, but oh, well!)

Here's the line up as of now:

Tomorrow, Wednesday the 22nd, at Tangier. 4 bucks cheep. Be there or be square.

Oh, wait, if you're reading this, you probably already are...

xxx c

The Life, Death and Rebirth of a theater company: a brief History and Cautionary Tale

ER new

  1. small but passionate band of artists form company in 1995
  2. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  3. reputation/following grows
  4. reputation/following grows
  5. reputation/following grows
  6. heartless capitalist landlord gives band of artists the heave-ho
  7. awesome (loaded) members of company contribute huge sums of money, buying the theater a home to live in
  8. awesome (not-loaded) member of company contributes huge amounts of sweat equity and genius to create sterling reputation in local theater community to raise the theater's profile
  9. entire company sucks it up/busts hump to help build amazing reputation/following
  10. reputation/following grows
  11. reputation/following grows
  12. reputation/following grows
  13. grumbling in the ranks about too much sucking it up/hump-busting, particularly as regards being cast in plays
  14. outright denial of unfair treatment by management
  15. miscommunication builds
  16. miscommunication builds
  17. miscommunication builds
  18. sides are taken
  19. loaded members take ball and go home
  20. not-loaded members take mailing list and go live out of (metaphorical) shopping cart
  21. website mysteriously vanishes
  22. former member/webmistress/general design lackey comes out of hiding to save "vanished" website, purchasing new URL, redirecting to new server
  23. former member/webmistress/general design lackey, peeved over having to spend time needlessly recreating work because of childish vendetta, propagates new URL all over the intertubes to get Google rank back up, then shamelessly requests others to come to her aid and do same

xxx c

P.S. The new home of the ER online is evidenceroomtheater.com. Pass it on...

Exchange of the Day: "The Book, Music & Lyrics of Mormon" Edition

TO: Colleen Wainwright [email redacted]FROM: Sidney [email redacted] DATE: November 1, 2005 SUBJECT: (no subject)

Margie, I am looking for a brilliant Mormon composer to write the score for "An American Prophet," a wonderful, touching, and quite factual show about Joseph Smith and his book of Mormon; Perhaps the most important musical about Mormon history ever. Click [URL redacted] and read this wonderful show and start writing. You'll see I write up a storm: book and lyrics to 20 funny and dramatic musicals, eight have been completed and possibly up for production, six are being written by some of the most important composers, (see bio.) For Broadway, click "Ev'rybody's Jumpin,'" "The Final Curtain," two hysterical suicidal comedies. If I disturbed your privacy, please forgive me and donot respond, otherwise lets get going.

[signature email link / URL redacted] [bold text formatting sic]

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TO: Sidney FROM: Colleen Wainwright DATE: November 3, 2005 SUBJECT: RE: (no subject)

Hi.

I believe you intended to email this to someone else. This email address [e-mail redacted] does not belong to someone named 'Margie'.

Good luck with your musical!

xxx c

----

TO: Colleen Wainwright FROM: Sidney DATE: November 3, 2005 SUBJECT: RE: RE: (no subject)

Colleen, Please forgive me, just looking for talented Mormon composer to write my show. If you write music please take a look.

----

TO: Sidney

FROM: Colleen Wainwright

DATE: November 3, 2005

SUBJECT: RE: RE: RE: (no subject)

No forgiveness necessary, Sidney.

Good luck with your project.

xxx c

----

TO: Colleen Wainwright

FROM: Sidney

DATE: November 3, 2005

SUBJECT: RE: RE: RE: RE: (no subject)

Colleen, Read it and you'll fall in love. Write a couple of tunes and lets get going.

----

TO: Sidney

FROM: Colleen Wainwright

DATE: November 3, 2005

SUBJECT: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE:(no subject)

Sidney,

I am not Mormon and the little time I have to work on songs, I must spend on my own.

I'm sure that given your level of passion and enthusiasm, you'll find the right collaborator in no time.

Again, best of luck to you.

xxx c

Image of the Angel Moroni by Aquisbe used under Creative Commons License

Hot chicks, cool cats - 20 bucks

My theater company, Evidence Room, turned 10 this year. We're celebrating with a kick-ass event/show/party tonight, tomorrow and Sunday: a live radio-concert restaging of our hit pulp/noir classic, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, by James Hadley Chase. Lots of cocktails, live music and aforementioned hot chicks/cool cats (theater company + L.A. = lots of good-looking people) and a killer show.

And in case you're not a regular, we also lay claim to the coolest party space in Los Angeles. No lie, Cy.

I'll be there tonight, with bells on. And heels. And a private stash, if you know the secret password...

xxx c

evidEnce room presents a speakeasy radio-play concert celebration: NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH by James Hadley Chase Fri - Sun, Feb 11-13 @ 8pm at evidEnce room 2220 Beverly Blvd (at Alvarado) Tickets $20 Info/Reservations: (213) 381-7118

Closer to Python: My Mike Nichols Day, Part II

As I'm currently in the process of converting a play with music into a musical play, I'm newly fascinated by musical theater, especially the newer forms cropping up today: Avenue Q, Caroline or Change, all of Ken Roht's work, the Ramayana 2K4, which I guess better start calling itself R2K5 so it doesn't sign its checks wrong next year. Normally I have to wait for these things to come to the hinterlands (a.k.a., Los Angeles) or haul my carcass to New York, not an altogether unpleasant proposition, but generally a pricey one. So imagine my delight in learning that Spamalot!, the new Eric Idle musical based on material from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, was having its pre-Broadway run here in Chicago during my stay! For which I had already paid!

It's selling well, which is a good first sign. The Chicago run opened on Tuesday; I bought my ticket on Wednesday for Thursday, which was mostly sold out. Fortunately, the one good single ticket they had was really good: I was third row center at the Shubert, so I pretty much had Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce and Hank Azaria singing in my lap for 2 1/2 hours (including intermission, so you know, not really).

They were all wonderful, as was much of the show. The supporting cast is staggeringly good; I particularly enjoyed the drag stylings of the very Python-esque Steve Rosen (who has some sort of Crohn's connection I'm anxious to bond over) and all I can say about Sara Ramirez is "you heard it here first, folks", that combination of good, gorgeous and funny comes along slightly less often than Halley's comet.

It's not an unqualified hit...yet. I'm hoping my issues with the show can be fixed in the Chicago run so it plays a good, long time in New York (and the hinterlands). Right now, it's a little draggy in parts, (especially Act One), it feels a bit repetitive and, for as clever as it often is, it's not clever enough. Maybe I've been spoiled by local (i.e., hinterland) geniuses like Ken Roht and Robert Prior, but I'm used to an extraordinarily high level of inventiveness; compared to Peace Squad Goes 99 or R2K4, Spamalot! does a lot of coasting on old material and not enough in the way of chewy surprises inside.

It's not devoid of them; I won't spoil anyone's possible future enjoyment by giving away all the treats, but there are some hilarious little fillips in many of the show's numbers, the kind of unexpected stuff that has you poking the person next to you and saying "look there!" and them poking you back to "no, look there!", which is pretty damned great. And the show as a whole does a great job of sending up musical theater.

But so did Peace Squad, and on a much tighter budget with far less lead time. Hell, I think we did send-ups on musical genres that hadn't been invented yet.

I wanted to give Spamalot! my unqualified love and affection, but at the end of the day (or the show), I just didn't feel like leaping to my feet like everyone else.

Nor did I feel like stopping by to congratulate Mike Nichols, the director of the hullaballoo, who was sitting there unrecognized for most of intermission (god, I love Chicago) along with his gorgeous wife. And I'm a big Mike Nichols fan, overall; I just wasn't feeling the love enough to blow his cover. (After all, what was I gonna say: congratulations...I didn't love your movie, either?)

In no way is this a pan of the show; I have no problem telling people to get their butts in the seats for this one. I only hope that by the time it gets to Broadway, it's as good as it can be...as it should be.

That is, as good as those shows in the hinterlands already are.

xxx c

Pee at Bob's

Only two weekends left to catch the funniest filthy show of the season (as opposed to the funniest clean show of the season, which also runs for two more weekends). Bob's Holiday Office Party is hilarious from start to finish. The actual show runs just over an hour, but with the (masterful) ad libbing I've come to rely on, prepare for more like 90 minutes.

In this case, "prepare" means to monitor your fluid intake pre-show. Yes, it's really that funny.

Consider yourself warned.

At the Third Stage in Burbank through December 19th.

xxx c

I'm such a proud mama, I could burst

One of the 99¢ show's Weird Family was out with strep throat tonight, so a longtime friend of and dramaturg for Orphean Circus gamely stepped in for him tonight at a moment's notice. (I swear, they're dropping like flies, it's starting to sound like a TB ward in that dressing room.) We were all a bit worried for Michael during the early show; it was already a hairy night for other reasons, and while he was more than familiar with the script and production, it's quite a different thing when you're on the other side of the footlights. Especially for the very first time.

But we needn't have worried. Not only did he do a bang-up job delivering his lines and not bumping into the furniture (who was it who said that about acting, anyway, Spencer Tracy?), our budding superstar totally grabbed the spotlight and ripped his second act solo to shreds. Barbra Streisand, look out.

As we discussed in the lobby aprés, after your first show, you wonder why anyone wants to do this; after your second show, you wonder why anyone would want to do anything else.

xxx c

Holiday hit!

stilts It's official: the "real" media have declared Peace Squad Goes 99: The Greatest 99¢ Only Story Ever Told...Ever!, a.k.a. "the 99¢ show", a hit.

We got a thumbs-up review in today's L.A. Times. There was also an excellent feature in yesterday's Times in which my gal Heseon Park catalogues her 99¢ experience from the Wine Tasting Station (not her favorite thing) to the show itself. If you subscribe to Calendar Live, you can find the article there. (And no, I'm not going to link to those cheap bastards; make the content freely available and I'll link your asses seven ways to Sunday.)

And, hooray, the communicatrix gets quoted:

What's it like wearing plastic-and-vinyl costumes for your art?

"You just have no idea how wet underclothes can get until you have done back-to-back perfs of a 99¢ show," says Colleen Wainwright, who plays a stiltwalking mom in the village.

Yup. Proof of stilts part of the equation above.

Get those tickets now. You've been warned...

xxx c

Best of the flyer table

flyertableOne of my continual frustrations as a theater rat with a scrabbly foot in the design world is the unforgivable lack of pretty in most show flyers. They'll pay the lighting designer, they'll pay the costume designer, they'll sure as shit pay the director, they'll get everything on stage looking Sunday-go-to-meetin' purty, and then crap all over themselves with an ill-conceived, poorly designed flyer. It's like my crazy Polish art teacher whined about back in silkscreen class: the packaging on materials being sold to artists is among the dullest and horsiest design there is. Ah, sweet irony. (Of course, I say this knowing full well that our website is among the ugliest in town, but I'm not web-proficient enough to do anything about that end of the design thing. So there.) [UPDATE 10/9/07: our beautiful new site, designed by me and developed by Jen Rocha, is available for viewing here.]

Anyway, out of the (no lie) 25+ (!!!) flyers on Evidence Room's box office entry table, above left are the few I found that I wish I'd done myself. Designers, feel free to step forward and introduce yourselves:

  • REDCAT's tasty season brochure. Yum, yum. Of course, they've got funding out the wazoo and ties to one of the West coast's greatest art communities. They'd be stoned for anything less than stellar design.
  • Jon Rivera's Dogeaters flyer. Great use of oversize medium, color and imagery. Love the crazy low-end Photoshop work on Imelda's eyes, too.
  • For juicy, juicy printing alone, the flyer for Phacts of Life (show running at The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Renberg Theater). Chris Rooney did the design; may have to email him for his printer's digits. The show looks kinda cute, too, and features the always-hilarious Sam Pancake and a stellar roster of guest stars: Mink Stole, Kate Flannery and Mike Hitchcock.
  • Finally, I just plain liked the image on the flyer advertising Todd Noel's work. Not as nuts about the rest of the stuff on his site (and not crazy about the font the Toddster chose for the flyer, either), but it got me to type in a URL and click, which is more than most of those flyer jockeys do.

xxx c

10 ways to know you are in Hell Week

99 peace squad flyerIn the theater world, the last week of rehearsals before a show goes up is affectionately known as "Hell Week." The 99¢-show sports an unusual Hell Week because a holiday is wedged in there; in honor of that, the cast has been given an entire two days, both Wednesday and Thursday, off before final dress rehearsal on Friday. So in my capacity as Chief Stilt-Walker, I have been given a two-day respite to let those newly-developed leg muscles rest.

Of course, in my capacity as graphic designer, I am forced to rest aforementioned muscles next to the old G5, which does not allow for much in the way of elevation.

But I digress.

While this is an unusal Hell Week in that it's slightly less, well...hellish, there are still certain die-hard traits that all Hell Weeks share. To wit...

  1. You can neither remember the last day you went to the gym nor anticipate the next time you will see the inside of it.
  2. You find yourself actually drifting off to sleep atop the stilts you just learned to walk on two days ago.
  3. Instead of being outraged that the 7-11 is charging you 2 bucks for an airline-sized bag of cashews, you are filled with a Thanksgiving-level of gratitude that they accept Visa because you have not had time to go to the ATM in two weeks. And buy two bags.
  4. Bourbon and cashews at midnight is dinner.
  5. Bourbon and cashews at midnight is the most delicious and appropriate dinner you can imagine.
  6. You can neither remember the last time you washed your hair nor anticipate the next time you will be able to do so.
  7. You try to drive your car in "park."
  8. Your kitchen floor is covered in hair.
  9. This seems like no good reason to not eat the veggie burger you dropped there.
  10. Your sexual fantasies start revolving around long hot baths with a fluffy magazine, followed by a mug of peppermint tea and a DVD in bed. Solo.

Time to get crackin' on those t-shirt designs. See you at the show, kids!

xxx c

It's better up there

durastiltsAt today's rehearsal for the 99¢ show, I got to try out my stilts for the first time. After five or ten nervous, wobbly minutes, I had to be warned to slooooow down for my own safety. Sorry, but anyone who says that being tall is overrated is short.

On a completely different note, for the first time ever my Show Crush is on a married couple. And yes, I've told both of them.

xxx c

What you can do for less than a buck

psquad bigI went with my friend, Rob Kendt, to see a pretty snazzy show yesterday at the new Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City. It's called A Perfect Wedding, by American playwright of the moment, Charles L. ("Chuck" to his pals) Mee. There are many terrific elements, including the world's best stage kiss and an ultra-fabulous Bollywood musical number, as well as a bunch of terrific performances, including those by my friends Jim Anzide, Melody Butiu, Veralyn Jones, Leo Marks and John Fleck (whose rant on the election has garnered me more hits in one day than I will probably ever receive for the rest of my blogging life).

But you might not even get to see it, it's already sold out for the rest of the run. There are tickets here and there but they're steep; I paid $40 to catch a matinée.

So to hell with it. Come see Peace Squad Goes 99: The Greatest 99¢ Story Ever Told...Ever! (a.k.a., "the 99¢ show") instead! It's Evidence Room's annual holiday treat, and the only show we put up all year that's clean enough for kid consumption (but still cool enough for the hippest of grownups). I'm in it this year, after two years of bugging the genius behind it all, Ken Roht, for a part, but that's not the reason to see it.

I sat in on my first run-through of the show today and it was absolutely dazzling: hilarious, beautiful, brilliant number after number until I was so weak I had to lie down and have some sliced jalepeno cheese and a celery stick.

For them what hasn't had the pleasure, everything in the 99¢ show is from the 99¢-only Stores, which are the show's main sponsor: all the costumes, all the props, all the set pieces. The show's music is composed primarily on a cheap-o Casio keyboard. You have no idea how fabulous this can be in the hands of L.A.'s best theater composers and designers until, well, let's just say that every time I walk into the costume shop and see the latest creation they're building, I want to play a different part.

Opens November 27. Runs through Christmas. Deets here.

Oh, and 15 bucks cheap.

xxx
c