Sunday, June 13, 2004

Our 'Tateh' is immersed In the world of Terence McNally

In an artistic coincidence our 'Tateh', Paul Araquistain, will be spending his summer immersed in the world of "Ragtime"s book author, famed playwright Terence McNally.

The New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco received a grant to commission a new work from McNally, which is being worked on over the course of the next year with a cast of local actors, including Paul.

McNally is primarily known as a playwright of his own non-musical pieces, many of which are among the staples for theatre companies around the country. Currently, for example, Berkeley Rep is running a production of "Master Class" starring Rita Moreno. I have also seen local productions of "Lips Together, Teeth Apart", "Love, Valour & Compassion" and "Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune" advertised in recent years.

But McNally has also written the book for a select group of musicals. There's "Ragtime" of course, but he also wrote the book for "The Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and "The Full Monty." McNally is clearly a master of adaptation...taking works with which the audience is already familiar and adapting them for another media.

Since Paul is lucky enough to access to the man himself, he asked him about the process of bringing "Ragtime" to the stage. According to McNally, "Ragtime" was one of the most satisfying experiences of his professional life -- and a joy to work on.

Paul, himself, is living a rich, full life right about now. He lives in the City, but works in Milpitas. Luckily he can telecommute two days a week, but now he has rehearsals on those days, so he ends up trekking down to Los Altos anyway. And of course while rehearsing one of his dream roles in "Ragtime", he is also involved in this process of bringing an entirely new work by a renowned playwright to the stage...playing a character he knows will be essentially written with him in mind!

To mis-quote surprise Tony winning musical "Avenue Q", it doesn't suck to be him right now! Except, perhaps, for having to constantly fill up his SUV at these gas prices...which I'm sure he'll be so happy I brought up ;)

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